We've come a long way from sleeping on cave floors. Nowadays, the world of bed sheets can seem overwhelming and impossibly vast. What this does mean, however, is people who want to take their sleep seriously, or just want really awesome sheets, have a plethora of amazing choices. Thankfully, we at Macoda have done the hard work for you, tackling the key differences, questions and queries the modern sheet shopping world offers with one definitive guide.
With a growing number of available fabrics and materials, picking the right one isn't as simple as it once was. That aside, new additions and advancements comes with amazing new choices and advantages. In an ever changing world, this also represents progress towards a more environmentally conscious buying experience, and good quality items being available to more people than ever before. Here's what you need to know about some of the most popular fabrics around right now.
Bamboo bed sheets are relatively new on the material scene. They've come in quick and asserted themselves as one of the top picks for a number of reasons, including being one of the more environmentally conscious fabrics on the market. Sheets like our 100% Bamboo Bed Sheets are renowned for a being naturally soft and silky, with great breathability and moisture wicking properties. Bamboo fabric with a sateen weave can feel almost identical to sheets with 3-4x the thread count, allowing for them to be much lighter and cooler. A versatile sheet, bamboo is a great choice for all seasons.
- Silky soft
- Natural sheen
- More expensive than generic cotton
Classic cotton is generally the most common material you'll find in bed sheets, and for good reason. Cotton fabric is relatively soft, easy to care for, and super affordable. If you're after a more matte look, cotton is also a good option. There's a few varieties of cotton available as well as different weaves, so generally you get what you pay for. While a sound option, cotton fabric is more likely to roughen over time and won't provide a silky softness if that's what you're after.
- Cosy in every season
- Easy to look after
- More likely to become rough over time
- Requires lots of water to produce
- Quality is determined by price
You can't talk sheets without bringing up Egyptian cotton. Unsurprisingly, it's from Egypt where cotton grows exceptionally well in the warm, dry climate. It's is hand-picked, meaning the fibres aren't stressed during the manufacturing process, resulting in a longer, softer fibre. All in all, Egyptian cotton is a luxury option, with renowned softness and the price tag to match.
- Super soft
- Fake 'Egyptian cotton' is common
These days linen is often perceived as an overarching term for 'bed stuff and towels', but traditional linen is actually fabric made from woven flax. This classic material is a staple of the bedroom, known for it's strength and inviting matte look, as well as being super cosy. Linen is more textured and stiff than fabrics like bamboo or silk, but it does tend to soften over time. It is known for having a tenancy to wrinkle.
- Cosy material
- Wrinkles easily
- Tends to feel stiff
Polyester is essentially an entirely man-made material that is quite common in sheets, but more common in raincoats. It is very strong and inexpensive, but not ideal to sleep on. For that reason, it's often blended with cotton or another fabric to become softer and more wrinkle resistant.
- Doesn't wrinkle
- Not very comfortable
- Less breathable than other fabrics
- Retains heat
- Doesn't absorb moisutre
Who doesn't love some silk sheets. Soft and slippery, they epitomise luxury in the bedroom. Unfortunately, that comes with a hefty price tag and some serious care instructions. Satin or sateen bamboo sheets are a great alternative if you're looking at saving a buck.
- Soft and luxurious
- Beautiful sheen
- Require delicate care
Tencel is a brand of fabric made from wood pulp, generally of the eucalyptus tree. It's a great natural fabric that involves a pretty laborious machining process, but delivers a soft, breathable sheet. Tencel is more similar to cotton, but is often seen as softer and stronger, although much more expensive.
- Soft fabric
- Strong and durable
- Natural fibres
- More expensive than generic cotton
- Not hypoallergenic
Does thread count matter? Thread count (TC) is essentially just how many threads are present in one square inch of material. For that reason, it stands to logic that more = better, right? Not really. As a general rule, anything above 200 TC is good quality. Tests have found that anything from 300-500 is ideal. Above that, and your benefit rarely outweighs the cost. That's not to say sheets with 1000 TC aren't good quality, but TC is simply not as good of an indicator of feel, quality, durability etc as the type of fabric, length of the fibres, and weave/construction. For distance, a thicker fibre like linen will generally have a lower TC than a polyester blend, purely because the fibres are thicker. Henceforth, the polyester blend will have a significantly higher TC but this wont reflect in the quality. The popularity of TC has encouraged techniques to manipulate it without actually impacting the quality of the sheet.
In summary; don't rely on thread count as your buying guide. Instead, go off the material and construction first, then just go for a sensible TC that suits your budget.
Because choosing from a million different materials isn't hard enough. Different fabric weaves are a major factor in sheet behaviour, having a direct impact on how they feel, their durability, look, breathability - basically everything.
Typically, you'll be choosing between one of three weaves:
Here the threads are woven in a “one over, one under” process to create the weave. This is your standard, classic weave and as simple as it gets. Percale gives you more of a starched feel, and If you like your sheets a bit crisp against your skin, then this is the weave you'll want.
Yes, there's a reason 'sateen' sounds like 'satin'. They're not the same, but sateen is a clever weave structure that helps to replecate the softness and luxurious feel of satin sheets. The weave itself operates with "four over, one under, four over, one under in an alternating pattern." This weave, found in our bamboo sheets, will provide a softer, shinier look as there are more threads on the surface of the material.
When weaving twill, "the weft thread (the horizontal thread) is woven over one or more warp threads (the vertical thread held taught on a loom) and then under one or more warp threads." More importantly, each row is offset from the one above, which creates the diagonal pattern synonymous with a twill weave. Most often, twill weaves are found in hard-wearing goods, such as denim, work clothes and upholstery. While twill sheets are less common and may feel slightly rougher than a sateen weave, they're still a versatile option that will provide great durability and allow for higher thread counts to be achieved.