The History (and Art) of Bedmaking

by Sophia O'Connor
May 31, 2022

Beds, bed linens, bedmaking - for hundreds of years, these seemingly simple things were only available to those of high social status and even then they were far from comfortable. Today, many of us take for granted the fact that we can slip in between clean sheets after a long day and indulge in a comfortable night’s rest. We also enjoy more options than ever when it comes to choosing a bed, mattress, and linen to complement our evening slumber.

Here’s how we got to this point and why we’re glad we no longer live in a time where beds were uncomfortable luxuries.

The History of the Bed & Bedmaking

The earliest known “bed” was actually just a mattress. It was discovered in South Africa and dates back 77,000 years. It was made from layers of plant material and spanned 22 square feet—enough for the whole family to catch a snooze.

Fast forward to 3,000 B.C. when ancient Egyptians invented the raised bed. Commoners and elitists could enjoy the new development, which was primarily made of wood.

It wasn’t until the Medieval times that beds started becoming more of a standard household item for all. Poorer individuals would sleep on a raised platform made of wood or a bag stuffed with hay on the floor (which is where we get the term “hit the hay”). Also, fine linens were not an option. Rough wool blankets were fairly common unless you were middle-class or above and could afford a four-poster bed with curtains and even your own private bedroom.

The oldest linens (aside from twigs and leaves) were originally made from flax and woven together. In the 19th century, the cotton gin transformed the way cotton could be used, and the cotton sheet soon followed. This material soon replaced flax linens in many products, including bedding, but we still refer to them as linens although they’re made from other fabrics.

With new bedding came a new practice: making the bed. Throughout history, we see examples of exacting standards that dictate the right way to make a bed. For example, you’ve likely seen the requirements for making military corners or hospital corners.

When Florence Nightingale efficiently assembled a group of women to aid the wounded during the Crimean War, she knew they needed to work fast to care for patients, which meant finding a better, faster way to make a bed. They used hospital corners to speed up the process, which involved one sheet with corners tightly tucked in a diagonal fold.

Hospital corners are still considered an efficient way to make a bed, but they can take some time to master.

Handy Hints for a More Comfortable Bed

Bedmaking is a simple task, but those who have made it a habit agree it makes them happier and more productive.

To get the most out of bedmaking, we recommend the following handy hints:

  • Make a ritual of it. The more often you make your bed, the faster it will go.
  • Use a mattress pad. They make your bed more comfortable and protect your mattress from sweat and other contaminants. Plus, a mattress protector is much easier to clean than a mattress.
  • Wash your sheets and pillowcases once a week. Wash a mattress protector every few weeks or once a month.
How to Make Your Bed Every Day in Less than a Minute

If you make your bed with hospital corners, it’s very easy to maintain throughout the week. In fact, you can make your bed every day in less than a minute.

Most people make their beds by walking around each side and straightening out the sheets, but in reality, all that shuffling around wastes time.

If you want to make your bed quickly, the best way is to make it while you’re still in it. Wake up, sit up in bed, and straighten everything. It’s easier to do from the centre of your bed instead of standing over the side.

From there, simply fold the top of the blanket and sheet down and slide out one side. Once you’re out of bed, tuck the sides of the sheet underneath your mattress, then prop up your pillows. Voila!

And if you really want to save some time, Bedsmade sheets were made for you! Bedsmade sheets are helping people make their beds in record time thanks to the 100% Australian designed sewn-in tailored corners that slip over the mattress and stay put. Bedsheets that ‘almost’ make themselves.