We’ve all seen the ads for amazingly low-cost cotton sateen sheets with a thread count around 1,200 and we’ve all wondered if we’d just found the deal of the century. The answer, in a word, is no. Despite popular belief, higher thread count does not automatically guarantee higher quality. The feel of the fabric is determined by the type of yarn used, the type of weave selected and the quality of the materials and workmanship that go into making the finished product. Thread count is just one piece of the puzzle. Realistically, a 200-thread count sheet can feel much finer than a 600 thread count sheet, simply because the cotton fibers in the lower thread count are of higher quality and the type weave used created a smoother, softer feel. It’s natural to look for quick, easy ways to determine quality, but thread count alone isn’t the answer.
Instead of focusing on thread count alone, look for organic fabrics from makers who can tell you about their sheets. Then determine what qualities you like in your sheets and make your choices accordingly. Different weaves have different qualities and each person has their own preferences.
Percale – a soft, crisp fabric ideal for warm sleepers. It tends to feel cool against the skin, but can wrinkle a bit more than other fabrics. Percale is closely woven, medium-weight, plain-weave fabric that is smooth with no gloss.
Percale is for you if:
- You tend to feel hot at night, or it’s the heat of summer
- You like sheets that feel crisp and cool
- You don’t mind a few wrinkles, or don’t mind ironing
- Grandmas linens and line-dried sheets bring up happy thoughts
- You want easy to care for sheets
Sateen – slightly shiny, very soft and often described as “buttery” because of its smooth feel; it feels warmer to the skin. Sateen holds bold colors well, and resists wrinkling, so it’s easy to care for. Sateen is flat, smooth, soft and shiny on one side, slightly matte on the other.
Sateen is for you if:
- You want a sheet for year ‘round use
- You tend to sleep slightly cooler
- You like soft, silky feeling sheets
- You want sheets that feel luxurious
- You like rich colors
Jacquard – a heavy sheet with patterns created by varying the weave. The process gives the sheets a unique weight and feel that some love, while others dislike.
Jacquard is for you if:
- You like things with little details
- You enjoy heavier feeling sheets
- You want a very formal, rich look
Jersey – imagine sleeping on your favorite t-shirt. The fabric is knit instead of woven, stretches and feel soft. Jersey is the easiest to maintain of all sheet fabrics and has significant stretch to it and a casual look and feel.
Jersey is for you if:
- You like sleeping in a soft t-shirt
- You want super easy care linens
- You want a fun, relaxed, casual look
Flannel – great for cold weather, flannel is brushed to bring up fine cotton hairs into a soft, fuzzy layer that’s warm and super soft. Flannel is also a good choice when you want just a sheet that has that “just right” level of weight and warmth.
Flannel is for you if:
- You feel cold at night, or want to turn down the thermostat
- You want an extra cozy feel
- You like feeling like you’re wrapped in a cozy cloud
- You want a casual look