The perils and possibilities of Ticking

Ticking is a material most people remember from mattresses. It is, usually, cheap and decorative. It suits old furniture, having a certain Jane Austen quality of elegance and utility (ie it is cheap as chips).

Ticking comes in black, red, blue and green as a general rule, though I have starting seeing variants on these.

It does have a demerit: it gets marked very easily and the very quality which makes it effective – its highly graphic quality – shows up dirt very easily. Douglas had a regency chair recovered and almost immediately it got a spot on it. It’s almost impossible to clean and you can’t hide in such a stark pattern.

All you can do is put a book on it, as on this stool in a masculine Georgian style I picked up at a local auction (useful for the end of a bed where you tend to drop clothes undressing at night.)

When I faced a decision about reupholstering this charmingly ugly colonial chair I went for ticking. It was done by an expert, as you can see from this careful alignment of a button.

This ticking was cheap. From memory it was around $15 to $20 a metre at Spotlight. At the same time high-end upholstery shops were selling ticking for $45 a metre approx. Usually it was of a heavier fabric, which does have its point. (And even fabric @ $45 a metre I have since found out is a bargain…)

Why do I like ticking? It is graphic, strong, simple and goes well with furniture from the Regency period backwards. As you can see here, it kind of goes well with a David Hicks obsession with tiny patternings.

But I almost ran amok when we ordered ticking material for curtains for the new bedroom on line –  (This was from the lovely Martha’s in Newmarket: their cafe is highly recommended – and for people who like fabric as a fantasy, what better combo can you have than a cafe where you can think options through: like I shouldn’t really buy it. I can’t afford it while munching on delicious pastry.)

Anyway long story short, I looked at a ticking at Marthas which was basically like the other ticking we have, but stronger fabric. Back home in Napier I ordered it on line. I was slightly mystified by a slight change in price, upwards, but put this down to on-line buying.

Imagine my horror, dear reader, when I opened an expensive roll of fabric ($52 a metre) to find a different ticking. It was a pale cream background (as against stark white) and the fabric also had a kind of almost tweed herringbone pattern woven into it.

Basically it was a contemporary take on ticking. The bars of colour were wider apart. I contemplated suicide or had I already committed décor suicide.

I went back on line and found to my mortification I had made the mistake myself. (Damn!)

However…as it turns out, the cream of the new ticking has gone very well with the nice creamy paintwork of the wooden French doors. Now I have adjusted my sight to what it actually is (rather than isn’t) I find I like it a lot.

I do have a worry. We are getting a logburner thingy for the bedroom so we survive Napier’s arctic winters (in our wooden house). I am a little worried about a sooty hand reaching out to close the curtains.

The fact is, like most things from the eighteenth and early 19th century, they were predicated on an underground staff who laboured hard to keep things looking clean. After all, white was associated with the gentry (white linen) simply because it was impossible for poor people to attain. But since this house operates on the fantasy that there is some unseen Downtown Abbey type staff working away, I guess we have to take on the role of the invisible Minnie and do the damned cleaning of the ticking ourselves.


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1 Response to The perils and possibilities of Ticking

  1. puginesque says:

    Yes Martha’s is the best place for ticking I have found. Bought yards of a nice khaki coloured striped ticking there in 2011.

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