On Matters of Domestic Economy: Linens

One of my fascinations since my preteens has been housework manuals. This started at least in part with my Dad, who expected that (somehow) I’d magically (it  came with the female DNA?) acquire the skills and knowledge to “keep house.”

Which of course is nonsense. Women have no more innate capacity or knowledge of cleaning and housewifery than men do. However, I digress.

We’re going to be building a wall along one edge of our master bedroom. This will create a hall with 2 large storage closets. I intend to use one for  cleaning supplies and linens, out of season clothes storage will probably fill the other.

Another scheme we’ve hit on is to turn part of our sunroom into a mudroom. This depends on getting at least one new door first, but it too will answer a continual mess-maker: what happens when you walk in the door with groceries, mail, your coat, wallet, etc.

I have been looking for ideas or designs for linen closets, storage closets, and mudrooms accordingly. An obvious first place to look is my  “housewifery” books.

I found a”Linen List for the Home,” by Better Homes & Gardens. This is from My Better Homes & Gardens Home Guide, Holbrook (ed), Meredith Publishing, 1933. I list what they say you need first. How many we have and any comments are [bracketed].

  • Sheets: 6 to a bed [I have no idea how many we have. Interesting that there’s no provision for winter sheets!]
  • Pillow Cases: 3 to a pillow [Again, I have no idea how many we own. We use fewer pillows than we own as we have some for guests.]
  • Mattress Pad: 1 to a bed [1, although I’d love to find an old fashioned one with the elastic strips on the corners instead of the “fitted” type which seems to be all you can buy these days. Again, they solved a problem I didn’t have!]
  • Blankets: 2 of different weights for each bed [Let’s see, plastic blankets 2, wool blankets, 2 from Curts, 3 from church sales. Depending on the weather, we use a greater or lesser quantity of these.]
  • Comforter or Quilt: 1 for each bed [We have 3 comforters and 2 quilts, see comment for blankets.]
  • Bedspreads (if washable): 2 for each bed [1, it’s also used as a lightweight summer blanket]
  • Dresser “covers” {I think they mean dresser scarves?} 2 for each dresser [0, I use a length of fabric]
  • Bath Towels: 6 per person [We use terry towels: 2 per person, 2 are out at any one time, 2 in the laundry]
  • Hand Towels: 6 per person [0, we use the bath towels]
  • Wash Clothes: 4 per person [Also terrycloth, We own 4, we share one.]
  • Guest Towels: 6 hand towels for this use [0, see hand towels. If we had company, I’d give them their own towel and hook in the bathroom (our towels hang from an old-style luggage/coat rack; I got tired of folding towels on a bar!]
  • Bath Mats: 2 for each bathroom [2, they’re rugs and I made them. We only have 1 set]
  • Glass Towels for the kitchen: 6 [Flatwoven towels, not terrycloth. I have no idea how many dish towels we have?]
  • Rough Work Towels: 6 [There’s a basket of “cat towels” which are used for everything except greasy car stuff: mopping up spills, animal bedding when required, etc. When I get new terry bath towels, the old towels become “cat towels.”
  • Pot Holders: 6 [2, I use professional baker’s pads. They aren’t pretty after a while because they scorch and stain (and it doesn’t come out even when washed) but they work fine and I store them in a drawer.]
  • Hand Towels (for kitchen use): 6 per person [? see glass towels]
  • Linen-damask tablecloth set: 1 for small dinners [0]
  • Hem-stitched cotton or colored with napkins to match: 1 set [4]

Interestingly enough, the end of the article talks about how big towels, napkins, etc. should be, finished, so the expectation is that you’re making your own.

One of my favorite stores has sheeting material on sale. I intend to buy enough tomorrow to try the “great sheet experiment” I’ve been threatening for a while. The idea is to use only flat sheets. I hate fitted sheets, because they wear differently than flat sheets. I hate having two types of things when one will do, and as I’ve previously blogged, I hate being held hostage by the manufacturers and retailers so that I have to buy more stuff than I need in the form of a fitted sheet, top sheet, and two pillow cases at a time. Although I apparently am not the only one, as stores seem to be offering sheets singly, again.

I noted at Sears a little while ago that a major manufacturer had small packages with 1 top or 1 fitted sheet or I think 2 pillow cases. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any king flat sheets, so I didn’t buy one. I would have, just on general principle, if they’d had what I wanted.

So, I’m going to buy the sheeting and see if I can DIY flat sheet. No sides to hem as you use the selvage. That leaves 2 hems, top & bottom.  King flat sheets at Macy’s start at $65 or so. The fabric is about $40, plus shipping. We’ll see!

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