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Boutonné patterning is one of the ingenious ways newcomers to what was then New France beautified the acres of plain cloth they needed for their own use. This piece, however, was probably not made by a weaver for her family, but for commerce. To keep the weaving traditions alive and foster a cottage industry for rural women, several weaving studios started up in the 1920s. Using the traditional methods, the production of the studios was geared to produce attractive textiles for tourists and other visitors to rural Quebec in the period between the two World Wars.





Where was this textile created?

World map preview image

New France

Bedspread (couvre boutonné)
North America: Canada, Central Canada, Quebec
1920 - 1940
Cotton and wool yarns, woven and sewn
254 cm x 160 cm
Gift of Dr. Howard Gorman
T90.0231 Textile Museum of Canada



Weavers in Québec use weft-loop weave or boutonné to pattern their plain weave blankets. The loops are made by pulling up the weft threads as they are inserted into the warp threads held in tension by the loom. This method is free and creative because the weaver, not the loom, controls the creation of the pattern.

This striking coverlet has a bold and beautiful pattern of stars and crosses, placed in what seems like a random arrangement across the cloth. It is unlikely the maker was familiar with Central African weaving traditions, but this textile is as dynamic and rhythmic, in its own way, as strip woven cloth from Ghana.






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