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Fabric Finder
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All About Ticking - What is Ticking Fabric?

by Martha's Furnishing Fabrics

24 March 2022

What is Ticking Fabric?

Ticking fabric is most recognisable by its classic woven stripes to create a chic and timeless pattern. Then when you get closer the thick, hard-wearing and tightly woven material in your hands is distinctly ticking.

At Martha’s we have a huge range of colourful ticking from coastal blue, classic black and daring red to suit any colour scheme. Our Ticking fabric is a tight ‘broken twill weave’ or ‘herringbone weave’ that is elegant as well as functional. This twill weave combined with the high density of threads per inch/cm creates a dense and robust fabric. Strong and stunning; you’re all set!

We are obsessed with our fun and functional range of Ticking! 

Check out our selection now!


History of ticking

Traditionally called “ticking stripe”, the fabrics name is based on the Greek word theka, which means “case” or “covering”.

Before the days when we could order supremely comfy mattresses straight to our door, societies throughout history slept on piles of straw and bundles of feathers. Getting your eight hours a night would be nearly impossible with spiky straw and feather quills poking you so a very tightly woven fabric, now known as ticking, was used to prevent stray stabs. The thick and robust fabric was also rumoured to keep tics from nestling into mattresses as they couldn’t find a way in between the fibres. Often, the ticking mattresses were waxed or starched to seal the fabric even more securely for maximum comfort.




Ticking was originally woven on a dobby loom, a basic machine that is still used today for our ticking fabric and ideal for basic geometric patterns. When the Jacquard loom was invented in 1804, it was capable of weaving more complex patterns and mass produce metre after metre in a fraction of the time it took a master weaver and his assistant working manually. This dropped the price of ticking fabric making it accessible for all social classes back in the day and still remains fairly affordable for the high quality and durability of the fabric.


High-quality ticking can be very durable and long-lasting so you’ll find it TICKS a lot of boxes for your next upholstery, curtaining or interior project (see what we did there..).


Durability of ticking

Due to the very tightly woven construction of ticking, the usual wear and tear of life does little to degrade the fabric. The fabric itself can be compared to a much softer version of denim or canvas. It also performs very highly on a Matindale test, an industry recognised abrasion test to determine the durability of fabrics.

After being around for many years in mattress production, ticking began to be recognised as an incredibly useful fabric and was used to construct many tough things including heavy-duty butcher’s aprons and supposedly army tents which tells a vivid story of the faith and performance people saw in ticking fabric.



When you’re looking to add a lovely understated fabric into your home décor with a subtle stripe of colour, ticking is ideal for everyday upholstery, curtaining, blinds, and cushions!

Check out our selection now!

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