Sunday, December 30, 2012

Textile History: Peacock Alley

I've indexed pieced patterns and I've indexed applique but I am not going to index chenille bedspread patterns.
This may be due to childhood trauma. We slept under these hand-tufted bedspreads.
1) They were scratchy, part of the trauma
2) They were an attractive nuisance, so to speak, the tufts just begging to be pulled out while one listened to the radio.
3) One got yelled at for pulling out the tuft---more trauma.
A more pleasant childhood memory is
driving by roadside bedspread stores.

These retail establishments were everywhere south of Cincinnati.

There were commercial establishments like motels and trading posts that sold the spreads and also individual vendors. One of my favorite photos can be found in the Georgia Virtual Vault
A small independent shop.

The making and sellings of these hand-tufted bedspreads has been documented in Georgia, the heart of the craft.
Catherine Evans Whitener is credited with the revival of the old candlewicked spread and turning it into a cottage industry.

Highway 75 is recalled as Peacock Alley because of the many
bedspreads in that design in the roadside shops.

There are numerous surviving examples

They made robes too.


There were other patterns

Just crying out for an index.

Click on these links for more information



And click here to see Carma's vintage chenille cakes---edible I believe. (But I am easily fooled when it comes to food.)


  1. These are very beautiful! I remember driving from California to Florida in 1973 and these were still hung by the side of the road in some southern locales. I sure would like one of those robes. Itchy or not!!! ~Lynda

  2. I love chenille.....I have several bedspreads that we layer under our quilts. I've picked them up at garage sales and thrift stores for a song! At the antique shops, they are far too pricey to touch! I also have several Martha Washington style spreads (the all white ones with just nubbies, not fluffies); we grew up with these on every bed.

    And those cakes are amazing! She had quite a collection of chenille to use! On closer look.....totally NOT edible....even the fruit is fake! :o)

  3. Loved this posting. And to think I had always thought the chenille spreads were machine made.

    Thank you for your blog.

  4. I do remember having these as a kid and I think we had one colored one, but have never seen so many beautiful designs on them. A friend sent me some old pieces, so i use them to make ornies with.


  5. Count me in as a child who was supposed to be napping on my Grandmother's bed - pink and white chenille bedspread - who pulled out many, many tuffs! My sister was also guilty. They HAD to notice, but we didn't get into trouble.

    I always wondered how they were made.

  6. Fun post! Thanks. I had no idea there were all those peacocks hanging by the sides of the road.

  7. Oh wow this was very interesting reading-I found those bedspreads so heavy too

  8. It must be really something to see when driving along and coming upon quilts hanging for sale. I live in Australia and you don't ever see anything like that.

  9. One might not have had a chenille bedspread, but one did have her grandmother's tied quilt. One can untie those ties too, and one did.

    There's a lesson somewhere in these stories. If little hands can undo some part of their bed clothes, they will?

  10. I love the dots imprinted on one's face when one fell asleep on the spread! Joanne

  11. OMG. I love peacock quilts ! I can't get enough of them. The pics are stunning!

  12. I've never seen one of these! I propose a simple index: peacock or not peacock! Just being silly!

  13. Wow, I never saw anything like this along the roadside where I grew up. I have fond memories of my chenille bedspread, I thought it was so feminine and pretty. I'd love to get my hands on one of those robes -- fantastic!

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