“Few servants will make a bed properly, without much attention from the Mistress of the family: and every young woman who expects to have a household of her own to manage should be able to do it well herself and to instruct others in doing it. The following instructions should be given to those who do this work:
Open the windows and lay off the bed covering on two chairs at the foot of the bed. if it is to be a feather bed, after it is well aired, shake the feathers from each corner to the middle; then take up the middle, shake it well and turn the bed over. Then push the feathers in place, making the head higher than the foot, and the sides even, and as high as the middle part. A mattress whether used on top of a feather-bed or by itself, should in like be well aired and turned. Now it’s time to get your fresh, clean bedding out ready to put on the bed. You can use cotton or Silk Bedding to dress the bed or use any other bedding you favor. Then put on the bolster and the under sheet so that the wrong side of the sheet shall go next to the bed and the marking always come at the head. This arrangement of sheets is to prevent the part where the feet lie from being reversed , so as to come to the face, and also to prevent the parts soiled by the body from coming to the bedtick and blankets. Put on the other covering, except the outer one, tucking in all around, and then turn the upper sheet at the head so as to show a part of the pillows. When the pillow cases are clean and smooth, they look best outside the cover, but not otherwise.
Then draw the hand along the side of the pillows, to make an even indentation, and then smooth and shape the whole outside. A nice housekeeper always notices the manner in which a bed is made; and in some parts of the country, it is rare to see this work properly performed.”
Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher, The American Womans Home, 1869.