Shopping for sheets used to be easy. All you had to do was make sure they were the correct size and if you were lucky, you might have found colours other than white.
It is far more complicated now. There is no clear-cut measure for understanding the quality of sheets when you read the label. Retailers and marketers use buzz words incorrectly and make it complicated to confuse consumers. The words “Egyptian Cotton” and “thread-count” are used as the biggest selling points but are not always an indication of quality and are misleading.
EGYPTIAN COTTON is considered the finest quality because it has the longest staple threads when you look at it in its natural state. But there are different grades of Egyptian Cotton so you can find poor quality Egyptian Cotton. Yarn spun from shorter pieces is hard and does not wash or wear well. The longer the pieces, the smoother the yarn, and the better the quality.
PERCALE is a kind of weave, the most basic and the simplest weave there is. As a child you might have been shown how to weave paper in a simple over and under pattern – that is Percale.
THREAD COUNT is the number of threads per square inch and was originally developed only to measure the quality of percale sheets. Any percale weave under 200 is considered poor quality and becomes similar to the weave of a muslin cloth (a very loosely woven cotton fabric). It can be confusing because high thread-count does not always guarantee high quality.
NATURAL FABRICS like cotton, linen or silk are ideal to sleep in because they breathe and enable the body to regulate its temperature. What you choose to sleep in is a very personal choice and depends on what you like to feel against your skin. Good Linen, woven from the Flax plant can be coarser than cotton and has a loose weave. It is cooler to sleep in during summer. If you prefer a softer feeling against your skin, you have to choose between cotton sateen or cotton percale. Sateen drapes around the body while percale has a crisper feel and lies looser over the body.
Don’t be intimidated by all these options. When you are facing too many choices and you are sure that its woven with 100% natural, good quality thread – choose what you like to feel against your skin. Your body will be touching those sheets all night long so you won’t care how high the thread-count is as long as they feel good against your skin. Your skin doesn’t count threads!