The Beauty of Vintage Chenille…
The beauty of anything vintage is that it’s not perfect – just like people. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, faults and talents, plusses and minuses. And that’s the way it is with vintage chenille.
The varied colors, textures, wear spots and worn out spots in any vintage chenille piece are as varied as a human’s journey through life. Each piece of chenille tells me a story…and crazy as it may sound to those that aren’t familiar with the deep affection chenille enthusiasts have for the thick fluffs and tufts, sometimes I can almost feel the person’s energy in the clusters of soft tufts.
Everything “old” has a story to tell.
Every piece of fabric, every tuft of chenille, has a rich tapestry of its storied life held within. If you’re willing to still your own thoughts for a minute and listen, it will tell you. How many of the chenille bedspreads soaked up sorrowful tears?
Old movie enthusiasts will recall such an emotional scene in “I’ll Be Seeing You,” with Joseph Cotton, Shirley Temple and Ginger Rogers. Rogers, on a pass from prison, meets up with Cotton, who is suffering from battle fatigue and out on leave in WWII. Temple doesn’t realize Rogers hadn’t told Cotton of her situation, fearing he would cast her aside forever.
In true teenage naivety, Temple tells Cotton about Rogers’ prison term. When Rogers discovers what happened, she crumples into the chenille bedspread, sobbing and clutching the spread.
Oh, how many, many chenille bedspreads have soaked up such sorrow! How many little tufts have disappeared through the years as anguished hands have clasped at the fluffs, simply holding on to something as the rest of the world around them spun out of control. That’s what gives birth to vintage items. They have marks, just as humans are marked by events in their lives.
Chenille is for day dreaming, too.
In the 1943 movie Shadow of a Doubt with Teresa Wright, an early scene shows Wright relaxing on her chenille bedspread, hands tucked under her head, contemplating the issues of life. Oh, how many of us have had those day?
With a huge popularity of chenille in the 1940s, many of the bedspreads and robes have war memories tucked inside their little tufts. How many lonely wives held on only to their chenille bedspread while their husbands fought in the war?
A huge movie hit from the WWII years was “Since You Went Away,” with Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple and Claudette Colbert. Just after Colbert sees her husband off on the train, she returns to her bedroom. Lying on her own bed, she gazes over at the empty bed next to her, neatly made and topped with a chenille bedspread.
Crying, she jumps off her bed onto her husbands, crying into the chenille her husband’s name, over and over. How many other chenille bedspreads have tears from the war…not only tears from wives whose husbands who were sent off on a train…but tears for those who never returned.
An Energy of Deep Love…
Sometimes, some of the big old cabbage rose spreads have an energy of deep love, as if their owners had great pride in their home, adorning their bed with such an elegant topping.
As I work with the fabric, laying out pieces and planning out the design, I run my hands along the richness of the fabric. All these old chenille bedspreads and robes were a part of people as they traveled down the road of life.
As they crawled into bed after a difficult day, they were comforted in the downy tufts. After they jumped into bed after a happy, joyous day, they planned and dreamed of another such beautiful day underneath the clusters of chenille.
And perhaps, as they prayed, kneeling at the side of their bed, their hands rested upon the softness and a bowed head, too laden with worries and burdens, burrowed into the heavenly softness.
Vintage chenille speaks, if one is listening.
This journey of life that we pass through, with all its joys, heartaches and struggles, has been traveled before. What has been, has been before.
While we oftentimes feel so very alone when we face life’s endless challenges, a vintage chenille bedspread reminds me that someone has been done this journey, too.
It’s as if the chenille soaks up the struggles of life in its thick fluffs, and gives a comfort so soothing, so relieving, so consoling, that just clasping onto it holds such special magic.
Chenille may come from the French word for caterpillar, but to me and many others, chenille is simply another word for comfort. And that’s something the world needs a whole lot more of.[simple-author-box]