Toile Curtains

Toile curtains are curtains made of a fabric with a large, repeating pattern. Often the pattern is pastoral, but it can also be floral, of animals, or even of a city scene. The fabric is most often cotton, though it can also be silk, lace or plastic. You can dress the curtains up and down with the lining or tie-back. And you can create quite a window treatment with a matching or complimentary valance. Add a shade or blind to the window treatment and you have window coverings that will give you the privacy and climate control you seek.

Toile is one of those mysterious words with multiple meanings and ancient origins. Toile is a French word that entered English usage during the 15th Century. It meant "spider web" originally, and came to mean any loosely woven material. Toile gained wide permanent acceptance as a term for inexpensive, coarsely woven cloth such as linen or sailcloth. The word also applies to a test garment made from a pattern using cotton or other inexpensive cloth, since a number of test garments may have to be made before the pattern is deemed adequate. In the U. S., a toile may be called a muslin, which is also synonymous with inexpensive cotton cloth.

A toile is also an artist's canvas, or even works of art executed upon canvas. In modern times, toile has been used to describe movies (a loosely woven story), as well as communication networks (the Internet or World Wide Web).

But when we talk about toile curtains, we're talking about Toile du Juoy, a type of patterned cloth that originated in the French town of Juoy-en-Josas. Known as "toile" for short, this cloth is characterized by an inexpensive, white or off-white cloth printed with a repeated pattern of a fairly complex scene, often a pastoral theme such as couple picnicking by a lake. Although toile has been produced in Juoy-en-Josas since the 1800s, it gained widespread popularity only since 2000.

Today, toile curtains are available in a range of monochrome colors, typically red, blue, green, and black. Toile curtains are often hung in a tieback, split mode. Toile valances complement toile curtains very nicely. The material used in toile curtains is usually 100 percent cotton duck broadcloth, giving the curtains a substantial feel while maintaining a degree of sheerness. Due to the detail of the toile pattern, dry cleaning is essential. Note that most toile curtains are sewn with a rod pocket, and lengths are measured from the bottom of the pocket, not the very end of the cloth.

While most toile curtains are made of inexpensive cotton, be aware that luxurious and vibrant silk toile curtains are also available. Where cotton toile living room curtains might cost less than $50, comparably sized silk toile curtains will run $179 and up.

Lace toile curtains are yet another exotic variation. The complex patterns woven into lace toile curtains provide an ethereal, gossamer look to the scenes. Lace toile curtains cost around $40 to $60 per 84 inch panel.

Even plastic is used to make toile curtains for bathrooms!

Remember that toile's large pattern is made for large openings such as living room windows and show stalls. When used on a small kitchen or bathroom window, the toile pattern will seem broken up and incomplete.

Also, consider whether you want your toile curtains lined or unlined. Unlined curtains allow more light to enter a room and lets the pattern show up better. But liners provide protection for the pattern against sun fading.

Toile curtains lend an unobtrusive, warm, rustic look to almost any d├ęcor scheme. The variety of patterns and fabrics make toile curtains a versatile and populat decorating choice.