Friday, January 8, 2010

Chenille, the French word for caterpillar....

is generally used to describe fabrics that have a thick pile (raised yarn ends) protruding all around at right angles. Although most tufted bedspreads did not meet the strict definition of chenille, the term stuck.

In the 1920's "spread houses" were established (usually small warehouses or homes). It was here that patterns were stamped onto sheets and men, called haulers, would then deliver the stamped sheets and yarn to thousands of rural homes where families then sewed in the patterns. The hauler would make another round of visits to pick up the spreads, pay the "tufters", and return the products to the spread houses for finishing. Finishing involved washing the spreads in hot water to shrink them and lock in the yarn tufts. Soon after these tufted bedspreads appeared on the shelves of department stores in Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and other major cities.

I've been collecting chenille bedspreads and pillows (all white of course) for the past few years. Nothing new mind you.... a "cutter" draped across the foot of my bed; folded just so to hide a hole or two and pillows of various shapes and sizes; sewn from vintage pieces layered in rows at the headboard. No embellishments, no fringes, no pom poms - simplicity is what creates their allure.


The Smith Hotel said...

I love chenille!!! I have a couple of baby blankets(vintage), some pillows my grandma made for me out of strip of chenille, even bed spreads....Loved learning the history of it too!!


Anonymous said...

Diane -- I absolutely love chenille. I found a queen bedspread at an antique store in Shreveport, LA (aunt lives there)...just adore the allure! ha it should be a caption for your blog.

Fran Letizia