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Mommy, Mommy, Theres a Caterpillar on my Bed

Chenille has been used for bedspreads since Catherine Evans revived the craft in the 1890's. She applied raised tufts of yarn to cotton sheeting and these spreads were often referred to as chenille products. Chenille is the French word for caterpillar - the yarn looks like those fuzzy little creatures. Thick pile of yarn ends stuck out all around at right angles. Stamps were created into a pattern and the yarn was stuck on to fill in the pattern. Bedspreads from this craft were all the rage in the 20's. The demand was so high that new warehousing systems were developed to put out these products. This truly developed from a cottage industry in that haulers would deliver stamped sheets to the women of north Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. They would then pick up the spread, pay the women and take the spreads back to the warehouse. A final finishing of washing in hot water locked in the yarns. They were also dyed in all kinds of colors.

By the 30's, chenille bedspreads would be seen in most homes all along the east coast and beyond. Since they were so popular, manufacturers started mass producing the spreads in factories. Sewing machines were invented to do the process that was once done only by hand. The remarkable success of the chenille products lead to robes, toilet seat covers, rugs and more. Of course, bigger is better so a special machine was designed to create a piece of fabric that was at least nine by twelve for a whole room. By the 50's chenille was in every home all over the country. My mom had several spreads in different colors and yours probably did too. I still search out vintage bedspreads at flea markets, and if you find them in good shape they fetch a good price as well. My mother in law had a pink chenille spread she started using for a drop cloth. YIKES. I snatched it up quickly, but now it is cut into pieces ready to become the next bear or sheep.

Many crafters take pieces of this caterpillar material and create toys and stuffed animals. It has become quite chic to have chenille in your child's room. New material is everywhere, or you can still find some vintage pieces. Furniture is also popular in a girl's room that has been covered with pastel chenille. You can combine new chenille with vintage and that's perfectly acceptable. The soft texture adds to the warmth and charm you look for in a nursery or little girl's room. If you know how to knit, the colors of chenille yarn on the market is huge. You can find kitschy robes with every imaginable motif.

Some cute young styles are cell phones, lipstick and nail polish, coffee mugs, shoes, and every conceivable animal. I'm glad chenille has made such a comeback in the market. Its fuzzy texture takes us back to a simpler time. The "caterpillar" was beloved in my home and still is today. Try it in your decorating plans and see how this nostalgic fabric complements everything else you have in the house. Thank you Catherine Evans for working so hard with your friends to make this a long lasting fabric we cherish today.

Bev Marshall is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers buying mattresses, baby bedding, bedding, duvet covers and more. Her many articles can be found at She gives information and tips on to help you save money, make informed buying decisions and common sense ideas for changing your life.

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