Anatomy of a Bed Glossary
Please refer to our Anatomy of a Bed illustration, highlighting each key element and its defining terms, so you will soon be an expert in planning your very own dream bed.
A flat sheet is the largest piece of top fabric that doesn’t require a precise fit like a fitted sheet, and floats over you as you sleep. Twin flat sheets fits both Twin and Twin Extra-long beds. Queen flat sheets fit both Full and Queen bed. King flat sheets fit both King and Cal-King beds.
The flat sheet is hemmed identically on three sides and has one larger hem on the fourth side. The wider hem folds back over your blanket, coverlet, or duvet, and can be finished with a simple stitch, hemstitch, or embroidery.
Luxury flat sheets will have a European return—a deep turn-back cuff or hem that runs along the top of a flat sheet and continues down the side for a little over a foot or so, with a mitered hem at each corner. This decorative hem treatment allows you to fold back the flat sheet over the blanket, coverlet, or quilt, giving a well-dressed luxury bed its signature finesse and stylish elegance.
Our recommendation is to use both a flat and a fitted sheet, with a coverlet and/or duvet to be used on top of the flat sheet. For the more travelled customer, who loves all things European, will sleep without a flat sheet, with the duvet directly hovering over them. The caveat here is that it is easier to wash a flat sheet than it is to remove, wash and put a duvet cover back on.
A fitted sheet has pocket corners and elastic on all four sides to provide a snug fit to your mattress. These sheets are designed to keep from bunching and shifting while you sleep.
While American bed sizes have remained fixed, there are no standard mattress depths. As a general rule, our fitted sheets have a gusset (AKA “pocket size” or “pocket depth”) that will fit mattresses up to 17” deep with enough room to tuck under the mattress. However, most of our purveyors accommodate custom orders for deeper or thinner sizes.
Fitted sheets have the potential to wear out more quickly than other bedding elements for a few reasons: 1. The elastic sewn on the edges create more stress on the fabric, especially when the fabric is being stretched across the mattress repeatedly. 2. The weight of our bodies shifting while sleeping creating friction on the fabric, causing wear.
This is the piece of fabric that creates a sheath or barrier between you and your pillow. Typically, a pillowcase has one opening on the short side of the fabric and extra fabric that will drape over a few inches, when placed over the pillow insert. The drape is sometimes generous and provides a decorative element to what is otherwise a largely functional piece.
Pillowcases have many different kinds of closures, like buttons, ties, or envelopes. They may also have none at all. Depending on the purveyor, pillowcases are either sold separately or in pairs.
In the practical sense, the Duvet Cover protects your duvet and is easily removed and cared for. In the decorative sense, the most dynamic bedding fabrics are available as “top of bed” duvet covers and shams; it is the quintessential “star of the show,” and sets the tone for the overall look of your bed.
Duvet covers often have buttons, ties, an envelope flap, or zipper as a closure to keep the insert enclosed. It should be noted that a Duvet is the insert that goes inside the Duvet Cover; usually comprised of down or a down alternative. When the insert and duvet cover are together, sometimes it is referred to as a Comforter. It is common for Duvet Covers to have finishing details like flanges or embroidery along the side and bottom edges only.
Most of our duvet covers are produced in bedding-width fabrics, which means there are no seams across the two faces of the duvet cover. Most of our sheet fabrics are available to order as duvet covers, if you plan on sleeping without a flat sheet.
Not to be confused with a pillowcase, a pillow sham is generally known and used for more decorative purposes, and is typically not meant to be a sleeping surface. A sham can have a knife-edge finish or flanges on all four sides. Generally speaking, a sham has an opening in the back to insert the pillow.
One of the most popular sham sizes, the “Euro” Sham, measures 26 x 26.” Also known as a European or Continental sham, this decorative pillow is part of the main bed-scape, or “top of bed.” As part of the decorative look, Euro shams can have man different types of closures, and are meant more for propping yourself up in bed. A Queen bed typically has Euro shams, but a King bed needs 3 Euro shams to proportionately fill the bed’s width.
The boudoir sham decoratively covers the boudoir pillow. A boudoir pillow is a small decorative pillow that measures 12 x 16” and can be used as an accent pillow for “top of bed” or for tucking under your neck when you are reading in bed. It is also a great travel companion for neck support in a car, plane, or in a hotel room. It is typically finished in the same options as Euro shams.
The Coverlet has many names. It can also be referred to as known as a Blanket Cover, Matelassé, or a Bedspread. Coverlets are designed to layer under a duvet, use alone in warmer months, or fold at the foot of the bed. The Coverlet creates versatility in temperature regulation, and adds another texture and/or color to the bed’s design.
It should be noted: Not all coverlets are Matelassé. Matelassé is a specific type of fabric and its finishing, not the actual article of bedding. Matelassé is derived from a French word referring to the way a fabric is finished. It is a textile that has texture woven into it so it looks quilted. Matelassé can be made into both coverlets and pillow shams.
There are two kinds of decorative pillows; those that are available in the same sizes as “sleeping” pillows that are often covered by shams, and those that are in unusual sizes and shapes and do not directly coordinate with your bedding. These types of pillows enhance the visual style of the bedding and dynamics of your bed.
The decorative pillows that are part of the main bed-scape are commonly made with a firmer material—usually a feather composition with some down. These aren’t intended for sleep, but for propping up in bed and punctuating design.
Also known as a Dust Ruffle, a bed skirt may be used to hide the sides, under storage, and foot of the box spring or bed rails. Skirts can be tailored with simple pleats, or ruffled with undulating gathers.
Bed skirts used to be just one large piece with “decking,” meaning the skirt is attached to a mattress-size rectangle of fabric that rests between the mattress and box spring. It is now more common to have three separate sections of skirt that are easily tucked between the box spring and mattress and fixed in place with special pins.
A bed skirt’s “drop” refers to the length of the skirt from the top of the box spring to the floor, stopping about ¼” from the floor.
Throws are the wonderful accents made from cotton, wool, mohair, or cashmere. They resemble smaller blankets, and are found “lounging” on the top of beds, sofas, chairs or in your lap. Luxury throw blankets give your bed an inviting feel and a certain level of comfort, without sacrificing style and sophistication.