It’s All About Ticking Stripes

Do you like ticking stripes? I do. In fact, I love ticking stripes! They have been around forever, and I think I know why.

A Little History

Ticking–it’s name deriving from the Greek word theka, meaning case or covering–has been synonymous with mattresses since fabric was first paired with straw.If you wanted a decent night’s sleep, it was imperative that the straw, or feathers (if you were lucky), be kept within the confines of a thick, tightly woven fabric to prevent quills and bits of straw from poking through. Thus a denim-like twill was woven and then coated in starch, wax, or soap to seal the weave even more tightly. The stripes were uniformly indigo or black, and the stiff fabric was meant to do its work beneath, never to be exposed to the respectable eye. It wasn’t until quite recently in ticking’s 1,000-year history that it has seen the light of day. Sister Parish, the influential American interior decorator, is credited with this act of liberation when she mixed chintz with ticking fabric in upscale 1940s sitting rooms. After the raised eyebrows settled, ticking soon gained popularity.

french ticking stripe

Above: French Blue Ticking Stripe Pillow/early1900s textile

Why Vintage

Today you can buy new ticking fabrics in many colors and weights, but lets not overlook vintage? I love fabric with history, or that tells the story of time such as my “lucky find” source of unused ticking stock, recovered from a 1920s East Coast mill. A few of my personal ticking favorites are from three different continents! Made of 100% machine washable cotton, these are three durable go-to’s; French duvet & mattress ticking, classic New England mattress ticking, and African ticking striped mud cloth . Each is so unique in look, weight and texture, all withstanding the test of time.

new England ticking stripe

Above: New England Classic Ticking Pillow/1920s textile

Where To Find Ticking

Vintage ticking can be found at flea markets, such as Brimfield Massachusetts, and antiques stores and online design shops such as my own  website.

african sticking stripe


Above: African Mud Cloth Indigo & White Ticking Stripe 22″ pillow/1950’s textile

I relish in the hunt for vintage textiles and delight in the making of them into something beautiful to be enjoyed. I love ticking pillows, and do you find beauty in them too?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *