Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vintage Lace Runner = King Sized Bed (border) Sheet

Although I don't know as much as I'd like to about vintage linens, I certainly admire the detail of crochet, lace, needlework, embroidery and fine handwork that went into so many of them.

My bedroom linens are dark, as are the walls, so I want to bring whites in where I can to help brighten the areas.  One such way to do this is by adding a white, flat sheet, with a beautiful border that can be folded down over the blankets, to my bed.  It not only lightens, but softens the area as well.

What I did to create the look was initially search online for a vintage sheet, but because King sized mattresses were not produced until 1958, by Simmons, it is virtually impossible to find an antique or even vintage, flat sheet that truly fits a king sized bed. I did find a beautiful, vintage linen sheet but it did not adequately cover the bed, and even worse, much worse, is that linen sheets, ironed sheets!, are NOT comfortable.  It didn't make it through the first night on our bed. 

(by the way, the above photo was taken at my old house...see that blob of paint on the wall, above the bed?...That was there for two years!  I never could make up my mind about painting this room, so the paint wound up on a wall at my shop!)

So, my quest for a pretty flat sheet for my bed continued.
While perusing online linen sources I saw something that really caught my eye.  It was called a sheet border, a decorative piece to lay across the bed to make it appear as an exquisite, bordered sheet and was used after a woman gave birth, to welcome visitors but still have a bed that looked beautifully made up.
I recently contacted a textile expert,  Cynthia, owner of Cynthia's Linen Room  to inquire about border sheets, if what I thought they were was true and if this is what they were used for.  She graciously replied and told me that because of the availability and affordability of bedding today that she refers to them as
"Faux Sheet Top, Sham (as in false) Sheet or False Sheet, or Churching Set".  Cynthia went on to explain that,
"We just can't imagine those days, even well into the 20th century, when people commonly received visitors from bed. We also can't imagine the lengths people would go to display their wealth and power, or, as the case of a new mother who'd be too wiped out to change the bedding on her bed, have something (relatively) easy to make it appear that her bed was not only "made up" but "made up really fancy" to show off her new child to visitors".

Cynthia shared these two photos of border sheets with me, which are part of her personal collection of antique linens.

The first photo, Cynthia says, "is an exquisite one with amazing embroidery, including a pair of birds. I can't even begin to stress how fine and rare this piece is! (for the work)."

The next photo, she continues,  "was a False sheet top, c. 1880, that belonged to Russian nobility. You could imagine that, in using a sheet with all that lace, it could easily be damaged during sleep, especially if someone tossed and turned or allowed dogs on the bed! The solution was to bring this item out and make it look as though a rare and even-more-costly item was on the bed. One, really fine fabric was expensive, even if you were royal and, two... making a bed all the way is hard work; the false sheets are actually easier and use yards less fabric."

 I decided that I'd try to create something similar to a border sheet for my bed (not that I plan on giving birth...ever again...six times was enough for me!).  I already had the sheet below, with a pretty border...but I wanted something with more detail, a much wider, showier lace edge to it.  

So my attention turned to finding a vintage piece of fabric...I have a few vintage/antique flounces (pieces from Victorian dresses), but mine again were not long enough for my bed.   I finally decided that  a vintage table runner may work.  And so it did.  I found a stunning, 100" long, needle lace table runner which turned out to be perfect.

It looks beautiful under the sheet as well.

It fits exactly over my existing king sized sheet, hanging over the bed just right, and is easy to put on in the morning and take off at night...

...along with all of the other pillows.

My Mother in law made the rose petal pillows seven or eight years ago...I LOVE these!

What do you think of using the table runner as a border sheet?  

Joining:  Freckled LaundryBetween Naps on the PorchFaded Charm,
 Savvy Southern StyleRomantic Homes504 MainFeathered Nest Friday,Charm of HomeFunky Junk Interiors No Minimalist HereHouse in the Roses,  Mod Vintage Life, Todays Creative Blog


  1. the rose pillows are incredible

  2. What a lovely addition to your bed Nancy, and the history of them is fascinating.

  3. Hi Nancy...

    What an interesting post, my friend! I didn't know anything about "border" sheets...that is sooo awesome! Thanks for sharing the information with us! Ohhh my...your friends embroidered border sheet is quite exquisite...I certainly can imagine why it is a rare piece! But...I love that you found the lace table runner and have incorporated that into your beautiful bed! It really is beautiful, Nancy! Ohhh...I love, love, LOVE your bed linens! The colors...the color combinations...just gorgeous!!! You have a fabulous home, my friend and I love your bedroom! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    Warmest summery wishes,

  4. i like your improvisation skills! The runner looks great. I've been using lace tablecloths on beds for quite some time. I like the layer of one across a plain bedcover, but I also like it folded at the foot of the bed. I show mine in a post here: http://hodgepodge-home.blogspot.com/2011/03/leaf-chronicle-column-march-27th.html) If you decide you want a crocheted lace sheet set, let me know, I have a source for a king size source. Just letting you know--but I really like what you've come-up with on your own!

  5. Very beautiful lace and the rose pillows are lovely and by your mil! Hugs, FABBY

  6. Excellent, thanks for sharing this wonderful idea. M-I-L pillows are beautiful, she could sell those!!

  7. I love that idea! It has made your bed look so pretty!

  8. Well the bed looks great!! I love the antique lace and the layering you did. Hey, run to Kmart, they have lavender colored pillows in round shape with pleated ruffles all around in a concentric circle, just like my aqua round pillow you see in my living room. I almost bought them, and they were a steal and would look perfect on this bed!

  9. It looks great, Nancy. It really brightens up your bed and accentuates the individuality of your pillows.

    Be sure to stop by my blog this week to enter my giveaway.

    Have a great day! La

  10. I never knew about border sheets. Thanks for educating me!

  11. I have heard about those sheets before. And as soon as it isn't so blasted hot here...I plan on trying something on our bed....I was thinking of a table runner.

  12. Yes, the history is fascinating how they lived & presented their selves way back then. My g'ma used to do this, impressions were very important to her.

    I love what you have done to create such an elegance to your bed &room, Nancy. Just perfect.

    Have a great holiday weekend ~
    TTFN ~

  13. Nancy this is a fantastic idea and oh so lovely on your pretty bed!! I am so digging through my stash of linens now to do this!!!

    bee blessed

  14. Tht is so beautiful, I have lots of beautiful old runners, one would look gorgeous on m bed.
    I had never heard of border sheets either.
    Hugs, Cindy

  15. Such an interesting post! Thanks for educating me on the use of border sheets. Love how your runner looks on your bed. All of your pillows are lovely, but those rose pillows are to die for!

  16. I gave KC a pair of twin antique lace coverlets that were used to cover a pair of Nana's bed. KC also has the pair of beds. They are so gorgeous, and they were used in much the same manner as the border sheets. Lovely post. Cherry Kay

  17. I found this fascinating. I've never heard of this before. What a great idea though. Now if there was something you could just drape over the bed that made it look like it was made! Love all your pillows. Such a pretty display. Thanks for linking up at Mod Mix Monday!

  18. This room makes me swooooooon. You are a master at decorating Nancy. Love everything!

  19. What a great idea you had, the layering of the lace looks beautiful.

    Just wanted to Thank you for the english transfer ware plate information. I had no idea their date and hadn't had time to look them up. I was going to sell them but not anymore...lol

    A new follower

  20. I love the addition of the lace runner, Nancy! I have heard of Border Sheets but have never seen one. Your bed is beautiful and of course I love the transferware on the wall. Thank you for joining my party this week.

  21. Thanks for the lesson on linens Nancy and your bed looks beautiful. What luck to find a dresser scarf that long, it looks perfect on your bed and really adds to the elegance of the room. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I love this idea. Your bed looks beautiful!

  23. HI Nancy! This is so beautiful and you're so very smart to think of it!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  24. So beautiful! Very creative too. Thanks for sharing with air your laundry Friday!


  25. Hi Nancy, this is such a great idea to lace up a bed. There is a lot of bohemian in me and I can never have enough lace. YOu know what I'll be on the look out for at the local antique markets. . .yikes, more to want! Enjoy your weekend.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  26. Nancy,
    This is a fascinating post on the bed linens. I had no idea that these were used for these reasons. What a beautiful bed you have here and the table runner is perfect to recreate it. Thanks for linking it up at Home Sweet Home and have a great 4th weekend!


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