Jan 22, 2010

French mattress tickings

In many French homes, mattresses were handmade until well into the 20th century. Sturdy and decorative thick cotton fabrics were manufactured to be used as mattress covers. The methods for constructing the mattress varied, depending on the household. The most common method was to stitch a large 'sack' from the ticking. This sack was then stuff with a soft cotton or with rags. Once the mattress was stuffed, the end opening was stitched closed and the mattress was tufted with heavy cord. Another method, often used for smaller beds, was to tack a single layer of mattress ticking to a wooden frame before stuffing it.
Across much of France, the most most common ticking was a practical and relatively inexpensive stripe pattern as seen here.

But mattress tickings were also done in decorative damask patterns that resembled silk and in surprising and unusual color schemes as seen here:

Damask floral motifs combined with stripes were elegant and the patterns were beautifully designed.

Occasionally, there are very unusual motifs as in the chinoiserie pattern below which features climbing floral vines on a trellis. My all-time favorite is the last one seen on this page featuring the gallic rooster (le coq galois), the national symbol of France. This rooster is perched on a branch of an oak tree for added emphasis, the oak being a symbol of strength and fidelity.


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