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Woven for Comfort and Joy: Nineteenth-Century American Coverlets

May 22, 2004–April 10, 2005

Nineteenth-century coverlets reflect the technological improvements and changing tastes of the time. This installation includes a dozen colorful, loom-woven bedcoverings selected from the museum's collection, with designs ranging from dazzling repeat patterns to a Centennial coverlet with an image of Memorial Hall, the museum's first home.

The coverlets on view illustrate the characteristics of various weaving techniques. Overshot weave examples have lively geometric patterns made through the use of wool floating wefts, while double weave versions are warm and heavy with sharply delineated geometric or figurative motifs. Some double cloth coverlets, as well as those woven in the "tied Beiderwand" technique, were made using the Jacquard mechanism, introduced to the United States in the 1820s. This device, named after the Frenchman who perfected it in the early-nineteenth century, revolutionized textile production by simplifying the weaving of fancy figurative motifs. The Jacquard coverlets on view boast elaborate designs of flowers, trees, birds, buildings, and patriotic symbols, and sometimes include the name of the weaver or client and the place and date the coverlet was made.

The installation also features rare early manuscripts of weaving patterns.

Main Building


Kristina Haugland, Assistant Curator of Costume and Textiles

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