Bed Sheet Buying Guide

Introduction

In addition to knowing how you like your sheets to feel (crisp, smooth, or soft) there are three main elements to consider when buying sheets – fiber, weave and thread count. Fiber plays a large role in in determining the durability, softness and moisture wicking qualities of a sheet. The weave impacts the look and feel of a sheet as it can vary substantially from the velvet feel of the brushed twill weave of a flannel sheet to the crisp feel of a high-end percale weave. Thread count refers to the number of yarns used per square inch of fabric. Traditionally, the higher the thread count number, the lighter, stronger and more supple the fabric would become but as new weaves and fibers have been introduced it has become less and less of a fail-safe determinant.

Fiber

When deciding on a new set of sheets its important to get in touch with your feelings. Do you prefer sliding into smooth and silky, warming up into plush and cozy or cooling off in crisper sheets.

Getting to know which sensation soothes you best will quickly narrow the vast array of choice. Like music, its important to know what makes you feel good (classical, rock or easy listening), so you can use your time wisely by browsing that section. Fibers are essentially the instruments of sheets. Weave fibers fibers differently and youll get different sheets.

Cotton

Cotton is the primary fiber used in sheets. The quality of standard cotton is determined by a number of factors with the length of the fiber being a key indicator in choosing the right cotton to create sturdy, moisture seeking, 100% cotton sheet.

Extra-long Staple Cotton Egyptian, Turkish and Pima cotton sheets all fall under this heading. Its extra-long silky fibers will withstand the test of time. The length of the fibers lends these sheets to being extremely, smooth, breathable and very durable. The long fibers work to significantly reduce wear and unwanted
pilling.

Long Staple Cotton The majority of the worlds cotton crop is American Upland cotton, a medium to long fiber. This type of standard cotton offers excellent moisture wicking properties in a durable everyday sheet. Longer cotton fibers are frequently put through a combing process that clears the cotton of shorter fibers, making for a stronger, finer and smoother sheet.

Bamboo/Synthetic

The majestic bamboo plant thrives naturally without chemical fertilizers and its fibers are naturally anti-microbial. It is spun into tremendously smooth, lustrous and durable thread that is then woven into an extremely absorbent, breathable, and easy-to-care for sheet.

Conclusion

Remember, the fiber you choose, whether Pima, Egyptian or Bamboo, is only 1/3 of the decision making process in choosing the right sheets for you. Weave and thread count are important factors as well. With so many variations of how sheets are made, shoppers have the luxury of really tailoring a perfect fit.

Weave

There are countless different ways to weave a sheet. The weave influences the look, feel and durability of a sheet. Percale weaves are renowned for creating crisp cool sheets, Sateen waves create extremely soft sheets that are lustrous at initial touch and jacquards bring texture usually in the form of patterns into sheets.

Twill (Flannel)

The fuzzy indulgence of a flannel sheet is created through brushing process called napping of a plain or twill-weave fabric that raises fibers from the weave to create a smooth coat or finish. Some sheets will be napped on one side, while others will be napped on both.

Sateen

Sateen sheets are made through a modernized weaving process that increases the vertical number of yarns to the horizontal, thus creating an ultra soft fabric with a noticeable sheen with a high thread count. Sateen sheets tend to be more delicate than other weaves.

Percale

Percale sheets are essentially an upscale plain weave with equal horizontal yarns to vertical yarns. This weave produces sheets with higher thread counts and sheets that are crisp and strong.

Jacquard

The Jacquard sheet is made with a specialized loom that can weave imbedded textured patterning. These artistry needed to make these fade resistant unique patterns can add to the overall cost.

Thread Count

Thread count refers to the number of yarns used per square inch of fabric. Traditionally, the high the thread count number, the lighter, stronger and more supple the fabric would become. Traditional forms of weaving used to limit thread count to a maximum of 350, but new weaving technology now allows sheet manufacturers to produce sheets with upwards of 1200 thread count. Thread counts that soar above the original 350 mark, are no longer made by weaving double ply (two yarns twisted together) instead they are woven using finer yarns in a multi-ply construction (when more than two yarns are inserted into the weave) making for very high thread count but heavy sheets

300 Thread Count

This is a great starting place for a solid set of crisp feeling sheets. Anything less you might toss and turn all night. Percale (classically woven) is an upscale name you should keep in mind.

400 Thread Count

These numbers are often associated with super soft yet cool feeling sheets that are commonly combed for an extra smooth finish.

600 Thread Count

These are often associated with luxury sheets. This thread count coupled with long fiber cotton like Pima or Egyptian cotton are the ideal sheets.

How to Recognize quality

Once youve determined your favored fiber, weave and thread count give your selection(s) a good scratch test to help determine the quality of the sheet and if its going to serve you well for many nights to come. The weave should stay in place, be consistent in color and uniform in weave.

Do threads shift when scratched? Drag a nail across the threaded. The yarns should not easily alter. If they do, weak spots could eventually rip or fray.

Is the weave even The yarns in the weave should be uniform. Hold your sheet up to the light. An even amount of light should filter through. If not, this sheet could be prone to uneven wear and eventually holes.

Color Fade Color could be consistent and printed designs should be evenly applied. Its easiest to look for these issues along the edges of your sheet.

Conclusion (Cliff Notes) When it comes down to it, selecting sheets is like choosing a car. You want to like how it looks, feel confident that its made well and feel certain that it will last as long as you need it. Here is how to apply what you’ve learned to find the right sheet. The longer the cotton fiber the better – Egyptian, Pima and Turkish. Bamboo is eco-friendly, breathable and adjust to your bodys temperature. For a cooler feeling sheet plain weave are a good choice with Percale being the best and will last a long time. If you prefer a silkier look and more lustrous feel, Sateen weave is an ideal match – this weave can lend to pilling through excessive use and are generally recommended for guest beds. Flannel sheets are ideal for sleepers with prone to cold toes and organic sheets are the perfect for sleepers with sensitive skin.