Shopping for Bedding

“Nocturn” is the name of the style, “Tangerine” the color of the sumptuous 600 thread count sheet set pictured below.  From very elite, quality manufacturer, Mantouk, you can expect to see the luminous sheen of the sateen made of Egyptian cotton, woven in Italy and finished with a self-colored, 1-inch border.  It exudes “unrivaled charm,” says the advertisement.

The Queen price for the fitted sheet is $214.  The flat sheet, surprisingly costs more, at $399.00.  So, with $176 for two standard cases, $136 for the boudoir shams and $698 for the duvet, a complete bedding set will put you back over $1,600.00!  Some are quite adamant about their bedding needs, requiring the quality and able to pay the price for Montouk, but for those of us that can’t quite find that in our budget, how do we get the best quality for our money?

Thread Count

High thread counts can mean better sheets, but it’s the thread itself that matters most. A lower thread count with a finer fiber may have a better feel and last longer.

Fiber

Cotton-polyester blend sheets are wrinkle-resistant, durable (polyester lasts longer than cotton), and relatively inexpensive (up to half the cost of all-cotton). But if you’re looking for that cool, soft feel, nothing beats 100 percent cotton. You’ll hardly ever wake up clammy on cotton sheets, since the fiber wicks moisture away from your skin. And cotton sheets are less likely to stain than polyester blends; a water-loving fiber, cotton releases dirt easily when wet.  The words “Egyptian long-staple,” “pima,” and “Supima” all denote high-quality long fibers.

Weave

The weave affects the way a sheet feels, the way it looks, its longevity, and its price. Basic plain weaves, which are woven from an equal number of vertical and horizontal yarns, are least expensive.. Percale is an upscale plain weave with a thread count of 180 or higher and is known for its longevity and crisp feel.

Sateen weaves have more vertical than horizontal yarns and results in an extremely soft fabric but also less durable than a plain weave.  Jacquards and damasks feel textured, alternating from satiny soft to coarser and nubby. They can be as durable as plain weaves, but they are considerably more expensive.

Finish

Most sheets are treated with chemicals (including chlorine, formaldehyde, and silicon) to keep them from shrinking, losing their shape, and wrinkling. Some are treated with alkalis to produce a sheen.  A handful of manufacturers offer pure-finish sheets, meaning that no chemicals were used or that all traces of chemicals used during manufacturing have been removed. You’ll have a harder time keeping these sheets wrinkle-free, but it may be worth it if you suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities.

Dye

Patterns and colors are usually applied to sheets after they’re woven, which means the sheets may feel stiff until you’ve washed them a few times. The softest (and most expensive) colored or patterned sheets, including jacquard weaves, are made of yarn-dyed fabrics, woven from colored yarns.

Yellow

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