Thursday, May 14, 2009

Piles of Pillowcases

I used the line “from pill bottles to pillowcases” in my bio blurb because I liked the alliteration and rhythm. I never considered what would be involved in actually finding something interesting to say about pillowcases. But regular readers know I am rarely at a loss for words. So here, as promised is a post on pillowcases. (Yes, I am literally airing my linen in public.)

We have 3 kinds: The ones we inherited or held onto from our childhoods, college days, and first marriages; the ones that go with “bed in a bag” sets; and an enormous quantity of orphans that don’t match anything and seem to reproduce with abandon in the dark privacy of the linen closet. We put most of them to good use. We have 6 or 7 pillows on our bed and never have enough matching pillowcases. We compete over who gets the 4 down pillows, which we call "numphies." (Embarrassing detail of the day. Like most couples, we have a private language.) There's nothing as satisfying as sinking your weary head into a numphy, especially one stolen on the sly from a sleeping partner.

We have two bedspreads (with matching shams and pillowcases) that we rotate. The purple and maroon one is the most glam. I’m usually not much for frou-frou, but purple is my favorite color, and when I saw this set on sale, I had to have it. With its mix of rich velvet and gauzy chenille it looks like something you would find in Cinderella’s castle after she marries the prince. If she was ever the victim of an economic downturn, she could even turn it into an elegant gown a la Scarlett O'Hara. I got an incredible bargain on it…you might even say it was a steal. The department store (Macy’s) was having a half-off sale, along with a coupon for another 20% off. When I took the bed-in-a-bag set to the register, it rang up for about $120 less than it should have. I don't remember exactly what the problem was, but I pointed the mistake out to the clerk. Her response was of the huffy “we don’t make mistakes, this is the right price, don’t make me do any extra work” variety. I tried again,and her attitude became even ruder. So I smiled and accepted the price, getting my $400 bed set for around $70.

Frink has been most gracious in tolerating its frou-frou-osity, but recently he found this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired duvet cover and pillowcases online. The only problem is that the cats like to sleep on it, and their hair shows up quite starkly against the white. Thank goodness it’s washable.

My favorites pillowcases are ones we don’t use often: the 100% cotton cases that were decorated with cross-stitching, embroidery, rick-rack, and ribbons by my mother and grandmother. They are to linens what tuna casserole is to comfort food. Laying my head down on one of these old-fashioned pillowcases softened by decades of wear is a delicious feeling, like being tucked in on a cool summer night or wearing my feet-pajamas to the drive-in movies.


  1. Totally agree with the last paragraph. And LOVE the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired ones.

  2. Frankie, article in the NYT about Wright:


  3. The Frank Lloyd Wright inspired ones are superb. The one with the dogs looks cute. We too have our share of the second and third types. I love the orphans when I am in a mood for mismatch arrangements. I choose the colors carefully though. Gives the room an interestingly different look. :)

    - Bijita

  4. Thank you Sujatha for the link. We're going to see the FLW show at the Guggenheim next month. Can't wait!

    The duvet set is on sale. I'll see if I can find the link and will post if you are Bijita or anyone is interested. I like the idea of mismatched arrangements. That's fun to do with china too.