Title: Material Success
Cathy Evans was fascinated. She had never seen anything quite like this. Cathy was visiting her cousin’s house when she went upstairs and entered a bedroom and was instantly captivated with what she saw on the bed. The coverlet had beautiful patterns formed by curious small tufts, an heirloom that had been handed down in the family for generations. It was perhaps the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen.
Cathy was raised on a farm just outside of Dalton, Georgia. And while her life had not been sheltered by any means, she had never seen anything like this fabulous piece of material that had been made in colonial times and handed down through the family. Cathy just had to know more. She had to find out how that bedspread was made. She had to make one herself.
It was just a fancy, she said later – just something to occupy the time. Because she lived in the South and cotton was king, then cotton would have to be the fabric of choice. Cathy played with the fabric, played with the designs and worked at keeping the little tufts that fascinated her as a primary facet in her work. Before long, she had her first bedspread. She washed it and hung it out on the line to dry.
Didn’t take long. Someone passing the house saw the bedspread’s intricate and beautiful design and had to stop and ask where it came from. When they found out that Cathy had made it they asked her to make one for them. Ok. She could do that! What she didn’t know is that the person who bought the next spread was something of a prominent citizen. When word spread of the talented spread designer living on a farm outside Dalton, orders started to flood in.
Cathy decided to push the envelope a bit further and contacted a factory in Rhode Island which would dye her yarns with color that didn’t run in laundering. That gave way to multicolored bedspreads too. Her neighbors suddenly became interested in what she was doing and of course the money that she was making, and they wanted to do it too. Cathy was only too happy to teach them. It wasn’t long before the road in front of her house was called bedspread road.
Cathy’s invention became known as “tufting.” You probably have one of her spreads in your house now. Or I’ll bet you have had at some time in the past. But her little invention certainly became big news in Georgia. In a day when there was no electricity, few automobile s and sometimes not even a mule, U.S. Highway 41 became a center of commerce – bedspread boulevard. Millions of dollars poured into the Georgia economy and an industry was born.
And the knack of tufting was picked up by others – others who found the process good for floor coverings too. Today, you know that nearly 90 percent of the carpets made in America come from Georgia plants. And you probably have figured out where deep pile and shag carpet came from. But there is one more little catch to Cathy’s story, this story of great economic strides. It’s a Little Known Fact that all of this started when Cathy Evans, inventor of turfing and so much more, was only 12 years old.