Spring Sleeping

comments: 115


I was recently given a washing recipe for sheets by the sales associate at Macy's:

1 1/2 cups cheap white vinegar
1 tablespoon detergent
Warm wash
Warm rinse
Extra rinse
Perma-press dry

Apparently, this recipe was developed by an 84-year-old woman who really knew her sheets. I've always dried sheets on hot (line drying is nice, but it rains for six months of the year here), but the lady said that drying them on permanent press is cooler and keeps the fibers smoother and softer? I think sleeping on really comfortable sheets is one of the great joys in life. I have these sheets in the washer right now so I'll let you know how this one goes. I'm not picky about too many things, but I am picky about sheets. Soft, white (or off-white) cotton percale (not sateen — here's a little discussion about the difference) is my preference in spring and summer. I wish I had the sheets my grandma always had on her beds — always white, always heavy, always so soft and smooth and cool. Just different, somehow. I've never found a set to compare, have you?


Can't wait to be able to sleep with the windows open.


puglette says: May 06, 2011 at 02:50 PM

i love heavy sheets, not in weight, but solid fabric. quality fabric. i will be interested in your results, the vinegar scent concerns me. :o)
i have found the high thread count does make a difference and that the price is reflective of the quality. i have sheets that have 800 thread count, one set cost a lot, one not so much. the cheap set are really thin and it feels like you could poke your toes through them!

Just today I put fresh sheets on our bed... lighter, more care worn. They seem like the right feel for spring. I love the feeling of knowing it's time to bring out a different color or weight, a different feeling sheet for a changing season. I like the softly worn ones, smooth and cool. Too hot in the dryer and the fibers seem to cook, get brittle, so I like to bring out cottons and delicates before they've completely dried. Maybe our grandmother's sheets felt nicer partly due to gentler, cooler dryers, and line drying?

Sometimes the modern, high thread count sheets don't match our memories of older sheets. The modern higher thread count and the softer, fluffier cotton is the big change - fluffiness means no crispness, no "snap". Folks I know have had good luck with lower count thread sheet sets from, say, Vermont Country Store. Such as: http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/products/For-The-Home/Bed-Bath/Sheets/clothesline-crisp-white-Sheet-Set.html

Those (or anything like them) should give you that Grandma's Sheets feeling! :)

Nancy Jo says: May 06, 2011 at 03:06 PM

Have you tried Garnet Hill? I love their flannel sheets. Can't vouch for their percale, but I would expect them to be high quality.

My favorite thing is to dry my sheets on a line. they come out so fresh and unwrinkled- as if they'd been ironed.

My grandmother had the sheets you were talking about as well. She dried them on the line and they smelled so fresh. If you haven't tried Jersey cotton sheets for the summer, you must! They are delightful! Like getting cozy in your favorite T-shirt. Garnet Hill has a great selection.

Hi, my name is Kelly and I'm an addict. A bedding addict! One time I googled "bedding addict" -- and came up with nothing. So any indication that there might be people out there from my planet is a thrill for me. I like just about every kind of cotton -- sateen, percale, and that one that is sort of buttery but has no name. I have lots of recommendations if anybody wants them!

Ooooh, I have the great luxury of sleeping in sheets handmade in Spain. Thanks to my mom's generosity. They use this amazing cotton (Tolrá) and they are hand appliqued and embroidered.
My boys' Ikea sheets are washed on cotton hot, but mine I wash on permanent press warm and I dry all of them in permanent press damp... then I iron them, to me it is so worth it. The feeling of slipping into a crisp, clean smelling bed...

Oooh! This reminds me of a post you did ages ago about your sheets and that you and Andy are truly sheet afficionados. And that you buy a lot of 'em at Marshalls!

And that awful pilling that has been happening to sheets in the past ten years. BOO! I don't recall a single pilled sheet in my childhood.

Hmm... I'm going to look into that.

I just buy old sheets from estate sales. That works well!

We've had a conversation about sheets before. You never know if they're good ones until they've been washed about 30 times and then you can't find them again!

I know some of the high thread count sheets are not worth the cost and some are. Thread counts can be thread strands multiplied, not really tighter woven sheets, etc. I want to try the sheets mentioned above from Vermont...

Nicole Rehmann says: May 06, 2011 at 03:54 PM

I actually dry my sheets on my bed. I put them on right out of the washer & after a couple of hours they are dry & ready to be tucked in & for the rest of the bedding to be put on. They feel as if you have ironed them & they are nice & crisp & smell delicious. I have a thick mattress pad on my bed & this method helps my sheets to fit well on my mattress so they no longer pop off the corners. I also feel like my sheets have lasted longer. My dryer does not get as much of a work out as well. Give it a try!

I found an amazing pair at Goodwill, and now I'm on the look-out for some more, I too like crisp not wimpy. Now I know to look for Percale-thanks!

I totally agree on the grandma sheets; but I think my grandma made hers, and they were also all hand embroidered with monograms on sheets as well as pillows. she always washed them and hung them outside to dry (in cold northern sweden even!) and IRONED them. i am so glad i'm not alone out there! (all my friends think i am CRAZY) Ironing your sheets can really make up for a lower thread count, and they are just so soft. 100 % cotton. always. nothing else.

Laura A. says: May 06, 2011 at 04:10 PM

I've found that place of origin means more than thread count. My absolute fave came from Portugal. I got it for a steal at HomeSense, Canadian home store owned by the TJMaxx/Marshalls folks. Higher thread count sheets from places like China just do not compare.
I use vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser because it gets all the soap out. Also, commercial fabric softeners just add a waxy coat to sheets and towels. Then I pop it on my clothes line (now that spring has come to Toronto) and spritz with lavendar water. Ahh heaven.

Our sheets are old and threadbare. It is so tempting to take a fabric I like that is not too dear and to make my own sheets.

We are definitely due for new sheets regardless.

OK....I am totally with this sheet conversation. How on earth were the sheets from my childhood so very drapy and soft? What has happened in the years between to change sheets so. Is it the dyes, the finishes for permapress? I have one old sheet from my mom's stash (probably from HER mom) and it feels incredible. Both mom and gram are gone now. No one here to answer such important questions.

Love sheets. I probably have too many. I will never understand sateen sheets or t-shirt sheets or even flannel sheets. Sheets should be percale, or broken-in linen (hard to find, and takes years to break-in properly). And pillowcases! They are best just before they die, I think. After they die, I take the grandmother-made embroidery off and transfer it to the flange of a new case. I am interested to try your sheets "recipe".

I'm a little obsessed with bedding (as in, you can never have too much). My current favorite sheets are from Pottery Barn - the basic white. I've tried higher thread counts and usually find them too stiff or too smooshy. I like my sheets crisp (but not crackly) and these fit the bill nicely. I've always washed them in warm, rinsed in cool, and have always dried them on permanent press. I never use fabric softener - like I said, I like them a little crisp. In my fantasies, I have fresh sheets on my bed every day just so I can enjoy that crispness every night!

Line dried sheets are the best thing in the world. I amazed every week how a few hours in the sun and the wind can make them smell so wonderful.

Margaret says: May 06, 2011 at 04:38 PM

I adore fresh sheets! My mother always hung her sheets outside to dry, every Monday, and then ironed them! Monday nights were heavenly.
I put a little bag of lavender buds in my dryer to dry my sheets as I love the smell, not quite as good as the sunshine, but nice.

I like the Martha Stewart sheets at Macy's. They're crisp, but soft. They remind me of my childhood sheets - just off the clothesline!

Oh I love sleeping with the windows open! If I had to do a top 10 of my all time favourite things that would be there!
Vivienne x

We had the windows open a few times last week - it was wonderful! It's chilled up again, but the time is coming soon when it will be open window weather for real :-)

Love the embroidery on that pillowcase!

I love white sheets in the summer, also a light blue (my bedroom is white and blue)and even the ones with the blue hydrangeas. I just bought some beautiful white pillowcases with a large white crochet edging from Pottery Barn.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com