Folding a fitted sheet is like trying to dance with a bubble.
You feel like you can wrap your arms around it, you feel like you can keep it intact, you feel like you can keep this thing together and in shape and beautiful but then – Pop! – the dance becomes a giant mess of you making soap suds. It’s messy and ugly and frustrating and makes me so mad.
Yet, I’m obsessed with figuring out how to properly fold a fitted sheet. It’s a personal mission that I may never be successful at. I don’t even have that many fitted sheets to fold but I want to say that I can fold them. It’s like tying a bow-tie: it separates the inexpert from the expert, the sophisticates from the philistines. It’s such a simple thing to know. It takes just a hair of knowledge but illustrates the type of person you are.
Take Lupita Nyong’o. She can fold a fitted sheet.
In fact, she inspired my mania. It was the above video that pushed me to think about folding my fitted sheets with an expertise since she made it look so easy and, because this was a tiny expertise I was without, I vowed that I needed to know how to do this too. I needed to be like Lupita.
Unfortunately, Lupita’s trick is more of an exhibition of talent versus a guide. Why? Because it’s just so hard to do. You cannot learn how to fold a fitted sheet in a minute. You cannot learn by just being told to “grab the corners.” No, no. I’ve tried. No, no.
But, for every Lupita, there is a person who gets real weird with how they fold these sheets as they too try to show you that they can do this rare talent. They always kind of fail and kind of succeed. Take this guy.
Technically, he isn’t doing this wrong. But also: what is he doing? Where is he? Why isn’t he doing what Lupita did? Surely this is wrong.
Then you have people like this wild woman.
In short, you learn from her that fitted sheets fucking suck. Just make yourself a mummy and call it a day. I can agree. I have been to this frustrated island of folding and came out on the other side salty eyed and exhausted. I too wished to bundle myself up and be done with it.
Then there is the expert: Martha Stewart. Is it easy for her to do? Yes and no!
This video is what did it for me. What Martha does is use the same technique as Lupita but gives you a very detailed step-by-step guide. However, while thorough, it’s not enough. I watched this video in near slow motion and four times over before I got remotely close to a proper fold. It just isn’t easy.
So. Knowing what I know now, after thirty minutes of practicing with Martha, here are my steps to folding a fitted sheet.
1. Put your arms in the top corners and push them through, so the rounded corners become squared. Basically, grab the seams.
2. Put the seam from your right hand onto your left, like you’re putting on a glove. Note that the sheet you place atop should be in the same direction! A la, if the top of your sheet is blue and the underside is red, match the two: the blue should be over the blue or the red over the red. It shouldn’t be red over blue or vice versa.
3. Now that two corners are combined, follow the fitted side over to make sure the curve looks neat and organized, like a nautilus or some sort of shell (a la the photo at the top). This comes by pulling the corner you have in your hand taught with what would be the space between those two corners.
4. From here, follow what would be the middle of the bed sheet down to the other end and grab the other sides one at a time, repeating steps two and three.
5. Fold it up!
This is not an exhaustive guide although I tried to make it so.
The matter is: folding a fitted sheet is hard and dumb. Watch the Martha video over and over again with a sheet and try, try again. You’ll get it. You will be like Lupita and me. It just takes practice and you will never be perfect. Fitted sheets are life. We will conquer them together.