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Bed linen buying guide

linen buying guide , cotton , linen , pillowcase types , Thread count

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.

The fabric you choose will depend upon your personal preference and your budget. Here are our favourites:

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. At White Spring we use the one of the world’s best long staple cotton. All our products are 100% cotton.

Linen is a completely different fabric to cotton. Also a natural fibre, it is derived from the flax plant and has been in use for thousands of years. Linen is favoured 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.The texture of linen will soften over time, too. The more you wash linen sheets the better they 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.

Thread count simply refers to the number of threads within a certain portion of fabric –ie a square inch. 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 yarn used.
Sheets made of beautiful long-staple cotton fibre with a 300 thread count will feel much smoother and softer than 1200 thread count sheets made with coarser, short-staple cotton.”


Confused by the terminology? Here’s your need-to-know guide:

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 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. Think 5 star hotel.

Standard pillowcase:
A standard pillowcase measures 50 x 75cm and fits snugly around a standard pillow. The house wife pillow case is by far the most common type of pillow cover, found in most homes today. It is no fuss and simple, covering the whole pillow and generally having a tucked flap to make sure everything stays neat and contained. These tend to be the most cost effective as there is no wastage of materials during manufacture. A contemporary or minimalist décor would favour a housewife style of pillowcase as it visually provides straight lines without any frills or flounces.

Tailored/Oxford pillowcase:
A tailored or Oxford pillowcase features an extra fabric border or flange which extends beyond the size of the standard pillow. The Oxford pillow case can be rather more expensive that the traditional housewife as it uses more material to manufacture and tends to be more dressy and stylish. Although a pillow covered with an Oxford pillowcase looks larger the actual pillow used size is the same as one covered with a housewife style pillowcase. Oxford pillow slips are more flamboyant and elegant, giving your bed a polished, designer look.