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THE HISTORY OF CHENILLE

In 1895, a teenager named Catherine Evens came across an old Civil War-era tufted bedspread and became inspired to make her own. Despite, or perhaps in spite of, parental warnings that she'd never finish such a project. Catherine kept at her work until a year later she had her first bedspread. She'd marked it using quilting frames, hand stitched it using thick yarns she spun herself, and finally boiled the spread three times to shrink it and bind the yarn tight. She was 15 years old and had just reinvented a process for creating a bedspread.

The technique of tufting dates back as far as textile history. In fact, we know that during the mid-1800s, tufted designs were used first to make repairs to bedspreads, and later simply to adorn them. But the…

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  • Joined September 19, 2009

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Vintage Cotton Chenille Bedspreads, Vintage Linens, Antique Quilts, New Fabrics

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About

THE HISTORY OF CHENILLE

In 1895, a teenager named Catherine Evens came across an old Civil War-era tufted bedspread and became inspired to make her own. Despite, or perhaps in spite of, parental warnings that she'd never finish such a project. Catherine kept at her work until a year later she had her first bedspread. She'd marked it using quilting frames, hand stitched it using thick yarns she spun herself, and finally boiled the spread three times to shrink it and bind the yarn tight. She was 15 years old and had just reinvented a process for creating a bedspread.

The technique of tufting dates back as far as textile history. In fact, we know that during the mid-1800s, tufted designs were used first to make repairs to bedspreads, and later simply to adorn them. But the skill was lost before the turn of the century, opening the door for Catherine's breakthrough and business success. Her first attempts at tufted spreads were very much admired, so she made one for a relative's wedding present. Soon after she started receiving orders. By 1909, she was farming out orders to her neighbors in the Dalton, Goergia, area, and local cotton mills were manufacturing special sheeting to her specifications, designed to shrink in both directions to bind the tufts.

Catherine designed her patterns, mainly copying from designs she found on quilts and curtains. She used pie pans or tin lids to help mark her patterns, and, later, used wood blocks. In 1918 - Eugenia Jarvis teamed up with Catherine and started soliciting business from far away, landing an order from John Wanamaker's in Philadelphia. That's when business really began to boom for Catherine and the whole area.

Many entreprenurs jumped to the bat and began hunting up big orders. Mill production in the area began to focus on supplying sheeting and yarn. People with cars or trucks got to work hauling the craft supplies out to the countryside and hauling back tufted spreads. And farm families got to work - mother, father, and children - stitching away. During a national depression, tufted bedspreads were a lifeline in Dalton, Georgia.

A book by Thomas M. Deaton - Bedspreads to Broadloom: The Story of the Tufted Carpet Industry - tells the whole story in great detail. And a wonderful story it is, full of tales about southern women who pack their best spread, splurge on a train ticket, and head north to approach department store managers with the offer of more spreads to sell. They returned home with huge orders - the stores couldn't stock enough. It was a scramble in Dalton to find enough cotton to keep eager crafters' hands busy. Factories or "spread houses" were springing up in abandoned barns and warehouses around the area. Plus, the designs became treasured family secrets - with guards watching over the product from loom to boiling vat to the customer's door.

Then came mechanization, with the clever men who worked out designs for machines to speed up production and those who were employed to keep them in operation. There are many tales of those who became rich, and of those who should have. As the machines grew in usefulness and scale, the economy of Dalton shifted toward bigger projects. As chenille gradually fell from popularity in the 1960's, the spread houses transformed themselves into carpet manufacturing centers, an industry that defines Dalton to this day.

Your Grandmother or your Mother will be the ones who remember these amazing cotton textiles.

VINTAGE CHENILLE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, SNUGGLY, FEEL GOOD COTTON TEXTILE EVER MADE! IT WAS SO WONDERFUL IN A BEDSPREAD. BUT TO FEEL IT IN A QUILT :) :) NOTHING ELSE COMPARES!

Hi Everybody, Welcome to the Pink Palace.

Here you will find many different handmade originals. I have been creating for years using vintage chenille bedspreads. I have looked at Etsy and have often been asked to join from other sellers who are my friends. I will only offer you the best fabrics on the market. I will be creating from many vintage chenille bedspreads that are in my collection so check back often to see different designs in chenille.

My best, Elle

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