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Whitework Coverlet

Daughters of Amelia Mildred Chenoweth Nash
Place Made:
Jefferson County Kentucky United States of America
Date Made:
cotton –satin
HOA: 116″; WOA: 104″
Accession Number:
This whitework coverlet is probably the work of one or more of the daughters of Amelia Mildred (Chenoweth) Nash (c.1774-1835) and Harmon Nash (1765-1812) of Jefferson County, Kentucky. Harmon Nash died of yellow fever while working as a riverboat hand, leaving Amelia, who never remarried, alone to raise nine children. According to family tradition, left without a father, the girls learned a variety of profitable endeavors including spinning and weaving wool, cotton, and flax. The oldest child, Elizabeth (1795-1884) also learned to weave straw and make straw hats, which were exchanged at a store owned by kinsman John Chenoweth in Louisville. When the second eldest child, Amelia Naomi (1797-1874), became engaged to James Porter (c. 1779-after 1850), a doctor, the family had only enough money to purchase a wedding outfit–a dress, slippers, and a hat. Elizabeth outfitted other women of the family with newly made straw hats and slippers with sheepskin soles. For the occasion, another daughter, Mary (b. 1804), sewed dresses from linen that she had woven. It is likely that Elizabeth and/ or Mary, perhaps with the help of other siblings, made the whitework coverlet as a gift for Naomi, whose wedding took place on June 19, 1823. Although the fabric of the bedcover, three full width panels of plain weave linen, was probably woven at home, the fringe and embroidery threads were purchased.

DESCRIPTION: Three paneled cotton plain weave embroidered coverlet with white cotton ground and satin stitch cotton embroidery; design conists of five large drawn/pulled-work flowers arranged in cross through the center of the coverlet; flowers are connected by scrolled, embroidered and drawn vines and flowers emanating from the corners. The coverlet is bound by linen fringe woven in a block design.

MATERIALS: Three panels of cotton fabric, seemed together at selvages. Total measures 116″ x 104″. Left panel: 46 warp x 59 weft per inch. Center panel: 49 warp x 59 weft per inch. Right panel: 46 warp x 52 weft per inch. Two kinds of cotton thread were used for the embroidery. the satin stitch areas of the design were worked with a thick, very slack twist thread. The thread used for the Dresden work (i.e., pulled thread) fillings is finer, with a much tighter twist. Its diameter is similar to the warp and weft threads of the fabric.

STITCHES: Satin stitch; Dresden work (i.e., pulled thread) fillings. At least nineteen Dresden work pattern sets were used.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund