Home & Design

The Case of the Baggy Bed

O! that this too, too baggy bed would pass from my eyes. To the rescue, the Vermont Country Store’s Slender sheets. / MyLittleBird photo.

THE VERMONT Country Store is used to looking back at the way things used to be, the things we used to be able to buy. Me too. Cotton clotheslines? Check. Bed boards? Check. Bonomo Turkish Taffy? Check, check, check and check (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana!).

The store’s 72-year-old catalogue features a whole array of down-home goods, including bed linens. And in this last category there has been a lot of change in recent years.

As mattresses have become plusher and deeper, bed-linen manufacturers have understandably responded with fitted sheets that have a much deeper “pocket,” some accommodating a mattress up to 20 inches deep (presumably the Princess never feels the pea when she sleeps on that one).

From the Vermont Country Store catalogue.

The rest of us with older or more modest mattresses have learned to tuck all that extra material under the mattress and hope for the best. But as deeper got deeper, the extra material threatened hospital corners everywhere.

In short, my bed is a mess. The extra material stays in place, out of sight, for about one toss and turn, and that’s it. And it’s not as if my mattress is some straw-stuffed antique. It’s a Tempur-Pedic of fairly recent vintage, but it measures about 9 inches deep, practically non-existent to the pillow-top crowd.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got the Orton family’s Vermont Country Store catalogue in the mail. Why? Don’t know, don’t care. I had had a run-in with a new set of sheets from another source—my first floral pattern in decades and the dye ran!–so I thought I’d take a look at  plain percales.

At the bottom of the listing for the appealingly plain Clothesline Crisp Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set was a boxed-off listing: Clothesline Crisp Egyptian Cotton Slender Sheet Set. The Slender bottom sheet will fit, it says, a mattress up to 9 inches in depth.

The catalogue says it commissioned these Slender sheets from their “expert weavers in Portugal”; I suspect the Portuguese manufacturers were already making them for markets that are not obsessed with jumbo-size everything, but that doesn’t matter. The Slender sheets come only in white (I prefer ivory), but at my age I can’t forgo the opportunity to buy anything “slender.” I went online and hit the Buy button.

The jury will be out until the sheets arrive in about a week. Until then I will lie in my wrinkled bed and dream Slender dreams.

—Nancy McKeon

P.S. My next campaign is against oversize “standard” pillowcases.


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