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 Chenille Bedspread Super Plush Rare GreenWhite Cotton Bedspread Queen Size Chenille With Fringe Columbine Cody 102 X 120Vintage Chenille Bedspread Rare Retrac Tag Snow White Fabulous Full Size VtnsVintage 100% Cotton Chenille Bedspread Buttercup Yellow Queen King 92x105Beautiful Vintage Hand-crafted Crochet Single Bedspread Throw White Cotton Vintage Chenille Bedspread Needletufted Flowers And Chubby PopsVintage Chenille Bedspread Pink Roses Floral Cutter Piece 54 X 36 Cabin Craft?Antique Normandy Lace Bedspread Coverlet Hand Stitched Pieced Soft Fabulous Vtg+~vintage White "chenille" Fringed Blanket,bedspread..queen/king!!+~Vintage Floral Chenille Full Bedspread Cutter 97" X 91"Vintage Peacock Chenille Bedspread Blanket - White Pink Blue Pretty + Soft!Vintage Chenille Wedding Ring & Striped Coverlet Spread Bedspread Cutter QuiltVtg 50s 7'5" X 6' Cowboy Western Bates Bedspread Blanket-hopalong Cassidy Era-nrVintage Embroidered Paris Net Lace Bedspread Cutwork 1930sLovely Vintage Chenille Bedspread Pink Rosebuds Full Size EucVintage Italian Crushed Silk Velvet Bedspread 1930"s Cherub Art "the Proposal"Sampler Hand Made French Lace Bedspread 72" X 92" 1930s Romantic CoverletAntique Normandy Lace Coverlet French Bedspread France Ruffled Old VintageVintage Pink & White Chenille Bedspread Double/queenVintage Morgan Jones? Green Popcorn Silver Thread Cotton Chenille BedspreadVintage Cross Stitch Quilt~needlecraft "american Sampler" Bedspread~paragon Vintage Fieldcrest Imperial Rose Hobnail Chenille Bedspread Queen Soft BlueVintage Cabin Crafts Pink Chenille Popcorn BedspreadPink Chenille Bedspread VintageVintage Black Turquoise Blue & White Woven Reversible Coverlet Bedspread FringeVintage Chenille Bedspread Squiggles Design 100" X 107" As IsVintage Chenille Bedspread Full/queen, Green And WhiteVintage White Shabby Popcorn Chenille Full Size Bedspread Excellent 88 X 104Vintage Blue And White Chenille/matelasse Bedspread ( 81 X 108 Very Nice )Modern Heirloom Collection Rose Garden King Embroidered Bedspread Vtg Chenille Bedspread 76"x108" Double Full Bed Whte W Colorful Flowers TuftedDisney Polynesian Resort Wdw Turtle Blanket BedspreadFrette Charcoal 100% Cotton Queen BedspreadVintage Cabin Crafts Needle Tuft Chenille Bedspread Mint Green/white 96x112Vintage Burgundy Cotton Chenille Bedspread Throw 90" X 102" QueenBeautiful Vintage 1950's Pink Roses & Flowers Full Size Bedspread Coverlet3 Piece Bedspread Set Quilt Bedspread Floral Full Queen Flower Brown Gray RedIndian Elephant Print Wall Hanging Bedspread Tapestry Throw Decor Hippy India QVintage Plush Chenille Bedspread White & Blue/ Peach & Yellow FlowersVintagewhite/blue Design Chenille Bedspread 80"x112" Approx. Cotton Estate Fin Vintage Plush Lavender Shell Design Full Sz. Chenille Bedspread 96x102 + FringeVintage Chenille Bedspread Pale Green Full To Queen SizeVintage Pink Plaid Popcorn Chenille Bedspread (morgan Jones?) Vintage Carter Bros Chenille BedspreadAntique Hand Embroidered Bedspread Cream Silk Purple Blue Oriental Dragon C1920sMartha Stewart Park Stroll King Embroidered Bedspread & Standard Shams Set WhiteVintage Cotton Chenille Robin Egg Blue Floral Full Bedspread 105 1/2" X 87"Vintage Handcrafted Cross Stitch& Quilted Full BedspreadVintage Junk Gypsy Rockstar Purple Velvet Bedspread Full Fringe Hippie Cool SofaVintage White Floral Chenille Bedspread Cabin Crafts 93" X 107" Chenille Soft Bedspread, With Pom-pom Edges, White 84 X 100, Clean, PerfectDisney Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village Wdw King BedspreadVintage Double Peacock Chenille Bedspread 95 X 104 Vintage Barkcloth Bedspread - Bark Cloth Skirts, Crocheted Top - StunningModern Heirloom Collection Rose Garden Full Embroidered Bedspread Vintage Chenille Bedspread Pink White Hobnail Vintage Full Sz Bedspread Beige W Roses Shabby Chic 100"x90"+3" Fringe LinenGorgeous Vtg Flower Basket Chenille Bedspread-plush Chenille Pastel Full/queenVintage Crochet Queen Or Full Bedspread 76" X 68" Quilt, CoverletVintage Multi-color Floral & Blue On Light Blue Chenille Bedspread 88 X 96