Crocheted Counterpane / coverlet / pillow cover?

linnea56March 16, 2013

I bought a crocheted coverlet recently, that covered the blankets, but is not large enough to cover the pillows on my bed. Someone was telling me that traditionally, a separate piece was used to cover the pillows: like a strip laid on horizontally. Not like a shamâ¦just laid over. That would definitely make it easy to make the bed.

She said it was called a counterpaneâ¦but I always thought that was synonymous with bedspread or coverlet. When I looked it up, I saw it defined as the latterâ¦.not as anything specifically to cover the pillows.

Does anyone know the truth of this? I bought a crocheted dresser scarf of similar style and color to the coverlet, and was planning on basting it to a solid colored strip I would sew for this purpose. But I would like to see what one is supposed to look like. Thanks!

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I've always thought of "counterpane" as a cover for the bed as opposed to the pillows specifically.
Are you backing the dresser scarf so you can't see the pillowcases through it- ie to match the colour of the blankets under the coverlet? I think that would look nice, though I'd tack the dresser scarf down lightly so you can change the backing easily if you need to.
I think that unless you are creating a period set for a particular purpose (tourism, filming, drama etc) then it is sufficient that you are pleased with the effect, rather than trying to make it totally authentic.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Colleen, that was what I thought it a counterpane was, too. It was the owner of the antique shop where I bought the coverlet that told me it was counterpane was the name for a strip covering the pillows. I had bought one, then returned it, as it covered only the blankets and a little down the sides and end. I had been planning to cover the pillows too, like a bedspread. I exchanged it for another one that looked a little bigger. I asked her for stylistic suggestions just in case it also did not cover. We ran through a few ideas like shams first. But I really like to leave my sleeping pillows on the bed. Then she mentioned the âÂÂcounterpaneâ as covering pillows alone.

I recalled then staying at a guest once at a coupleâÂÂs house who were retired antique dealers. They had a strip of vintage quilt used as described. I had completely forgotten it until then. That memory gave credence to what the dealer had told me. I still wondered about the terminology, though.

Yes, I am planning to buy and hem fabric that will match the blanket / sheet under the coverlet. Or just buy 2 sets of sheets, and cut one up for the purpose. I will just have to see what I can find that will have a darker color to create contrast. I am not worried about being totally authentic. That idea would be convenient for making the bed, and dress it up, with little trouble.

I may make a few toss pillows to match and trim them with doiliesâ¦though that is more work: weâÂÂll see if it happens.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:25PM
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I would also love to know the name of the piece that covers the pillows. I have (and use) a set of two beautiful white matelassé twin-size coverlets with the matching strip to place over the pillows. They belonged to my grandmother, who used them as summer coverlets. When the sets are not in use, I often use the smaller pieces as table runners in my dining room.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Wow! Nice to know someone on here has these....even if we don't know what to call them!

Bunglalow, how wide are they? Do you tuck them around the pillows from the headboard to under the front of the pillows? Or just drape them over?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:09PM
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Linnea, mine are 29 inches wide, and since all four edges are scalloped, I just lay them over the pillows. I think they are a great way to dress up a bed!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:27PM
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After some extensive Googling, I've learned that those pieces are called "pillow layovers". Here are a couple of relevant links, including one that shows a crocheted set:

Thank you for inspiring me to learn something new!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:31PM
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I think your antique dealer was misguided, counterpane is the bed cover. There's a poem by RL Stevenson referring to a child sick in bed playing games on the counterpane, so even back then it was the bed cover :-)

This post was edited by colleenoz on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 4:21

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 4:20AM
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Yes, Colleen, I could not find any reference to counterpane being anything but a bed cover. Either she was misguided or blanked on the right name, and substituted the other by mistake (that has happened to me before: thinking of one thing, but the other word comes out) .

Thanks for the pictures/links Bungalow! One advantage to a set like this would be less wear and tear on the delicate crochet, compared to tucking a one piece coverlet under the pillows.

The one in the first link one is more opaque than mine, and would not need anything could go right over the pillows. Mine is more open, so IâÂÂll need something under, just like on the bed itself.

I love the way the scalloped edges drape over. Since I bought a dresser scarf to do this, mine would not be wide enough. They all tend to be too narrow to do this. I would say IâÂÂll keep lookingâ¦but I did an extensive search a few years back for one to use on an antique walnut buffet I had just bought, that was quite deep front to back. I did finally find one, but the search taught me the most prevalent proportions for these, which is not deep.

I bought mine as a âÂÂ4 piece setâÂÂ. The long one, then 3 smaller rectangular pieces that contain 6 or 8 of the round motifs. I thought of stitching those on to the long one to make it wider, but I donâÂÂt have the connecting filler motifs. It would look hole-y without them. Plus I donâÂÂt have enough to equal the length.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:47PM
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