You might have stumbled across this post from another one I wrote on vintage Hofmann chenille bedspreads. Or maybe you happened upon it because you’re thinking of buying a chenille bedspread and aren’t sure what to look for.
Here’s a quick rundown of some things you want to watch out for, plus some care tips and creative uses if the vintage chenille you’ve got isn’t in top notch shape.
What to Look for Before You Buy a Vintage Chenille Bedspread
Look for fabric that appears distressed, or unrepaired holes that appear almost to look like torn tissue paper with a semi-transparent appearance – not a good sign. If they have been stored improperly in humid environments for long periods of time, some vintage chenille spreads can look decent uniformly then literally fall apart if washed too harshly.
Case in point – My lovely husband decided to “help” me one afternoon and decided to toss in an old Hofmann I’d been keeping in our humid Florida room into our traditional, agitator style machine. I opened the machine and to my horror, saw pieces of tufting, shredded fringe, and what looked like tissue fragments wound around the agitator.
You Want Your Vintage Chenille to Have a Clean, Crisp Feel
When you really become familiar with vintage linens and old chenille bedspreads, you will know just by touching something how strong it is or not. I like my chenille – particularly chenille I’m selling or plan to use for a project – to have a nice clean crisp feel. And trust me, you will ALWAYS know if chenille has been washed recently. It should feel like grandma’s cotton sheet – just with tufting – that was washed fresh on a summer’s day – airy yet strong.
If what you’re feeling instead feels most or eeekkk…even worse…oily, you want to be careful. Now this can happen for two reasons in my experience: 1) The spread was stored in a humid environment and is undergoing the awful process of dryrot, or 2) The spread is ok still but has not been wash and what you are feeling is … you might have guessed it … nothing more than the oils of human skin that naturally rub off when we sleep at night.
How to know the difference? Give it the whiff test: If the chenille bedspread was stored in a too-humid environment, it may have an unmistakable musty, mildew-y, or “closed in” type of smell. If it smells like your husband’s favorite old t-shirt instead, you’re dealing with human skin oils instead.
For skin oils, a good soak is in order. I use a variety of products and make a cocktail to soak it, and I almost always recommend incorporating Biz which you can purchase at your local Walmart inexpensively.
Does Your Chenille Bedspread Need a Good Wash? Here’s a Quick Cleaning Process.
You can actually make this a three step process if you really want to go the whole nine yards:
1) Hang the chenille bedspread outside or on the clothesline for a couple days, providing the weather is suitable. Yes you can hang them outside in the winter too, I just wouldn’t recommend leaving them in the rain for extended periods, or in very humid weather.
2) Soak the spread in your favorite cocktail of ingredients to loosen and remove the dingy oils and to lift any residual stains and brighten the colors.
3) Launder as usual in your machine and fluff dry. Chenille is very hardy and adaptable in most cases and will gladly fluff for you in the dryer just fine. Don’t worry about the lint and tufts it leaves behind in your dryer – it’s perfectly natural.
Uh-oh. Your Vintage Chenille Spread Has Dry Rot. What to do?
What if you have a spread that has dry rot, tears easily, is fragile or otherwise compromised? All is not lost. I have a gorgeous English bedspread that came to me repaired and with obvious dryrot in one quadrant that serves proudly as a showcase shower curtain and has for many years. Apparently it decided it had enough of being a bedspread and wanted to become a gorgeous shower curtain instead.
If the tufts are gone or you have big damages like gaping holes, you’ve still got options. Here, we make chenille flowers, corsages, and other florals, so we can literally work with almost anything and just scrap what is completely trashed.
Get Your Creativity Flowing With Vintage Chenille.
Or if you’re not wanting to do that, you can discard entirely or consider donating to your local animal shelter. Ours gladly accepts old sheets, blankets, bedspreads and other linens and that’s what we do with our tired old spreads. We try to recycle and repurpose as much as possible and we hope you’ll consider doing the same.
Finally, you might use the spread as a wallhanging or in your décor – spreads that may be too weak for daily use or for repurposing into quilts or garment construction very often make great statement pieces.
We sold one old peacock spread that was so far gone we considered donating it – instead it now hangs beautifully in an old antique shop down in Georgia. What a great fit for the long-time “Chenille Bedspread Capital of the World,” right?
So, there you have it. No matter what condition your chenille bedspread is in, there’s probably a use for it. You’ve just got to do a little creative thinking and it’ll tell you where it wants to go.
Browse our always changing selection of original vintage chenille bedspreads, fabrics, quilt squares, rugs and much more…
Charlotte Jane is an avid collector of antique and vintage linens and other textiles, with a particular fondness for vintage chenille bedspreads. Her purpose? To infuse beauty into every corner of our magnificent Mother Earth – and to encourage others to do the same. She believes we all have creative gifts and that by allowing this inner creativity to guide us, we deepen our connection with other Souls – and our understanding of our own unique Paths….