How Do I Choose the Best Candlewick Bedspread?

Sandi Johnson
Sandi Johnson
Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Choosing a candlewick bedspread, just as with any other type of linen, is a matter of personal preference and taste in d├ęcor. Choices range from vintage bedspreads in traditional muslin colors and motifs to modern renderings in a variety of colors and fabrics. The ability to choose the best candlewick bedspread starts with knowing what exactly you want in terms of aesthetics. Understanding and having the ability to identify good craftsmanship is another necessity, as not all candlewick bedspreads are made the same. Age is also important, as vintage bedspreads may not be suitable for everyday use.

Traditional candlewick bedspreads were initially crafted in pioneer America, using the materials frontier women had available. In fact, candlewicking draws its name from the use of candlewick thread to create the embroidered designs. Vintage candlewick bedspread examples are easily identified by the monochrome canvas or muslin, raw cotton thread colors, as well as hand-crafted fringe made from the same thread as the stitching. Most have puckering around knots and stitches, evidence of age and repeated washing.

A revival of candlewicking techniques, and thus candlewick bedspreads, began in the 1970s and early 1980s. Crafters used unbleached muslin and special candlewick thread to recreate many of the classic candlewick bedspread designs of the pioneer days. Selecting a vintage bedspread from this era provides many of the classic looks, but with more durable, machine wash-friendly fabrics. Typically, a candlewick bedspread from the late 1970s or later is still suitable for routine use, provided the maker used quality materials.

Modern candlewick bedspreads are available in a variety of colors, thread types, and materials. Rather than adhering to the monochrome off-white thread on unbleached muslin, these bedspreads may feature a rainbow of colored threads on a white or off-white fabric, or traditional off-white thread on colored fabric. Cotton fabrics are usually the best choice for a modern candlewick bedspread, as the cotton shrinks to help secure knots and give a traditional puckered look. Not all modern candlewick bedspreads are hand-crafted, which may not appeal to some tastes.

Regardless of the era in which a particular candlewick bedspread was crafted, there are certain elements of craftsmanship that apply to all candlewick linens. Naturally, fabrics and threads should be of good quality, with no fraying or thinning. Likewise, knots and other stitches should be snug and uniform. If fringe is present, the threads should be neat, with no signs of tangles or weak spots. With handmade bedspreads, some slight variations in knot size and fringe should be expected, but should not be obvious when viewed from a few feet away.

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