Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Beat the Heat with a Coverlet!

 Greetings and salutations!

It's never a good thing when the weather forecast states:  "Challenging record high temperatures" as it did yesterday.  It was a doozy of a hot day.  

Spring cleaning meant more than a good cleaning of the house.  Warm bedding was exchanged for a cooler alternative and for many that meant a thin coverlet on the bed.

Coverlets were HUGE during most of the 20th century--that is until the advent of air conditioning in the home.  A variety of coverlets were made, often using a sheet as the base of the work.

For kids, I can never tell if the coverlet was made for cool comfort or to be placed on the bed for when company visited.  For girls that meant a lot of sunbonnets like this piece on seersucker.  The piece is embroidered and appliqued (bonnets and some of the morning glories):

One enterprising maker produced this piece for a boy full of embroidered motifs on a sheet:

Some coverlets were appliqued and pieced for adult beds but usually had a solid muslin backing.

Many MANY were embroidered on sheets.
It makes sense when you think about muggy summer nights.
Peacocks were particularly popular during the late 19-teens and 1920s.

Some makers went all out with their coverlets.  This woman used gingham as her background and cross stitched her coverlet:

Chenille bedspreads were popular in the 1950s.  I only bring these up because one local woman (who quilted well past age 100) made her own variation of a chenille top using a sheet as her background:

My own mother was bigger on bedspreads and I remember using a seersucker bedspread in the summer as a child.  It had sprigs of violets against the white seersucker and was handed down to me by my great-grandmother.  It was in perfect condition and a testimony on how our foremothers cared for their things--and how well things were made in the 1940s.

What did you do as a kid to beat the heat during summer nights (and days)?

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. Love those coverlets, especially the one on gingham. Would love to see the sheet with sheet music embroidered on it which is part of your collection. Love that one. Was hoping to get another peek! My dad was an engineer who designed air conditioning units. We had central air since the 50s. I hated it. Loved the open windows, the train whistle, the tree frogs, the scent of flowers, etc. I have since had a change of mind.

  2. In the pre-air conditioning days we often slept in the basement family room. My parents recalled living in a third-floor city apartment in the late 1940's. They'd keep the refrigerator door open to cool things off.

  3. I remember when we lived in Richmond, VA (pre-1953), Mother changed out all the slipcovers to barkcloth and rolled up the wool rugs which were replaced with sisal. Talk about discouraging lounging in the living room!

  4. I grew up in western Washington State where maybe one week a year is hot. So we really didn't worry about that. I do remember always being chilly, so I always wore a sweater. Now I do too, but it is a hoodie that I can take off when the hot flashes keep coming. Now I live on the east side of the mountains and have no working A/C! You do understand that the east side of WA or OR means the HOT side of the state, and is much dryer too.