There is nothing more comforting than the feel of fresh bed linen. We all enjoy lounging beneath silky soft sheets after a long day or a relaxing bath, but we less enjoy picking those sheets out in the first place. With so many types of fabrics and weaves to choose from, finding the best bed linen can start to seem impossible. Even when you do find the best bed linen, sky high prices can make them seem out of reach.
If you’re feeling confused by thread count numbers and percale weaves, it’s time to relax. Here at Linens Limited, we know quite a bit about bed linen. We also know how stressful the hunt for the perfect bed linen can be for those that aren’t fluent in the linen language.
That’s where our bed linen guide comes in.
Split into convenient sections, from thread count to materials, this blog post is here to guide your selection. Not only can you find the best quality bed linen, but you can discover what the right bed linen for you is. Plus, with Linens Limited, you’ll find all your favourite bed linen at affordable prices.
Thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric and tells you how closely woven the fabric is. Many mistake a high thread count as a sure sign of good quality bed linen, with some thread counts reaching into their thousands. While thread count should be considered when choosing your bed linen, its main consideration is down to your personal preference.
Thread counts can also be increased by more deceptive means in a bid to convince customers of the quality of the fabric. Shorter threads can be inserted into the weave, making an otherwise lowly thread count from a cheaper material much higher. Generally, many weavers give 500 to 600 as the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric, but this varies per the mill and the fabric.
Different types of bed linen and materials will also naturally need different thread counts to achieve the desired quality. Overall, look out for high-quality pure cotton with a minimum thread count of 200. After that, it’s down to your preference.
The most important decision to make about your bed linen is the material. A higher quality material is a sure way to guarantee you choose the best bed linen. You’ll find cotton, linen and poly-blend the main materials to choose from.
Cotton & Egyptian cotton
When it comes to bed linen there is no better material than 100% cotton, particularly pure Egyptian cotton. Egyptian cotton has a longer fiber, making it a much stronger fiber than others and producing a finer yarn for a high-quality fabric. Egyptian cotton is even handpicked, putting less stress on the fiber than mechanical picking, keeping the fibers straight and intact.
All of these qualities make Egyptian cotton by far the softest and most luxuriant bed linen material, with a fabric so strong and long wearing that it actually softens and improves with age. If it’s all out luxury you’re aiming for, Egyptian cotton is the only choice.
Linen fabrics can also provide a luxurious option for your bedding. Linen comes with long fibers for a high-quality finish but is even more durable than cotton. A low elasticity means the fibers don’t stretch and are more resistant to damage from abrasion, however this can cause the fabric to have a rougher starchy texture to begin with.
Fortunately linen softens and improves with every wash. Overall, linen is extremely easy to care for, with no lint or pilling tendency and no need to iron. A slightly creased and tousled look makes linen bedding look even better, and is easily machine washed and dry-cleaned at high temperatures with minimal initial shrinkage. Of course, as with cotton, this high-quality fabric can come at a cost.
Polycotton or easy care
For a more affordable option and bed linen that is easy to care for, opt for a polycotton mix fabric. A cotton polyester mix means this fabric isn’t as luxurious as 100% Egyptian cotton but is much more affordable. You can also find various types of polycotton, some having as high as 80% and 90% cotton. These cotton rich polycottons provide some of the same high-quality benefits of pure cotton bed linen at a fraction of the price.
As well as being affordable, polycotton fabrics require minimal care. This fabric dries quickly and requires little ironing, perfect for busy families and for children’s bedding. To ensure you still get the best bed linen for you, opt for a higher thread count of 180 minimum.
Second only to the actual material itself, the weave has the most impact on the feel of the fabric. The weave is self-explanatory and just concerns the way the threads of the fabric are woven together, but the different weaves and their attributes can be confusing.
By far the most popular weave is percale. This is a plain weave, but don’t let that fool you. This is a high-quality lightweight weave. Tightly woven, bed linen with this weave is crisp, cool and soft to touch. Percale typically comes in thread counts ranging from 150 to 800. To get the most out of this weave, opt for a high-grade cotton with a minimum 200 thread count.
For more luxurious bed linen with a velvety feel, look for a sateen weave which is finer than percale. Just as it sounds, this weave has a satiny feel with a slight sheen and smooth finish. You can find sateen weaves in higher thread counts ranging from 200 to 1200 due to the thin threads, so opt for a higher count to get the most out of this silky soft weave. While luxuriously soft to touch, a sateen weave is less hardwearing than percale.
Twill or herringbone
Twill or herringbone is a more open weave than percale with a subtle texture and trademark diagonal lines. A twill weave is more pliable and lightweight than percale with an attractive sheen. Fabrics in this weave are soft and drape elegantly over beds, yet are still as durable as a plain weave and even easier to iron.
This type of weave is produced on a special jacquard loom with a patterning mechanism. A jacquard loom can lift and raise threads to create a variety of complex patterns. A jacquard weave allows for fibers to be double or triple woven, giving the fabric a luxuriously high thread count. Because of the patterns and layering achieved with a jacquard weave, bed linen using this technique often features multi-coloured designs ranging from checked to floral. You’ll find this weave much more resilient than others.
Caring for and storing your bed linen
Make sure to wash your bed linen regularly to keep it fresh and duvet-day-ready. Most of our bed linen, from cotton to polycotton, can be machine washed. With a wide range of quality detergents and washing powders now available we recommend washing your bed linen on a lower 30-degree temperature. Your bedding should wash just as well and will benefit from the extra care.
When picking your detergent, always opt for a non-biological one with no bleaching agents which could cause colour fading as well as damage to the actual fabric. Separate lights and darks and take care with white bed linen to keep the colouring fresh and bright. For coloured bed linen, look for a colour safe and non-harmful washing detergent.
Ensure your bed linen is completely dry before storing it away. A clean and dust free space is ideal, with no direct sunlight that could bleach or damage the fabric. Whether you choose a linen cupboard or storage under your bed, keep the space clean and free from dust. Airing cupboards, in particular, can become dusty; we recommend lining the shelves and storing clean bedding in a spare pillowcase to stop your bed linen being marked or damaged.
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