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What Is Pillow Ticking?

Updated July 20, 2017

Pillow ticking has long been a staple in the American home. It may have gone unrecognized, however, because it is generally covered with a pillowcase. Pillow ticking is the heavyweight fabric that envelopes the feathers in feather pillows. The heavy weight and tight weave of the fabric protect the user from being poked by feathers. Since most of today's pillows are hypoallergenic, feather pillows are less common. But the pillow ticking design remains popular.

Recognisable Colors and Stripes

Traditional pillow ticking is neutral in colour -- white, off-white or beige. Narrow stripes bring colour into the ticking fabric. Typical stripe colours are blue, black and red. These fine, woven stripes are generally paired together, followed by a wider stripe, then another pair of lines. When feather pillows were commonplace in American homes, the pillow ticking pattern became popular. The neutral background and narrow stripes are still a popular design associated with casual comfort.

Ticking Influence in Home Decor

Pillow ticking itself is a very heavy fabric that will not drape. Because of that, pillow ticking cannot be worn in standard clothing, nor can it be made into drapes or tablecloths. The fabric industry, however, recognised the popularity of pillow ticking and thus re-created its look in various weight fabrics. Now, lighter weight fabrics resembling the traditional feather pillow casing flow easily from curtain rods, over table edges, and even as dust ruffles.

Where to Buy Pillow Ticking

Pillow ticking can be bought in most fabric stores; it is sold by the yard in a variety of widths and weights. It can be found in 32- to 63-inch widths. Prices will vary according to fabric weight and width. Standard ticking can usually be found for as little as £3 per yard, at the time of publication. Today's designs also offer florals mixed with the traditional stripes and a version of stripes that resembles a striped conductor's hat.

Other Uses for Pillow Ticking

Other uses for pillow ticking include doll bodies, aprons, tote bags, quilt backings and laundry bags. Pillow ticking makes good basket liners, too. Variations of pillow ticking are used for mattresses and upholstery.

Although it has long been used in pillow making and home decor, pillow ticking is also a preferred supply for muzzle loader shooters. The heavy fabric is cut into small patches that are loaded with round balls then packed with gun powder.

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About the Author

Ronna Pennington, an experienced newspaper writer and editor, began writing full-time in 1989. Her professional crafting experience includes machine embroidery and applique. When she's not repainting her den or making new holiday decorations, Ronna researches and writes community histories. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and an Master of liberal arts in history.