Ticking Fabrics


Ticking fabric was traditionally a very densely woven cotton herringbone or twill
weave cloth used for making mattress & pillow cases. The derivation of the word ‘Ticking’, material used to cover pillows and mattresses, is from the Greek theke, “receptacle”. Ticking cloth was traditionally woven with even narrow stripes in the warp, usually in navy or black & cream, however many variations of stripe pattern & colour have evolved.

Our collection of vintage tickings gleaned from bric a brac sales, flea markets etc.

Modern ticking fabric is generally not feather proof as it is woven and finished for qualities of drape and wear for curtains or upholstery. Traditional ticking fabric was also made feather proof by waxing or soaping on the back. Tickings have been a mainstay of the Tinsmiths’ fabric collection since we opened in 2004, and we now stock an excellent range of excellent quality ticking from mills in the UK & EU. We only stock traditional woven ticking cloth with a herringbone or twill weave, & over the years have used it for many successful projects as curtains, blinds & upholstery. For curtain use our tickings have an excellent drape & for upholstery use we have found our ticking to be extremely durable with some of the cotton ticking that we stock achieving a rub test of 35,000 cycles.

Ticking fabric is an excellent choice for those wanting a scheme that will not date; neither cutting edge contemporary or fussy or twee, ticking is a straightforward classic cloth which will look good for decades.

Above: Ticking (Colourway, Dove) curtain with simple taped heading.

Tickings from a huge range on the shelves at Tinsmiths:

Navy TickingCream Ticking

Simple Pattern Pieces

When Kate isn’t greeting and helping Tinsmiths’ customers, she is sewing and, equally to our advantage, advising her colleagues on dressmaking techniques.

Below: the new Dress Shirt pattern from Merchant and Mills made up by Kate Hickson in Marl (a new 100% pre-washed and pre-shrunk irish linen) with the natural stripe working well vertically and horizontally. An easy design in card pattern pieces that can be used over and again and shared around.  Really comfortable design – cool for the warm(?) summer weather.

dress shirt in marl

photo: Clare de la Torre, tailor’s dummy and environ courtesy of  Tailorbird, Ledbury.

Homegrown Woollens

This is just the day, as it is about to snow, to talk about UK Wool. Wool is such a great fibre with very useful qualities; hard-wearing as an upholstery cloth, light and warm to wear. Natural wools are lovely in themselves and dyed fibres work well to give soft, mottled colours that are easier on the eye than fibres that take dye uniformly.

In the past wool has been an expensive alternative to linen or cotton, but, as prices have risen for these imported fibres, our home-grown wools are becoming a realistic option once again. Lengths of checked (I don’t think they qualify as tartans in the strict sense) and plains are leaving Tinsmiths to become curtains and to grace furniture, whilst others are perfect for clothing – see made to measure jacket (by Kate Hickson, Tinsmiths’ Shop Manager) below.

Our Woollen cloth section is set to follow Tinsmiths’ “Blanket and Throw” shop and swell in the forthcoming months, so look our for new woollen fabrics on the roll – UK farmed, spun, dyed and woven – wool is really worth a thought.

Above: top left: Moss Herringbone, top right: Wexford Berry, bottom left: Blanket by Wallace and Sewell, bottom right: Blankets by Sarah Tyssen.

Above: Woollen Jacket made by Kate Hickson

Tired of London? Not in the least.

Having come across Spitalfield’s Life recently and many interesting features on the Gentle Author’s Blog, we noticed a trend in our Tinsmiths’ book selection. Now, whether a result of living in rural Herefordshire or simply a fascination for the built environment, there are a growing number of books on “our shelves” relating to cities and particularly to London itself.

Edward Bawden’s “London,  Sasek’s “This is London”, Herb Lester’s “London Guides” and Gwen Lee’s “Endless London” are all beautifully illustrated editions. When you have exhausted these, there is Piero Ventura’s Book of Cities taking you further afield!

To see all the books on Tinsmiths’ shelves click here.

Swatches, swatches. Wherefore art thou swatches?

Tinsmiths have always offered  free cuttings of fabrics, this really helps people to make decisions and to be sure of the qualities of the cloth. Having reviewed this recently, we have decided that we will send out up five swatches without charge and up to eight swatches for £5.00 – eight being the maximum we will send. In carefully considering and looking back over years of experience we observed that having more samples doesn’t actually help one to decide – in fact the fewer ordered the more likely a decision could be arrived at.

The process of cutting, labelling and sending out cuttings appears simple, but with more than 20 web-enquiries, representing 100 or more swatches each day so, with requests from customers coming to the shop, we cut and label approaching 1000 swatches each week. Therefore it is not surprising that we sometimes get a little over-whelmed with requests, so please bear with us if your swatches take a few days to arrive.

Art Angels – Textile Cards from the V&A archive

One of Tinsmiths’ regular suppliers of cards, Art Angels, have produced a brilliant selection of cards using textile designs from the V & A archive.  The museum approached Chris Cordingly from Art Angels in advance of this Spring’s exhibition at the V&A,  British Design 1948–2012, an exhibition which links design through from the last Olympic games held here through to the forthcoming games this Summer.

Recognised for their work with contemporary artists with stylistic links to “Festival of Britain” era,  Art Angels are a natural choice of partner for the Museum. “We had several meetings, met with the staff responsible for licensing etc and were allowed access to the textile archive to weigh up the most suitable examples. I had anticipated a long protracted process but museum staff were very amenable and I think we have ended with a selection that reflects a significant movement in textile design of this era”.

The new cards include a group of furnishing fabrics by Lucienne Day and remind one of  the importance of relationships between commissioning organisations (eg., Heal’s, British Celanese, Edinburgh Weavers, Liberty) and artists. Something that has been all but lost in today’s textile industry – with the exception of St. Jude’s. We love to have these on display amongst the fabrics in Tinsmiths’ showroom and really appreciate the work that Art Angels work do with contemporary artists as well.

From the left: Spring Morn by James Wade, screen-printed linen for Heal’s 1952, Palisade (to the rear) by Lucienne Day, screen-printed rayon-taffeta for British Celanese Ltd 1953, Flower Show by Lucienne Day, screen-printed cotton for Heal’s 1954, Fritillary, screen-printed linen for Liberty 1954 and Calyx by Lucienne Day, furnishing textile screen-printed linen for Heal’s 1951.