Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toiles de Jouy

France is well known for a fabric called Toile de Juoy. Quilter's Muse has an excellent article about this fabric here. Toile had never interested me much, but boy was I ever wrong. I think that comes from seeing modern versions that are a lot less refined than the real deal.

Back in June, my friend Will took to me a store, Charles Burger that sells REAL toile de juoy fabric. The company uses 200 year old copper plates to print their designs and the detail is amazing. I definitely want to get some of this fabric to remember my time here, I just can't make up my mind which one.

To show you how complicated these fabrics can be, this is the company's photo of a fabric called Ballon de Gonesse about two hot air balloon flights in 1783.

Detail shot of the fabric in a different colorway. My photos are terrible - sorry about that. They do NOT do justice to these fabrics.

This Robinson Crusoe fabric is another of my favorites. It is based on illustrations from the 1840 edition of the book.

This fabric is called La Bastille. The drawing for this fabric originally was meant to represent the divinity of Louis XVI but then the revolution occured. The figure symbolizing Religion was changed to Liberty. A picture of the Bastille replaced a group of cupids.

More from the same fabric:

This detail is from Fete Navale, which is about the journey of Louis XVI to Cherbourg in June 1786 for the inauguration of a sea wall. I would have sworn those were women rowing the barge, but no, those are gussied up oarsmen... I love seeing this bit of history.

This fabric is about the American people's recognition of their debt to La Fayette. Isn't it a hoot?

Here is Will looking at another type of fabric which is also still manufactured the old way: handprinted with woodblocks. I can't remember exactly how many blocks but 179 sticks in my brain.

See this top greenish shape? Each one of the dots surrounding it takes a different block in order to get the light and shadow just right. It's an amazing fabric - would be incredible in the middle of a medallion quilt.

The fabric at Charles Burger was gorgeous. I have to admit, the fabrics cost an arm and a leg. Think somewhere around 100 euros a meter. Sometimes less, sometimes more, such as the woodblock print which I think was 140. But they do sell half meters as well (demi metre) and this would be an amazing remembrance of a quilter's trip to Paris.

The Charles Burger shop is located at #4 on the Rue du Mail. The phone number is 33 (0)1 42 97 46 19. They are open Monday through Thursday from 10:30am to 6pm and on Saturday from 3pm to 6pm. The woman who worked there was as sweet as can be and very helpful. Definitely worth a visit. One of these days they are going to have a website at but it's telling me at the moment it's not ready.

There is a church nearby. It's possible to imagine what this area was like, even though the store that once sold religious items is now a dress shop.

Down the street a ways:

You're going to laugh at me, but I had to take a sign of the pooper scooper sign - the first one I've seen in Paris that is not in a park.


antique quilter said...

those fabrics are beatuiful
I woujld love to do a whole cloth quilt out of the one you thought would be great for a medallion quilt.
Of course I can see it used for a medallion quilt too! What possibilities I can see with these fabrics.
wouldn't Jude have fun with pieces of that too?
now I want to go shopping for toile fabrics which I already LOVE but am intrigued more now!

Lynda said...

Thank you for sharing these fabulous fabrics! I had no idea that it was possible to buy fabric with the original designs on it! However, at that price, I'm not sure I'll be having any!

Tanya said...

Hope your knee is better. This post with the fabrics is fascinating. I don't think I'm particularly a fan of this type of fabric nor could I see myself working with them but for stories and history and detail they can't be beat. Thank you.

Joyce said...

That fabric is fantastic but I would never, never be able to cut it! I have enough trouble with nice but ordinary fabric. Lol. I'm loving your Paris pictures.

comicbooklady said...

It would make a great keepsake, but I too would have difficulty cutting into it, especially at that price! I like the idea of a medallion quilt,though.

I need one of those signs for my front lawn! I don't mind dogs, but not too fond of some dog owners!

Unknown said...

tres jolie! I love toile- I put at least one small piece into every quilt I make (sometimes it's even a small applique on the label- but it's there). It's modern toile, of course, because at 100e per metre there's no way way I'm buying the good stuff! :)

Clare said...

Heaven - absolute heaven, mais oh la la trés cher! If it was me I'd take the balloons back with me, but then I am a montgolfier freak :-)

I too wonder what places, squares, etc must have been like. Wandering round parts of Bordeaux you can get a feel for it. I love the old style shop fronts with the shutters which is probably what Maison Bleue looked like before it was modernised.

How are the knees?

Unknown said...

TONYA!!! I am sitting here at my desk at work absolutely hyperventilating over this REAL toile. OMG the gorgeousness! But so pricey...

I have some of what I, in my naivete, thought was real toile, bought in Paris back in the 90s. I guess it's the closest I'll get. At least I can say haughtily, "It was bought in Paris" even though it was bought at a home dec shop. ;-)

atet said...

Ok, the drool on my keyboard is not a good thing but that fabric is AMAZING! Personally? Those balloons are making me want to spend money I SO do not have. I'd say go for it :0).

Chocolate Cat said...

Thank you so much for sharing this amazing fabric and shop with us. I have a list of 'must do's one day' and a visit to this shop and my own piece of this fabric is now on it!! It is always good to dream.

Helen said...

What yummy fabric, you will have to choose wisely at those eye-watering prices :-)

Cher said...

very interesting fabric-it does seem to be much more amazing than the stuff I have seen in our shops-thanks for the great sharing.

Heather said...

I really enjoy your Paris pictures. It has to be my favorite place ever.

Anonymous said...


While you're in Paris, go and visit the Toile de Jouy Museum in Jouy-en-Josas (south suburbs, if I remember well, you can take the RER and then it's a short walk) I think that's where the factory used to be. I loved it.
I'll try to visit the shop you mentioned on my next visit to Paris.
Beatrice (from France!)

jovaliquilts said...

Love the tour! The toiles are amazing, and I appreciate them more after your post. I can't say I'd ever want them in my home, but if I ever move to a palace, they will definitely have a place! :)

julieQ said...

Love the "real" toiles! I love the fact that the same patterns and stamps/plates are used as in centuries ago. Such a lot of history and detail in each piece. Thank you for showing this!

MARCIE said...

Now I am intrigued to see what happens when toile and Tonya collide. The toile is so much more interesting with the history lessons!

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