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    

Vintage Yellow White Chenille Cutter Bedspread Blue/pink Flowers Loaded Vintage Chenille Morgan Jones Pink Rosebud Bedspread Piece, 72" X 62", NiceVtg 90x100 Needletuft Chenille White & Mc Floral Motifs Bedspread / Cutter ? Vintage Cotton Chenille Bedspread Full/queen 93" X 102" Pink Blue Yellow Green Vintage Chenille Bedspread Blue Pink Flowers White Fringe, 92x92"Antique Pa Wool Hand Woven Jacquard Coverlet Bedspread Grapevine FloralVintage 50s 60s Bedspread Twin Novelty Chief Horse Desert Dream Catcher IndianVintage Linen Bedspread / Very Large Tablecloth Beautiful Whitework Antique Hand Embroidered Irish Linen White Bedspread Banquet Cloth ~ Exquisite Vintage Pair Of Peacocks Chenille Bedspread 88" X 101"Antique Very Rare Finely Crochet Lace Bedspread Natural In Color Very Primitive Nativity Set Mary Jospeh Baby Jesus Manger Early Quilts CoverletsVintage Full Size Chenille Bedspread, Lovely Floral Design 88" X 104"Elegant Vintage Bates George Washington Hobnail Bedspread Gold TagHand Made Vintage Crochet Table Cloth Or Bedspread 84" X 104"2of2 Antique Vtg French Tapestry Jacquard Bedspread-fabric Floral UpholsteryVintage Antique Alice In Wonderland Stitch Kit Bedspread Child Coverlet 1920'sVintage Satin Bedspread Reversible Rose & Blue 72 X 82 GorgeousVintage Chenille Bedspreads 72 By 95Vintage Chenille Bedspread White Blue Floral Diamond Twin Full ExcellentLovely Dusty Rose Chenille Bedspread- 94 X 106Atq Vintage Italian Velvet Pastoral Bedspread Tapestry Geisha Coverlet CarpetQueen Gently Used Vintage Goodwin (family) Guild Jacquard Coverlet, Pine Trees!Vintage Shabby Floral Chic Pink Ribbons Jacquard Woven Bates Blanket BedspreadVintage Salmon / Orange Cotton Chenille Bedspread Vintage Hand Crocheted White Lace Tablecloth Or Bed Coverlet~78 X 90~gorgeous!!Antique Vintage Hand Crocheted Full Bed Spread Coverlet Off White /pink 88"x 88"Vintage Bedspread Handmade Chenille -100x82 White Star Fish, Fish, Ocean PatternGreat Bates George Washington Bedspread~white Chenille~ 98 X 104Vtg 92" X 102" Chenille Cotton Bedspread Cutter Full Queen Blue Floral FlowersChenille Bedspread TwinCabin Craft Pink Yellow Blue Throw Pillow Case From Chenille Bedspread 12"x 16"Purple Red Peacock Tail Eyes Throw Pillow Case From Chenille Bedspread 12"x 16"Cabin Craft Pink Blue Pearls Throw Pillow Case From Chenille Bedspread 12" X 16"Pink Hofmann Daisy Blue Pink Throw Pillow Case From Chenille Bedspread 12"x16"Antique Cabin Craft Pink & White Throw Pillow From Chenille Bedspread 16"x16"Orange Chenille BedspreadVintage Double Peacock Chenille Bedspread Square Corners CutterVtg Bedspread Bed Cover Hand Embroidered Ribbons Bows Flowers 89x73"Retro Chenille Bedspread Purple Twin Fringed Excellent ConditionVintage Chenille Bedspread - Colorful Pastel Flowers -86" By 98" -cutterAntique White Cotton Tulle Lace Bedspread - Hand Embroidery, Filet & Bobbin LaceAntique Cream Cotton Tulle Lace Bedspread - Tambour Embroidery ApplesVintage Irish Linen Hand Embroidered Bedspread Or Tablecloth Art Deco StyleVintage White Cotton Bedspread Or Tablecloth Woven Embossed Floral Design 100" LVintage 85" X 92" Light Aqua Pastel Flowered Cotton Tufted Chenille BedspreadVtg Light Yellow Chenille Bedspread, 94 By 86" Plus FringeVintage Snowy White Cotton Chenille Bedspread 92x102Vintage Chenille Cotton Baby Crib Coverlet Spread 3 Birds AdorableVintage Chenille Bedspread - 96 X 100 - CutterVintage Crib Cotton Chenille Spread Coverlet 1940's Blue White Flowers LatticeVintage 60s 70s Throw Blanket Daisy Floral Flower Knit Boho Kitschy BedspreadLovely Vintage Chenille Bedspread~pretty Floral~Vintage Elephant Mandala Wall Hanging Tapestry Hippie Throw Bohemian BedspreadVtg.lion Jungle Apolo Mink Heavy Plush Blanket Comforter Bedspread 80x86"Indian Vintage Kantha Bedspread Quilts Blanket Throw Bedding Handmade Decor Ar17Vintage World Map Mandala Wall Hanging Tapestry Bedspread Dorm Living Room DecorVintage Geometric Red White Cotton Mid Century Modern Retro King Size BedspreadVintage Cotton Summer Bedspread Hand Embroidered Flowers 76x84Vintage 50's French Poodle Chenille Bedspread 91" X 63" Center Poodle Cutter?