Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Algebra Of Bedlinen

Back in the day, our algebra exams had questions about A, B and C filling the bath. This is a similar sort of problem for you

Let DB = double bed, SB = single bed and JF = Japanese futon and dd = double duvet, sd = single duvet, kd = king-size duvet, ds = double sheet, ss = single sheet, pc = pillowcase.

The following information refers to bedlinen requirements of one very strange family between 1986 and 2011.

bunk beds

1986 Back in London we had 4 bedrooms, one with a double bed, the girls each had bunk beds, and we had twin single beds in the spare room. These all required duvet covers, bottom sheets, and pillowcases

DB + 2BB + 2SB = dd + ds + 6sd + 6ss + 16pc


1995 When we got to Leicester, we sold the bunk beds, the girls got Japanese futons [each needing 2 double duvet covers – one for the duvet, one for the mattress] and the spare room had one single bed in it.

DB + 2JF + 1SB = 5dd + sd + ds + ss + 10pc


2005 Then the girls went to Uni, and Bob got sleep apnoea. Liz and Steph bought us an IKEA King-sized bed in the year we were both 50 – it has two single mattresses side by side

That needs a king-sized duvet – but two single sheets. We sold one futon, took the other down to Liz, and moved our old double bed into Steph’s room.    KB + DB + SB = kd +  dd + sd + ds +3ss + 10pc

However it must be remembered that each bed needs three sets of linen – one on the bed, one in the wash, and one spare for emergencies. So all the above data needs to be trebled.

Calculate the following

  1. how many pillowcases did I need in 1987?
  2. where did all my single duvets go in 1997?
  3. if the bunk beds all had pairs of matching sheets, why can I only find odd ones now?

I inherited bedlinen from both Mum and MIL, and have loads of pillowcases. Some of my double duvet covers have gone to Cornerstones. I also inherited a King-sized duvet – but no covers**. So I made one from a double duvet cover and some sheets, and bought a second. This week I did an audit of the airing cupboard.

The worn out linen[and there is plenty] is going to Bob’s ragbag in the garage. But I decided that I really needed another King-sized set. I discovered that one of the futon covers was actually big enough to cover my duvet – and it was a lovely plain cream fabric - but it had some horrible stains I could not shift. Back in the 90’s my girls wrote their essays with pen and ink [no laptops then] and coffee stains and ink stains were not uncommon. Here are just some of those stains…



I found another double duvet cover and took it apart


I put a strip of fabric down the duvet, covering all the nasty stains – and I made a set of matching pillowcases.

I think the bed looks quite acceptable now!


**that’s not strictly true - along with the duvet we were given one frilly pink floral cover – but Bob really did not like its girlie styling!!This simple cream and blue is much more his sort of thing.

All this algebra is a bit much – i think I need to go and lie down…


  1. I miss everything about the 80's and the 90's. People were kinder to each other in general. Not so many felt entitled to so much. Churches reached out to help instead of to put money in their pockets. Lots of pot lucks and caring people. Now...well...I don't know what this is but I'm not nearly as settled as I once was.

  2. Sorry you feel that way Rita - Yes, I agree some people do seem more self-centred now. Perhaps it is their own feeling of insecurity about their future that makes them hang on to stuff and not share it. But on the other hand I am seeing lots of examples of generosity around me. Are you in the UK? if so, watch out for Sunday 25th September- the Big Welcome - when many churches - like my own - are hosting free lunches/teas/welcome events for their communities. Find one of them to go to, and I hope you'll find some caring friends there.
    Blessings x

  3. I will confess to not even trying the Maths and I'm still so exhausted I'm going to go and drink tea and eat muffins. And then I'll clean, perhaps!

  4. I love what you've done with the duvet--very stylish! But no more Algebra, okay? My brain is all twisty now and it will take all morning to straighten it back out.


  5. Angela, please get hammocks...I'm too confused!
    Jane x

  6. too confusing for me as well. I bought new bedding on Tuesday and am going to whine on about the cost on the weekend.......

    Gill in Canada


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