Behind Factory Doors: The Making of a Mid-Weight Bedspread - Americana July 08, 2015 09:04

 

The Americana flaunts a classic, geometric all-over pattern of circular star motifs arranged within an open framework.  Inspired by the bold shapes of American folk designs, this style harmoniously blends comfort with elegance: patchwork meets matelassé.  With its artistic roots in early American decorative arts and its festive, star pattern, it is only fitting that the Americana would be July’s featured bedspread.  

Once upon a time, this mid-weight matelassé bedspread was an historical Bate’s original-- although no one can say exactly when this pattern was woven or what name it went by at the time.  The style was resurrected and brought into its present incarnation in 2012-2013 by one of our designers, who found it as a point paper drawing in the old Bates Mill.  Our team enjoyed the strong, circular arrangement, and so the Americana as we know it today was born-- but it needed a name.  Like the design itself, “Americana” was also pulled from the Bates archives.  Though it originally belonged to a very different looking bedspread (pictured below), the title seemed fitting for it’s new match.
The Original Americana circa. 1975

Before the age of computers, designing a bedspread was a very different procedure.  Today, with the help of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) systems and programs, artists and designers have been able to vastly increase the speed and ease of the creation procedure.  A workflow which used to be drawn out over countless, laborious and time-consuming steps has compressed into one or two.  


Previously, a bedspread design passed through many individual hands, each of which played a specialized, integral part in the design process:  concepts were first illustrated by artists in New York City.  These initial watercolor sketches were then sent off to be  drawn to scale, in the size they would actually appear on the woven bedspread.  Once in the Bates Mill, these life-size drawings were then transferred to design (or point) paper, and painted in watercolor.  As described by a 1950 Bates Lewiston Sun article, “the work [was] painstaking.  One panel often [took] 120 hours of man labor and [was] done by skilled craftsmen, adept at their work.  Were you to try it and have the perseverance to complete a panel, you would work months at it because each panel must be perfect.  One flaw and the entire panel is wrong.”  One cannot doubt this description upon seeing one of these old panels-- they truly are works of art in themselves.  


The transfer process was finally completed with the addition of weaves (instructional information for the pattern card-cutter).  These were painted on top of the design to describe what sort of weave would occur over various parts of the design.  It was one of these magnificent drawings that would, many years later, become our Americana bedspread!
 
CAD vs. Point Paper Drawing

Do you have any questions or comments about the textile design process back in the day?  How about any favorite stories you’d like to share about your Americana? Put in your two cents in the comment section below!

It’s not too late to get in on our Featured Bedspread of the Month Sale!  Get your Americana today at 10% off with promocode AMERICANAJULY10. Sale ends 7/31/2015.