No other fabric says summer to me more than ticking. Ticking, mattress ticking, fabric ticking, or ticking stripe is not a new thing. This sturdy beaut of a fabric has been around for centuries and can neither be seen as fad nor trend. In her humble beginnings, she was used as a covering for mattresses and pillows and given a wax coating, keeping her contents under wraps (usually stuffed with feathers or even straw). She also saw other utilitarian uses as feed sacks and industrial aprons, due to her tight weave, strength, and durability.
Now, partially thanks to renowned designer Sister Parish but mostly to its own natural beauty and simplicity, ticking can be seen EVERYWHERE. From home interiors to palazzo pants, ticking fabric, with its iconic woven stripe, drapes from a surface with ease and hangs with a heft and structure like none other. Made either from cotton or linen, this wonder weave becomes better and better with each wash and takes cues from an iron effortlessly. I prefer mine at least 10 times washed and hot dried (for cotton), immediately pulled flat to cool, and meticulously folded. The tiny softening of the broken fibers after multiple washes and the subtle texture of the freshly dried loom makes this fabric comforting and nostalgic.
Erin Atkinson from Chancery Design and Textiles shared with me an artisan’s perspective on my latest obsession: “I love using fabric ticking for drapes, due to its hang and sturdiness. It’s so easy to work with, you can almost press it with your hand to create a crease. Ticking is the perfect fabric for someone just starting to sew, due to its stability when running it through the machine.” I couldn’t agree more. My favorite use of ticking must be with drapes. Simple lining, full black-out, or no lining at all, ticking pleats and puddles perfectly.
Ticking has served as inspiration for many of the beautiful textures that we see in showrooms today. Even if wrapped tautly over the most formal of lines, the approachable allure of ticking begs you to touch. If you want to experience ticking for yourself, search out a set of vintage napkins done in ticking. I promise, you will be glad that you did.
A few fabric samples of ticking inspirations.