Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Frugal Grandmother's Sheets

I remember when fitted sheets first hit the market. I would have said they were 'the best thing since sliced bread' except that I didn't know bread came any way except sliced. Ah...but this is about sheets.

Flat sheets for top and bottom were a horror to me at the age of 12. I had been making my own bed for years but never changing the linens. It seemed that 12 was the magical age for learning to do just that. 'Hospital corners' were the bane of my young existence. Even if Mother might turn an occasional blind eye to something less than a perfectly square corner, it was my father who regularly did the inspections. Whether it was the propriety of his upbringing or his not-too-distant discharge from the Army after WWII, I guess I will never know but he had little patience with a job improperly done.

Not long after my mastery of the hospital corners, I spent quite a bit of time with my paternal grandmother. On the first occasion of my changing bed linens I noticed a peculiarity. One of the sheets had a seam sewn directly down the middle, from head to toe. Upon further examination, I noticed that it was the selvage edges that had been sewn together and the outer edges had been neatly hemmed. My unsatisfied curiosity caused me to ask for an explanation. It was simple:

The center of the sheet had worn thin from use but the sides, having received virtually no use at all, remained "as good as new". Put the sides in the center, the center to the sides and the sheet will last twice as long.

Mind you, this was not my poor grandmother. Yes, I had one of those, too. But this was my 'comfortable' grandmother with AT&T stocks and a shiny new car and perfectly coiffed, blue hair. "Put the sewn sheet on the bottom", she said, undoubtedly to reserve wear to the top sheet. However, after careful consideration and believing myself to be the princess of 'princess and the pea' fame, I opted to use the sewn sheet for the top with the seam flaps facing up. After all, I reasoned, if the little 'flaps' were to touch me in the middle of the night, they might tickle and I would have none of that.

I hadn't thought of my grandmother's sheets for eons, perhaps not until I started seriously paying attention to the tumbling economy. So, I've told you that to tell you this: We have had life so very easy for such a very long time that few of us remember simple things like 'making-do with what we have' and 'a penny saved is a penny earned'.

If my thoroughly proper grandmother could be satisfied with life while getting twice the wear from a simple sheet, I believe we can make it through whatever this economy throws at us. Perhaps if we think hard, think back, we will each remember some example of almost forgotten avenues to thrift. My hope is that you will share your thoughts and ideas here. Post a comment, please.

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