Friday, May 2, 2008

Bed Linens: Proof of an Alternate Universe

For those of you who go about your lives buying the occasional set of sheets, a blanket or quilt here or there, perhaps a bed skirt or duvet cover once or twice in your lives, you've probably never really pondered some of the oddities of bed linens. For those of us who buy linens in quantities and make multiple beds each day, there are far more opportunities to discover/question/curse the bizarre inconsistencies and randomness of the bed linen industry.

Here are some of the things I cannot explain:
- 100% cotton sheets. Okay, they feel nice but even if you pull them out of the dryer before it finishes spinning and put them right on the bed, they're still wrinkled. Okay for home, not so much for a B&B. Life is too short to iron sheets.

- Blanket sizing. A queen size mattress is 60" x 80". A queen size blanket is 90" x 90". How, exactly, does one tuck in the blanket at the bottom? I'm on my third batch of blankets, the current ones are "King" size. I can't even imagine using anything smaller.

- Duvets & Duvet Covers. Same issue. My queen size duvet covers have a lot more fabric than a queen size duvet will fill. Last year, as an experiment, I replaced the queen size down comforter on my personal bed with a king size one. Wouldn't you know, it filled the queen size duvet cover perfectly. When I replace the comforters for the inn bedrooms, the new ones will be king size.

It's as if mattresses, sheets and duvet covers come from one planet with one set of standards and blankets & duvets/comforters come from a different planet with a different set of standards.

When we were getting ready to open the inn I made the decision that all our beds would be the same size (queen) and that all of the linens would be the same. I just don't have the patience to match sets of sheets to decor and I wanted to not have to take an entire set of sheets out of service if one piece got stained or torn. I found a sheet that I liked and bought in case quantities. A year or two later, realizing that linens go out of fashion and these would not always be available, I called the manufacturer and purchased most of the rest of the existing stock. They were already discontinued by then, I was lucky to have gotten what I did.

Coming into our 9th year of operation, we really need new sheets. I don't have enough still in service to do a full-house changeover, which is a problem. I've been on the hunt for new sheets for two years and still haven't found one that meets all my requirements. I actually thought I had found sheets I could live with and ordered them but when they arrived they were a totally different color from the swatch I'd been sent and they looked simply awful in the rooms. I sent them back. This week I requested samples of another sheet that I thought might work; the samples arrived and the fabric is SHINY. Not only that, despite being labeled as having a 55% cotton / 45% polyester content, they feel as if they're 100% poly. Ew.

I am in sheet hell.

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