Whether it's a plain coverlet, a hand-embroidered labor of love, or a white-on-white masterpiece in chenille or lace, a good bedspread can brighten any bedroom and instantly make it a gallery for functional art.

While bedspreads or bed covers were often manufactured and sold for the specific purpose of decorating the top of a bed and hiding the boxspring and bed frame below, anything could be used as a bedspread. For example, quilts and blankets, from Navajo to Hudson Bay, often played the role of bedspread, whether or not their designs matched the bed’s pillowcases and sheets.

Woven coverlets from the mid-1800s coincided with the proliferation of the Jacquard loom, which industrialized the traditions of hand weavers in the United States and elsewhere. Overshot coverlets almost always had tight, geometric designs. Double-weave coverlets tended to have floral patterns, while single-weave “summer-winter” coverlets were reversible, with a darker pattern on one side and a lighter reverse design on the other.

Fringed or trimmed bedspreads with large embroidered images on their fronts were popular in the 1920s and ’30s. Frequently long enough to cover the bolsters at the head of the bed, these bedspreads featured floral wreath and basket designs, as well as various renditions of the so-called “Colonial girl.” Children’s bedspreads were often embroidered with nursery-rhyme images, which sometimes extended to matching curtains and throw pillows.

Another favorite type of decorative bedspread used a fine net or mesh of silk or linen that was embroidered with flowers or bucolic scenes. Because of their almost transparent nature, these bedspreads were usually meant to lie on top of a colored sheet, which were often coordinated with the embroidery. Lace bedspreads produced similar effects; to a lesser extent, so did crocheted ones.

But perhaps the most favored bedspread of the 20th century was made of chenille, a thick yarn spun from cotton, rayon, or other natural or manufactured fibers that was then sewn onto a base fabric, usually cotton, to create a soft, tufted material. Though the process had been around since the 18th century, it was updated in the 1890s by a Georgia woman named Catherine Evans Whitener, whose passion for chenille made her state a capital for the textile.

Chenille bedspreads produced in Georgia during the 1920s and ’30s were a hybrid of manufacturing practices and handcrafting. Companies would stamp their desired patterns onto cot...

Peacocks were a favorite pattern, and they were so ubiquitous fluttering from clotheslines in the 1930s that Highway 41 was sometimes called Peacock Alley. Eventually, manufacturers such as Morgan Jones and Cabin Crafts cut out the tufters, producing their hobnail, buttonhole, pink dot, and other chenille bedspreads in their factories.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

LACMA Luxury Textiles

LACMA Luxury Textiles

Textile collectors shouldn't miss this microsite from the LA County Museum of Art, a great reference on European an… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Stunning Vintage Welsh Wool Tapestry Blanket/throw/bedspread Fab Colours 94"x68"Very Vintage Hudson Bay 3.5 Point Wool Striped Blanket Cabin Rustic BedspreadVintage Medium Weight Mint Green Chenille Bedspread With Flowers & ScrollVintage Chenille Bedspread With Bluebirds Of Happiness ~~ 103" X 76"Disney Port Orleans Resort Royal Room Princess Comforter Blanket Bedspread PropDisney Caribbean Beach Resort Finding Nemo Dory Comforter Blanket BedspreadAnne De Solene "dalhia" Queen Bedspread WhiteVintage Blue & White Full Size Chenille Bedspread With Fringe 93" X 101" GucGorgeous Heavyweight Plush Pink Chenille Bedspread With Basket Of FlowersVintage Chenille Bedspread - Full/double Size CottonHeavy Cotton Vintage Chenille BedspreadIndian Twin Wall Hanging Bedspread Heart Shaped Elephant Tree Of Life Tapestry Vintage Floral Pattern Candlewick BedspreadDisney Art Of Animation Resort Room The Little Mermaid Bedspread Comforter Prop Vtg Chic Hand Crochet Lace Floral 100% Cotton Coverlet Bedspread Shabby CottageVintage 1950's Eames Era Mid Century Fabric Material Double Bedspread Barkcloth☆chirstmas Red Reindeer Snowflake Throw Blanket Bedspread Queen Double 87"x87"Vintage White Chenille Bedspread Hearts Bouquets Heavy Tufts 102" X 92" CutterDisney Port Orleans Resort French Quarter Comforter Blanket Bedspread PropAntique Scottish Country House White Cotton Large Marcella Embossed BedspreadVintage Pink & White Chenille Bedspread Full SizeVtg Plush Chenille Bedspread Double Wedding Ring Grid White On GreenIndian Tapestry Wall Hanging Hippie Elephant Mandala Bedspread Ethnic Throw ArtHandmade Snowman Antique Chenille Bedspread Christmas Stocking LargeRound Mandala Hippie Throw Wall Hanging Boho Bedspread Round TapestryMissoni Home Gretel Ivory Codice 100% Canvas Cotton Queen Bedspread, 96" X 98"Vintage Chenille Bedspread White And Red Flowers In A Square 89" X 102"Vintage Cotton Chenille Bedspread Queen Size Gold Brown Gorgeous Thick PlushOff White Cotton Blend Embossed Bedspread & 2 Shams/92 X 84"/full-queen SizeVintage Chenille Twin BedspreadIndian Classic Twin Tree Of Life Wall Hanging Ethnic Bedspread Tapestry ThrowVintage White Pink Blue Yellow Flowers Fluffy Chenille Bedspread Full100 X 106" Massive Quilt/bedspread....beautiful. Chic Shabby Cotton....Hand Made, Vintage, Beautiful Cross Stitch Bedspread; 92" X 66" (twin Size ?)Euc Bates Chenille Bedspread Antique White Full 96 X 100 Inches W/ Original BoxVintage Bright Yellow Cotton Chenille BedspreadVintage Chenille Cotton Bedspread Perfect Plush 103 X 92 Queen Mauve White 3 Piece Smiling Home Mk Collection Green/blue Queen Cotton Quilted Bedspread SetStunning Vintage Hand Made, Rustic Cross Stitch All Cotton Bedspread, 99" X 77"Indian Elephant Tree Beach Throw Tapestry Bohemian Wall Hanging Bedspread.3Indian Elephant Tapestry Wall Hanging Hippie Bedspread Boho Beach Picnic Sheet..Vintage Roy Rogers Blanket Bedspread Trigger Double R Bar RanchHippie Sun & Moon Tapestry Indian Wall Hanging Throw Ethnic Decor BedspreadMandala Tie Dye Bohemian Wall Hanging Beach Sheet Bedspread Mandal TapestryIndian Hippie Tapestry Mandala Wall Hanging Cotton Bedspread Bedding Home Decor Indian Mandala Tapestry Wall Hanging Bohemian Bedspread Ombre Beach TapestryVintage Polyester Chenille Colorful Yellow Orange Green Full Size BedspreadIndian Mandala Blue Tree Of Life Wall Hanging Tapestry Throw Decor Bedspread YtTwin Indian Mandala Hippie Tapestry Wall Hanging Bedding Bedspread Ethnic ThrowVintage Dark Salmon Colored Plush Floral Chenille Bedspread Double 88 X 100Ralph Lauren Bedding King Size Bedspread/comforter Grasslands FloralVintage Chenille Bedspread White Red Black Grey Plaid Stripe Square 104" X 80"Vintage Hand Crocheted Bedspread And 2 Matching Hand Crocheted Pillow ShamsRalph Lauren Denim Comforter Bedspread Twin SizeVintage White Cotton Chenille Bedspread With Blue And Lavender 104" X 86" CutterTwin Size Chenille Bedspread, White With Pink And Green Floral Design Tapestry Wall Hanging Indian Bohemian Hippie Bedspread Cotton Decor ArtPsychedelic Hippie Tapestry Wall Hanging Bedspread Bohemian Twin Ethnic DecorVintage Chenille Bedspread - White/green Lightweight-handmadeVintage Very Large Chenille Bedspread 100 Inches By 120 Inches Knobby Chenille