Bed from the Early Modern period of German furniture (1500-1800)
photo by R. Engelhardt
This is part of a continuing series of email letters exchanged with my Swedish friend, Absinthia. To see the whole series, start with Living a Simple Life.
Second-Hand Crafting: Bed Linens
In Sweden, we would probably die without duvets. Seriously! Sometimes we have duvets and blankets on top of that! We have thin duvets for spring and autumn, and thick duvets for the midwinter. During midsummer, we don’t need duvets at all.
Here are some second-hand sewing projects for the bedroom.
Two small sheets can be made into one big sheet. The seam will be positioned across the bed at approximately knee height, so it is hardly noticeable.
Here’s how I make the Swedish version of duvet covers from two fitted bottom bed sheets. Measure a well-fitting duvet cover. Use that as a model when cutting off the sides of the bottom sheets. With right sides together, sew the two bottom sheets together, leaving two corners at one end open enough to be able to get your hand in. Hem the edges of the open corners. At the other end, sew the two corners shut, and leave the short side partially open so you can stuff the duvet in later. This end will go at the foot of the bed. Turn the duvet cover right-side out. Embroider if you feel like it. If you don´t embroider, it will all be done in about ten minutes.
To insert the duvet, you push it in through the lower partial opening. Then you put one hand through one of the upper corner-holes, the other hand in the other corner-hole, grab an upper corner of the duvet with one hand, the other corner with the other hand, and then shake gently until the duvet is in place inside the duvet cover. Some people like to sew a button and a button hole so you are able to close the lower opening. I have not yet tried it, but it seems practical.
Measure a pillowcase that fits well, and use that as a model. Fold the fabric you want to use so it’s doubled. Cut it according to your measuring plus a quarter of an inch to make space for hems and seams. Sew the two short sides plus one long side. Leave the other long side open (to be placed uppermost when using). Hem it. Sew nice ribbons in place so you can tie the pillowcase shut later. Turn it right-side out. This is a very classic style here in Sweden. All of my grandmother’s old pillowcases looked like this. If I feel ambitious, I can add decorations like lace ribbons sewn along the sides or some sweet embroidery.
Traditionally we add some small embroidery diagonally at one of the upper corners, the initials maybe or some cute motif, not necessarily fancy. Just something to brighten things up a bit. Everyday life needs a bit of a golden rim too, you know ;-)
My philosophy is, "use the beautiful, old things passed down from family... or give them to someone who will." My friend, Alice, has sold quite a few vintage and antique linens for me, to ladies who are thrilled to get them.
The conversation continues here:
Absinthia Returns, Part 12
Absinthia Returns, Part 12