Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Summer Coverlets


Happy Wednesday!

How many of you remember in the late spring changing beds from warm quilts to summer weight coverlets or spreads?  We grew up without air conditioning in our homes and it always seemed like Nana included this task in her spring cleaning.  Fans were also brought out and placed strategically throughout the house:  one to bring up the cool air from the basement and in the attic, fans at alternate windows to create a cross breeze.

By August, the house was always dark because the venetian blinds were closed tightly to keep out the heat of the sun.  Nana didn't bake during the dog days of summer; instead desserts consisted of watermelon or fruit salad.  

Summer coverlets or bedspreads were lightweight, more of sheet than a heavier weight fabric.  Some had a backing (no batting at all) of muslin.  

I have a few coverlets in my collection:

Embroidered peacocks were a favored motif in the 1920s and 30s.  I suspect all the embroidery done on "coverlets" during this time actually used sheets like the basket girl below.

Another popular motif were basket embroidery patterns, too numerous to show them all.

Some like the basket above sold on Etsy (here) included a charming border like fringe.

On crib sizes, a piece of fabric was often sewn as a border, or in this case, a sashing and border.

Something about this piece (on sale at Etsy) seems refreshing.  Maybe it is all the space between the embroidered blocks or the cool blue color of the thread:

And some pieces like the piece below included what we refer to as chicken scratch gingham embroidery:

And there were always enterprising makers who loved applique:

School will begin for the youngsters soon in our region.  The kids probably won't mind that their school isn't air conditioned; but bless the teachers and administrators who will be sweating it out!

How are you keeping cool these days?

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. I have a couple of summer coverlets in my collection, too -- a 1930's Dresden Plate variation and a treasured 19th-century red/green applique. Actually they're more challenging to make than regular quilts because the back has to be neat. Nowadays I swap quilts for summer and winter but for the colors rather than the cool-vs.-warm.

  2. I remember my mom putting slipcovers over the wool-upholstered furniture for the summer. They were barkcloth and just as uncomfortable as the wool!