Beyond the Bed: Hudson’s Bay Point Blankets

Hudson's Bay point blankets are sold in the US by LL Bean

Hudson’s Bay point blankets are sold in the US by LL Bean

If it’s possible to have a blanket crush, mine is on the Hudson’s Bay point blanket. A high school friend had a pea coat made out of a Hudson’s Bay point blanket, and I’ve never forgotten about it. Nothing short of awesome, I loved the its heft and candy-colored stripes.

Unfortunately, the coats are no longer made, but the blankets have been in production for centuries. If you love them as much as I do, here are some ways to show off your blanket not just during the winter, but all year long. Hudson’s Bay point blankets make great upholstery and more.

Hudson’s Bay point blanket history

Hudson's Bay Company logo

Hudson’s Bay point blankets have been in production since 1670, and were aboard the ship Nonsuch when she sailed to Canada’s Hudson Bay on a speculative voyage for fur trading.

The blankets were desired by Native Americans because they hold heat, even when wet, and were easier to sew than animal skins. They later became a main source of trade. Although the blankets are associated with Canada, they are actually made in England!

Blanket stripes and colors

The blankets are made in solid colors of red/black, green/black, white/black, and a two-tone brown, but the multi-stripe is the most popular. According to Woolrich Inc., holders of the exclusive license for Hudson’s Bay blankets in the U.S., the multi-stripe’s four stripe colors (green, red, yellow and indigo) were chosen because of the quality colorfast dyes available at the time the multi-stripe blanket was introduced, around 1800.

However, for Native Americans these colors had symbolic meaning; “Green is taken to mean ‘new life,’ red often stands for ‘battle’ or ‘hunt,’ yellow relates to ‘harvest’ and ‘sunshine,’ and blue represents ‘water.’”

Points – what do they mean?

“Points” are the thin two or four-inch long black lines woven into the blanket. (You can see them in the top image). They represent a system developed in the 18th century to indicate the finished overall size of the blanket.

Over the centuries the sizes of blankets have changed, particularly during the 20th century as beds became larger. Blankets of 2-1/2, 3, 3-1/2 and 4 points were most common during the fur trade era. Today, blankets are made in the following bed sizes: 3-1/2 (Twin), 4 (Double), 6 (Queen) and 8 (King).

A twist on tradition: Hudson’s Bay blankets as upholstery

Hudson's Bay Point sofa via Sit and Read

via Sit and Read

Hudson’s Bay point blankets look superb installed as upholstery fabric. The simple, linear lines of mid-century modern furniture, in particular, work well with the stripes of the blanket. This fetching sofa was made by Brooklyn-based Sit and Read.

Hudson's Bay point blanket chair via NuBe Green

via Pinterest

Hudson's Bay point blanket ottoman via Homestead Seattle

via Homestead Seattle

Mid-century modern furniture not your thing? Hudson’s Bay point blankets cover the traditional side of things too, like this demure ottoman.

And this old wicker rocking chair wrapped up in a point blanket couldn’t look cozier.

Pillows!

Hudson’s Bay, the store associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company sells a bunch of point blanket products. One of my favorites is this multi-stripe chevron throw pillow.

via Hudson's Bay Company

via Hudson’s Bay Company

Hudson’s Bay point blankets can be purchased in the US at:

LL Bean

Woolrich

Do you have a Hudson’s Bay point blanket that you’ve repurposed – or just plain love? Please share your story!

 

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