Coverlets are a woven bedcover. Unlike a quilt which is made from cloth that is sewn and pieced together, a coverlet is woven on a loom. Early coverlets woven in the 1700’s were mostly geometric patterns, but in the early 1800’s the Jacquard Loom was invented which simplified the process of weaving complex patterns in a short amount of time.
Professional weavers -who were men owned these jacquard looms, and they could weave intricate patterns like flowers, trees, stars, eagles, and even words. It was common for a jacquard coverlet to have the weavers name and date woven in the corner. Sometimes the name of the person who commissioned the coverlet was added. When you see a ladies name woven in the corner, it will be the owner, not the weaver.
Most coverlets were made from wool and cotton. The wool for these coverlets was often spun and dyed at home and then delivered to a local weaver who made the coverlet. The wool was usually dyed a dark blue from indigo or red from madder (indigo and madder are both plants), and the cotton was the un-dyed natural color. Because most looms are narrow, coverlets were often made of two woven panels and joined with a center seam. The cost was about $2.00 - $4.00.
After the Civil War, weavers could no longer compete with the cheap yarn goods being imported, so that was the end of the coverlet business.
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