Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shoulder season bedding (or, how else can I use the "leftover" top sheets?)



It's so annoying that fitted sheets wear out twice as fast as the flat sheets. Yet, it can be difficult to even buy replacement fitted sheets, in some sizes. So, I'm left with lots of pillowcases and flat sheets.

I found a great use for the flat, flannel sheet to my Cal. King bed. In early fall, when the nighttime temperatures weren't cold enough for an extra blanket, but a bit chilly, with just the bedding from summer, I used the flat flannel sheet as a very lightweight blanket, on top of the smooth cotton sheet. Kind of the in-between just a sheet and a sheet plus blanket.

With a cotton quilt on top, it was just the right amount of warmth for me, so much so that I've done the same for our spring shoulder season. I really like that I'm getting more use from a sheet that was seeming useless, just sitting in the linen closet.

25 comments:

  1. Yes, same problem in my household. I've been pondering for years how to use the elastic part of the worn out fitted sheet and try to sew into that the flat sheet. Once done, cut out the worn fitted part. The challenging part is so that there are no stitching anywhere on the part to sleep on. I haven't gotten it figured out yet but my head keeps on thinking about how or if it can be done.

    I never thought of using the flat sheet as a light blanket during the transitional seasons--good idea. Extra pillow cases are fine since we have extra pillows for when kids forget theirs at college when they come home for a weekend or someone needs extra support for their back or a nap on the couch.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      I've thought along those lines, too. I did spend about a year, using a flat sheet as the bottom sheet, by tucking in the edges, all around. It worked okay, but had to be re-tucked daily.

      And I did use a couple of extra pillowcases, a while back, to re-make some pillows, (by shredding the filling from several pillows, and putting into King-size pillowcases, then sewing shut). These pre-made pillows can get a bit lumpy, so I use them as sham-stuffers, for sham pillows on the bed, to lean against when reading. And of course, my kids used them as treat bags for trick-or-treating, all those years ago.

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  2. We use extra flat sheets as drop cloths, plant covers (for frost), to make up a bed on a normal couch, etc. We've also used them as fabric backing for curtains or other sewing projects where a small amount of plain fabric was needed (to support or add backing to applique work or pillow cases, etc).

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    1. Hi Doc,
      Flat sheets also make decent quilt backing, if they don't have thin spots. I made quilts for each of my kids, and used leftover flat sheets for the backing on each. Yes, definitely on the making up a bed on a couch. I'd forgotten about that. And a flat sheet will usually work on a pull-out couch, too, as those mattresses are quite thin, so they don't require a fitted sheet. Also, Hallowe'en costumes -- we have one flat sheet with holes for eyes cut out that was used many years, as a ghost costume, and then in high school, by my son, as a toga costume. Flat sheets also work as make-shift curtains for kids to set up a "stage" for backyard theater productions, and making forts over tables and chairs.

      I guess, "leftover" flat sheets do get a fair amount of use.

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  3. I remember learning to make a bed with a flat top and bottom sheet. Sometimes at the thrift stores they have old sets , barely used if at all. Must have been in someone's trousseau. They are a lovely heavy weight cotton.

    I sometimes purchase two sets of king size sheets.We have duvets that will fit exactly in a cover made by folding over and sewing a king flat sheeting two sides and slipping in the duvet.

    I also have wondered how to recycle the elastic. It seems when my fitted sheets are worn, I use them as rags or to cover my plants against frost.

    In olden times when there was a flat top and bottom they did not wear as fast. Because of the rotation.Then the worn sheet was cut down the middle and the sides were sewn together So the worn parts could go to the edges where they had less wear. I use a few pillows so extra pillow cases get used. I also store items like purses in them. Keeps the dust off at the top of my closet.

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    1. Hi Theresa,
      I can imagine how nice the older sheets are. My mom bought sheets that lasted several decades. But now, I feel lucky to get 8 to 10 years out of a set of sheets. Wouldn't it be nice if they would make heavier weight sheets, today, that would last for 30 years, and not need replacing. I'd pay extra for that.

      I remember reading about tearing the sheets down the center, when worn, then piecing them back together, outside edges together. It makes sense. But I wouldn't wish to sleep on the seam, for narrower, single-person beds.

      I do use pillowcases to launder delicate items, like our microfiber duster, and lingerie. I just use a rubber band to secure the pillowcase closed before tossing into the washing machine. Good tip for storing things like purses or other items you'd like to keep in pristine condition in between uses. This is especially useful for someone who does a lot of selling on Ebay and wants to keep items in as like-new condition as possible, until they're ready to part with them.

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  4. I'm on a rug making kick, so I like to collect fabrics, new and used. So far, I've been practicing on old t-shirts (still don't have the nerve to cut perfectly good new batik yardage into strips). But used (and new) sheets are great for cutting into long strips, so I've got my eyes on them. So funny, I tell my husband don't hesitate to throw any shirt you no longer want to wear!! Hope crafting with our used clothing will incentivize a much needed wardrobe change (we have crates of clearance clothing so there won't be much out of pocket cost there either). I'm determined not to spend money buying more things, and to just make do (we simply have too much stuff from my previous spendthrift days). Just putting a stop to buying makes everything I have more valuable.

    YHF

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    1. I have a friend who makes rugs too, and she goes to thrift stores looking for non-flannel sheets for her projects. I do give her my cotton sheets when the fitted ones wear out. She too, can't see buying new yardage to tear into rug strips when there is so much pre-owned fabric available.
      Mary

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    2. Hi Mary,
      I buy most of my fabrics these days from Savers, with discount, either 50% off color or 30% senior discount. I will buy if wool or batik at $1 to $1.50 per yard. But even at that great price, I find it hard to cut up the fabric until I am confident I can make an heirloom quality rug!! The original crafters only used pre-owned fabric and made very beautiful rugs that way, so that is good enough justification for me. I am in the reuse, repurpose mindset these days. There is nothing more satisfying than making a useful product out of throwaways.

      Savers also has lots of brand new sheets, though after discount I think the price is still high compared to a good deal at store clearance and sale.

      YHF

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    3. I went through a rug making phase a few years ago. I was making "toothbrush" rugs (the kind that are basically like macrame knots tied in a spiral) and I have to agree that sheets are by far the easiest kind of fabric to recycle this way.

      I tried using other things, but stretchy stuff was problematic because it's hard enough getting the tension right on the knots, throw stretchiness in there and I was sunk. And then I tried cutting up old cotton clothes etc, but eee gads, that's a LOT of work! You have to cut out all the seams, and then you're left with a bunch of stuff that isn't square, and it makes it really hard to get nice long strips, which is what you really need for rug making.

      The only problem with using sheets is that they all tend to be white or other pastel colors. I wonder if you could dye some of them - or even cut them into strips and then dye them to get a better selection of brighter and darker colors. BTW - if you post something on freecycle asking for old sheets, you'll be inundated - ask me how I know! :-)

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    4. Wow! Who knew there ere so many rug-makers!

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    5. Yes who knew!! I'm so happy to be able to chat about my new found interest. I tried making "toothbrush" brush rugs with t-shirt yarn too, and agree with EcoCatLady that stretchiness is the problem, getting it through the previous row loops and pulling the strips to the right tension (knits don't all have the same degree of stretchiness). After a few rows in, the rows got shorter....not sure what to do as I am already halfway. It sits in the "failed" pile, but I invested a lot of time tearing those strips so I am reluctant to just throw the whole thing away. I moved on from that to crochet using the largest hooks, but didn't like the spaces typical of crochet work which is more lace like. Later I came across another technique called "locker hooking" which uses a special tool, a crochet hook on one end and a needle eye on the other. This is just perfect with any and all fabrics including tshirts, although batik is recommended because the colors are dyed through to both sides and very tightly woven and strong. I am also looking at rug hooking with wool fabric much later on, when I am more confident and able to hook landscape and other designs rather than just straight lines as I am doing now. Lots to do and learn with this hobby, but I love the time listening to meditation music and hooking to the music, so very relaxing.

      EcoCatLady, I've read that many rug makers dye their own to get the right colors. It is possible also to use various color yarns and work with multiple strands (usually 3) to get the right color blend (and according to some rug hookers, the yarns don't all have to be the same content). I used an old 80's needlepoint kit (purchased for 50c at Savers) and experimented with combining wool yarn strands to get the unique colors I want, and using a tiny crochet hook (those mesh canvas spaces are indeed tiny) and needle point needle to lock each stitch, now a two step process for each stitch, since they don't make locker hooks this small....and for good reason!! This also takes a very long time to complete (requiring 3x reading glasses, hope I can finish it in my lifetime lol

      YHF

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    6. Hmmm... I'm not sure what you mean about the rows getting shorter. The rugs I made all started as a spiral and so it gets bigger and bigger as you go. You have to occasionally add extra knots as you go - meaning that you tie two knots looping through the same hole in the previous row. That process was tricky too because if you either add too many or too few then your rug ends up sort of lumpy and won't sit flat.

      Anyhow, I threw in the towel after a few rugs because I just sorta ran out of free time to play with it - so I've never tried any other varieties. Though, if I do ever get around to yanking up my hideous avocado green shag carpeting, my need for rugs could go up rather quickly, so we'll see what happens! Good luck with all of your rugs!

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    7. I know what you mean about spiral rugs, how you have to increase with an extra stitch as you go along, but I made the rug to be rectangle and in rows instead so I added an extra stitch at the end of each row at the turn. I had difficulty finding the previous rows loops since the tension was hard to control with knit strips, not so much a problem with woven. So I might have dropped the previous row end stitch that way. These rugs are a labor of love more than material cost (free), think I'm hooked and we don't need more rugs!

      YHF

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  5. I just had a couple flannel fitted bottom sheets wear completely through recently. I have more than enough rags right now so didn't want to keep them for that. At our local recycling center there is a Gemtex bin where they take worn fabric and recycle it into carpet padding, insulation, etc. For the flat top sheets, I regularly donated them to a charity, hoping someone could use them for some project. This most recent time though, I decided to make a fitted sheet out of a flat one. I sewed an elastic piece about 8" down and then across from the corner point on both edges, if that makes sense. It is working alright, just needing the corner points retucked every other day or so. Those flat sheets still have so much life in them. With extra pillowcases, I have decided to use the older ones as "pillow protectors" and double pillowcase the pillows. I'm very much in a "use it up, wear it out" mode these days, as I'm bothered by all the waste of resources I see out there in the world.
    Mary

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    1. Hi Mary,
      after a while, you do accumulate more rags than you could ever use. So it's a good thing -- the recycling of fabric for something else.
      What you did with the flat sheet, and elastic is how I remember mattress covers working. The pad fit the top of the mattress, and had elastic at 4 corners, to hold it onto the bed.

      Good tip on using the pillowcases as pillow protectors. I'm going to give that a try. Thanks!

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  6. For me the elastic tends to wear out a lot faster than the actual fabric -- we have one set that isn't very stretchy any more but I keep using it because the sheets are so soft. It would be a quick fix, but it really hasn't been a problem using it the way it is, so I've put that off for now.

    I am only just now starting to see some of my older sheet sets deteriorate to the point that all or part of them are no longer usable. Generally I just put the damaged set in the tote of fabric I have for quilting and sewing projects, although I like Mary's suggestion of using extra pillowcases as a pillow protector.

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    1. Hi Laura,
      I've seen some elastic edging that wears much faster than others. The kind of elastic that is sewn into a casing along the edge seems to last longer than the elastic that is directly sewn to the edge. My daughters were using a set of sheets that were from the 80s, and the elastic just got too stretchy and wouldn't hold the sheet on the corners of the bed. I'm still meaning to do something with those sheets, as the fabric is still good.

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  7. Hi Lili, I have some "sheet blankets" that were my mom's. They are similar to flannel sheets and I always enjoy using them in the spring and fall.
    Jo Ann

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    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Sheet blankets -- so there is such a thing. It's a nice weight for the in-between seasons.

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  8. I have a waterbed, and since waterbed sheets are ridiculously expensive, I've always just used two flat sheets - the fitted ones don't really work well on a waterbed, but the flat ones are big enough to tuck under the mattress and the pressure of the water holds them in place.

    I wonder if you could use some of the surplus flat sheets from your big bed as bottom sheets for the kids' beds? Not sure how well they'd stay in place on a regular mattress, but they'd be big enough that you could pin them on the underside or come up with some other creative way to keep them in place.

    p.s. What on earth is "shoulder season?"

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    1. Hi Cat,
      "Shoulder season" is usually used in the travel industry, the travel season in-between high travel periods. For me, it's the season in-between needing lots of covers on the bed and practically no covers on the bed.

      That's a good idea to use these large sheets on smaller beds. We do have one bed which is running out of decent sheets. I think I'll start using one or two of the large sheets on that bed. thanks for the idea!

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    2. I didn't know what shoulder season was either. I thought is was a warmer season when you didn't need as much cover. That way you could cut up worn sheets into smaller ones that wouldn't quite cover your shoulders but you wouldn't mind. :)

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    3. Ha! I was thinking maybe it was when it was warm enough to have your arm & shoulder out of the covers instead of tucked under.

      So I Googled it to find the etymology of the term, and nobody can agree on it. Some people say it's because it's the time of year when you only need a light shawl or something to cover your shoulders, some people say it's because the shoulders are between the top and bottom, and still others say it's a mathematical term referring to the part of the curve on a Gaussian distribution that looks like a shoulder. Holy Moly!

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  9. My mom has used her top flannel sheet as a light blanket, too. Great minds think alike!

    I assumed everyone knew what shoulder season was ... I never really thought about the etymology of the term. In my single years, I used to travel more than I do now, so I was on the lookout for ways to save money. It really is cheaper during shoulder season.

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