Yes and no. Thread count is often used as the barometer of a sheet’s smoothness and durability. However, this measurement simply refers to the number of threads within a certain portion of fabric – sometimes a square inch, and sometimes 10 square centimeters. It has traditionally been used as an indicator of quality but experts agree that it’s no longer a reliable measure. More important is the quality of the fabric used.
If you do not use a top sheet when sleeping, then the thread count of a quilt cover (duvet cover) will be important as it is in contact with your skin. Generally, 230TC 100% cotton up, are comfortable to sleep with.
If you use a top sheet, then the thread count is not that important and the purchase is based on design.
Top-of-the-line is 100 percent Egyptian cotton. Second best is 100 percent pima cotton, also known by the trademarked name Supima. If a label says simply, “100 percent cotton,” assume that it’s American upland cotton, a rougher, less expensive variety. Egyptian cotton’s long fibers produce sheets that are thin and sumptuous yet extremely strong and long-lasting. (The shorter fibers of upland cotton, by contrast, can poke out of the weave, leading to a coarser, weaker fabric.) Pima cotton is also soft and less likely to pill than upland cotton.
Neither. It’s a matter of taste. Percale is a plain, matte weave that has a crisp, cool feel, so it may be sensible for people who tend to get overheated when they sleep. Sateen is slightly heavier and very soft, with a lustrous, smooth finish that’s almost satiny—hence the name.
A cotton-polyester blend, often marketed as “easy care,” is a smart choice, since it withstands frequent washings well. A little poly is all you need—a 50/50 blend is durable, looks crisp right out of the dryer, and is still soft and cozy. But don’t go above 50 percent synthetic: The sheets won’t feel great and could make the sleeper sweat.
Beautiful bed linen is one of life’s little luxuries, but it’s easy to get confused about thread count, fabric and some of the tricky terminology. Below is our handy guide to help you navigate your way to a good night’s sleep.
The fabric you choose will depend upon your personal preference and your budget. Here are a few of these:
An extremely popular choice, cotton is breathable, soft, durable and easy to maintain. Grown around the world, most cotton is short-staple cotton – the staple refers to the downy fiber when it’s picked from the plant. The feel of cotton sheets depends on the quality of the cotton and the method of manufacture. Organic cotton refers to cotton grown and harvested without the use of pesticides.
Grown in the Nile River valley, Egyptian cotton is renowned as the height of cotton luxury. It’s long and extra-long staple results in a particularly soft, strong and supple weave and also means it produces less lint and is less likely to pill.
Similar to Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton is an extra-long staple cotton grown in the US, Australia and Peru. It is equally soft, strong and durable and has a luxuriously soft and smooth feel. Products that carry the “Supima” name are made from 100% American Pima.
This refers to a blend of cotton and either polyester (also known as poly-cotton) or rayon. Cotton blend sheets are affordable and easy-care (they dry quickly, and don’t wrinkle) but may also be less breathable than natural fibers such as cotton.
Linen is a completely different fabric to cotton. Also a natural fiber, it is derived from the flax plant and has been in use for thousands of years. Linen is favored for its unique thermal properties – it will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter – and is also naturally hypo-allergenic. Linen represents “that effortless luxury that we all aspire to have”, according to Paul Gould, Group General Manager, Sheridan. The texture of linen will soften over time, too. “The more you wash linen sheets the better they feel”, Gould says. Wash in warm to hot water and add a tablespoon of vinegar occasionally to maintain a soft feel. If you’re a stickler for crease-free linen you’ll need to iron your linen or have it laundered, or you can embrace the casual, relaxed feel of gently creased linen.
Bamboo sheets are renowned for their soft, silky feel and eco-credentials. They are made from bamboo grass which is a sustainable crop and often grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Lightweight and gentle on the skin, bamboo is also durable and resilient. A cold gentle machine wash is recommended to maintain the fabric’s resilience and to avoid pilling.
Silk is a natural product that has has been used in textiles dating as far back as 600 BC. Made with the fibers produced by silk caterpillars, it is luxurious as well as breathable and a good thermal regulator. It tends to be at the higher end of the scale cost-wise.
Crisp or soft? If you like your sheets with a little snap, choose percale, which is a plainer weave than the more supple sateen. Neither is inherently better; it’s a matter of personal preference.
Jersey sheets — which you probably think of as T-shirt sheets — are made with a flat knit that keeps them soft but also means they can be prone to slipping and sliding on the bed. If you live somewhere that gets extremely cold, consider nubby cotton flannel sheets, unsurpassed for keeping you toasty.
Sizing tends to vary a little between manufacturers, but here are the standard measurements to get you started.
If in doubt, measure your mattress and don’t forget to check the height (or ‘wall’) measurement to ensure your fitted sheet will actually fit.
|Fitted Sheet||Flat Sheet|
|Single||91 x 193 x 40 cm||180 x 260 cm|
|King Single||107 x 203 x 40 cm||180 x 274 cm|
|Double||137 x 193 x 40 cm||230 x 260 cm|
|Queen||152 x 203 x 40 cm||245 x 260 cm|
|King||180 x 203 x 40 cm||260 x 275 cm|
|Single||140 x 210 cm|
|Double||180 x 210 cm|
|Queen||210 x 210 cm|
|King||245 x 210 cm|
Always wash newly purchased sheets before use and wash separately, especially dark colours ongoing. Wash sheets in water that is 45 degrees or higher this will ensure that your sheets do not have an odour after sleeping with them for 2 or three nights.
Sheet sizes are important as most sheets will shrink by 5-8% after 3 washes. Many importers make the sheet size the basic minimum to keep the price as low as possible but what tends to occur after washing is that there is not enough tuck in the flat sheet and the fitted sheet will no longer pull down over the depth of the mattress. Compare sizes before making a purchase like you would when purchasing clothing.
One of the main reasons why your bed is hard to make is that your sheets were only made to fit the bed before they are washed, this particularly applies to the flat sheet. Most fabric in sheets whether they be 100% cotton, Polyester/Cotton or Bamboo shrink 5% to 8%, so if your sheet when new just fits the bed, chances are after 3 washes it will no longer.
Most sheet sets when you buy a queen bed size will measure:
Flat sheet 240/245 X 260/265cm
Fitted Sheet 152X203X40cm
The fitted sheet is a suitable size but it will fit mattresses with wall depth up to 38cm when shrinkage applies.
Remember your fitted sheet must fit the mattress with the Mattress protector, Electric Blanket and Woollen overlay all added on top of the mattress.
The flat sheet will leave you with little to no sheet to tuck under the mattress after shrinkage.
Pilling is when the fibre ends in the material fray and break through constant wear/rubbing. Pilling generally happens on products that are made with short staples (lengths) of Cotton, Polyester, Bamboo Fibre and any other fibre when the product is woven, these short ends stick up and when rubbed against the body they either fur up or in the case of Polyester they ball and form a little scratchy lumps on the sheet that can irritate or annoy the user.
Good importers test the product they are buying, by instructing the Supplier to perform a Martindale test (1000 rubs directly onto the fabric in the one place).
The appearance of the fabric after this test will decide its rating from 1to5, 5 being the best result. Rating of 3 or higher is considered a pass. Generally the person in store would not be aware of this process and would not know ratings on the products they are selling.
Sheets made from 100 percent cotton allow the most breathability (air circulation) and are therefore thought to be the most comfortable in a variety of temperatures. Jersey knit, flannel and percale (woven) sheets may all be made from 100 percent cotton. Pima and Egyptian cotton may be more comfortable than other types due to being a higher quality. Satin sheets tend to feel cooler to the touch than other sheets, as well as smooth, so they may be good for warm weather. However, their lack of air circulation may lead to sweating.
Confused by the terminology? Here’s your need-to-know guide:
Coverlet: A coverlet is a lightweight bedspread which may be woven or quilted. It does not need to be put inside a quilt cover and is largely decorative.
European pillowcase: A European pillowcase is larger and square, measuring 65 x 65cm
Jacquard: Jacquard fabric is woven on a special loom which results in a multi-dimensional pattern – the design is woven into the fabric and sometimes include a contrast between sateen and matte threads for decorative effect.
King pillow/pillowcase: A king pillow measures around 48 x 87cm, around 12cm wider than a standard pillow. Two king pillows should sit on a king sized bed with no gap between them.
Percale: Percale refers to the way bed linen is made. Percale fabric is made by weaving one thread over and one thread under. Which results in a breathable weave. Different finishes can be applied to percale fabric so it may feel either crisp or soft. Generally percale fabric has a thread count of at least 180-200.
Sateen: Sateen refers to the way bed linen is made. Sateen fabric is made by weaving four threads over and one thread under which makes it more tightly woven than percale. With lots of yarns on the surface of the fabric, it feels smooth and silky and is often slightly heavier and more lustrous than percale.
Standard pillowcase: A standard pillowcase measures 50 x 75cm and fits snugly around a standard pillow.
Super king: Not yet standard in Australia, super king beds measure around 204 x 204cm, making them about 20cm wider than a standard king size.
Tailored/Oxford pillowcase: A tailored or Oxford pillowcase features an extra fabric border or flange which extends beyond the size of the standard pillow.
Quilt covers: A quilt cover (also known as a duvet cover or doona cover) is designed to encase your quilt. It may close with buttons, ties or a zipper.
Warp and weft: The warp is the yarn running lengthwise and the weft is the yarn that is woven across it as part of the manufacturing process.