Though they might not have been as well known as big time industry players like Cabin Crafts or Morgan Jones, there were plenty of other high quality manufacturers of vintage chenille bedspreads back in the day. While we’re working diligently to gather the history of every chenille manufacturer we can, we’ve currently devoted this page to some lesser known manufacturers.
We’re hoping it serves as a starting point to build upon as we research additional information, and as a conversation starter for those of you out there who may remember some of the more elusive manufacturers.
Do you have any info on these chenille manufacturers? Reach out to us here – any info you have would be most appreciated, so we can share more of the history of vintage chenille with as wide an audience as possible. Thank you in advance!
Here’s a list of the manufacturers we’ve covered below. The only two for which more information is available are both UK-based manufacturers of what there are known as “candlewick bedspreads” – Diana Cowpe and Vantona. Since many of you in the States don’t come into Diana Cowpe or Vantona candlewick bedspreads all that often, we’ve included them on this page instead…
- Diana Cowpe
- Fruit of the Loom
- Lady Galt
- Martex / Pepperell / West Point
- SunSpun (or Sun Spun)
- Taylor Maker
Rome, Georgia-based long gone chenille bedspread manufacturer Dellinger is known among collectors for their often simple yet lovely designs on a quality cotton ground cloth. According to the West Georgia Textile History Trail website, the company was founded by a gentleman named Walter Dellinger in the 1930s when demand for chenille was high. Post WWII when popularity of chenille waned, Delligner went on to produce carpet before its closure.
This UK-based manufacturer is still making what are there known as candlewick bedspreads today – in the same spirit of yesteryear, on looms such as were used in the 1930s. Though the company is based in the UK, the looms are from the US – how interesting is that? According to their current website, the company got its start making candlewicks in 1949 and purchased the Diana Cowpe brand from Vantona Group in the 1990s. Spreads can still be purchased new from the manufacturer, and you can find older ones on the UK-based eBay and similar sites.
They probably made a bit of a misstep when it came to the name, because we think it should really be Ever-So-Gorgeous! Heard of this old company? If you have, you may know that they were the company behind some of the iconic retro satin bedspreads – typically you’ll see a thick, luxurious satin basecloth adorned with sumptuous chenille tufting. The most common colors you’ll find are whites, ivories, and pinks; more elusive colors are ice blues, mints and teals.
Everwear also made plenty of other chenille as well, but many of us first remember them for their satin and chenille beauties. As for the company itself, we consulted the outstanding book (that we’re always singing the praises of), Southern Tufts by Ashley Callahan. There, we discovered the company established a Dalton, GA-based plant in 1934. Later on, Vantona Textiles took over the English branch of Everwear.
Fruit of the Loom:
I bet you were thinking about the infamous underwear manufacturer, right? Well in case you didn’t know, FTL made vintage chenille spreads way back when. They’re not particularly easy to find, but they’re out there.
We’ve found that the vast majority of old Fruit of the Loom chenille spreads are usually a simple chenille design tufted onto a medium weight cotton groundcloth. They may not have produced some of the premier designs in vintage chenille, but they’re worth a mention here if only because many people may not even be aware they made chenille bedspreads.
As for Fruit of the Loom – it had its beginnings in 1850s New England; the name has some interesting roots. Wikipedia reports that the moniker parallels “fruit of the womb” meaning “children”, which can be traced back a Biblical Psalm…
She’s an elusive lady to be sure…most of you will remember Lady Galt for their outstanding woven grid patterns, the most popular colors being shades of pink (hot pink and softer, carnation pink) and green (a true 1950s-60s deep minty-green), both with white woven gridwork and always top quality fringe, very often in coordinating colors. Are you a crafter or collector (both, maybe)? See if you can pick out the Lady Galt woven fabric in one of our Charlotte’s Cozy Quilt Square sets…I believe this was a Canadian manufacturer, as I’ve brought many a Lady Galt vintage bedspread back from trips to Canada over the years.
Lady Galt’s woven bedspreads remain popular (when you can find them), especially amongst quilters and crafters, for their strong consistency and for the unique presence they bring into a finished project. Instead of the boring, cheap department store woven fabric you might be thinking of, Lady Galt bedspreads commanded attention with all the hallmarks of quality in vintage textiles design (not to mention some of the best fringe you’ll find).
Martex / Pepperell / West Point:
Ever seen one of your squiggle chenille bedspreads (you know, the ones with the frilly fab ruffled skirts) branded “Martex” or “Martex/Cabin Crafts”? How about Pepperell? And to that end – what do they all have in common? A lot.
The history of what is now known as West Point-Pepperell, Inc. is impressive – and the company remains in existence today. Obviously there is much more than we can cover in a quick summary post. If you’d like to learn more about this legendary company, check out this resource from FundingUniverse.com and an excellent source of info from Maine History Online, complete with outstanding images and early history.
The first Pepperell-branded bed sheet rolled out (no pun intended) way back in 1851. By 1866, Pepperell was operating 3 mills, but it wasn’t until 1926 that their infamous “Lady Pepperell” sheets were introduced. Here’s the connection to Martex and Cabin Crafts: Martex came first when, in 1928, West Point bought a PA-based manufacturer of bath towels – along with it came the Martex trademark brand name. In 1946, Cabin Crafts Incorporated, by then a subsidiary of West Point, was established in Georgia.
Business was booming in the 1960s – a 1965 merger between West Point Manufacturing Company and Pepperell Manufacturing Company gave birth to West Point-Pepperell, Inc. The positive momentum kept up, and in a short period of time, each of the company’s brands (Martex and Lady Pepperell included) boasted a full line of bed and bath products.
And what about West Point-Pepperell today? According to FundingUniverse, this major company is the “top-selling U.S. producer of domestic bed linens and the number two producer of bath towels.” Not surprising, given the illustrious history of this textiles manufacturer.
As far as chenille goes, Pepperell is a personal favorite of mine – my most cherished are deep, decadently rich burgundy colorways featuring a pattern such as the aqua one shown here. The quality is outstanding, and if I were alive back when those fabulous Pepperell chenille bedspreads were rolling off the assembly lines, I’d gladly have been their spokeswoman singing the praises of their designs!
Australia-based company Supertex Industries Pty Ltd began in the 1940s; by the late 1980s, they had acquired the assets of Jeldi manufacturing. According to the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, “Supertex had the monopoly on manufacture of bedspreads and gowns in Australia and at one point exported 80,000 bathrobes per annum to the United States where they were sold in Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.”
When it came to producing quality bathrobes that stood out both for longevity and design over the competition, Supertex didn’t disappoint. If you’re lucky, you can still come across an old Supertex chenille bedspread or robe from many decades ago – if you do – scoop it up quick because this is one of those vintage chenille manufacturers that is a must in any serious collection.
I have little to no info for you on Sun Spun (sometimes spelled as the singular, SunSpun) – but I can tell you this: the vintage chenille bedspreads I have bearing their tag are some of the highest quality I own.
My sister’s response is always the same when I make mention of their quality, “That might be true, but my sewing machine hates them.” This, I cannot argue. I have had the experience of watching her try to work with some old SunSpun – particularly the ultra-heavily tufted wedding ring and pops design, and it is no easy feat. She even tried buying an entirely different sewing machine once…no luck. My auntie’s advice? “Just give up on those. I did, years ago.”
So there you have it…if what you seek is super plush tufting atop a heavyweight groundcloth (many even feel like canvas to me), Sun Spun chenille bedspreads are an excellent choice for you. And if you happen to know anything about this old-time manufacturer of some of the heaviest quality chenille bedspreads I know, please do share!
Some fascinating history here, courtesy of Anne at SunnyShenille. When I told Anne that I’d traced the RN#, 31143, from a NOS “squiggle” type bedspread (original photograph here) to “The Taylor Maker” in Dalton GA, she explained, “Taylor Maker was the name of Cabin Crafts after it changed hands.”
If you have an RN# you want to look up, it’s easy – just visit the FTC site here:
https://rn.ftc.gov/Account/BasicSearch. Based on what you find, you can use Google to research more information. Many old companies from yesteryear – not just textile companies – can be very difficult to research. They might have essentially vanished completely when they went out of business, or have been absorbed by another larger company at some point.
Anne even had the opportunity to talk to one of the owners of Taylor Maker, a woman now in her 80’s who had worked for Cabin Crafts years ago. So, this really belongs on the Cabin Crafts history page, but we wanted to include it here since few of you will know this fun little historical tidbit.
It goes without saying Anne is one of the best resources out there for outstanding quality chenille bedspreads and English candlewicks, as well as a wealth of information on the history of chenille. Visit her online at her website here – I can almost guarantee you’ll want every gorgeous piece of chenille she has!
Another of my top favs, Vantona made the English version of Morgan Jones rosebud bedspreads. And were they ever drop dead gorgeous. In my personal opinion, the colors were both more unique and vivid than Morgan Jones – but of course, this is all just a matter of opinion. To your left is a beautiful wine colored Vantona-branded candlewick bedspread with big fluffy citrine colored pops that almost look like jewels glimmering when the spread is on the bed.
According to the company website, Vantona dates back to the late 1700s with a rich history that has allowed them to witness “the rise and demise of the British textile industry.” As you may know, the company offered a range of bed and bath product offerings early on, including bed linens and towels.
Here’s an interesting fact: Vantona made it through the Indian boycott of British cotton which devastated the mills of Lancashire and was able to supply textile goods to the armed forces during WWII.
Today, the company says it is still family-owned and continues to offer a range of quality product offerings to consumers, both in the UK and abroad.
For now, that about wraps up our summary of some lesser known manufacturers of vintage chenille bedspreads (or in the UK, candlewick bedspreads). We’ll be continuing to add to this round-up as we research more information and additional companies.
If you have a piece of history to share about any of these companies, or another vintage chenille bedspread manufacturer altogether, we would love to hear from you. Please do reach out to us anytime.[simple-author-box]