Why don’t they make bed sheets like this any more?

I love browsing at Goodwill stores — you just never know what you’ll find. Recently at my local Goodwill, I found this delightful vintage package of two cotton fitted twin-size bed sheets for $1.99.

Now, I’m a sucker for vintage packaging, and thanks to Google, I’ve ascertained that these Bibb fitted sheets were made sometime in the 1950s! I didn’t buy them just for the packaging though. We’ve been camping a lot lately, and with the warm weather, we’ve been packing fitted sheets for our airbeds. I figured if I found some cotton fitted twin sheets at a good price, I’d pick them up to keep in our camping tote.

Well, a 2-pack of twin fitted sheets for under $2 certainly fit the bill for my boys’ twin airbeds, but I wondered if the sheets would still be in new condition after being sealed in the package for sixty years or more..! Surely the elastic would have dry-rotted, but for $1.99, I figured I’d take a chance.

I bought the sheets. I opened them up, and they seemed fine — they hadn’t even yellowed from age! So, I checked the corners of the sheets where one would expect the elastic to be. These sheets have no elastic — they’re truly a “fitted sheet” with a mitered corner.

I laundered them and slipped a sheet onto one of my son’s beds to try them out. And immediately I wondered… why aren’t sheets made like this any more? They’re incredible! They fit so tightly to the mattress that you could bounce a proverbial quarter off the top of the bed. There are no loose corners here, and there’s no elastic to wear out.

I’m truly impressed that these sheets are still in such great condition considering their age. The fitted corners will be fantastic on our air mattresses too. Sometimes elastic corners don’t hug an inflatable mattress very well, but these should. It does make me wonder why they don’t make bed sheets like this any more though…


  1. letsshop says

    1953 Bibb Sheets Woman Laying on Bed Print Ad (7462)
    by AdsPast
    Be the first to review this item
    Available from these sellers.

    An original vintage advertisement from a magazine printed in the year shown.
    Page size approx 5 1/4″ x 13 3/4″.
    Unique gift
    Decorative collectible

    1 used from $13.99

    Love Goodwill too ,have picked up lots of garden items !and some with stickers still on them (: I think their are lots of stores that donate to them ,I live in the middle of 4 stores probably under 10 miles away and love to hit them all when I can .Sometimes cute Xmas & Halloween decorations too .
    And yes things were made much better years ago seems things are getting cheaper made by the year ):

  2. BJ says

    My daughter (12yr)is using sheets that belonged to my Mom. They were my favorite. Even the ones that I had as a child are better than the ones you can buy. Funny enough her favorite sheets are the Holly Hobby ones I had as a child! She even wanted to take the pillowcase to camp. Sorry honey but not happening!

  3. FDeRosier says

    I learn so much from reading your posts! Not only about coupons, but about so many other things as well. For example….the Corning Ware. I had no idea that it had changed. After your post, I started looking for the older Corning at estate sales, and sure enough, I was able to gather quite a nice supply of the older Corning for very little money. But I wouldn’t have even known what to look for without reading your blog.These will certainly be passed down to my daughters at some point in the future. I am going to start looking for these sheets at Goodwill, and at estate sales. And now I know how to identify them. Thanks for posting this. I really appreciate it!

  4. naisula says

    What a bargain! I wonder if these sheets may not fit some of the “newer” twin size mattresses… XL, or even the deeper/taller mattresses. All the old fitted sheets from my childhood seemed to be suited for thinner twin mattresses, and wouldn’t really make it all the way down on our kids’ thicker twin mattresses. That’s even with the elastic. I can’t tell how thick your mattress is here, so perhaps I’m mistaken. I figure the elastic allows more leeway in terms of fit, whereas truly fitted sheets like these may make shopping for a proper fit more challenging? I don’t know… just a guess. Also, it may require more skill (i.e. $$) to sew the seams properly?? I see your point about having a nice “hug” to the mattress.

  5. Grandma Brat says

    They make such lousy sheets these days, unlike those beautiful ones you got at Goodwill, that I avoid buying sheets at all costs. I will remake old flat sheets if I have to rather than buy. Have you noticed even the flat sheet are usually off grain and askew?? And we have moderately tall mattresses and old style flat ones and neither one can we get sheets to fit. Even if they are tall enough the elastic is in the wrong place and never holds.

  6. Lynne Allen says

    What a shame in this day of so many options, we are forced to buy new sheets with all around elastic on bottom sheets. I can’t stand them and wish we had a choice between those and fitted corners only.

  7. Rosalie Geoffroy says

    I have two sets of percale sheets that I purchased for my children’s twin sized beds back in the 80’s and they are just as soft, wrinkle free and pill-free as they were when bought. Now, I will admit the gathered corners are beginning to loosen up and I noticed that one set is getting thin; however, I use them all of the time. I too wish I could purchase reasonably-priced sheets that are made to last and feel comfortable. My sheets were either purchased from Sears or JC Penney catalogs, back in the day. Today, there is the craze for Egyptian Cotton (and finding out that many sheets may only contain 1%), well folks I have purchased them and they are not as soft, not wrinkle free and they soon get those lent bumps (whatever they are called) after awhile. I really do not want to have to spend hundreds of dollars for sheets that are not necessarily better just carry a designer name.

  8. Pauline Nielson says

    I, too, am fed up with elastic all around sheets. For my new 12″ full size mattress I bought sheets at Penney’s. The bottom sheet won’t stay in place. 2 sets, $150.!!!! I’m reading on your post about twin sheets without elastic–does anyone know where I can buy full sheets without elastic? Or does anyone know how to remove the elastic and have a functioning sheet? Another problem with elastic all around sheets is trying to fold them for the linen closet. Can’t be done–I have to launder and replace the same day.

    • says

      To the best of my knowledge (and believe me, I have looked!) I cannot find any new fitted sheets made this way.

      It’s funny you mention JC Penney’s sheets. I have a set for one of my son’s beds. It’s only a couple of years old, but the elastic in the fitted sheet is shot. It’s completely stretched out and won’t re-gather at the corners, so the sheet won’t stay on the mattress. Of course, the sheets are still in good shape, so it’s frustrating.

      What I ended up doing with that sheet was inspired by these fitted sheets — I took them to my sewing machine and sewed the corners together similar to the way these vintage sheets look. Guess what — it worked. I couldn’t make the seams as long as the vintage sheets’ corners, but they stay on the bed now! I didn’t worry about trying to take the busted elastic out.

      As far as folding, I “fold” those fitted sheets as best I can and store them inside a pillowcase for the same set of sheets (the other pillowcase, flat and fitted sheets are inside.) Then I just stack them in my linen closet that way. The kids can grab a whole set of sheets at once instead of hunting around for them in the closet.

  9. says

    Thank You all !!!!! I thought I was the only one who hated those new kind of sheets !!!!! My gosh the elastic goes all the way around who invented that kind of terrible sheet anyhow? I certainly would like to know, I would write them and tell them to keep their idea to their self I want to see them come back out with those fitted sheets that you can fold real good. whether they have elastic corners or material corners. but do not put the elastic all the way around !!!!! and from all these comments I have read I suppose I will not be able to buy them anywhere either. I guess they just don’t make them anymore. Things these days are being made much worse AND they are more expensive !!!!! this world is just falling apart.

  10. Don Adams says

    I have just spent the afternoon looking for the old (50’s) style “contour” sheets that had no elastic and the deep pockets at each corner UNDER the mattress. The first three corners were easy to put on the mattress, but for the 4th corner you had to lift it and pull the pocket around and under the corner. And so very tight when it settled back flat. I would be so grateful to find anything like these. A veteran bedding clerk at Macy’s told me today that she hasn’t seen them for 50 years.

    • says

      Prior to buying these at the Goodwill store, I cannot ever recall seeing non-elastic fitted sheets in my lifetime. You are absolutely right — you’ve got to work a bit to get them on, but once they are on, they don’t move, and they are perfectly flat and tight.

      I imagine that the rise in pillow-top mattresses, and mattress heights in general, has made sheets like these fall out of style. There are so many different mattress heights/depths these days. These vintage sheets fit my children’s twin mattresses perfectly, but those are standard, non-pillowtop mattresses.

      I’ve even looked for the same brand (Bibb) online, but their current fitted sheets appear to be all-elastic: http://amzn.to/2nd40i4

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