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“Modern” Design in Antique Textiles

A visit to the Västernorrlands Museum unearthed a treasure trove of plattväv coverlets. In this blog post, Caroline Feyling shows us the surprisingy modern feel of these 19th-century pieces. 

Posted on March 28, 2024
by Caroline Feyling

Our final stop on the group portion of our trip was the Västernorrlands Museum in Härnösand, Sweden. There we got the chance to do a collection visit in the museum archives. Prior to our visit I let the museum staff know that I was interested in seeing some coverlets in “plattväv” technique. However, I was not expecting the huge array of objects they Had prepared for us!

Plattväv roughly translates to “flat weave” in English, although I see it more frequently referred to as a monksbelt variation. It is an overshot technique meaning that the fabric is made up of a background weft in plain weave and a pattern weft that floats over the top.

What struck me about these examples of plattväv was how modern the designs felt despite being from the mid to late 1800s. The geometric designs paired with bright colors reminded me of some of the Textiles designed by bauhaus weaver Anni Albers, or perhaps an ultra chic throw you'd find in an urban apartment.

I feel hugely inspired by these museum examples. The colors were incredibly playful and subverted my expectations of traditional weaving. I'm already starting to plan warps for when I get back!