Ticking Fabric Product Guide

Ticking is a strong, functional fabric traditionally used to cover pillows and mattresses because its tight weave of 100% cotton or linen, does not allow feathers to penetrate it. Ticking often has a recognizable stripe, commonly navy on a cream background, or it can come in solid white or natural.

True ticking is featherproof, but the term may also refer to a striped pattern that is used for décor purposes, like drapery, upholstery, slipcovers, tablecloths, and throw pillows. This decorative ticking comes in a variety of colors.

47″ ACA Blue Ticking is a durable tightly woven twill weave fabric that is typically used for mattress covers, quilt backings, pillows, and bedding to prevent feather spines from poking through. It has the traditional navy stripe.

If you’re concerned about the stripe pattern showing through the fabric covering it, solid bleached white ticking and natural ticking are good options.

Lighter weight fabric printed or woven with the ticking stripe pattern can be used where appearance is important rather than strength and durability. These décor fabrics come in many more colors than true ticking and the small stripe is often a great coordinating fabric. This would be suitable for decorative pillow covers, drapes, and other décor projects. Find designer ticking patterns in Covington stripe fabric and Waverly stripe fabric.

Ticking Fabric Product Spotlight Video

Working with Ticking Fabric

If you have a decorative ticking print fabric, it’s easy to sew like any other medium weight décor fabric.

Featherproof ticking can be a coarse, stiff material that’s a bit challenging to cut and sew. For this reason, avoid complicated shapes with many seams and use it for large flat panels.

If hand sewing is required, use a sail needle or a curved needle and a thimble or guard to give more force to help to pierce the cloth.

Preparation and Care

Pre-washing is an option if you plan to wash your finished project as this will shrink the ticking before you start. However, dry cleaning or vacuuming are the recommended ways to keep it clean when completed due to excessive shrinkage and possible color bleeding. If you do wash it, iron while it is still damp for a smoother finish.


Use sharp, long bladed shears to cut ticking. As it is coarse, it may be hard on the hands so take your time and pace yourself.


If pinning this dense fabric is difficult, use chalk or a fade away pen to mark a pattern outline for cutting out rather than pinning paper pattern pieces to the fabric.

When joining pieces of fabric try using household pins which are thicker than dressmaker’s pins or try holding the layers together using flat clips, like binder clips.


Working with ticking is similar to sewing and handling a strong, heavy-weight denim. A denim needle will penetrate the fabric. Choose a size 90/14, 100/16, or 110/18, depending on the density of the ticking.

Use a strong, heavy-duty thread and lengthen the stitch to approximately 3.5mm to work with the extra depth. If you feel your sewing machine is struggling and the needle is finding it difficult to penetrate the material, turn the fly wheel by hand to prevent damaging the motor.

Join panels with plain seams with the raw edges pressed to one side. Finish with top stitching to keep the seam flat or make traditional flat fell seams if the fabric isn’t too stiff to work with.


Use lots of steam and press the ticking with a heavy hand to smooth out any creases. Set the iron to its highest setting.

ticking-fabric-img1 Designer Ticking Fabric by Waverly and Covington

Top Tips

  • Whatever you are making, choose a simple style with a small number of seams
  • Use a strong denim needle – size 90/14 or larger
  • Sew with heavy duty thread
  • Sew with a 3.5mm straight stitch
  • Use a steam iron or a dry one with a water spray or damp cloth to press out stubborn creases
  • Clean furnishings with a vacuum cleaner or water-free solvent

Find our selection of quality featherproof ticking here.

Questions & Comments

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I pre-soaked some ticking, as it had been stored a long time and was musty. The water quickly turned dark grey. So the colour is not fast. I put a colour catcher in the machine wash. I presumed cotton was washable. Why is this fabric not washable when it is cotton and has a dense weave? I thought it would be similar care like denim.
A shopper on Jan 21, 2019
BEST ANSWER: True ticking was traditionally used under other fabric so it didn't need to be washed. Dry cleaning is almost always recommended for decorative fabrics. This article explains why: www.onlinefabricstore.net/makersmill/can-i-wash-decor-fabric/
Is the ACA Blue Ticking 47/48" fire retardant?
A shopper on Aug 22, 2019
BEST ANSWER: It is not treated with a fire retardant.
I made 2 sofa slipcovers w/ Covington black and white ticking. My dog just Pottied on one end. What detergent can be used with this fabric? I plan on washing this.
A shopper on Apr 25, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Since the manufacturer recommends dry cleaning, they don't have suggestions on detergent. We would think a mild detergent would be best. Many people choose to wash fabric like this ticking. This article explains what could happen to the fabric if machine washed: www.onlinefabricstore.net/makersmill/can-i-wash-decor-fabric/
How do you clean ticking?
A shopper on Feb 25, 2018
BEST ANSWER: What are you using it for? You can vacuum and spot clean it if it can't be taken off to wash. If you can wash it, always pre-wash it because it will likely shrink.