history of carpet tufting 


carpet constructionCarpet construction began in 1895, when Catherine Evans was inspired by a family heirloom and made her first hand-tufted bedspread. Five years later she sold a similar spread for $2.50. (We say carpet construction began then, due to the early tufting and dyeing skills of Ms. Evans, which were later used for carpet.)

Miss Evans moved to Dalton from a rural community in Whitfield County. Popularity of the bedspread grew, and when she began receiving orders for her work, Miss Evans asked some of her neighbors to help her.

Using quilting designs, she showed her helpers how to stamp the pattern on the fabric and make the tufting stitches. From this beginning, Evans Manufacturing Company was established in 1917, and was operated by the founder until 1963 when the business was sold.

Early bedspread operations were conducted in people's homes. The "company" furnished the stamped sheeting and yarn for tufting to the women and children who did the work. Tufting is simply sewing yarn into the base fabric which, when laundered, shrinks around the base of the tuft causing it to "bloom" and stay in place.

By the late 20's and early 30's, the carpet construction mechanization took the craft from the homes to factories, and the tufted textile industry was successfully on its way.

The first tufting machine was a Singer 31-15, normally used for sewing heavy textiles, such as tents and work clothes, but converted especially for tufting.

About 1940, wide tufting machines were built. Forerunners of today's giant carpet tufting machines, the early counterparts were used to turn out continuous rolls of tufted fabric or cotton rugs. Dozens of people claim credit for developing the first practical machine, and patents were issued to various inventors, but it is impossible to name any one inventor.

Until 1954 only cotton was used for tufting carpet. Rayon, wool, nylon and acrylics followed and became the fibers of the modern age of carpet, but the weaving process made it expensive and slow to produce.

With the advent of man-made fibers and the huge multi-needle tufting machine, there have been dramatic changes in the carpet industry. A wide range of styles, patterns and colors is available at prices affordable in most budgets. Over 500 million yards of carpeting are tufted every year, and 65% of that is tufted in the Dalton, Georgia area.

The Carpet Industry

The first 12-foot-wide tufted carpet was manufactured in the early 1950s. During the remainder of the decade, improvements to the tufting machines and the end product continued. Foremost among the inventions in this decade were pattern attachment devices. These devices permitted machines to produce multiple pile heights and geometric and other patterns in the same piece of carpet, something that previously was possible only in woven carpet. With these more intricate patterns and increasingly closer gauges, tufted carpets began to compete successfully against woven carpets. By 1965 more than 85 percent of broadloom carpeting sold in the United States was tufted. Today, with minor modifications, loop and cut-pile carpets can be manufactured on the same machine, and pattern attachments are computerized. Efforts continue to duplicate completely the density and pattern of woven carpet.

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