A fitted sheet is one that has elastic at each of the four corners and at least two of the four sides, usually the sides that fit over the head and foot of the mattress. The elastic creates gathers in the fabric, giving the appearance of the sheet bunching up. When these gathers are at the corners, they form a pocket. It takes practice, but it is possible to fold a fitted sheet so that it lays flat for easy storage.
There are several different ways of how to work with the four corners for the purpose of folding the sheet but the end result is the same. Here is a way that works well for everyone, including beginners.
1. Take a dry, clean sheet and hold it in front of you by the short end. There will be a pocket formed by the elastic on each side of the short end – one pocket at each corner. Put one hand inside each of the pockets formed by the elastic corners so that the wrong side of the pocket seam is on top.
2. Take the corner of the pocket which you are holding with your right hand and flip it over the corner of the pocket which you are holding with your left hand. The wrong sides of the seams will now be inside the pockets and the right sides of the seams will be on top.
3. Gently shake the sheet to make sure the length of it is not twisted.
4. You still have the corners at the opposite end to fold over each other so place the sheet on a flat surface. The corners that you are holding with your left hand will be on the left, and the corners you have not yet put together will be on the right.
5. Take the right side pockets and place the one on the top inside the one underneath it. (At this point, on the flat surface, you should have the sheet loosely folded in half with the pocket side away from you and the center fold close to you. You will now have two pockets, one at each end).
6. Put your right hand in the pocket you just formed and your left hand in the pocket you had already formed. With your hands inside the pockets, as if you are putting on mittens, pick up the sheet and flip the right pocket over the left pocket. Now you have four pockets folded together, making one pocket.
7. Straighten the remainder of the sheet by taking your free hand, your right one, and matching the sides of the flat part of the sheet together while holding the pocket with your left hand.
8. Lay the sheet on a flat surface. The long end of the pocket will be away from you.
9. Match up the sides and smooth out the wrinkles.
10. Fold the long end of the pocket over, approximately one-third down, using the corner seam as a guide to determine the width of the fold.
11. Take the short end of the pocket and fold the width of the pocket over the long end, then fold in, or tuck, the excess material that is bunching, or sticking out, to make a smooth corner. This excess material will resemble the way wrapping paper sticks out on the end of a package before you fold on the diagonal.
12. Fold the long end over another third and continue by folding the last third.
13. Finish by taking the left side and fold it to the center, then take the right side and fold it over the top.
In order to keep your sheets and pillowcase sets from getting separated, you can place your folded pillowcases inside the final fold of the fitted sheet.