When someone is looking for a new set of sheets and bedding, the topic always turns to the material: “Is it made of cotton or silk?” Or, “Have you tried the bamboo?”
When you get advice from a friend about sheets, they recommend a material that's worked for them, or perhaps a specific product. But the material isn't everything.
In fact, for many fabrics, knowing the material tells you almost nothing about how the sheets are going to feel. While silk is generally smooth and slick, natural fibers like cotton and linen, and blends don't tell you anything about what the sheets will feel like under your hands and wrapped around your body at night.
For that, you need to know about the weave. We're here to show you how to pick the best organic sheets for a better night's sleep.
Unpacking the Simple Cotton Sheet
To keep things simple, let's say we're talking about plain cotton sheets. Nothing special, maybe 100% or a light blend. But let's face it, we've all had cotton sheets and the feel of one set of cotton sheets can be wildly different from another set.
We've been trained to call this 'thread count' but even thread count is mostly a marketing gimmick we've been fed by manufacturers. There are many ways to artificially inflate thread count so that now we're seeing impossible numbers on packaging, well past the point where it would make any difference at all.
For softness, look for long cotton fibers and combed cotton, two things you can find at a much better price without the luxury hype. Of course, rough versus soft isn't the only way we define our sheets, right? You can buy cotton sheets that mimic other fabrics or are even softer and stretchier than normal. Sateen, for instance, is smooth and shiny like silk sheets while jersey sheets are extra soft. Why? Because of the weave!
All About the Weave
No matter what material your sheets are made of (but usually cotton and blends), your bedding is going to resemble one of the four major weave types that are popular in the bedding industry.
You're already familiar with them and you'll recognize them right off the bat, but for some reason, no one remembers to mention the differences after the conversation has turned to linen versus bamboo. Your four weave options are Percale, Sateen, Jersey, and Flannel.
They have their own applications, some are better during specific weather, and we all have a personal preference. You may have simply not realized what that preference is. Let's explore a little deeper into the weave.
Percale is probably the one sheet type you don't immediately recognize from packaging and advertising. That's because it's the 'normal' kind of sheet, the kind you expect to find in a hotel: Cool, smooth, crisp, and breathable. Percale sheets make you want to iron them because something about that crispness when they dry is delicious on the skin. They show their fold lines but also smooth out perfectly flat on a well-made bed.
You know you like percale sheets if cold smooth sheets are what you crave as you slide into bed. If you adore sleeping in hotels with great sheets and like the ability to slip under the covers with almost no friction at all. Percale sheets are best in the summer when a cooler bed is preferable because they are still incredibly breathable despite the smooth heat-resistant surface.
Woven more tightly and with a smooth shimmery texture are the sateen sheets. Not satin, which is a material, but sateen which is a way you can make cotton and blends sing on the power loom until they bind into a silk-like texture adored by romantics, lovers, and sensual individuals for decades. Sateen sheets generally have more vertical threads than horizontal ones, giving it a directional shimmer that guides your hand down the weave when you touch it.
Most people who like sateen already know it and try to buy exclusively sateen sheets at home. Many others have a special set or two of sateen for special occasions like date nights, anniversaries, and other moments when one might anticipate a romantic evening in bed. Sateen is silky smooth but it also tends to be notably warmer and slightly less breathable than percale, which is a trade-off for that beautiful shine.
Jersey sheets are the softest sheets you will ever sleep on, called jersey because they remind one of a soft old t-shirt. These are also the most low-key kind of sheets, rarely sold as a luxury but a big-time favorite for many people all the same. You may have slept on a set of jersey sheets while staying as a guest and wondered for years what that amazing stretchy-soft sheet material was, but it wasn't a material. It's a way to weave the cotton to make it extra soft.
If you like to sleep in old t-shirts because they are the softest thing you own, then jersey is the bedding delight your skin has been hoping for. Jersey sheets are traditionally more loosely woven and very breathable, but they also wear out faster because of the stretchiness and may need to be washed more often. If you love jersey sheets, you will probably go through them a little faster than normal, but that's okay. They're usually very affordable.
Finally, we come to the winter sheets. Most people have heard of flannel as a style of shirt, usually associated with a large stripe-check pattern and people who live in the northern Midwest and Canada. But flannel isn't actually referring to the pattern or the shirt, but the weave that makes these shirts (and sheets) so warm. Flannel is a much thicker weave than the others and fuzzy in a way that makes it even warmer. Sheets made out of flannel tend to be simultaneously soft, durable, and incredibly warm.
Needless to say, flannel sheets are not for hot sleepers or hot weather, but they are amazing for cold-weather camping and a truly chilly bedroom. Flannel is the only type of sheet you can snuggle into in a 40-degree room and feel immediately warm. If you love that cozy feeling of soft fuzzy pajamas or even own a flannel shirt of your own, having a set or two of flannel sheets in the winter will feel just right.
So which kind of sheets are your favorites? Percale for the cool crisp sensation; sateen for a romantic adventure; jersey for that soft favorite feel; or the warm and cozy flannel. Or perhaps one of each and you can switch out based on how you feel that day or the weather that month.For more interesting information and amusing musings on sleep and bedding, contact us today. We would love to get you into your perfect set of sheets.