With the potential to provide eight hours of daily rejuvenation, a bed dressed with premium sheets is much more of a necessity than an indulgence. But that doesn’t mean one style of sheets suits all sleepers. Some of us are lulled by cocoon-like warmth. Others slip into sweet slumber beneath a light-as-air layer of softness. While there’s no shortage of options in fine sheeting, it’s important to find just the right fiber, weave and weight that will bring your dream to life.
The quality of the fiber used to create a sheet has a direct impact on the performance and feel. Long, lithe fibers generally are a mark of premium sheeting because they can be spun into smoother, stronger, finer yarn, which yields superior softness and resilience.
- An extra-long fiber, or staple, makes Egyptian cotton the gold standard in premium sheeting. Grown only in a small region of the Nile River valley, it’s coveted for its sumptuous hand and drape.
- Silk fibers also yield long, fibrous strands, and have the ability to naturally wick moisture away from the skin, helping maintain a comfortable body temperature season after season.
- High-grade fibers from the flax plant, used to make premium linen sheets are naturally long and smooth, but thicker and stronger than cotton fibers. This is why vintage linen is often a lasting heirloom. While linen sheets may not initially feel as supple as cotton, they will continue to soften over time. The natural fiber also readily absorbs and releases moisture, making it cooler than cotton and ultra-breathable.
The Weave & Weight
While a sheet’s thread count – the number of threads per square inch – is often mentioned as a marker of quality, the weave and weight, along with the fiber, play a larger role in determining how a sheet “feels.”
- The finest charmeuse silk sheets are created through a satin weaving technique. The smooth threads “float” on the face of the fabric, highlighting their sheen and giving the sheet a light feel.
- Made with fine, long-staple cotton fibers, sheeting with a sateen weave is produced through the same technique. It has a smooth, lustrous finish that drapes beautifully.
- A percale weave, however, has the crispness of a white dress shirt. Often applied to cotton fibers, it creates a tightly woven and remarkably resilient fabric that resists pilling and retains a smooth, like-new appearance, even through heavy laundering.
Special finishing processes can enhance the experience of premium sheeting.
- An enzyme wash can bring superior softness and sheen to sheeting, by relaxing the yarn.
- And if you prefer the smoothness of hotel sheeting, without daily washing and ironing, look for fabrics with wrinkle-resistant finishes.