Bed Sheets & Linens Buying Guide
Most of us buy sheets for our beds with two considerations in mind: how they look and how they feel. Some people only care about the appearance, while others focus on the feel. Though shopping for sheets seems simple, other factors do clamor for attention. What does thread count mean? What is percale? When did sheets get deep pockets?
Types of Bed Sheets & Linens
There are basically two ways to judge sheets, how they look and how they feel. Those characteristics can be evaluated by a few factors. How sheets look depends on their color, pattern, and fit. How sheets feel depends on their fiber content, thread count, weave, and finish. Let’s break down the details.
When you shop for sheets, you’ll find that companies offer “solid” sheets and those with patterns. All one color, solid sheets are made from dyed threads. Patterned sheets feature an allover pattern printed edge to edge on the fitted and flat sheets, or they may sport a smaller printed or embroidered pattern just on the flat sheet hem. Patterns are most often printed on a plain sheet after it has been woven. Very expensive sheets feature woven patterns of dyed threads.
Sheets come in sizes to fit standard-size mattresses: twin, extra-long twin, double or full, queen, king, and California king, which is slightly longer than a king-size mattress. How sheets fit a mattress depends on the sheet fabric. A percale or sateen woven sheet fits snugly. Flannel sheets loosen up over time. Jersey knit sheets, which feel much like t-shirts, are the loosest of all.
Starting at the less-expensive end of the spectrum, polyester-blend sheets meld cotton fibers with poly fibers for sheets that are crisp and warm. All-cotton and all-linen fibers cost a little more, but they create a softer, more durable sheet. Natural fibers are also more breathable than polyester. Finally, specialty fibers, such as hemp or silk, are pricey but have certain eco-friendly or supple qualities you might desire.
About 20 years ago, manufacturers began to disclose the thread counts of their sheets. This term refers to the number of fiber threads per square inch. Threads are woven horizontally and vertically, so 100 threads woven crosswise with another 100 lengthwise threads yield a thread count of 200. The higher the count, the more threads get woven tightly together. Most sheets start at about a 200-thread count, and they go up dramatically from there. Thread count does not take into consideration the thickness of the fibers, though it’s safe to assume a higher thread count means the fibers are thinner.
In the construction of sheets, long threads of polyester, cotton, or linen fibers are woven under and over each other in a crosswise manner. Percale sheets are woven with an equal number of threads running horizontally and vertically. Sateen sheets are woven with more vertical threads. Specialty weaves, such as for damask fabric, produce a woven pattern.
After a sheet has been woven, it must be finished in some way. Most sheets are treated with chemicals or singed so fibers lie smoothly and consistently. The finishing process results in soft sheets that won’t shrink and, with the right chemical process, will be wrinkle-resistant.
Read a package label to determine the quality of sheet. A mid- to high-range thread count of all-cotton fibers woven into a sateen sheet will surely be soft. But to know how it feels to you, the best test is to try it against your skin.
Judging sheets on color and pattern revolves around personal preference. But you can determine quality by examining how consistently the color appears throughout the sheet and whether a pattern shows any imperfections. Dyes used to produce colors can make sheets stiff until you’ve washed them a few times. Dark-color sheets, such as navy or black, may include washing instructions to keep color loss to a minimum.
If you have an uncommon mattress size, such as an extra-long twin or a California king, you’ll find fewer sheet options. Deep-pocket sheets refer to the length of a fitted sheet sides in relation to the thickness of your mattress. A standard mattress thickness is less than 16 inches, which most fitted sheets accommodate and cover. For thicker mattresses, you need sheets labeled “deep pocket.”
Polyester fibers woven into sheets bring down the price, but the sheets won’t be as breathable as all-cotton ones. All-linen sheets start with a nubby feel but soften gradually over time. Silk, a luxurious fiber that makes for a dreamlike bed, is also extremely fragile and difficult to launder. Other fibers, such as hemp, form a small subclass of bedding options that you may not find at a big-box retailer.
Contrary to most people’s beliefs, thread count is not an indicator of softness. It can mean a good quality sheet that lasts a long time (logically, the more threads, the longer it takes to wear them out). But many coarse threads woven together still yield a coarse sheet. Most experts agree that a 180-thread-count sheet feels rough and a suppler feel begins at 200. Once a sheet gets above 400 in thread count, you may not notice a difference that is worth the price tag.
The weave contributes to the “hand,” or the feel, of a sheet. Sheets labeled “percale” contain the same number of woven threads horizontally and vertically. This results in a crisp, smooth sheet that is also durable because of the balanced cross weave. A “sateen” sheet contains more vertical threads. The hand of a sateen sheet is much softer and suppler than that of a percale sheet, but more stress gets put on the horizontal threads, so sateen sheets tend to eventually pill, thin, and tear.
If you have particular chemical sensitivities, you may want to look for no-finish sheets, also called “pure” sheets. Organic cotton sheets also are not processed.
at JC Penney
Slip into this Catalina Red sheet set for slumber that is all about soft comfort. 300 thread-count combed cotton for easy care and... a crisp look fitted sheet has all-around elastic for a secure fit 4-piece sheet set includes: fitted bottom sheet flat sheet 2 pillowcase(s) From Croscill Classics. All fitted sheets pocket depth measure 16". Cotton. Washable. Imported. read more
at Sierra Trading Post
Overstock. Dreams dont get sweeter than those had beneath Kimlors Sierra Plaid Twin flannel sheet set -- cozily crafted from luxur...y-weight flannel with a softness that rivals cashmere. Overcut for a perfect fit after the first washing Size: Twin Set includes: Flat sheet Fitted sheet Pillowcase (1) read more
The DwellStudio Crosshatch Sheet Set was inspired by graphic lines seen in modern art. The intricate crosshatched pattern comes in... a versatile Dusk color (grey) that easily mixes and matches with any DwellStudio duvet set. The set is made out of 400 thread count cotton percale, so the soft tones are matched by a soft feel. DwellStudio, founded in 1999 by Christiane Lemieux, specializes in home furnishings steeped in modern design. With a unique sense of color and a strong commitment to quality and innovation, DwellStudio continues to create its own distinctive interpretation of modern home furnishings. In the same creative spirit, the company encourages their customers to experiment with mixing various DwellStudio textile lines together. The Crosshatch Sheet Set is available with the following: Details: Made of 100% cotton 400 thread count cotton percale One flat and one fitted sheet 2 pillow cases (standard size for Full and Queen, king size for King) Machine washable Made in Portugal Need help with some of our terminology? Check out Lumens' Lighting and Design Glossary. read more
at The Company Store
Jersey knit cotton sheets and bedding. Naturally wrinkle-resistant sheets and bedding 100% cotton jersey bedding is knitted to per...fection for superior breathability. Sheets are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Fitted sheet features 14? corner pockets and natural stretch to drape smoothly over mattresses. The complete Solid Jersey Knit bedding collection is available in a flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcase, duvet / comforter cover and sham. All duvet covers / comforter covers come with corner ties that attach to the loops on our comforters to hold both in place. Jersey knit sheets coordinate with our St. Tropez comforter / duvet. Imported. Exclusively ours. Shown With: Soho Gourd Lamp (XR78) Showcase Stripe Rug (UL24) Mercer Platform Bed in Twill Gray (XR70) Like sleeping in your favorite t-shirt?only better! Our wrinkle-resistant jersey-knit sheets and bedding are knitted to perfection for superior breathability and cozy comfort. A natural stretch ensures every piece of bedding fits flawlessly on your bed. Plus, the fitted sheet features 14-inch corner pockets for a secure look and feel. Available in a wide array of captivating colors, our wrinkle-resistant jersey knit sheets can be easily mixed and matched. Choose one color throughout or combine the bedding elements in a variety of hues for a customized look. Either way, our soft jersey bedding set refreshes your bedroom?s décor in an instant. The complete jersey knit bedding set is available in a flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcase, comforter cover and sham. Exclusively ours, this soft jersey knit bedding set will keep you cozy for years to come. These 100% cotton jersey sheets are exceptionally warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer. read more
at The Company Store
350-thread count sheets and bedding. 100% cotton sateen. Supersize flat and fitted sheets available for extra deep mattresses. All... colors available in solid or woven damask stripe. Available in a comforter cover / duvet cover, flat sheets, fitted sheets, pillowcases, shams and bedskirts. Comforter cover / duvet cover has ties that coordinate with the comforter to keep it securely in place. Imported. Exclusively ours. Shown With: Hudson Stripe Rug (UK88) Classic Cotton Blanket in White (KN71) Linen Pillow Cover in White (PO16) 5-Button Tufted Bed in Chalk Basketweave (XQ83) Introducing the bedding of your dreams. The ultimate in comfort, style and timeless elegance, our classic sheets and bedding are woven with silky soft 350-thread count ultra-fine threads per square inch for a whisper-light feel. Choose from ten luxurious colors, ranging from crisp cloud blue to richly-hued wine in both solid sateen and woven damask stripe. The wide array of beautiful colors allows you to find the perfect shade of sheets, solid and tonal striped, to highlight and complement your bedroom?s décor. Made from machine washable 100% cotton, our enticing sheets and bedding set gives your bedroom a tasteful, designer-inspired ambiance. You?ll look forward to slipping into our inviting solid sateen and woven damask sheets and bedding every night of the week. Exclusively available at The Company Store, our fitted sheets accommodate mattresses 15? deep. We also offer supersized flat and fitted sheets for mattresses 16? to 20? deep. The entire solid sateen and woven damask stripe bedding set is available in a comforter cover, flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcases, sham and bed skirt. Combine all the pieces together for the ultimate bedding experience that transforms your bedroom with sophisticated and stylish flair. read more
at The Company Store
350-thread count damask stripe sheets and bedding. 100% cotton sateen with damask stripes. Supersize flat and fitted sheets availa...ble for extra deep mattresses. All colors also available in solid options. Available in a comforter cover / duvet cover, flat sheets, fitted sheets, pillowcases, shams and bedskirts. Comforter cover / duvet cover has ties that coordinate with the comforter to keep it securely in place. Imported. Exclusively ours. Shown With: 5-Button Tufted Bed in Chalk Basketweave (XQ89) Chambray Voile Window Panels in White (GP83) Linen Pillow Cover in White (PO16) Introducing the bedding of your dreams. The ultimate in comfort, style and timeless elegance, our damask stripe sheets and bedding are woven with silky soft 350-thread count ultra-fine threads per square inch for a whisper-light feel. Choose from ten luxurious colors, ranging from crisp cloud blue to richly-hued wine in a woven damask stripe design. The wide array of beautiful colors allows you to find the perfect shade of sheets, solid and tonal striped, to highlight and complement your bedroom?s décor. Made from machine washable 100% cotton, our enticing striped sheets and bedding give your bedroom a tasteful, designer-inspired ambiance. You?ll look forward to slipping into our inviting woven damask sheets and bedding every night of the week. Exclusively available at The Company Store, our fitted sheets accommodate mattresses 15? deep. We also offer supersized flat and fitted sheets for mattresses 16? to 20? deep. The woven damask stripe bedding set is available in a comforter cover, flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcases, sham and bed skirt. Combine all the pieces together for the ultimate bedding experience that transforms your bedroom with sophisticated and stylish flair. read more
at Sierra Trading Post
Overstock. Dreams dont get sweeter than those had beneath Kimlors Sierra Plaid Queen flannel sheet set -- cozily crafted from luxu...ry-weight flannel with a softness that rivals cashmere. Overcut for a perfect fit after the first washing Size: Queen Set includes: Flat sheet Fitted sheet Pillowcases (2) Made in Pakistan read more
at Sierra Trading Post
Overstock. Egyptian cotton sateen has a lovely luster thats not only beautiful to behold but cool to the touch, and these Matteo s...ateen sheets from San Severo by Sferra are made in Italy according to Old-World traditions that span more than a century. Founded in Venice, Italy, in 1891, Sferra is a quintessential luxury brand Sferras fine linens can be found in the White House, the Vatican and some of the worlds finest vacation resorts Long-staple Egyptian cotton is spun, dyed and finished to precise specifications, producing an extraordinary hand that marries modern-day elegance with Old-World comfort Size: Queen Set includes: Flat sheet Fitted sheet Pillowcases (2) Made in Italy read more
at Sierra Trading Post
Overstock. Theres something about dobby stripes that effortlessly invokes a crisp, clean feeling -- and were sure youll agree, onc...e youve made your bed with Melange Homes wide dobby stripe sheet set! 400 thread count cotton is wonderfully soft and smooth Size: Full Set includes: Flat sheet Fitted sheet Pillowcases (2) Made in China read more
at The Company Store
Sheets and bedding set with whimsical French hen print. 200 thread-count cotton percale sheets and bedding collection with charmin...g hen print in a contemporary palette of bittersweet orange, khaki and cream. The complete French Hens percale sheets and bedding set is available in a flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcase, duvet cover and sham. All duvet covers come with corner ties that attach to the loops on our comforters to hold both securely in place. The colorful French Hens percale sheets and bedding set coordinates beautifully with our Carrie duvet cover and sham. Machine wash. Imported. Exclusively ours. Fancifully rendered French hens flock to the bed in a contemporary palette of bittersweet orange, khaki and cream. Reproduced on soft and smooth 200-thread count cotton percale, our French Hens percale sheets and bedding set offers a whimsical take on traditional bedding perfect for any bedroom in your home. Offering a dose of bright color on a neutral ground, this irresistible bedding evokes charming images of the bucolic French countryside. A perfect pick to give bedrooms endless personality and stylish flair, our French Hens cotton sheets and bedding set is available exclusively at The Company Store. Combine all the printed bedding in the French Hens cotton percale sheets and bedding set together to create a well-appointed spread brimming with welcoming style and cozy comfort. Available in a flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcase, duvet cover and sham, the playful French Hens cotton bedding set also pairs perfectly with our Carrie duvet cover and sham. read more