Bed Linen Buying Guide
The look of a beautiful bed may be a matter of personal taste, but the sensation of comfortable bed linen is a far more precise affair. If you find talk of thread counts and fabrics baffling, read on to find out how they can make a difference to your sleeping hours.
Your bed linen's thread count makes a difference to the smoothness, quality and feel. When we use the term thread count, we're referring to the amount of threads which run horizontally (these are called 'weft' threads) and those that run vertically (the 'warp' threads), within a 1 inch square of the fabric. If a fabric has a 200 thread count, it means there are 200 threads per square inch of the fabric. Bed linen thread counts can range from 144 to 1000, with the higher thread count representing an increase in quality; smoothness and handle.
Thread count isn't everything though; a good fabric finish goes a long way to contribute to bed linen happiness.
Higher thread counts are sometimes achieved by twisting two or more threads together. This will mean there will be less warps and wefts, however if you count the amount of threads there will be the amount you are expecting and sometimes more.
Durable and easy to launder, with a natural breathability and cool feeling. Cotton is a natural product which can be either carded or combed to make the fabric smooth.
An extra-long staple fibre that creates a soft, smooth handle with superior strength and durability when spun into a yarn. A lot of these yarns originate from the Nile delta in Egypt.
Similar characteristics to Egyptian cotton with an extra-long staple fibre that creates a fine, smooth handle with a luxurious feel. Originates mainly from the USA and Australia.
Made from a blend of durable polyester and soft cotton, this option is comfortable as well as easy to care for.
Printed bedding is usually printed onto a 50% Cotton 50% Polyester base. Plain dye bedding is generally 50% Cotton 50% Polyester. We do also offer cotton rich Polyester, such as 60% Cotton 40% Polyester.
This is made from 100% Polyester which is durable, comfortable and easy to care for, with fast drying properties.
Weaves & finishes
Percale bed linen is characterised as a type of plain weave, using an alternative one under one over weaving method the end fabric has a noticeably tight, closely woven and smooth appearance. The yarn is either carded or combed to remove the short staple fibres to produce a fine smooth thread, which in turn produces a smooth crisp fabric.
Distinct from satin, but using a sateen weave structure. Sateen uses something called a 'weft face' weave where the face of the bed linen is created from a much higher ratio of vertical warp yarns to horizontal weft yarns, for example, 4 or more vertical yarns woven over 1 horizontal. This creates a highly silky effect on the outer of the fabric with a dull reverse.
Satin bed linen uses filament fibres such as silk, nylon or polyester to create a glossy surface. Using a weaving style similar to sateen fabric, satin bedding which uses 4 or more vertical yarns over 1 horizontal yarn, or vice versa.
Jacquards are created using a weaving loom. Jacquards can be multi-coloured or single-coloured designs; it is the pattern into which the jacquard is woven that is the focal point.
Highly textured in appearance, waffle bed linen has a distinctive grid design with recessed squares.
Twill pattern fabric is easily identified by its diagonal design, created by passing vertical weft threads over 1 or more horizontal warp threads, then under 2 or more warp threads and so on, with a 'step' or offset between rows. Highly supple, twill bed linen is known for its great drape, which is a characteristic borne out of the weaving method.
Seersucker bed linen has added texture, namely a puckered or wrinkled appearance. To create the crinkle effect, the material undergoes a chemical process or is woven by holding different warp threads in varied tensions.
Piping is a decorative finish on the edges of a piece of bed linen, pillowcase or cushion. It uses a fold of fabric sewn into a 'pipe' to add definition to a design, either in the same type of fabric or a different colour to create a contrast edge.
A term used to describe decorative detailing, which has been applied to the bedding design. This can be either, embroidery, beading, sequins and/or appliqué.
Printing allows much more detail and design to be added to bedding. A printing machine can use a screen to layer one or more colours onto the fabric. Another method is to use a roller or cylinder to print the design onto the fabric. Digital printing is a more modern method which uses a large inkjet printer to create even more detailed intricate designs.
Brushed cotton or flannelette bedding, is brushed with a finishing process where brushes are used to 'nap' the weft yarns. The fibres are raised and teased to create a very soft, downy 'velvety feel' surface.
This effect can be achieved by passing the fabric through rotating rollers, which have fine wires on them. The surface of the fibres is opened to give a brushed effect.
Jersey bedding is knitted on a fine gauge knitting machine, producing a lightweight stretchy fabric which has a warm hand feel.
Digital textile printing uses a large-scale digital printer to apply imagery to fabric. This technology provides more opportunities to vary the scale of prints and the range of colours, while also providing better definition and detail within the images.
Reactive dyes are normally used in digital textile printing. These dyes produce vibrant shades and display great colour-fastness after processing. Reactive dye takes better to certain natural fibres, so if a product talks about being digitally printed, it's likely to be made of 100% cotton.
Bed linen pieces
A flat sheet, as the name suggests, is a flat piece of fabric that can be used as a base sheet to cover your mattress, and also as a top sheet that lies between you and a duvet or blanket. A flat sheet can be tucked in to create very neat tailored corners when making your bed.
Fitted sheets have elasticated corners to fit over the mattress and hold the sheet in place. Fitted sheets are available in 4 depths, allowing plenty of room to accommodate both your mattress and topper.
If the base of your bed does not match your bedding or bedroom decor, a valance is the perfect way to discreetly cover it and achieve a complementary look. They fit snugly over the base of your bed, topped by your mattress which will hold it in place.
This is similar to a valance except the divan sheet is placed on top of the mattress to cover both the mattress and the base of the bed.
Available with button, popper or zip fastenings (dependent on range), duvet covers fit over your chosen duvet and can feature a very wide range of colours, patterns and embellishments. Duvet covers can be purchased individually to build your own bedding look, or as part of a matching duvet cover set.
Housewife & Oxford Pillowcases
Housewife and Oxford pillowcases are the most common types, the Housewife being a no-fuss rectangular shape, while the Oxford pillowcase has a border around the edge to give a different look. The cavity in which your pillow fits is exactly the same for both types, but the oxford will appear larger due to its decorative edging. A similar pillowcase to the housewife is a cuffed pillowcase, which simply has a decorative vertical 'cuff' added to one side of the pillowcase.
A continental pillowcase is simply a square shape of 65 x 65cm, and can either be plain or with an oxford style trim.
Pillow shams are purely decorative often matching your other bedding exactly, used to cover your pillows and pillowcases when not in use.
V-shaped pillowcases are made for our v-shaped pillow which are adaptable and can be used in different ways or can be used for added support and comfort when sitting upright.
Bolster pillows are often long and narrow with a thick filling; layering with your everyday pillows to add height and support, but can come in smaller decorative styles.
Frilled pillowcases are similar to oxford pillowcases, with a more decorative border of fabric around the edge.
We recommend that all bedding linen should be washed before use, always follow the care instructions included. Keep light and dark coloured washes separate to avoid dulling. To help keep your whites brilliant white use a 'white' washing powder with optical brightening agents. For any other colour bedding, use special colour powder that doesn't contain optical brightening agents.
Care instructions can differ slightly so please check the specific product care label. Ensure all bedding is fully dried and aired before storing. Most bed linen is fine to tumble dry and ironed. We do recommend using a low setting for tumbling and ironing. Care needs to be taken when ironing products with fastenings, embellished and trim details.