Fill the vases with fresh flowers, throw open the windows and hang bright new bed linen on the line. As a modest self gift for sweeping, clearing and cleaning through the house, surely a brand new set of luxury sheets, duvet cover and matching pillow cases is on the table?
In the dark about thread count? Perplexed about Percale? Not sure which sheets to choose or where from? This way…
Linen can be a broad term for all types of sheets and bed cover accoutrements, which include cotton sheets. More specifically, both natural fibre-based, linen is made from the long fibres of the stem of the flax plant – with a thread count of 80-150 – whereas cotton’s finer fibres, made from the protective, fluffy bols of the cotton plant, can be woven more densely.
With the fine feel of cool, freshly laundered five star hotel sheets in mind, we wonder where readers’ preferences lie. Some like theirs crisp, light and super smooth, some prefer the more weighty warmth of soft flannel, some silky and sensual.
To this foundation of personal touch preferences can be added bold colour statements, embroidered texture and printed pattern. As in current trends of wallpaper and fabric design, hundreds of years of iconic pattern making are drawn on to update and develop bed linen embellishments. At And So To Bed, we turn to French textile house Yves Delorme for their microscopic attention to detail in linen and cotton sheet production since 1845.
Thread count, unravelled
Try not to get too hung up on the intricacies of thread count. High thread count isn’t always a sign for tip-top quality, luxury bedding. Be certain of the very best makers and brands when buying sheets and a favourite feel that is personal to you.
Simply put, thread count is the number of weft (horizontal) and warp (vertical) threads in one square inch of fabric. Because high thread count has become synonymous with high quality, sometimes added threads or ‘picks’ are woven into the weft to raise the thread count. However, high thread count isn’t necessarily a sure sign of high quality or softness. Softness depends on the quality of the fibre so some 400 thread count sheets that use inferior cotton or twisted aren’t necessarily as soft as 200. Again, opting for a well-respected brand is the answer.
We briefly alight on different sheet genres here and you can read in even more depth about superior fabric types, thread count and sheet production methods over at Yves Delorme.
Percale – A closely woven, plain weave fabric that can be pure cotton but may also include polyester. The handle is crisp, smooth and cool and thread counts start at around 200.
Egyptian Cotton – seen to be the highest quality cotton due to the fineness of its fibres and their good length. Longer fibres can be carded, combed and spun into a strong yarn that, when woven, has a smooth, soft handle. Look for 100% Egyptian Cotton.
Linen – laboriously produced from the fibres of the Flax plant, linen sheets are more absorbent, breathable and deliciously cool in the summer months. The fabric also ages well, softening as it does.
Sateen – with a silky feel like satin, cotton fibres are weighted on one side of the fabric – say four warp threads to one weft thread, creating a super-smooth handle with a glimmer of sheen.
Flannel – brushed on one or both sides, flannel is a weighty, warm, pliable fabric of plain or twill weave. The quality of cotton flannel sheets is measured in weight and those with a fabric rating of 170gsm or higher, or at least five ounces, are long lasting and warm.
So, now you’re more in the know, based on personal preference, which types, feels and finishes of fresh-out-of-the-packet sheets might be currently drawing you to a bedroom blitz?