Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dressing Old Beds for My Red Cape

That was the title of a book I was working on when we had a house fire ten years back which was a life changer.  At the time, I knew a number of collectors with great early beds dressed with fine old textiles. I am thinking of Betsy with wonderful homespun and Trish and Helen with bedrugs they had hooked themselves, and Jeanie who loved best the bed coverings we called patch work linsey woolseys.  Now the term is frowned upon and whole cloth quilt is in, but these were pieced ones, not whole cloth at all and very very few and far between. Any that Jack and I found on our trips always went to Jeanie. In addition to the bedrug, Trish had an outstanding collection of early coverlets.   It was my plan to gather pictures of beds dressed by these collector/decorators extraordinaire and also include for extra interest a few old doll beds well turned out.
 I had part of the text and a number of the photos in hand.  In our cape I had an exceptional set of bed hangings of red toile from the estate of Clark Garrett, prominent collector and dealer, of Fairhaven, Ohio. I had also several thickly quilted whole cloth quilts in home woven and home dyed indigo and rust and butternut.  All went up in smoke.  The  project was  abandoned.  I think it would have made a colorful and interesting book for collectors of early Americana.

My own bedroom in the red cape with a rust colored linsey woolsey or whole cloth quilt. Early chintz quilt at the foot. Other times I changed the rust colored linsey for an indigo below. These blue print bed hangings were not old, but I made then on my fingers, with endless French seams.
Rich textiles made the old house sing.

Period Toile hangings.  They were bound in hand woven tape made on a tape loom. The fabric had a 72 inch repeat as I remember, and as fabric was so dear, no thought to matching the pattern was made when piecing it together

Early beds were not standard sizes and some were oversized and many were smaller than we use today.  Coverlets and hand woven ticks and blankets came in all sizes.  In addition, some pieces have been cut down because of wear.  A common issue for today's collector is how to use these often shorter textiles  in attractive ways to give a coordinated whole.   Bolsters covered in a different textile offer one solution.  I love to layer these pieces to show off several on a bed.  

Now some of the few early textiles I have acquired in spite of my self since moving into a modern home really need to be resettled in the hands of younger collectors better able to care for them. I was packing some today to send a friend and had to spread them out to enjoy again first. So I will share them here. 

Here is a patchwork linsey woolsey, in bars of indigo and tan. The back is very deep brown.

What a folky woven bird!  A beautiful full size coverlet in strong condition.

This one is huge, both long and wide enough for a queen bed, in great condition and having a lot of the original fringe on the bottom almost 5 inches long. Look at the close up of the indigo bar on the underlying linsey woolsey.  Glorious!  e

Post script, 6 am:     I go outside in the night sometimes to look at moons and meteors and such, this morning the Perseids Meteor shower is beautiful! I stayed out long enough to count eleven of what we called shooting stars as children. Can you remember laying out on a quilt on a summer night watching the sky? e

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