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In providing bedsteads, it is always better to purchase them quite new, even when required for the commonest purposes, as those which are second-hand are liable to harbour bugs, which it takes both time and patience to get rid of

It is desirable that all bedsteads should have castors to roll upon, that they may be the more readily moved about. Observe likewise that there are valance sticks, curtain rods, and a good head board.

The best bedsteads are made of mahogany and oak: the commoner sorts, of beech, stained red or painted. Those for hospitals or prisons, of iron; supposed to be a preventative against bugs.

Brass bedsteads are used abroad, especially by travellers, and are ornamental and durable, but very expensive.

The following is a list of the different kinds of bedsteads in general use:—

The four-post bed, from £2. 10s. upwards, Plate 22, Fig. 2.

The tent bed, — £2. 0s. – — 22, — 15.
The camp, — £2. 0s. 22, — 16.
The half-tester, - 18s. – — 22, — 19.
The French pole, – £1. 18s. – — 22, — 21.
The French arrow bed— £1. 10s. – — 22, — 22.
The canopy bed, — 392. 0s. – — 22, — 25.
The French block bed— £2. 0s. – — 22, — 24.
The turn-up bed, - £2. 0s. – — 22, — 26.
The stump bed, - 9s. – — 22, — 31.
The trestle or x - 98. — 22, — 27.

Besides which may be added, hanging beds or cots, hammocks, cribs, sofa or chair beds, &c.


So few ladies or servants understand how to put up or take down bedsteads, that the following instructions are entered upon at full length. An instrument called a bed key should be procured for the purpose (see Plate 22, Fig. 1), after which proceed as follows:—Divide the high upright posts for the head of the bed, from those intended for the foot; the former are easily distinguished from the latter, being usually square and perfectly plain, whereas those for the foot are generally circular and ornamented. Place the two head posts near that part of the wall where the bed is to stand. Lay the foot posts below them on the floor, first observing whether there are any marks or numbers upon them, by which you can be directed to place the proper foot post opposite to its corresponding head post; next lay the side and end pieces in their proper places; the longer ones for the sides, and the shorter for the ends; these should also be marked to point out their relative situations. Lay the head board at the top, and the foot board at the bottom, and afterwards put one long and one short screw at each corner of the bedstead. Assistance must now be procured to rear up the four posts and set in the sides. Three persons are necessary to effect this, but four are better for a full sized bed. Raise up the posts and set between them the side pieces, taking care to slip into the groove, both the head and the foot boards, as they cannot be put in after the posts are screwed together, unless they button against them. The four long screws are intended to screw into the sides, and the four short ones into the ends. The screw holes are placed behind the little brass plates usually put on the legs of the posts. Proceed with the bed key to turn each screw till firmly fixed in the hole. The sacking is next tightly laced up with strong cord, and ought to be pulled together and knotted by a man, as a woman is scarcely strong enough to do it effectually. The top-rails are next put on by slipping the holes at the ends over the spikes at the tops of the bed posts.

The curtains are generally put on before the outer cornice, this last is generally fastened on by a spring, or by hooks, or some other simple contrivance. Camp or tent beds have ribs or bars across the roof of the bed to keep the curved top firm, but in other respects, differ little from the four-post bed. Observe, on taking down a bed, to mark carefully upon the pieces, before removing them, different numbers, so as easily to place them in their proper situations when next put up. The head of a half-tester bedstead, should be very strongly attached to the back, as its weight will endanger its falling, if not firmly secured. The other shapes will be entered upon when the mode of furnishing them is explained.


Beds are furnished with the following articles, which with the addition of sheets and pillow-cases, explained in the article of house-linen, make them complete. The drapery, including curtains. The straw mattress. The wool or hair mattress. The feather bed. The bolster. The two or three pillows. The quilt or counterpane. The blankets. The watch-pockets. Beds for common use are hung with linen or cotton check, or stripe, print or stuff, but for better purposes, with dimity, fine stuff, moreen, damask, chintz, Turkey twill, and lined with glazed calico or muslin of various colours, and for state-rooms, fine silk, satin, or velvet is employed. The modes of fitting up beds are various, according to the shape of the bedstead, as well as to the taste. The most usual and simple methods alone will be treated of here, all best beds and drapery for sitting-rooms should be put up by regular upholsterers, as it requires much correctness of eye, added to taste and knowledge of the prevailing fashion. The following observations on taste, on the choice of materials, and arrangement of drapery, generally speaking, will be found worth attending to. Beds that are placed in small and low rooms should be hung with as little drapery, as is consistent with comfort. Large valances, deep fringes, high mattresses look bustling, and are not so airy and therefore not so healthful as plenty of open space. Beds placed in lofty rooms should be high, and have deep fringe and valances, otherwise they will have a mean appearance, still if the room be narrow, the less bulk of drapery the better. Beds situated in dark gloomy rooms should be furnished with a cheerful airy material, at the same time avoiding too violent a contrast with the character of the room, furniture, or carpet. Every thing must be taken into consideration and is worth attending to, for with a little judgment, a room may be more elegantly furnished than another where six times the money has been laid out, if not under the direction of taste. Blue is pretty, but rather cold; yellow gives great cheerfulness, as also pink, but the latter is apt to fade soon and is perhaps a little too shewy. Crimson, claret, stone-colour, buff, and light green all look well; a darker green is very refreshing to the eye, and therefore suitable for very light sunny r00InS.

Beds that are furnished with thick drapery, as stuff, moreen, damask or linens, seldom, if ever, require linings, while chintzes and sometimes dimities are lined with glazed calico, in which case, care should be taken that the colour of the lining harmonizes not only with the bed-furniture, but with the papering of the room. The fringe, tassels, ribbons, cord, and other decorations, should match in colour with the lining. The pattern of the material should also be a consideration. Stripes or small patterns are suitable for small rooms, while large flowers or patterns best accord with large ones.


Beds are generally decorated with tassels or fringe, if the latter, lace is usually laid on, at about a nail above the edge upon the hem which is turned up. Sometimes the lining is cut larger than the outer part, and brought over the edge to form a hem of a nail deep all round the material outside. This looks pretty and simple. If the cornice be a common one, the valance may be made with a kind of frill or heading above, or a band or rouleau of the material laid above the valance round which may be wrapped strips of the coloured lining of half an inch, or even a nail in width. Cords in festoons, cut velvet, binding and ornamental gimp or open work, are often employed. White dimity furniture is sometimes lined with coloured calico with turned up hems, sometimes merely coloured hems, at others finished with white fringe, or frills with white cords and tassels.


Bed furniture is composed of a top, a back, two head curtains, two foot curtains, one top outer and one top innervalance, one bottom valance, and sometimes extra drapery laid on the back of the bed. When beds are lined, the lining is put inside the curtains, and within the top and back of the bed. If there is any drapery laid upon the back, it is generally composed of the outer chintz, as is also the inside top valance. Large sheets of coarse brown paper pasted together in lengths should be laid over the beds to catch the dust. Some persons lay hurden or coarse linen between the head of the bed and these sheets of paper. The furniture for beds must be cut differently, according to the pattern of the material. If it is in stripes down the selvage the valances are cut in breadths, if otherwise, upholsterers generally cut them along the selvage, as they are less liable to shrink when cleaned or washed.

PLATE 22. FIG. 3.

If in Breadths. If cut down the Selvage.
Width of head curtains, each................ 2 breadths................ 2 breadths.
Width of each foot curtain.................... 4 or 5....................... 4 or 5.
Width of foot valance all round........... 9 or 11..................... 11 yards.
Width of the top outside valance........ 15 breadths............... 16 yards.
Width of the top inside valance.......... 11 breadths............... 11 yards.

The back and head must be exactly measured, letting the selvage-way run from head to foot of the bed. The curtains should just touch the ground, as also should the foot valance. The inner top valance should be half a nail narrower than the outer. In making up, the curtains are bound round, or if lined, sometimes the lining is brought outside to form a hem all round. Lace is often laid on at about one nail from the edge. The valances accord with the rest, having often fringe added to give a greater finish.

PLATE 22. FIG. 4.

In making festoom valances or hangings, measure as follows:–

Divide the side of the bed in half, driving in a small tack as a mark. Hang a piece of tape from the middle of the side to the end, Fig. 7, making it fall in the droop or curve desired (see A B C, Fig. 7). Do the same with another piece of tape, making it fall in the direction of the upper part of the droop (see D E). Lay the material, Fig. 5, on the table, and after taking down the pieces of tape, measure the material from A to B, the length of the lower droop. Put a pin (see D) immediately above B, upon the other selvage as a mark, and then measure from the end, R, upon the selvage, the length of the upper droop or shortest tape, which will fall at E, at some distance within the mark D. Divide the space between D and E, exactly in half at G, and cut from B to G ; cut three other pieces to correspond, which, as they exactly fit one with another (see Fig. 5), prevents waste. These four pieces or breadths are for part of each of the four festoons, which require a breadth and a half in each. For the half-breadths fold the material in exactly half its width, laying selvage along selvage, and measure for the rest of the festoons (see Fig. 6). Upon the selvage side, H, measure the length of the shortest part of the first breadths already cut, and on the doubled side, measure the ea'act length of the smallest tape for the upper droop, L, and cut from H, to within a nail of L, thus, when the doubled part is slit down, forming two half breadths to correspond with the two whole breadths, making in all two complete festoons. Cut two others, and the four festoons are complete, and when the half breadths are sewed to the whole breadths, they appear each similar to Fig. 10. Lay them one upon another, and slope off from the straight end at the bottom A, about two nails from the sloped side, B, and the festoons are ready to be made up. The bottom of the bed must be measured with tape, and cut out in a similar manner.

The corners of the festoons are cut as follows:—

Measure off from the end, A, Fig. 8, down the selvage, the length desired, putting a pin, B, in one of the selvages as a mark. Measure the half of the length, A B, on the opposite selvage at D, and slope off from D to B. This forms one head, post corner, or half a foot post corner, so that it requires six of these sloped lengths to complete the four corners of the bedstead, and if cut properly to fit into each other, no waste occurs. The Plate, Fig. 9, represents a head corner, and Fig. 8, a foot corner or two breadths sewed together.

Sometimes a double corner is also made to hang between the two festoons, in which case, it is cut similarly to the above, excepting that it is much shorter and rounder. When the festoon is carried over a pole, it is all in one piece (see Fig. 11), the pieces being shaped at the ends, as in the separate festoons above.


PLATE 22. FIG. 12.

This is simply a deep fringe, and looks exceedingly plain and handsome. A back-piece or very narrow valance should be put outside, the inner valance to accord exactly with the outer, to which the fringe is sewed. The rod or pole should be handsome, and should be put outside this valance, so as just to conceal the part where the fringe is attached. The curtains are suspended to the rod by handsome rings, and draw outside the valance and fringe. Cord and tassels may be added, if preferred.

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