Bed Linen explained
There are a few special terms that we use when talking about our sheets and other bed linens that you might not have come across before. To make sure you’re a full bottle on bedding before you make a purchase here’s a quick overview of bed linen terminology.
Threadcount (TC) refers to the number of threads woven in a square cm. Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets are, however it is just as important to look at the actual quality and thickness (GSM) of the threads used.
GSM stands for grams per square metre. Generally the higher the GSM, the thicker and heavier the threads are, which means a warmer, more durable fabric.
A fitted sheet is the bottom sheet on a bed that covers the mattress and has elastic to keep it in place (this is the sheet that everybody hates to fold).
A pillow sham is basically a decorative pillow case, often with a fabric flange around all four sides of the pillow, with the opening often in the middle of the back instead of on the side like a pillowcase. Most people would have pillow shams on their bed for decoration, with their sleeping pillow with a normal pillowcase underneath.
A valance is the skirt that sits underneath your mattress and hangs over the sides of the bed to hide your mattress base, or in some cases, your under the bed mess. They come in a variety of styles, from flowing skirts to box pleats to fitted quilted versions for the hotel look.
Bed Linen materials
These days there’s a huge range of different materials used to make bedding, with different qualities and benefits. Here’s a list of the most common kinds of bed linen materials.
Cotton is a natural fibre and feels cool to touch with good breathability for comfort all year round. 100% cotton is also hypoallergenic for people with allergies and is easy to wash and iron.
Polyester/Cotton blend bedding is a great affordable option for busy people since they only need low maintenance. It’s fast drying and because of the polyester in the blend, doesn’t crease so you don’t need to iron!
A special type of cotton originally from the Nile Delta region, Egyptian Cotton is popular for its strength and super silky softness. Egyptian Cotton is considered the highest quality of cotton available and in bedding also usually comes in a high thread count so if you’re looking for a bit of luxury this might be what you’re looking for.
Another special type of cotton similar to Egyptian cotton, with similar qualities of durability and softness. Most people agree that if Egyptian Cotton is number 1 in the cotton world, Pima Cotton is a close second.
Bamboo fabric is a fairly new addition to the bed linen market and has a lot of great features and benefits! Bamboo is a sustainable and eco friendly product for people conscious about the environment. Bamboo is also a great heat regulator compared to standard cotton and cotton blend sheets so bamboo bedding is a great all year round option, especially for hot sleepers who have trouble regulating their body temperature. Bamboo is also hypoallergenic and mould resistant for those with allergies.
Flannel fabric is usually made from cotton or a cotton/polyester blend. The fabric is usually ‘brushed’, either on one side or both, to give it that nice warm fuzzy texture that flannel sheets are known for. Flannel sheets are great for winter or cold sleepers. Flannel sheets are usually measured in terms of GSM – the bigger the GSM, the warmer and heavier the flannel is.
Satin is a synthetic fabric which has a super glossy finish and silky touch.
Damask fabrics are fabrics where the pattern is created by the actual weave. Examples of damask fabrics are those with a self stripe or more ornate patterns you will often find on comforters and quilt covers.
Percale describes a kind of weave of fabric, rather than a material, so percale sheets could be 100% cotton, a polyester/cotton blend, or any other kind of blend. Percale weave has a thread count of at least 200, making it a tighter style of weave made from combed threads. Percale weave fabrics are usually a medium weight, smooth with no gloss and wash well. When looked after properly percale bedding is a super durable option.
Sateen is another kind of weave of fabric. It describes material that is woven the same way as a traditional satin fabric but replaces the silk with other materials such as cotton or a polyester blend. Sateen weave gives the fabric a silky sheen and a softer feel.