Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Losing sleep over bedding

All I want is a new comforter for my bed, something in a color that coordinates with the room's decor, a fabric that isn't scratchy, and a price that won't require sacrifice of my firstborn. Is that too much to ask? 

Apparently it is. I've been looking at comforters in stores and online for weeks now without finding what I want, and I think the problem is that I want both too much and too little.

Let's handle the "too little" first: seriously, all I want is a comforter. I don't need sheets, a bed skirt, two or five or seven pillow shams, and whatever else is included in the 24-piece comforter sets I've been seeing online. The comforter set I'm looking for will include exactly one piece--a comforter--or, if the color doesn't coordinate with my perfectly good bedskirt, then perhaps two pieces--a comforter and bedskirt. So quit already with the 7-piece or 12-piece or 24-piece comforter sets.

I'm fairly flexible on color as long as it coordinates with the barn-red-and-brown color scheme of the room. In the past we've had comforters that are mostly brown or mostly red with gold accents or black accents or beige accents. I could accept an off-white comforter with the right kinds of accent colors, but I don't need anything purple or lime green or midnight blue. In that room, an eggplant-colored comforter is going to make my eyeballs explode, which doesn't lead to restful sleep. That solid sand-colored comforter I saw certainly felt plush and would coordinate with everything, but when I want to sleep on a vast expanse of something the color of sand, I'll go to the beach. 

And can we talk about fabric for a moment? The word comforter suggests a certain level of comfort, but too many of the comforters I've seen have that rough, nubbly texture suggesting recycled plastic bottles. I believe in recycling but I don't want to sleep in the recycling bin, and if I ever want to sleep on something that feels like indoor-outdoor carpeting, I'll take a nap at a Putt-Putt course. Cotton is fine. I don't demand satin or silk, although I wouldn't reject it if it were affordable.

Which takes us to the final point: I'm not spending a thousand dollars on a comforter, or even $500 or $300. We're too rough on bedding to treat it as a luxury purchase--but on the other hand, I don't want to spend $69 on those comforters at Big Lots that are so thin you can read the fine print on your mattress tags through them. I don't need imported goose down hand-stuffed by nuns into a silk duvet cover. Just a regular, ordinary, comforter for everyday use in a house where everything we own eventually ends up looking as if it's been gnawed by rabid wolverines.

But I can't find it--and the search is wearing me out. Maybe that's what the bedding manufacturers are hoping for: keep throwing bizarre and ridiculous and uncomfortable options at shoppers until we're too exhausted to think straight. 

If I come home one of these days carting a 24-piece comforter set made of recycled plastic bottles in an eggplant-and-lime-green print, you'll know they've won.



Bardiac said...

Do you sew even a little? If you do, you can make a comforter, especially if you're willing to go with one color per side.

Get two non-fitted sheets (good quality, colors you like), a size bigger than your bed works best, two sizes if you can.

Get quilt batting at a local fabric store (talk to them about how thick you want the comforter). Also get a sturdy yarn or heavy embroidery thread in a color you like that goes with the colors of your sheets.

Trim the trim off the sheets. Put the two sheets "back to back" and pin a bunch. Sew up three sides (if you're good, you can sew one third of the way on each of the fourth side). Unpin. Turn the new bag inside out. While it's flat, on one side, mark "tie" marks where you're going to put the ties with a pencil. You can make a pattern, or you can just do every 8 or so inches.

Work the batting in so it's not bunched. Spread the comforter out and pin where the tie marks are. Working around, tie a knot starting on one side and putting a needle through, and then back again, so that the knot are all on one side of the comforter, and hold the batting so it won't get bunched. Put knots in all the places you've marked. Cut the knot strings so they're a length you like.

At the open end, invert the material ends so that the seam will be finished. Hand sew it up (this is the hardest part by far).

Cuddle up with your comforter!

(I did a project like this way back, except that one side is pieced in a pattern, and sewn by machine. I've used the comforter pretty much every day since (so 20-30 years). If you piece a side, it takes a LOT longer. But the basic doesn't take long at all. It does help if you've got a way to stretch the comforter as you're prepping the knotting/tying part, but if you're careful, it doesn't matter.)

Bev said...

See, I could totally do this, except for the fact that my sewing machine is getting old and cranky and so am I. My daughter made a great throw out of old band T-shirts, and I've made more throw pillows and curtains than I can count, but the thought of trying to wrestle layers of fabric and batting through a sewing machine that won't maintain appropriate thread tension and regularly gets jammed up does not feel at all restful.

Contingent Cassandra said...

A rather obvious suggestion, but would a comforter-plus-cover combination work? That opens up the possibility of buying that sand comforter (or one in another, perhaps discounted/discontinued, unobtrusive but odd/less-than-satisfactory color) and then, separately, a cover (which could also be more easily sewed, even on a balky sewing machine, since there would be considerably less bulk involved).

I've got LL Bean's most basic feather/down-type comforter in a rather depressing tannish/khaki color that was on sale, plus a couple of different, considerably brighter, covers. It wasn't the cheapest option (and it was a bit noisy/crinkly at first), but the sale helped, it's held up well, and it seems to be comfortable in a reasonably wide range of temperatures. Since I sleep directly under the comforter (no top sheet), I change the cover semi-regularly, which is admittedly a pain (the corner ties help, but not that much) but that wouldn't be as necessary if you use a top sheet (but you'd still have the option of seasonal changes, or just a bit of variety).

penn said...

Our solution to this dilemma was to go with a duvet + duvet cover. Then, you can make your own duvet cover or purchase one. We have a king-sized duvet (a silk one; a present from my parents' trip to China), and we bought a great duvet cover at Ikea in navy blue. It is much easier to find affordable, lovely duvet covers. Then, you can even reuse the comforter you own or purchase whichever comforter has a good weight for you.

penn said...

PS best part is that it's easy to wash. The duvet itself rarely needs to be washed unless you actually spill something on it. The cover can be washed just like a set of sheets in your normal machine.

Bardiac said...

Bev, with the tie instead of quilting, there's much less machine to wrestle. All you've got are three straight lines of sewing on the machine (or a bit more if you do parts of the fourth side). The rest is just tying and a bit of hand sewing.

(But the duvet cover idea is even better, I think)

Bev said...

Thanks for all the suggestions; I will certainly keep them in mind the next time I'm in similar trouble. But today I bought a new comforter! We were on our way to see the grandkids and decided to stop at a bedding store along the way, where we found a nice soft all-cotton comforter in the right color and size on clearance. Problem solved! (For now.)

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