Toile de Jouy Pattern Design
The signature beauty of the ‘fabric of Jouy’
Toile de Jouy is a stunning design coming from France. It is characterized by a combination of sketches, originally printed on fabric in one colour using carved wooden or metal blocks. The colour used was usually blue, black or red on off-white background. The scenes were inspired by rococo, with beautiful motifs of buildings, flowers and nature, skies and ruins or people. Another characteristic of the design was the ‘half-drop’ arrangement, which I was excited to learn on my journey as a repeat pattern designer.
Influence of history
This year, I decided to make something special for my parents. As a practice for a toile design, I chose their garden. Over the past decade, they have managed to turn an unkept and neglected place into a natural-looking sanctuary. They have always had a great respect for history and vintage items. Seeing the collection of antique furniture, china, paintings and photographs from different times, I too became very fond of the story behind historical items. Every time I watch period drama, I wonder what the person was like who used the Edwardian purse I got from Etsy, who used the antique milk jar. Toile de Jouy pattern design seems just another beautiful expression of history.
Toile de Jouy inspiration
I was so excited to learn how to make the Toile de Jouy repeat pattern design! Each field from cooking to architecture has it’s fundamental basics. The same applies to surface pattern design and the toile pattern making is one of these basics. As a self-taught pattern designer, I was very keen to learn how to make toile design. Not only to expand my knowledge but because this style is genuinely one of my most favourite styles. Your inspiration can be anything – from traditional historical eras and customs, to more contemporary inspiration such as the sea and the coast, cars or even tropical or abstract animal motifs. I chose the most captivating corners of my parent’s garden.
Making the Toile de Jouy Pattern
Firstly, I took the reference images of the garden. There was a lot to choose from! For the design itself, you will usually need around three to four main scenes. When arranging them together, you will also need smaller motifs to connect the main scenes and to fill the negative space.
After gathering enough ideas for the pattern, I started pencil sketching each motif onto an A4 size paper. This took quite a while because I was making sure I captured even the small details. The pencil sketch then needs to be highlighted with a black line pen. I used 0.1 to enhance the main shapes and shades, and then the 0.7 thickness to enforce the dark shades for more defined 3D effect.
Finishing the drawings took me about a week and I was ready to scan them into my computer. All motifs were black and white which made it very easy for vectorizing. Using the Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator, I vectorized and partially simplified all designs. And from then on it was easy! Aranging the motifs and choosing a typical blue/off-white colour palette to create a stunning Toile de Jouy repeat pattern!
The result – Toile de Jardin!
I was very happy with the result! Not only because Toile de Jouy is a stunning design style, ideal for fabrics and upholstery, wallpapers, stationery or packaging. But because the process of making it was such joy and the final design had a great sentimental value. I will definitely be making more Toile de Jouy and history inspired pattern designs from now on!