Having worked in the bedding industry for the last ten years, I have got so used to the terms "Housewife" and "Oxford" Pillowcases, that I don't notice their odd names anymore. For those of you who aren't in the know, Housewife Pillowcases have a sewn edge, which fits snugly to the pillow (below left), and Oxford Pillowcases have a fabric border around the edge, usually around 5cm (below right).
I have heard quite a few women over the years pass comment on how the term "housewife" has a sexist connotation, so I decided that it was about time I found out the reasoning behind these long standing names. To be honest, it was pretty difficult to find anything remotely informative. Even Wikipedia doesn't seem to know!
The only thing I could find, and I rather like the sound of this story, is that Pillowcases in the 19th Century had a simple opening at one end, and often the pillow would fall out. In the 1880's the Housewives Co-operative in Bolton adapted a standard pillowcase to include an inside flap at the end, keeping the pillowcase in place. They then became known as "Housewife" pillowcases in the co-operatives honour. Now this is a far more compelling story than them being invented for housewives.
In terms of the Oxford Pillowcase, I can't find any information on that, so I'm going to take a wild guess that they might have been invented in Oxford?
If you happen to know any more about the history of pillowcases, please do let me know.
Anyway, I have satisfied a itch for knowledge (Sort of)
Happy Friday to you all