The classic pattern gets a custom Southern spin.

By Southern Living
June 12, 2020
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Towns all over the South have custom toile patterns. Toile, which is both a fabric and a pattern, features detailed, repeated pastoral or historical scenes. According to a Masterclass history of toile, “Whether its pastoral prints on window valances or a test garment in a fashion house, toile can be many things in the fashion and design industry. Toile gained popularity as a printed French fabric in the late eighteenth century, and the classic aesthetic remains popular today.”

Originally produced in Ireland and popularized in France during the eighteenth century, the fabric took the form of a linen cloth printed with scenes in a single color, such as red or blue, on a white background. The antique fabric pattern has a long history, but that hasn’t stopped Southern towns from adapting the classic design and customizing it to include local sights and scenes. Thomasville, Georgia’s custom toile, Toile of Thomasville™, is stocked at downtown shop The Hare & The Hart. The town’s toile collection includes tea towels, furniture, mugs, notecards, aprons, bags, notebooks, and water bottles.

Not to be outdone, Austin-founded design brand Katie Kime has designed several toiles for Southern towns. There are toile designs for New Orleans, Nashville, Austin, and small-town Marfa currently available. Each one depicts signature sights from the Southern spots. (The Nashville one even features Johnny and June!) The patterns grace fabrics—including dresses, pajamas, and button-down Oxford shirts, as well as dinnerware, journals, wallpaper, phone cases, coasters, notecards, gift wrap, and even ice buckets. You can find all the pieces at katiekime.com.

For more fabric talk, check out our Style Guide for Using Fabric in Your Home, some of our favorite classic Southern chintz fabrics, and a primer for how to mix and match fabrics.

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Does your town have a custom toile? What local sights would you put on your hometown toile?