Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stop. Stop right now. Haul that mattress back out of the car. The trip to the tip will not be necessary. According to my copy of 'The Complete Illustrated Home Book' a mattress makeover is a cinch.

If your mattress doesn't respond to the daily thumping and pummeling required to keep lumps at bay then it's time to bite the bullet and turn to page 280. It's time to take the thing to pieces, wash it to within an inch of its life and put it back together again. The following 3 pages provide clear and concise instructions, though the accompanying foggy photographs are less helpful and are reminiscent of disemboweling a cloud. It's a very physical thing this re-making business. One's skivvy (bless 'er) would be puffed out and cursing what with all that washing, kneading and squeezing gently, before the stuffing, sewing, tufting and quilting. (Do click on the picture and check out the tossing of the stuffing between two sticks. Hard to imagine such entertaining times.) Much use is made in the final stages of scarily long needles and stout twine. Stand well back.

There's no indication of how long this whole process takes - waiting for the fine and windless day to dry the laundered stuffing on a dust sheet outdoors could add weeks to the operation......and what does one sleep on in-between I wonder.

It's a thrifty business too. Heavy on labour and soap flakes perhaps....As much of the original should be used as is possible - having been cleaned thoroughly of course. (The author almost regrets the possible expense of new leather 'tufts' at 2¾d per bundle - that's just over 1p in today's money.) The re-built mattress is meant last another generation. Here, whilst we're talking about longevity, bear in mind that Featherbeds are Dangerous.....it's a hygiene thing. If your featherbed has been in the family for generations - is a 100 years old - that's 80 years too long. Burn it.

It's true isn't it? 'The past is another country . They do things differently there.' We have moved on from the 'make do and mend' culture beloved of previous generations - the whole process, from our 21st century perspective looks like a no-brainer. Now it's a trip to John Lewis or the nearest retail park for us, a few moments feeling silly 'trying beds out' and the new mattress will be delivered next week. Sorted.

I'm not about to start washing horsehair and mattress ticking or threading my upholstery needles - bed stores are a fine innovation - but I do regret that so much is now deemed disposable and jettisoned without much thought as to its destination; landfill here or elsewhere, recycled in China or India at what cost to their environment and so on. Out of sight out of mind perhaps and on to the next new shiny product. Stuff. Mountains of it and very little thought about the consequences.

Next week: Tired of that dingy old bath? Re-enamelling so simple the cat could do it. According to 'The Complete Illustrated Home Book' that is.

15 comments:

Wipso said...

Hi, You had me worried for a minute. Thought you were gonna bring it down for me to do the sewing for you. My excuse would be sorry but the crutches would get in the way at the mo. Had my op on Fri and now have not one crutch but 2 to haul myself round on but at least now hopefully things are on the up but even when I get rid of them both I'm not starting mattress sewing sorry. Take care. See you soon. A x

kissa said...

Re-making a mattress. I try to re-use as much as I can but this would be too far. When my kids were young the best and most colourful trousers in Cornwall out of anything I could get for pennies. Much better than posh shop clothes as it didn't matter whether these quick cheap items got ripped, dirty or generally worn doing things kids like to do. I love to re-make but this is a mattress too far.

lampworkbeader said...

Thank goodness for modern times is all I can say! I was bought up in a house wothout electricity until I was seven. Oh how i longed for pavements...

Hannah Velten said...

There must be a happy medium between the mattress re-haul and the throw-away mattress...? However, I have a problem with sleeping on second-hand mattresses - I imagine all sorts of things lurking in the creases (if you know what I mean - mites, etc...?!).

Totty Teabag said...

Bossman was a Swiss child of the thirties, and tells of a man who came and lived in the house for a week while he disembowelled and re-made the top and bottom mattresses of the families three horsehair beds. He cleaned and re-used the horsehair, but flock, ticking and tufts were all new.

Milla said...

Yes a mattress is a step too far, all that grappling with the husks of bed bugs too. Now that I've finally loaded my very first photo onto my blog am extra fascinated by those others (though moved swiftly on from your frozen corpse babies, shudder). Love the different shapes you manage (moon up high is one such).

bodran... said...

CAN YOU IMAGINE DOING THAT!! I can i remember my dear old nan not redoing a mattress but an EIDERDOWN! we unpicked it on a windless day outside and pulled all the feathers out and put them into pillow cases to wash? then put them all back in a new cover about 3 days work i think... do miss those days xx

Diary Farmer said...

I'm all for the 'make do and mend' culture but my beloved isn't. Perhaps something could be put on the W.I. programme!!!

Mopsa said...

I make do and mend all the time, but a mattress? All that effort, and I bet it was as lumpy as unstirred porridge. Perhaps they put them in the spare room (if there was one) to dissuade unwanted family and friends from staying? But what about the wanted friends and family?

elizabethm said...

Yes, I like to remake and dislike the endless pressure to buy new, so subtle you hardly feel it now, it is just what one does. but this was an eyeopener. My grandma would have been up for it mind, may even have written the article.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Eeeeek - um - I would worry about what was living in the mattress. We do live in a throwaway society though where things are no longer made to last - and it is too expensive to repair and cheaper to replace . . .

Preseli Mags said...

Fascinating. Especially the bit with the two sticks! But... er... no.. not for me!

But what has happened to the world? We used to have a TV repairman mend the telly when it broke, now we just get a new one. Now my dishwasher is broken. I could get a repairman, but after paying the call out fee (£60) and the parts, it's cheaper to buy a new one.

GeraniumCat said...

I'm another who hates all that throwing away, and I remember the re-making of eiderdowns. We never threw anything away when I was a child, we were all experts in make do and mend but I had a lucky escape when my dad fixed my washing machine. It went bang! in mid-wash and I had to go back to the mangle for the nappies.

mountainear said...

I'm amazed at the remarkable stuff that is emerging from bloggers' memories.

Colourful trousers?
Wot no pavement, LWB?
Itinerant Swiss mattress deconstructors...
Plucky feather washers. Hmm.

Fine social history..

......and don't panic Wipso I'll let you get back on both feet before opening negotiations.

joco said...

I've done it all!

Washed horsehair, used huge curved needles and button through needles.
Stuffed chairs.

Horsehair in a pillow, securely fastened and taken to the laundrette comes out clean and fresh and lovely. (NO FABRIC SOFTENER, mind.)

Just think of all the chemicals such as flame retardents that find their way into mattresses and furniture these days, causing allergies galore.
When you remake something old your are safe from modern chemical interference.
As long as you leave out detergents. Just hot water.

BTW, reading your previous post: you're a woman after my own ideas. I feel the same about my hideout. A two mile drive from the nearest road and no people in sight. Wonderful.