Buying the Right Size Antique or Vintage Bedding

Linen sheets, coverlets or bedspreads

One of the advantages of buying antique bed linen is often the quality of antique bedding is higher than the equivalent priced modern linens.  How else can you find such a wide selection of affordable & unique hand sewn bed linens?

 The difficulty shopping online is that antique bed linens are not marked with bed sizes like modern linens.  Don’t worry, it’s very simple to work out, there’s just a few questions to answer.

What Size is Your Bed?

Standard Bed Sizes

Standard Bed Sizes
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

How thick is your mattress?

Recommendations for sheet comfort are

  • Adequate length to tuck in at least 8-12" underneath the end of the bed. 
  • Adequate width to give 10-15” extra per side for sheets to cover you or tuck under the mattress. 

What size bed sheets do you need?

  • Correct Sheet Width = Width of Mattress Top + 20-30”
  • Correct Sheet Length = Length of Mattress Top + Mattress Thickness + 8-12”  

If in any doubt, measure one of your own top sheets you are comfortable with and keep the dimensions on a sticky note close on your computer monitor for online shopping.

Table for Choosing Correct Sheet Sizes

Table for Choosing Correct Sheet Sizes
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Unused French Metis Linen and Cotton Ladderwork Sheets

French Metis Linen and Cotton ladderwork Sheets
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Sizing Antique Bedspreads

Choosing the right size bedspread is very similar to choosing sheets.  You need bed size, mattress thickness and bed frame height, which should give the height of mattress top to floor.  Heights of bed-frame and pillow-top mattresses vary a lot. 

Measure your mattress-top height, from top of mattress to floor for best results.  It only takes a minute and will save you lots of hassle later!

Recommendations for comfort and elegant appearance

  • Adequate length (including fringe) to reach or nearly reach floor at end of bed (roughly 20-30” on top of mattress length), around 24” high
  • Adequate width (including fringe) to reach or nearly reach floor at each side of bed (roughly 40-60” on top of mattress width), around 48” wide
  • Bedspread Width = Width of Mattress Top + 2 x (Mattress-top height from floor)
  • Bedspread Length = Length of Mattress Top + Mattress-top height from floor

For smaller style antique woven coverlets or crochet bedspreads that just reach the bed-skirt, use the sheet calculations.

You can still buy the smallest coverlets if you like.  Smaller coverlets can be used & displayed folded at the foot of an antique bed, or you can use them to snuggle on the couch.

Antique Bedspread Sizing Table

Antique Bedspread Sizing Table
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Look for the following When Buying Antique Bed Linens Online

  • If the piece you are considering has a “framed” rectangular bed top portion, it will look nicer if the dimensions match your mattress top size

  • You may find more affordable pieces if wear and repairs are acceptable at the foot of the bed and below the drop

  • Some bedspreads are made with no end frill for footed beds, there’s no need to add the end drop dimension when calculating required size

  • The cut-out bedspreads for 4 poster beds are still very pretty on a regular bed with no frame, especially the lace ones

  • Check shipping costs carefully as some bedding can be surprisingly heavy, especially linen and crochet

  • Often “mistakes” or damaged bedlinens are delightful as draperies and curtains.  In the folds and drape, appearance of imperfections is minimal

Happy Antique Bed Linen Shopping!

These are just a guideline to help you online shopping for beautiful quality antique bed linens.  It is up to your own taste and needs for you to decide to make a purchase. 

For those addicted to inexpensive, small antique linen related gifts and ideas, there are some beautiful high quality needle laces, bobbin laces, point laces,  padded satin irish linen, madeira work and even the English filet crochet is simple and elegant.

I hope this has helped you to shop for antique linen sheets more confidently!  For the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, it is worth considering antique table linens for a wonderful traditional festive holiday meal.  Choosing the correct size for antique tablecloths can be just as simple.