When shopping for bedding, I have always thought my pillow and comforter are what mattered. They're the squishy, down items that make me feel so cozy. Recently, I've noticed what a huge difference the mattress and sheets make as well!
Mitch and I have had cotton, jersey, and flannel sheets on our bed in the last two years, and frankly, all of them were awful. I couldn't figure out what we were doing wrong, and I was confused by the price differences out there. Did we just need to spend more? How would I know it was worth it? What were all these foreign words like Pima and Percale? Should I just buy linen?
If you've asked any of these questions in the bedding department or sheet aisles, this is for you. I did my research after spending a night in Cordelia's guest bedroom under sheets that changed my life.
Here's what I learned. Basically, it all boils down to three contributing factors:
The most common fiber used for sheets is cotton, and of the cottons out there these three are the most common:
• American Upland
These three range in order from soft, to softer, to softest. Egyptian is the finest and longest-staple, making it the softest and supplest to weave. Typically, price will follow softness, and if the label just says "100% cotton" it is usually American Upland. There is also jersey cotton, which will feel more like t-shirt material. However, I have yet to find a high enough quality jersey sheet that won't get "pill-y" and rough after washing. We have also tried flannel, which is fine in the winter, but nearly unbearable in summer. There are also silk and linen sheets. Often, these are considered more luxurious and the price will reflect that.
Again, there are three main types:
Oxford is a double-to-single ratio (with twice as many threads running lengthwise as widthwise), and is the typical weave of a man's dress shirt. Also, it was first produced in Scotland, which add points in my book. Percale is a tightly woven one-to-one ratio, producing a more fine texture and finish, considered light and crisp and highly absorbent. Sateen has a more luxurious look and feel, as the lengthwise threads are interlaced with a satin weave filling thread.
3. THREAD COUNT
This is simply the number of threads, which determines density and durability, and will also effect softness. The fabric and weave will dictate a lot of the feel of the sheet, but thread count should be considered. Typically, the leap from 200 to 300 will be very noticeable from a softness standpoint. More doesn't necessarily mean better though. For example, in a sateen sheet, it simply affects temperature. A higher thread count sateen sheet will be better for cold sleepers who want more warmth, and lower will be better for the sleeper trying to stay cool.
Ultimately, sheets are what touch your skin most while you sleep. Mitch and I have had our rounds with different kinds, and finally invested in a set we love. We ended up with a 100% Egyptian Cotton, 575 thread count sheet set from Macy's which was on sale for $100. It's not the most luxurious set in the world, but it is also a step up from anything we've ever had. A little research made me feel confident making a purchase decision. Hopefully, if you're in the market, this info helps you as well. I learned most of this from Google university (i.e. Martha Stewart and Macy's).
Good luck and sweet dreams!