Learn all about what is ticking fabric! Do you ever lay in bed after a long day and just smile because you feel so much better already? Well, that’s most likely because you aren’t lying on a bed made of straw! In the 18th century, beds were typically made of hay or straw. This continued to the early 19th century when better materials like feathers and cotton began to be used in place of hay. Ticking was first introduced as an innovation to cover the hay and feathers and prevent it from pushing through. For this reason, ticking fabric is still sometimes referred to as ‘mattress fabric’.
What is Ticking Fabric?
Whatever name you hear it being called, we’ll be giving you a brief history of ticking fabric, what it's used for, the different types currently available, and how to take care of your ticking fabric.
Ticking fabric is a durable striped fabric made from tightly woven cotton or linen. It can also be made from a mix of both. It is a heavy fabric originally used to cover mattresses and bed pillows, so it had to be tightly woven to prevent feathers from poking through the material.
Instantly recognizable, this fabric has a repeated design of a thick line with thinner lines on each side. Ticking fabric usually has the distinct feature of dark or muted vertical stripes against a white or pale backdrop.
It gets its name from the Latin word tica and the Greek word theka, which means case or covering. Like many fabrics, ticking fabric is now used for many more projects than originally intended. The fabric is accredited to the French as it was originally made in Nimes in France. It is now used commercially for upholstery, interior design, and fashion accessories.
The Evolution of Ticking Fabrics
The evolution of ticking fabric saw it move from a utilitarian fabric to that used for interior decor. The event of ticking used as a fashionable fabric can be traced to the American interior designer Sister Parish. In the early nineties, she used the fabric for her clients' living room cushions and furniture upholstery. In her own house, she used it for curtains.
Her adoption of the fabric influenced its widespread acceptance as a fabric good for more than just mattress covers. In the past, ticking fabrics were made of muted colors, but this too has changed as more customers demand brighter and bolder colors. Now, ticking fabrics also allow temperature control and breathability.
How is Ticking Fabric Made?
Ticking fabric is made using either of the two methods below. Interestingly, the knitted method is starting to receive more attention, although the fabric was originally intended to be a woven fabric.
Woven Method: Ticking can be made from woven cotton, polyester, or linen. The process begins with a single loom where yarn is passed in a vertical and horizontal direction. The horizontal yarns are woven under and over the vertical yarns at a right angle. The stripes are created as the colors of the warp (the vertical yarn) is changed.
Woven ticking fabrics are made with thicker yarns which make for a sturdy fabric. Recently, the fabric has been developed into a more lightweight and breathable variety that allows it to be used for other projects like clothing and even wall designs. These woven ticking fabrics are in higher demand because they last well and retain their original quality even after several years of use.
Knitting Method: This method involves using a machine with two distinct yarns that meet in a vertical direction. Knitted ticking fabric may be more cost-effective and appealing, but it requires more care to launder and maintain.
Characteristics of Ticking Fabric
- Functionality - Regardless of the color of its stripes, it will fit in nicely with your home decor.
- Durability - Ticking fabric is well known for its durability.
- Versatile - From mattress covers to upholstery, tote bags, clothes, and even wall decor, ticking fabric fits in nicely with whatever you have in mind.
Types of Ticking Fabric
There are 3 major types of ticking fabrics. They are:
- Vintage: Vintage ticking fabrics are more tightly woven and heavier. It is feather-proof. When held up to the light, it ensures light doesn't pass through.
- French: This ticking fabric is made from heavy cotton or a mix of heavy cotton and linen. It is durable with a straight line pattern.
- Modern: Modern ticking fabrics are more breathable, less heavy, yet just as durable. There are also printed varieties that make for excellent interior decor.
What is Ticking Used For?
The ticking fabric is quite versatile. Here are just some of the uses:
- Mattress covers - A good number of mattress manufacturers have switched from using ticking fabric to damask. However, a number of them still make use of ticking for mattresses. The mattress market for this fabric is still active. These days, mattresses aren't made with ticking alone. They are often lined with borders and other materials.
- Pillows, cushions, and beddings - Ticking fabric is great for pillows, cushions, and beddings. If complementary to the room’s color, they can lend an appealing ambiance to your space.
- Upholstery - Who says furniture has to be boring and drab? Ticking fabric has a way of fitting right in with any theme and other furniture you use. Think of living room sofas or headrests or lounge chairs for the outdoors. Whichever way you decide to use this fabric, be rest assured it will blend in nicely with the colors you already have. What’s even betterr is that you can trust it to stand the test of time and give you the perfect finish to the antique or chic look you are going for.
- Curtains and Drapery - This was one of Sister Parish's major designs for living rooms. The printed variety of ticking is preferred for drapery as it is less heavy.
- Clothing and more: Your ticking fabric can make more than just clothes. Lots of fashion accessories and home decors are being made from ticking. You can experiment on your next project with this versatile fabric.
Sewing with Ticking Fabric
Like most heavy-weight fabrics, working with a ticking fabric will require heavy-duty thread and a slightly longer stitch than normal. Heavyweight fabrics also require a larger needle, such as a 100/16 or 110/18. The heavier the fabric, the bigger the needle.
You can cut the fabric using sharp shears. Plain seams with raw edges pressed to one side are used to join panels. If the fabric isn't too coarse, finish with topstitching to keep the seam flat. If you intend to sew by hand, use a curved needle and thimble.
How to Care for Ticking Fabric
Ticking fabrics are heavy and sturdy, so you don't need to worry too much about damaging them. Here's how to care for your ticking fabric:
- Wash according to the laundry label. If your ticking fabric is cotton, you can machine wash with a gentle detergent with warm water. Be aware that cotton is prone to shrinkage.
- For cotton ticking, you can use steam and press down on the fabric to straighten any creases.
What is Ticking - In Conclusion
Ticking fabric is a tightly woven fabric with distinct stripes. It can be used for several purposes, among which are clothing, upholstery, draperies, pillows, and throw pillows, as well as beddings.
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