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American Coverlets CTD 415: History of Textile Design Dr. Virginia S. Wimberley.

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Presentation on theme: "American Coverlets CTD 415: History of Textile Design Dr. Virginia S. Wimberley."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Coverlets CTD 415: History of Textile Design Dr. Virginia S. Wimberley

2 Definition of a Coverlet Woven Bedspread n Usually made of wool and cotton

3 Woven Fabric n Composed of warp and weft yarns n Warp yarns remains stationary and run vertically n Weft yarns are woven horizontally, back and forth through the warp

4 Looms n Simplest - one harness [ device through which the warp yarns are threaded] n Colonial home loom - two to four harnesses n Harnesses connected to treadles which raise or lower them

5 Earliest Coverlets n Woven on two harness hand looms n Four harness hand looms soon replaced the two harness n Loom set up in common room of the home or in a loom shed, separate from the main dwelling; usually women were weavers n Woven in two sections, each 30 to 50 inches in length, then sewn together

6 Professional male weavers gradually put an end to home weaving industry for coverlets.

7 Origins of Professional Weavers in U.S. n Attracted by – promise of ample employment – political stability n Country of origin – England – Ireland – Scotland – France – Germany

8 Professional Weavers n Many settled in the Northeast and Midwest n Many led an itinerant life, traveling from town to town in quest of clients in need of his services

9 Professional Weavers n Used 6 to 8 harness looms n Usually assisted by two apprentices or assistants n Most weavers used patterns that showed how to thread the loom n Most patterns resulted in geometric designs

10 Professional Weavers n Upon arrival in a new location, he would advertise in the local newspaper n Set up loom wherever he could find lodging n Client would select a pattern from the weaver’s book n Weaver would weave the coverlet with slight variations

11 Professional Weavers n Some weavers would establish themselves in a permanent location where the population was sufficient size to support a weaver on a regular basis n Often permanent shop weavers would also weave custom order carpets

12 Jacquard Attachment n 1820s saw the introduction of the Jacquard attachment which made curvilinear designs possible n Attachment controlled the movements of the harnesses n Consisted of punched cards n Accomplished weavers create own designs by punching new cards

13 Jacquard Attachment n Allowed the more efficient use of large numbers of harnesses n Most looms were fully or partially mechanized n As many as 40 harnesses

14 Coverlet Types

15 Overshot Coverlets n Four harness loom n Among earliest American woven bedcovers n Warp yarns of natural, undyed cotton- strength n Weft of dyed wool- warmth

16 Overshot Coverlets n Name comes from the weaving technique n Horizontal/weft yarns are allowed to skip or “overshoot” three or more vertical/warp yarns at a time n Thick but loosely woven appearance

17 Overshot Coverlets n Surface floats tend to abrade and wear out easily n Patterns usually combine stripes, squares and diamonds, using a “floating” weft of colored yarn over plain background

18 Overshot Coverlets n Coverlets were always made of two pieces and seamed through the middle n In the South, the belief was that an uneven seam would turn away evils spirits and insure good luck for the user of the coverlet

19 Double Weave Coverlets n Made on Handlooms n Made on fully or partially mechanized looms n As early as 1725 n Surviving examples from

20 Double Weave n Name - the use of two sets of warp and two sets of wefts, simultaneously n Produces two separate layers of cloth that are interwoven at pre- determined intervals n layers can be pulled apart within design

21 Double Weave n Pattern is repeated on the other side, usually in a lighter color n This type is confused with Summer and Winter coverlets due to reversability but they are a single layer

22 Summer and Winter n Originated in PA n Early 1800s n Created by professional weavers from Germany n Five or more harnesses

23 Summer and Winter n Similar to Overshot coverlets n Differs in that supplementary weft never goes over more than 3 warp threads at a time

24 Summer and Winter n Name refers to the fact that the pattern is reversed on the other side n Lighter side - summer; darker -winter

25 Jacquard Coverlets n Loom with special mechanical devise n Introduced by French weaver Joseph Jacquard in 1801 n Brought to America in the 1820s n Attachment speeded production

26 Jacquard Attachment n Attachment organized warp and weft threads according to holes on a series of cards n Cards activated the loom and dictated the pattern n Could be added to existing looms to make Double Weave coverlets

27 Jacquard Attachment and Design n Possible to create unseamed coverlets n Coverlets with complicated curvilinear patterns and elaborate borders n Border designs with trains, eagles, buildings, urns n Weaver in one corner included his name, name of destined owner, and town, state and date of weaving

28 Jacquard Coverlets n Complicated curvilinear patterns n Elaborate borders n Borders so distinctive that collectors specialize n Eagles, urns, rosettes, buildings, trains

29 Jacquard Coverlet Signature Block n Allowed for more precise information about origins n Handweavers could weave names but very time- consuming and rarely attempted

30 Colors and Dyes n All four types used limited color range – limited to natural dyes available for wool – limited to dyes available locally or by import n Most popular indigo – imported from India – derived from wild plant in Southern states n Red also popular – imported from Asian madder root – South American cochineal

31 Typical Coloration with Red and Blue

32 Dyes n Imported dyes sold by itinerant peddlers in Northeast n Later general stores throughout country n Homemade vegetable dyes – brown - bark of red oak or hickory – yellow - peach leaves, golden rod, black-eye susans

33 Weaving Mills n By mid 19th C. coverlets produced in weaving mills on fully mechanized looms n Most located in industrial Northeast and parts of Midwest n Size varied but usually several weavers banding together n Initially factories specialized in textile materials and carpets

34 Weaving Mills n Popularity of woven bedcovers encouraged them to move into coverlet production

35 Example Mills n Cockfair Mills – Indiana – 1916 – carding and fulling cotton – converted to weaving – seven employees – water powered looms n Franklin Woolen Factory – Ohio – three employees – In coverlets – and 1500 yards of carpet – valued at $3700

36 Mill Signature Blocks n Devised their own signature block or trademark n Blocks included – name of factory – maker – date n Trademark linear design or picture motif

37 Demise of the Industry n During the Civil War, most factories converted to blankets n Hand weaving never recovered from the war era n Parts of Appalachia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois kept the tradition to limited extent n 1876 Philadelphia Centennial inspired brief revival


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