Just 15 minutes to end the problem of popped-off fitted sheets. Seriously!

A Different Kind of Sheet Organizer

Ever wake up and feel like you were the filling in the burrito?

That was happening to us on a regular basis as the fitted sheet would decide to pop off in the middle of the night.

I think it’s a combination of slightly loose elastic in the sheet combined with slightly sweaty (and hence sticky) bodies. On Que Tal, it happened all the time in the V berth, with it’s strangely shaped mattress. Even on a regular queen mattress, we’ve had problems.

I first looked into some of the “sheet clips” that go diagonally at the corners, but there were two problems: they wouldn’t do much of anything on the v-berth’s odd shape (and even our mattress at home really needed something that went from side to side, not just at the corner) and reviewers kept complaining that the clips popped off the sheet.

But that gave me an idea for a solution that has worked very well and took less than 15 minutes to implement.

And while a sewing machine is helpful, you can easily do it by hand although it will take slightly longer . . . maybe 30 minutes?

I made two elastic straps that go under the mattress and hook onto loops I added to the fitted sheet at the edges.

Just 15 minutes to end the problem of popped-off fitted sheets. Seriously! I used women’s swimsuit hooks and they haven’t once slipped out. Yet it’s a simple matter to unhook them when I want to wash the sheets.

Just 15 minutes to end the problem of popped-off fitted sheets. Seriously!

I leave the straps under the mattress and it’s a simple matter to re-hook them on the clean sheets. The two reasons for making them removable are (1) so they don’t tangle with the sheets in the washer or dryer and cause a big knot and (2) to avoid damage to the elastic from the heat of the dryer.

Just 15 minutes to end the problem of popped-off fitted sheets. Seriously!


You’ll need:

  • Swimsuit hooks — 1″ wide is best; get plastic as metal will rust; you need 2 per strap. I got mine on Amazon since there’s no local fabric store — see on Amazon.
  • Elastic — 7/8″ wide is best (but hard to find), you can use 3/4″ or 1″ wide also. Get the “firmest” (hardest to stretch) you can find. Length will be determined by your mattress, but in general you can make the strap and loops out of an unstretched length of elastic equal to the width of the mattress where you want the strap. (I used a total of 52″ inches of elastic for each strap and loop set for a 60″ wide queen.) I got mine on Amazon — it’s a little stretchier than I’d like, but it works. See on Amazon (I was doing several sets, so 10 yards was good for me — you can get 3/4″ elastic in 3 yard packages, but for some reason there’s no 1″ white elastic in a 3 yard package).
  • Thread — it’s won’t be visible so don’t worry if you can’t get a matching color.
  • Marking device — pencil or permanent felt marker is best so it won’t run when you wash it.

NOTE: While you could use webbing for the straps, the elastic allows for some give as people move in bed and less chance of tearing the sheet. If you have a folding mattress (as we did in the V berth), using elastic means that you can fold the mattress to get to the locker under it without having to undo the straps.

Begin by figuring out where you need straps to pull. As you can see in the photos above, I made small marks with a permanent marker where they needed to go (these will be hidden under the mattress, so no one will see the marks).

On a tapered mattress, such as in a V berth, you may find it best to run the straps in an  “X” formation rather than straight across.

Cut two pieces of elastic each 1-1/2″ long. Fold each in half crosswise and sew in place to the sheet. You can sew through the sheet elastic or just inside it, and you can use straight or zigzag; go over it several times.

The length of the strap will depend on how far the sheet goes under the mattress and how stretchy the elastic is. The easiest way to figure out the correct length is to begin with the uncut piece of elastic and sew a swimsuit hook onto one end of it: pull about 1/2″ elastic through the loop on the hook fold it over and sew it back on itself.

Put the sheet on the bed and hook the strap on one side. Pull the free end of the strap under the mattress. To judge how long the strap should be, pull the elastic to the loop in its “normal” position under the mattress but remember that while you want some tension on the elastic, you don’t want to pull it bone tight. Allow 1/2″ extra to fold the elastic around the loop of the hook and cut the elastic.  If in doubt at all about the length, cut it too long, pin it in place and adjust from there.

Remove the strap from the sheet and sew the second hook on. Put the strap back in place. One done!

Repeat with as many straps as you need 🙂

Just 15 minutes to end the problem of popped-off fitted sheets. Seriously!

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

  • Rick Johnson
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    Liz Johnson

  • tami
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    This is a great idea!

    Curious: are your sheets fitted to the mattress?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

      Yep! The prior owner on Que Tal made three sets and I never had to. On our new boat, it’s a standard queen mattress.

  • Cat Manning
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    We have this problem all the time at home! So happy to read a solution. Now to find the time to implement.

  • Nigel Smith
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    Just buy new sheets…

  • Jody Pountain
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    Great idea!! Luckily I already had some elastic clips, but I’ll definitely keep this in mind!

  • Barbara Turney
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    I just buy fitted sheets one size larger than required and tuck the excess neatly under.

  • Diane Ericsson
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    The swimsuit hook idea is brilliant!! For the sweaty issue…we use the 100% cotton knit sheets from Lands End. It’s like heavy t-shirt fabric. They were even comfortable in Mexico. They are very forgiving with the odd geometry of a V-berth. The Lands End ones are pricey, but very good quality and they last for years. We did go up a size so they are easy to put on, take off and they almost always stay in place.

  • Sue
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    What a great idea. Would help with our strangely shaped bed on our boat just to keep the sheet tensioned. It is queen size at the top and about single size at the bottom.

  • The Seamless Sailor
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    Clever idea!

  • Candy Ann Williams
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    What a fantastic idea and simple fix!!! Wish I had know this when we were living onshore. We had a crazy sized mattress…larger than a queen and smaller than a king…I used the crazy corner clips but this would have been so much better! Again thanks for all of your great tips! (Have a great 4th by the way!)

  • Pam Harwood
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    What we recently used were tarp clips from the local hardware store and nylon heading twine from the sailbag. Not elastic, but the sheets stay put!

  • Jen
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    what an amazing but so simple idea. thank you! my pop off sheets in the v-berth are crying out for this. . . can’t wait to fix them 🙂

  • Nancy
    Posted at 02 July 2014 Reply

    This is a perfect solution to the custom sheets I made for our master stateroom aboard Tranquility. My husbands sheets are always in a state of disarray(a restored classic boat that has two beds in the stateroom) although I use the typical corner sheet straps
    that really don’t work and are work putting on and taking off each time I wash our sheets. A real pain for sure.
    Thanks for a great idea!!! I can’t wait to try it!!!

  • Jo Dunsmoor Gilstrap
    Posted at 04 July 2014 Reply

    Brilliant. Thank you for sharing!

  • Martha Warner
    Posted at 04 July 2014 Reply

    I concur! Thanks. My hubby pops the sheets on every bed he sleeps in. I never do. Nice to know I can create a permanent fix.

  • Anita M Noyes-Akin
    Posted at 04 July 2014 Reply

    Outstanding Post!!! Ty:)

  • Evelyn Anderson
    Posted at 04 July 2014 Reply

    Very clever!

  • Maje Brennan
    Posted at 05 July 2014 Reply

    Going to read now. My husband pops off fitted sheets.

  • Jennifer Starkey Augspurger
    Posted at 07 July 2014 Reply

    Terrific idea!

  • kmmckeenan
    Posted at 06 August 2014 Reply

    I do a lot of sewing, particularly for cushions etc…This is definitely going to be my new way of doing it! Brilliant thank you!

  • Ernie Lorimer
    Posted at 22 September 2014 Reply

    I did something similar, but using velcro sewn onto the elastic tape and up the corners of the fitted sheet.

    At the same time I velcroed the top sheet to the bottom sheet, and the fleece blanket to the top sheet, because that end of the berth is tough to get to and things are tough to tuck and stay tucked way back there.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 22 September 2014 Reply

      That’s similar to what I did for our Thermarest camping — I put the hook part of Velcro on the bottom side of the Thermarest, and then long tabs of loop Velcro on the end of the sheets and blanket and its keeps everything in its place — no more cold feet in the middle of the night!

  • tami
    Posted at 26 January 2015 Reply

    How I was taught to make custom fitted sheets:

    Buy a set of regular bedsheets, making sure that the size is a bit larger than the berth mattress you’re making sheets for.

    Take the fitted sheet, and cut off the elasticized boxing, about 6-7″ in from the elastic edge. Don’t cut through the elastic. It’ll be a circle of elasticized fabric, that is to say. You’ll also have now a flat panel of fabric.

    Take that flat panel of fabric and lay it over your cushion/mattress. Trace out the shape of the mattress, leaving a seam allowance, I like 1/2 inch for mine.

    Now, sew the boxing (right sides together!) back to the shaped flat part. You should have some extra boxing left. Seam that up and cut off the excess, being either sure to sew over the elastic and tack it down, or leave the casing ends open, at which juncture you can use the elastic as a drawstring, hanging a cord lock on the elastic. Cord locks are available at amazon for something like five bucks for a bag of fifty of ’em.

  • Dan Thomas
    Posted at 06 February 2016 Reply

    We use the next ßize up sheets. Fold over about an inch of fabric and sew a little chanel all around the sheet. Leaving a few inches between start and finish ends. Then feed 1/6″ or parachute cord thru the Chanel. Use a cord tensioner from any sewing department of Walmart. Think was in the cord around you foul weather jacket hood. This will cinch down to fit any odd shape size bed.

    We then sew the top sheet to the fitted sheet across the foot of the sheet on the Bottom side of the sheet. This must be measured and marked while the fitted sheet is chinched to the mattress. The top sheet will not come off aaaaand it will stay tucked in.

    We ha e done three sets of sheets this way. They are stored in a large.zip lock bag clean ready for use. Fitted, top sheet, aand pillow cases. Use different colors so you will know which sets are clean.

  • Miranda Mundell
    Posted at 26 September 2017 Reply

    Great idea.

  • Kathy Belanger-Barber
    Posted at 27 September 2017 Reply

    Omg this is genius!

  • Deb Wilson
    Posted at 01 October 2017 Reply


Post A Comment