There is something so wonderful about laying down on a nice new set of linen fitted sheets for the night. Good linen fitted sheets warm the soul and offer you a great night of sleep. But, if you’ve ever been to the linen fitted sheet store, you know there are about fifty options, and they all look the same.
So how does one go about getting a nice set of linen fitted sheets? What makes linen sheet sets better than others? Well, buckle your seat belts, we’re about to tell you everything you need to know about sheet shopping:
- What’s the deal with thread count?
When you’re shopping for sheets, the most common description you’ll see to judge one sheet set against another is the thread count. The thread count indicates how many threads are woven into each square inch of the fabric. The inference is, the higher the thread count, the more tightly woven the fabric is, and thus the more smooth and silky it is.
If you are comparing two sheet sets of identical material, the thread count would be a good way to gauge which one provides the greatest comfort. However, in most cases, each set of sheets is made of different blends of thread. The type of material that makes the sheets really has a greater impact on the quality and comfort of them.
As a side note, the standard for calculating thread count is by representing the number of threads per one inch of fabric. That isn’t a law that bed sheet manufacturers must follow though. If the price tag for a set of incredibly high thread count sheets doesn’t match others of their caliber, it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t have as high of a thread count per inch; a sheet manufacturer wouldn’t stay in business long if they really did provide high thread count sheets at cut rate prices.
- If the type of cotton matters more than thread count, what is the best quality cotton?
You’ve probably heard of Egyptian cotton; if you know anything about sheets (or own your own Egyptian cotton sheets), you already know that 100% Egyptian cotton sheets cannot be topped. Egyptian cotton has long, smooth fibers that create sheets that are thin and silky, while also being structurally reliable and durable. A good Egyptian cotton sheet set can easily run about $500, or more.
If your budget doesn’t allow for you to lay your head upon sheets made of Egyptian cotton, the next best is pima cotton (always make sure it says “100%” for any type of cotton; if it does not say “100% pima cotton, you can assume it’s a hybrid of Pima and less expensive blends). Pima cotton is also called Supima, and is made of incredibly soft fibers, that make for luxurious sheets. The strength of Pima cotton also makes them less inclined to get fuzzy after a few washes, as do lower-quality cotton blends. Pima cotton sheets tend to be a little more reasonable than Egyptian cotton, in the neighborhood of $200 or so.
If the sheets simply say “100% cotton”, they are most likely made of American upland cotton. American upland cotton is far more plentiful and less expensive than other varieties, but is made of shorter fibers. The ends short fibers tend to poke out of the thread, which creates a rougher texture, and tends to wear out quicker.
- What kind of weave is best for a good sheet set?
Once you’ve determined the type of cotton you want (and can afford) in your new sheets, and the thread count that fits your desires and budget, the next step is choosing the right weave. The manner in which the threads are woven together impacts the feel and density of the sheets as well.
The two most common cotton weaves for good-quality sheet sets are percale and sateen. Neither one of them is definitively better than the other; it’s more of a matter of taste. Percale is a more simplistic weaving technique that creates light-weight, crisp sheets. On the other hand, sateen weave creates a slightly denser, silky, comforting feel to the sheets. The best way to determine which weave suits you best is to ask for samples, so you can touch them and decide for yourself.