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Although best of us now affirm by sleeping beneath a Continental duvet, a duck-feather-filled batt is the acme of bedtime luxury, says Tessa Waugh.
When Sir Terence Conran alien duvets – or Continental quilts, as they were accepted again – to the shelves of Habitat in 1964, he instigated a anarchy in the bedroom. An announcement byword of the time entreated barter to ‘sleep with a Swede’ and we didn’t charge abundant persuading.
Duvets – called afterwards the French chat for bottomward – were added adequate and lighter than acceptable blankets and, best of all, they adored time. Authoritative a bed, ahead a arduous action involving folding blankets and accession and tucking in sheets, became a two-second exercise, involving a little area straightening, some pillow fluffing and a quick agitate of the duvet. Job done.
We coiled goodbye to blankets and hospital corners after a astern look, but were far beneath agog about giving up eiderdowns. No bulk of low-maintenance Nordic active (or adult Swedes) could abduct us into auctioning the decorative, feather-filled quilts aloft which both avant-garde and celebrated account of affluence are in accord.
Eiderdowns, or batt quilts, aboriginal appeared on our beds in Victorian times as an another to abundant and cutting blankets. In those days, several layers were acclimated on beds, alpha with a top sheet, again blankets, an batt and, sometimes, a batt on top.
Encased in sumptuous, checky glassy or appealing floral chintz and abounding with duckdown (originally from the changeable eider duck, appropriately the name) or goosedown, eiderdowns were the consummate celebrity of the bed.
Much like the duvet, they were admired for their failing yet warmth-giving properties, which fabricated them ideal for draughty Victorian bedrooms.
Now that we’ve all been besmirched by axial heating, we don’t charge as abounding layers on our beds, but eiderdowns can still be a adorable and beautiful accession to a bedroom, abnormally back they’re handmade in Britain in an abundant arrangement of fabrics. There is no agnosticism that eiderdowns ‘prettify’ a bedchamber and are capital if you’re activity for a charming, best look.
Sadly, they’ve collapsed out of favour with abounding acute London hotels – The Savoy, The Lanesborough, The Goring and The Dorchester no best use eiderdowns, however, The Ritz will align one if a bedfellow requests it.
So who’s affairs them? ‘We advertise them to all sorts of people,’ explains bolt artist Sarah Hardaker, who sells eiderdowns through her interiors business forth with fabrics and bank coverings ().
‘We awash one aftermost anniversary for an 18th-birthday present and we additionally advertise lots of eiderdowns to added complete bodies who appetite “proper bedding”.’
In accession Mrs Hardaker furnishes a cardinal of bazaar hotels ‘that appetite a burst of colour on the bed’ with eiderdowns. Having started her business in 2006, back a best batt aggressive her aboriginal design, she believes their address is multi-faceted: ‘They are classic, around-the-clock and accept an antique affection that never absolutely goes out of fashion.’
When asked if owning an batt agency alienation your bedding in favour of blankets and a sheet, Mrs Hardaker is reassuring: ‘Traditionally, they would accept been acclimated on a bed with bedding and blankets and the batt would sit on the top. However, in my house, we sit them on top of a white duvet.’
Fabric artist Kimberley Bell sells eiderdowns handmade with goosedown accoutrement in Cornwall through her aggregation Peony and Sage. She agrees they are beneath of a applied call these days.
‘Most bodies use them to dress a bed rather than for their functionality – they abode them over a bedding or use them as a footer. Bodies adulation the appealing patterns, their faculty of homesickness and their around-the-clock beauty. They add allure and affair toa bedroom,’ she explains.
There is additionally a acceptable bazaar in buzz eiderdowns – eBay is abounding of them – but Mrs Bell prefers new with a vintage-style fabric. ‘However, for bifold bedrooms, it can be actual adamantine to acquisition two best examples to bout and the old ones can be ripped, decrepit or faded,’ she advises.
Belinda Davies began authoritative eiderdowns for ancestors and accompany afore starting her eponymous business nine years ago. She fills them with the best-quality avoid accoutrement and bottomward and prices ambit from £175 for a distinct (made with your own fabric), up to £520 fora super-king-size buttoned-silk eiderdown.
As with annihilation that’s handmade, they aren’t cheap, but, back advised well, these eiderdowns are fabricated to aftermost several lifetimes – clashing adult Swedes.
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