History of Carpet
The rug industry in America began in 1791, when William Sprague started the first weaving rug factory in Philadelphia
Others opened throughout New England in the early 1800s. The Beattie Manufacturing Company of Little Falls, New Jersey operated from 1840 to 1979. In 1839, Erastus Bigelow forever changed the industry by inventing a power loom to weave carpets. Bigelows loom, which doubled the output of carpets in the first year of its manufacture, and trebled its output by 1850, is now in the Smithsonian Institutes collections.
He continued to dedicate his life to innovation: between 1839 and 1876, he received 35 individual patents. Bigelow introduced the first wide-loom carpet in 1877. The power loom, using the jacquard machinery, was developed in 1849, and the first Brussels rug was manufactured by Clintons company of Massachusetts.
John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
The Brussels loom was modified a bit, making it possible to produce the Wilton carpet.
The Hartford carpet company would later merge with Clintons company and become the Bigelow carpet company. In 1878, four brothers brought 14 looms from England and established manufacturing facilities as the Shuttleworth Brothers Company in Amsterdam, New York. In 1905, the company introduced a new rug, Karnak Wilton. Its immediate success was phenomenal.
Psalms 145:18 – The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
Overwhelmed by orders, the brothers had to build a new building solely for the production of Karnak. Weavers worked for four to five years, not changing any colors or patterns on the looms. In 1920, Shuttleworth Brothers Company merged with McCleary Wallin & Crouse, another carpet maker in Amsterdam.
They named their new company Mohawk Carpet Mills, in honor of the Mohawk River, which runs through the town. Alexander Smith started his rug-making factory in 1845, in West Farms, N.Y. An American, Halcyon Skinner, perfected a power loom to produce the Royal Axminster in 1876. Skinner and Smith combined their businesses and formed the highly successful rug business.
Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
Alexander Smith was elected to Congress in 1878, but died the night of election day.
His mill had sixteen hundred employees when he died. During the First World War, carpet weaving machines were converted to produce supplies for the war effort. By 1929, Alexander Smith & Sons was the largest producer of carpets and carpeting worldwide.
Industrialist/retailer Marshall Field modified the traditional Axminster looms to produce something that nobody had ever created: an artificially manufactured carpet that was interwoven from back to front, like an hand-woven Oriental, with elaborate designs and an almost limitless variety of colors. A similar development was Karastans carpet factory, which was founded in 1926 and introduced the first Karastan carpets to the public in 1928.
The companies Alexander Smith, Bigelow, and Karastan continue to operate today as subsidiaries of Mohawk Industries
Which is headquartered in Georgia. Today, many manufacturers make both imitations of vintage designs as well as updated “Oriental”-type carpets, using weaving as well as the tufted process.
Throughout the late 1800s, Dalton, Georgia, was struggling to make it as a small town on the hills of North Georgia, working in the cotton mills and the steel industry. Northwest Georgia, with its hard-packed clay, poor agricultural land, and rolling hills, was one of Georgias last settled areas. Rich in the legacy of Cherokee Indians and Civil War battles, this northern corner of the state was rough, producing individuals who were independent and self-reliant.
These were people who brought and nourished the Tufts textile industry. The infancy of that industry was in Dalton; it went through a period of vigorous growth in Dalton; and now, it is maturing in and around Dalton. The rug industry’s influence is large on this region, this state, and this country; and its story of growth is a unique one. The industry began simply, at about the turn of the century.
A young Dalton woman, Katherine Evans Whitener, remade a bed spread as a wedding present
Copying the pattern for a quilt, she sewed heavy cotton yarns in running stitches onto an unbleached piece of muslin, cut off the ends of the yarns to allow them to flake, and eventually washed the bedspread in hot water to keep the yarns inside while shrinking the cloth. Interest grew in Young Catherine’s bedrolls (see images similar), and by 1900, she made her first sale, of a $2.50 bedroll.
Ephesians 6:14 – Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Demand became so high for bedspreads that, in the 1930s, the local woman-entrepreneurs had “haulers” that delivered the stamped sheets and yarns to the porch workers. Often, whole families worked hand-tufting the rolls, at 10 to 25 cents a roll. The native word for the stitching process was “turfing” among nearly 10,000 area cottage patch workers–men, women, and children. The revenue from tufting was crucial to helping many of the areas families get through the Depression. As one example of the spirit of these first businesswomen, Mrs. J.T. Bates states she just “shipped 15 bedsheets out to the department stores in New York City owned by John Wannamaker.
On a sheet of regular tabulating paper, I wrote a bill of $98.15 and placed it in with the spreads. Although we had not had any prior contact at all with the shop, Wannamaker sent us the $98.15 bill.
The Chenille Bedspread became an unexpectedly popular item around the country, and gave Dalton its new name: The Worlds Capital Bedspread.
Psalms 119:127 – Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Competition from buyers (which tends to drive down prices), changes to minimum wage laws, and the rise of manufactured bedspreads soon made handmade covers too costly to make by hand. Gradually, the industry began bringing workers out of surrounding hillsides and smaller towns into Daltons mills, beginning a rapid rise of the mechanized quilting industry. In the 1930s, spurred by a demand for more bedrolls, the Glen Looper Foundry of Dalton developed the first mechanized tufting machine. Looper modified the single-needle, commercial Singer machine to tack thicker yarns onto muslin linens without breaking the cloth, and attached a cutter for cutting out loops. The machines soon evolved to have four, then eight, twenty-four, and more needles, producing the parallel rows of tufting known as “chenille”.
By 1941, all but about a one-percent of the tufted bedspreads were made with machines. Mats and carpets were made using the same process, using yarns and cotton fabrics.
Volumes increased quickly after the Second World War, because people were starved of colour and beauty. By 1946, the industry consumed 30,000 bales of cotton. By 1950, this figure had grown to about 500,000 bales, making the industry by 1952 the third largest consumer of Georgia-grown cotton.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Sales were generated through mail order or taking bales to big box stores
Certainly the best known and pleasurable method for buying a bale was at “Bedspread Alley,” on U.S. Route 41 between Dalton and Cartersville. This stretch of major North-South Highway got its moniker from bedspreads hanging from tacks to dry in the wind and sunshine. Salesmen and tourists alike loved seeing the colorful, tacky spreads, and they loved the novelty of buying one “off the rack”. The pattern that was the most popular with travelers, selling more than any other by 12 to 1, was Peacock — the pensive birds facing one another, their tails splayed across the width of the spread. The Bedspread Alley phenomenon continued well into the 70s, and still some Spreads are seen in line south of Dalton today.
As Tufts production numbers each year reached the millions, so did supply work for the industry. Yarn, spool, and jack-pin mills were established in the region, with all of their production going into the industry; and larger mills elsewhere competed for growing business. Machine shops were established for making thousands of the necessary one-needle and many-needle machines, as well as design improvements designed to produce still prettier, better-spread, bath sets, gowns, bathrobes, and mats.
John 4:24 – God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Dyeing plants were built for the yarn. Laundries were set up to complete a roll.
Print shops were established for providing millions of tags and labels needed. Box factories produced cardboard boxes to ship. Moving those cardboard boxes around the market was big business for railroads and trucking lines.
Machinery was developed to produce the chenille rugs, and was expanded, creating larger carpets and widelooms. At the same time, the machinery was changing; development of new fibers was speeding up growth in the wideloom industry.
Until around 1954, cotton was almost the only fiber used in the production of tufted products
Over time, the Dalton textile men slowly introduced wool and manmade fibers–polymer, nylon, rayon, and acrylics. Nylon was introduced for the first time in 1947, and it has grown steadily until it now dominates the market. Polyester was first used in 1965, followed quickly by polypropylene (olefin). Most manufacturers would agree that the single most significant event to take place in this sector was the introduction of continuous yarn with a large volume.
These yarns produced luxurious, high-quality, and long-lasting carpets similar to that produced with wool, while being cheaper than wool. Consumers now had access to a durable, luxury product, at less cost. In 1950, only 10% of all carpets and floor coverings were made with the stitching method, while 90% were made with the weaving method.
Around 1950, though, it was like somebody opened a magic box. Out of this trunk came man-made fibres, new spinning techniques, new dyeing machinery, printing processes, weaving machinery, and backings for various final uses. By 1951, the tufting industry was a $133 million per year business, consisting mostly of bed linens, carpets, and mats, with $19 million in rug production. The industry broke the $1 billion barrier in 1963.
John 18:37-38 – Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (Read More…)
Today, tufted products account for over 90% of the total produced carpets and mats, followed by fewer than 2% made with weaving, and 6.7% with all other methods, such as knitting, braiding, hooking, or needlepunching. The Dalton area continues to be a hub for the tufted carpet industry. Today, this region produces over 70% of the entire global output, which is more than $9 billion. Dalton is now known as “the carpet capital of the world”.