I blame my daughter. It’s because of her that I’ve become a sheet snob — which is actually good news for my guests, the ones who come stay at The Book Nook Inn, because I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time finding sheets for my guest rooms that pass the sheet-snob test. (It’s a simple test, really, would I sleep on these sheets?)
Prior to visiting my daughter and sleeping between the sheets she provided, I hadn’t thought much about sheets. They were on the bed in the evening, and by morning the top sheet was either a) tangled around my legs, b) pulled over my head, or c) limply wadded up at the foot of the bed. Luckily the bottom fitted sheet did not share the same fate. However, my daughter, who became a sheet snob at some point after she left my home at age eighteen, proved the wisdom of splurging for the pricier sheets. They are so much better. Sliding between the body-buttery softness of an Egyptian-Pima cotton blend sateen, 400 plus thread count sheet cannot be understated. It is sheer bliss. It is even better than feeling the smooth crispness of percale, cotton sheets under your cheek on a sticky summer night, or the warmth of flannel coziness on a cold winter night.
One of my regrets in life is that I didn’t discover the joy of well-chosen sheets before Kelly died.He would have like that I think (but I may be wrong, he once left the same sheets on his bed in college for over a month!), but I think he could have become a fan.
Yesterday, I made my bed with clean sheets. It is always such a pleasure to slip between a freshly made bed after a long day, and last night was no exception. Usually, after I fall asleep I am not aware of much, sheets included, but last night, I was unconsciously, conscious of the softness of the sheets caressing my body, I dreamed — delicious happy dreams of Kelly and me, in our younger years happy together, doing everyday things like going for a walk, watching TV, companionably reading books, mine a novel of course, and his some kind of nonfiction treatise.
It was so wonderful I didn’t want to wake up. I wanted to stay wrapped up in the amazing softness, dreaming of Kelly — but nature called, a three-alarm call warning that if I didn’t get up RIGHT NOW, I would be sorry. So, as I stumbled to the bathroom, the substance of my sweet dreams of Kelly fleeing, but the warm fuzzy feelings of being close to him persisting through my morning ablutions buoyed me up on a Monday morning until eventually, they faded away as I was forced to focus on the morning traffic. Which is why one of today’s blogs for work was about how to choose sheets. I thought since my experience was the catalyst for writing about it today, I would share some of what my research garnered, in case you too wish to become a sheet snob.
Sheets come in a variety of fabrics including rayon/bamboo, silk, jersey, and various types of cotton or cotton blends, and figuring out the similarities and differences between them can be confusing. This luxury linen glossary will provide definitions which can help you figure out what exactly you want in terms of linen when you’re ready to go shopping. But first, some basic knowledge will come in handy.
Microfiber or a Microfiber/Polyester Blend
A wrinkle free, modern synthetic type of fabric, microfiber offers long wear with exceptional softness. However, because of the polyester component, they do not breathe as well as cotton.
Silk is very soft, and also very slippery! It is definitely luxurious, but be careful not to slip right out of bed onto the floor. For more detailed information about silk sheets, read this guide.
All textile materials labeled as bamboo are actually rayon. Rayon is a specific type of fiber that is very thin and long. This type of sheet is described as like silk, but with greater breathability.
Cotton comes in a several different types or grades. Regular cotton is the basic grade, and can be a bit coarse for sheets, but it wears well and is less expensive than the other grades. Pima Cotton, which is a product of Peru and is noted for its long, durable fibers, creates strong, soft sheets. Egyptian Cotton combines the longest, strongest fibers in the world for a premium fabric that is soft but durable.
Think t-shirt here. Jersey sheets are knitted rather than woven. Sleeping in them is kind of like sleeping in an old, soft t-shirt.
Now you have an idea about what type of fabric may be best, we’ll take a look at the elements and construction of sheets, and how to choose good quality. But be careful, once you become a sheet snob, and experience the bliss of soft, comfy sheets you can never go back to a coarser version!
Thread counts have long been heralded as the yardstick for choosing the best sheets. “Thread count” refers to the number of threads in a one inch square of fabric. Look for a thread count of at least 300, combined with a quality finish, for good value for your money. A higher thread count doesn’t necessarily mean better sheets, but it is one indicator that determines the quality of the sheets.
You may not find the weave information in detail on sheet packaging, but simply understanding the terminology can help in deciding what type of sheets to purchase.
Sateen vs. Percale vs. Combed Cotton
Sateen, a cotton cloth made with a “satin weave,” creates a soft, almost buttery feel, but also tends to be less durable than a tighter weave.
Percale is a crisp, plain weave, typically used for cotton sheets with a thread count of at least 180. This is the most common sort of weave when looking at value for price.
Combed Cotton is created by combing the cotton to remove short fibers and leave the long ones. This process results in a strong but very soft fabric, which is arguably the best of both worlds.
Whew! Who knew there was so much to know about sheets. So what kind of sheets are the best? Personal preference dictates the answer, but knowledge helps. Jim Symmes, vice president at Revman International, which manufactures sheets for prominent brands nationwide, says his ideal sheet is “a combed cotton sheet in the 300 to 400 thread count range.” Personally, I have found that I prefer either an Egyptian or Pima cotton sateen blend, and pillows with feathers of course and a down comforter on top. May you find sheets that suit you!