Toil and Joy

Kathryn and I ventured out this afternoon to have tea at one of my favourite west Somerset fabric haunts. The Courthouse is a three storey Alladin’s cave of beautiful things for your home, with a large fabric resource. The actual building is a thing of true antiquity with its warped timber frame giving just a hint of grandeur and a taste of things to come when inside. Pevsner describes it in architectural detail, but for me the galleries are stunning and what make climbing the staircase such a pleasure.

We sat in the rear courtyard enjoying a break from the relentless cold August (that should be our summer) drinking tea and coffee, swapping ideas for all things quilt and indulging slightly in the divine tearoom goodies!

So it was after having discussed Christmas quilting ideas for a forthcoming workshop that I stumbled across a part roll of the most wonderful toile de jouy – Harvest by Design Archives.

I have a deep affection for toile de jouy. When I was a child the wallpaper adorning my fathers office in our home was of sweet pastoral scenes in a charcoal grey. I would spend hours in there looking at the people combing the walls looking from one vignette to another, luckily never being tempted to colour them in! On the sublime days when he set up an easel and board for me, and got out his oil paints, I was allowed to play with his rich coloured pungent paints with the toile and his partners desk and his generous spirit in the background.

Leaping forward my affection for toile means there are a number of prints in my stash and I have used green toile de jouy from Colefax and Fowler in a past home to adorn a dressing table and have a small, but much loved collection of toile de jouy boxes in a corner of our kitchen.

My current favourite is Nina Campbell’s asticou. The fabric has such a soft patina and whilst cotton, has a very gentle, tactile, sateen feel. I have adorned the windows of a tall ebonised secretariat with it. But this soft red toile cotton is light weight and initially crying out to be made into an autumnal tablecloth. The scenes are of tools and crops associated with a good harvest. But it has played on my mind for a few hours and I sense it needs to be paired with a ticking or stripe and some scallops and possibly some English Paper Pieces borders… So tomorrow I will search through my (respectfully modest darling!) stash and find companions that will turn the fabric into a heart warming quilt.

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