Provencal tablecloths terminology

May 10, 2023

Provencal tablecloths terminology

French tablecloths terminology

We use different terms on the website for our French Provençal tablecloths that may or may not make sense to the uninitiated. This article is centered around the types of designs, not the types of fabrics that were previously discussed in our holiday fabric guide blog post. So here is a brief description of the different types of tablecloth designs we carry and the terms used to describe them. We encourage you to refer to the photos for each category as it is much easier to understand by looking than by reading!

- Placé: The term placé can be translated by "placed" as if the design was "placed" in the center of the cloth. It refers to tablecloths that have the design that follows the shape of the tablecloth. For example a round  placé tablecloth will have a design printed in a circular fashion. Many include a centerpiece, such as a cluster of olives, lavender, or sunflowers. More designs are then printed in larger circles towards the edge of the tablecloth. An all-over pattern (see next section) sometimes fills the area in between or the entire center. The same principle exists for square and rectangular tablecloths. 



- All-over: All-over refers to a design that is repeated "all over" the fabric. It can be a small symbol that is repeated in a grid or other organized pattern. It can also be a larger design that repeats all throughout the fabric such as indiennes or toile patterns.


- Linear: Probably the most traditional style for Provençal tablecloths, the linear pattern is a design that keeps repeating along the length of the fabric. It is organized in parallel sections lengthwise. This allows many sizes of tablecloths to be made from the same roll of fabric. These tablecloths are great candidates to be cut to smaller dimensions to better fit a table. We can alter these both in length or width without compromising the design. The linear pattern fabrics are mostly used on rectangular and square tablecloths but are also available to make round tablecloths.


- Double-border: The double-border can be thought of as a hybrid of placé and linear designs. Double-borders are used for rectangular and sometimes square tablecloths. They are similar to placé designs but the print does not wrap around the ends. These offer a less busy design in the center of the tablecloth than the linear designs and can be cut at any length desired. They are a great candidate if a tablecloth needs to be shortened. Another advantage is that it is easier to fit on a rectangular table than a placé tablecloth where the design may not match the proportions of the table and the corners of the tablecloth may not align with the corners of the table.


- Squaround or square-round: A type of placé, the squareround is a square shaped tablecloth that has a circular design. In reality, the squaround is identical to a round placé tablecloth, except that the corners are not cut out. Some round placé tablecloths are printed with a design in the corners. When the tablecloth is cut in a round shape, these corners are discarded. If the tablecloth is cut in a square shape instead, the corners remain and it becomes a squaround. The two photos below show the same tablecloth, one cut in a circle, the other cut in a square.


- Toile or French toile. Toile is a type of all-over pattern. It is the oldest, most recognizable French fabric pattern. Toile is not from Provence as most other designs we carry but from a town near Paris called Jouy. Toile is referred to as "Toile de Jouy" or "cloth of Jouy" in France. In the 17th century, the importation of colorful printed fabrics from India (called "indiennes") was big business in France. Eventually, the French decided to create their own printed fabrics with a unique French flavor. The result is the toile de Jouy depicting rural scenes from the time. Toile de Jouy is still popular to this day and we carry a line named Villandry by Le Cluny in red and in blue.