[New to thrifting? Check out my Thrifting 101 post from last summer!]
How to Identify Vintage Sheets
2. Another way to tell whether a sheet is vintage or not, is the feel of the sheet. For the most part, vintage sheets made in the United States at were 50%/50% polyester cotton blends. This is a big difference compared to today's sheets, which are generally 100% cotton unless you're buying inexpensive sheets. This blend gives sheets a certain feel. They are normally not wrinkly (thanks to the polyester!), and have a slightly slippery, thinner feel.
The look of the tag and the brand or line can help you approximate what era it is from as well. Some common vintage sheet brands and lines include Cannon (Monticello, Featherlite), JcPenny (Percale), Pequot (Percale), Springmaid (Wondercale), Sears Roebuck and Co. (Perma-Prest, Percale), Pacific Miracale, Vera, Penneys (Fashion Manor, Penn-Prest), Dan River (Dantrel). Just to name a few from my sheet stash!
Keep in mind, more important than whether or not a sheet is vintage, is whether or not you like the pattern! Every once and a while I find a sheet that isn't vintage that I really like, and I don't let that stop me from buying it. If you like it, go for it! :)
How to Shop for Vintage Sheets
1. Check for stains, paint, and any holes or tears. Depending on what you'll be using the sheet for, you may be able to still purchase a sheet with some imperfections. However, if you intend to use it as a quilt backing or as an actual sheet, you'll want to be sure it's okay. Keep in mind some stains can be removed, but not all.
2. Check for matching pillowcases or additional sheets. Some thrift shops will keep sets together and attempt to sell them as sets. Sometimes though, pieces get separated. Most shops have the pillowcases together, separate from the sheets and sheet sets. Check there before leaving, you might end up with a set!
3. Check the middle. This is especially important for fitted sheets. They are often faded or thin in the center from prolonged use. Again, depending on your needs, it might not be a big deal, but definitely check!
How to care for Vintage Sheets
1. The first thing that I like to do when I come home with a pile of sheets is again, check them for stains.
2. If a sheet has a lot of stains or is pretty dingy, I will presoak it before washing it. I like to soak my sheets in hot water + a little detergent + a healthy scoop of Oxi-clean. (I LOVE Oxi-clean. It can do amazing things, even to vintage fabrics. I highly recommend trying it out! You just have to be careful as it is strong, so especially with delicate linens or items, make sure it doesn't eat them. I've never had a problem, but you never know!)
3. After I've presoaked any sheets that need it, I wash them. I like to wash sheets with hot water, using detergent and Oxi-clean. Then I dry them on high heat for 45 minutes. The hot water and hot dry simply insure that they are nice and clean!
4. When they come out of the dryer, I like to find a place to lay them out so they can cool off and won't get wrinkly. Then, I stack them all up and put them away! :)
[If you're interested in how I cut up my vintage sheets, see my tutorial here.]
How to sew and quilt with Vintage Sheets
entire quilts and as quilt backings, without any problems. The only thing to be careful of when quilting with vintage sheets is brand new sheets. They are usually quite stiff and seem to not like being quilted. Otherwise, I've never had any bad experiences using them in quilting!
I hope that this post has been helpful! Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions! :)