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What you need to know about thread count

One selling point of sheets that is easily quantifiable is the thread count. It would seem to the consumer that the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets. Unfortunately, manufacturers of sheets take advantage of this assumption and often inflate the thread counts of sheets. According to TLC Home, in 2008, Bed Bath and Beyond was sued for misrepresenting thread count to consumers.

What is thread count?

Thread count is simply the number of threads it takes, both vertically and horizontally, to weave a square inch of fabric. The likely conclusion is that higher the thread count, the softer  and more comfortable the fabric. However, if two or more threads are plied together to make a single strand, each ply can count as a thread. This inflates the thread count without creating a softer, more quality fabric, according to Home-Ec 101.  Both TLC Home and Home-Ec 101 suggest that 180 is a soft thread count, 200-400 is softer and higher quality, and numbers like 1,000 are likely a higher price without any significant improvement in feel.

So when buying sheets, what does create a higher value?

1)  Organic cotton creates a higher price tag because it is much more difficult to grow than conventional cotton. Because organic cotton is grown without the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides, it is a healthy choice for bedding.

2)  The type of thread and weave also creates higher value. According to Consumer Reports, Egyptian cotton and pima cotton have longer threads and will not pill as easily.

3)  Cotton is a softer fabric, while a blended fabric of cotton and polyester tends to have a more crisp feel.

4)  It is also important to make sure the sheets fit your bed. Consumer Reports  indicates that many sheets they tested did not fit the advertised size of bed. It is necessary to measure your bed before you purchase sheets in order to be sure they will fit. You may have to order custom made sheets, but sheets that fit your bed are worth the cost.

5) And, of course, higher thread counts, to a point, do create more value.

It is a good idea to be an informed consumer to get the best sheet at the best value. Don’t be fooled by inflated thread counts, or even feel of the sheet in the store, as it is likely to change as you wash your sheets. Know what kind of weave, and types of cotton or other materials best fit your needs.

 

Photo “Bundles of cotton thread” Courtesy of Nic McPhee

How To Avoid Being Short Sheeted

Make sure you are getting the quality you expect.

Make sure you are getting the quality you expect.

Short sheeting is a prank that siblings and college roommates play on one another. The sheets are tucked into the bed so that the person going to sleep can’t get in the bed.  While short sheeting in dorm rooms is a funny prank, being short-sheeted in the marketplace is not fun. If you are not careful, you can be short sheeted, by getting a lower quality product than you expected, when buying sheets.

It can be hard to find good, quality sheets at a low price. Don’t be fooled by labeling. Crafty wording can make you feel like you are getting a great deal on a quality product. Be sure to look at all of the fine print before you make a purchase.

Tricky Phrases

Often sellers will use catch phrases such “Egyptian quality” in their descriptors or labels. This makes the buyer assume the sheets are made of Egyptian cotton, when really the sheets are not cotton at all. They may be made of polyester or some other fiber.

Sellers can also inflate the thread count. Thread counts much higher than 500 do not necessarily mean better quality. Claims of 1000 or more can make the buyer assume they are getting a durable, ultra soft sheet. However, these claims can be based on how the fibers were counted, rather than a significantly higher number of fibers in the sheet.

Read the Fine Print

To avoid bringing home a set of sheets that is not what you expected, be sure to read all of the labels. Look at the materials so you know what the sheets are made of. Look at the care instructions as well. You don’t want to be surprised with dry clean only if you are expecting to be able to wash them at home. When you are buying online, you may want to look at reviews of the brand before purchasing. You should also find out what the return policy is in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

What You Pay For

A low price is not always the best deal. While there can be reasonable prices on sheets, cheap prices often indicate inferior quality. Buying American made, organic, or custom sizes may cost a bit more, but you will have peace of mind knowing you are getting exactly what you want.

Tips to Keep In Mind

Keep these tips in mind to avoid being short-sheeted:

  • Be wary of phrases that don’t convey accurate information about the sheets.
  • Read all of the fine print such as materials and care instructions.
  • Avoid the impulse buy and do your research to get the product you want.

What do you look for when buying sheets? Have you ever been misled by what you thought was a great deal?

Image: “New Sheets” by Tony Alter

How to Prepare Your Bed for Summertime

The sun is shining. How to Prepare Your Bed for Summertime

The green grass is starting to grow.

The days are getting longer. Summertime is coming.

It’s exciting each spring to think about the upcoming changing of the seasons.

We think about the warmth of the sun on our skin.

As the sun shines, we dream of days in the yard and trips to the beach with family and friends.

The changing of the seasons also means a change in the bedroom.

As the cold days of winter subside, it’s time to bring out the warm weather bedding.

Summer Bed Linens

Bed linens made of lightweight natural materials are best for summertime. It’s essential to find quality bed sheets for summertime because there is nothing worse than feeling hot and sticky when you crawl into your bed.

One of the keys to a good night’s sleep is to stay cool. In fact, between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended for the ideal sleeping temperature. This can be difficult to achieve in the summertime.

Cotton Bed Sheets

Cotton is a common bed linen material. Cotton is natural and breathes well. You’ll notice that most summer clothing is made of cotton or a blend of cotton and other natural fibers.

Cotton feels comfortable to the touch, which makes it comfortable for sleeping. The fibers in the cotton allow air to pass through allowing the fabric to stay dry, clean and refreshing.

This is the ideal situation for summertime sleeping.

A high thread count cotton sheet is ideal for warm weather sleeping. Sheets with 600 or more thread count are perfect for comfort and coolness.

Bamboo Bed Sheets

Another option for summertime sleeping is a set of bamboo sheets.

You might not have heard of these. They are not as common as regular cotton sheets, but they offer even more soft and smooth than the finest cotton. Bamboo sheets breathe easy and have the natural ability to wick away moisture.

For those that need a cool place to sleep in the summer, bamboo sheets could be a worthwhile investment. Consider how good it feels to wake up after a comfortable night’s sleep. There really is no price tag to put on waking up full of energy.

Summary

As the season changes to summer, it’s time to clean the house and change the bed sheets. You can put away the flannel and bring out the summer sheets.

Take off the down comforter and replace it with a more summer-friendly textile such as cotton.

And consider bamboo as an option this summer.

You’ll thank yourself when you’re sleeping sound in your cool comfortable bed during the hot August summer night.

Sunny Window courtesy of Anemone Jones

Is Egyptian Cotton Worth Extra Money?

Egyptian cotton is about quality. Is Egyptian Cotton Worth Extra Money

For decades, even centuries, people have dreamed of having the finest quality bed linens and Egyptian cotton is often a sought after bedding material.

But is all Egyptian cotton created equal?

And is it really worth paying more money for Egyptian cotton?

Here are a few tips on how to choose the best bed linen material for your bed. It might be Egyptian cotton, but make sure you’re looking at only the best of the best.

How to Purchase Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian cotton has historically been the highest grade of cotton in the world. It will rank right above Pima cotton, which has become another popular material.

There is a reason the idea of Egyptian cotton in the bedroom has brought about visions of peaceful and comfortable sleep for generations. The cotton tradition in Egypt is distinguished.

Cotton in Egypt and other areas of the world was handspun for thousands of years until the development of spinning machines in the 1700s. Throughout the 1800s, Europe was in need of quality cotton. The commercialization of the Egyptian cotton industry occurred and the branding began. It was quite the amazing feat to become a worldwide standard for quality in a product that is now a commodity.

Over the years, many merchants have begun selling cotton branded as Egyptian cotton. As with most successful ventures, there are always impersonators. It can be difficult to know you’re getting the best quality when purchasing Egyptian cotton today.

Much Egyptian cotton is imported from other countries. The branding machine of Egyptian cotton has made people believe all cotton from Egypt is the best.

While Egyptian cotton is still the best, it is important to pay attention to the common items you would with any bed sheets: thread count, durability factor and even price. The price will often be the determinant, but verify other factors including the country of origin of the cotton on the purity of the cotton in the linens. Blends care popular, but 100% cotton is often the best and softest you will find.

For quality cotton sheets you are likely looking for something with 500+ thread count with origin and manufacturing country in Egypt. Look for cottons with minimal dyeing and other machined items. This will ensure the best sleeping experience.

Your comfort is important. Egyptian cotton sheets are still the best. As long as you are aware of a few key decision points you will find that Egyptian cotton sheets are a valuable investment.

Cotton Field image courtesy of subarcticmike

Feather Beds vs. Fiber Bed Mattress Toppers

Getting a relaxing, refreshing night’s rest is not only about the mattress. Sheets with high-thread counts, large, fluffy pillows and bed toppers can all be part of the equation to turn the bed into the perfect resting spot. If added comfort is the goal, a luxurious bed topper is the answer. Bed toppers can be either feather beds or fiber beds. Each option has different benefits, but once the correct one is chosen, the end-result is the same: a more comfortable bed for optimal rest. Feather Bed verses Fiber Bed

Feather beds are made either from 100 percent feathers or a mixture of snow-white feathers and down. This fill material allows feather beds to provide additional warmth, an added benefit for the cold months. Some feather beds are large enough that they create the illusion of a cocoon to sleep in, not on, when placed on the bed. Though the styles and thickness of each feather bed varies, most styles tend to be between two and three inches thick.

Fiber beds are made with polyester fill so that they are hypo-allergenic, providing the coziness of an old fashioned featherbed without the allergy worries.

Both hypo-allergenic fiber beds and feather bed toppers vary in size and weight. Weight is either calculated in pounds or ounces, and the higher weight is an indication of higher quality. They each are available in a variety of fabric coverings and thread counts.

Whether your goal is to revive an old mattress or create a luxurious sleeping environment, a feather or fiber bed is a great investment.

Flannel Sheets and Clothing:
An American Staple of Life

Flannel is a wonderfully soft, fuzzy and warm fabric often used in clothing and bedding. It is a plain weave fabric typically made of cotton and comes in various weights. Unlike cotton bed sheets which are measured by the thread count, flannel fabric is measured in ounces per square yard. Higher quality flannel sheets will have a weight of at least 4 oz. per square yard. Flannel is loosely woven and therefore tends to shrink more than regular cotton fabrics. You may notice this when purchasing flannel sheets – Manufacturers typically over-cut the fabric to allow for shrinkage, so they tend to be a little large when new, but after washing fit more snugly.

Some flannels are brushed (napped) to create extra softness. Brushing or napping is a process where a fine metal brush gently scratches the surface of the fabric to create fine fibers from the loosely spun yarns. Flannel can have either short or long nap, and can be napped on one or two sides. Double-napped flannel refers to a fabric that has been brushed on both sides.

Flannel has become an American staple for cotton pajamas, robes, men’s shirts and bedding. It is typically a seasonal item and much more readily available in the cooler months.

Be-Weave It or Not

Sateen and percale fabrics are widely used in bedding products. Contrary to what many people believe regarding sateen and percale, each are a type of weave. Sateen is commonly misunderstood as being a finish that gives the fabric its sheen, but in fact the sheen is the result of the milling process.

Fabrics consist of threads of yarn that are woven vertically and horizontally together. Warp threads run vertically up and down the fabric, while weft threads run horizontally. The thread count is derived by the number of threads going in both directions inside one square inch of the fabric.

Percale Weave

Percale fabric is typically no less than 200 threads per square inch (200tc) and can be a cotton polyester blend, 100% polyester or 100% cotton. Woven with one thread under, one over, it creates a stronger, crisper fabric.

Sateen Weave

Sateen is a type of weave that places most threads on the surface (four over and one under).  It has a luxuriously soft silky feel, although it tends to be less durable than percale. The bedding industry standard today tends to be toward sateen. Although percale bed sheets are still available, sateen has taken the lead in becoming the most widely used bed linen fabric.

 

Be King of Your Bedroom with Eastern King Sheets

With all of the different bed sizes being offered on the market these days, finding just the right size sheets for your bed can sometimes be challenging. For example, when it comes to Standard King, Eastern King, and California King mattresses, so many people are left scratching their head when it is time to buy new bed sheets.

Eastern King vs. Standard King vs. California King

Many believe that the California King mattress is the largest, however by square inch the Eastern King is actually the largest of all three. That is only part of the story though. The California King is longer and narrower; the Eastern King and Standard King are shorter but wider. Here are the measurements:

Standard King Size Mattress: 76 inches wide x 80 inches long.

Eastern King Size Mattress: 78 inches wide x 80 inches long.

Western (California) King Size Mattress: 72 inches wide x 84 inches long.

With the size difference between the Eastern King and California King beds, I have to wonder what the bed manufacturers are trying to tell us. Do they assume that Californians are tall and slender and the folks on the East Coast are short and wide? What’s up with that?

It’s not really a question of which size is better, but which one is right for you. Often individuals over 6’ tall prefer the California King due to the extra length. Also, having limited space in a bedroom may be another reason to consider the California King over an Eastern King size bed since the width of the Cal King is a little wider than a Queen, yet not the full width of the Standard and Eastern King. For those couples and individuals who prefer to have more room to stretch out, the Eastern King or Standard King is often preferred. To find out which type you have you can always check the tag, or if the tag is missing (uh-oh, did you remove the tag that says “do not remove”) you can always measure the mattress to be sure of its size.

So Where Do You Find Eastern King Bed Sheets?

Sometimes Eastern King and California King sheets are difficult to find because mattresses of other sizes are much more common. Typically, department stores only carry sheets for the Standard King, leaving the California King and Eastern King Sheets to be found only in specialty bedding stores. And if you are looking for a specific look, thread count, or fabric, it can make an already difficult task even more challenging. So to help you with your bedding needs, we offer all of the wonderfully durable and comfortable Eastern King and California King Sheets you could possibly want, with colors galore to match your décor. And best of all, they are made right here in the USA!

What to Know Before You Buy New Bed Sheets

When shopping for bed linens, particularly bed sheets, most people are under the assumption that the higher the fabric thread count the better the quality, however, this is not always true.  There are many factors that affect the quality of a fabric.  Before you decide how to spend your hard earned income (after all, purchasing bed linens is an investment), here are some things you should know:

1)      Thread Count:  Thread count is the number of threads woven horizontally and vertically into one square inch of fabric. In order to obtain high thread count fabrics, finer individual threads are plied (twisted) together to form one thread.  This is called ‘plied yarn’.  Threads can be either 2-ply, 3-ply or multi-ply. When a fabric is woven with plied yarn each individual ply is counted, so if there are three plies making up one single thread, it is counted as three threads, not one. With this fuzzy math method, it is easy to obtain higher thread counts, but not necessarily a higher quality.

Fabric that is ‘Single Ply’ is woven with long staple cotton fibers.  Longer fibers come from higher quality cotton and produce stronger, smoother fabrics. With this, a true 300tc fabric woven from a single ply cotton can feel much softer against your skin than an 800-1000 thread count woven from plied yarn. It is possible to obtain a true 500 to 600 thread count fabric with these finer single ply threads.

2)      Types of Cotton: The type of cotton used will also affect the feel and quality of the fabric.  Here are a few of the most common types used in bed sheets:

  • Egyptian Cotton: Grown only in Egypt, Egyptian cotton is a long staple cotton that has a reputation of being one of the highest quality cotton available.
  • Pima Cotton: Ranked right behind Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton is also a long staple cotton with the same superior quality, however, it is grown in the Southwestern United States.
  • Combed Cotton: Cotton that has undergone a process called ‘combing’, which removes the short fibers and any remaining debris with the cotton. Combed cotton is stronger and finer, and produces a higher quality cotton fabric.
  • Organic Cotton: Cotton grown in conditions free of pesticides or herbicides.  Organic cotton will have a government approved certification on the packaging.

3)      Types of Weave:  Although there are different types of weaves, bed sheets usually do not state what type of weave the fabric is unless it is a ‘Sateen Weave’.  Sateen is a type of weave that places most threads on the surface (four over and one under compared to one over and one under with a standard weave).  A sateen weave creates a luxuriously soft silky feel.

With all of this said, you may still be wondering what type of sheets are right for you.  Before you buy, try to obtain all the information you can about the fabric you’re considering.  The two most important things to keep in mind is: What kind of cotton is it made from?  What ply is it…multi-ply or single ply? The bottom line is you spend one third of your life in bed, so treat yourself to the most comfortable and best quality sheets you can afford.

Consumers Paying More, Getting Less

If you’ve been to the mall lately to do a little clothes shopping, you may have experienced a bit of sticker shock. That’s because retailers are raising clothing prices 10% on average to offset rising costs of materials and labor. The bottom line is, you’re paying more, but you’re getting less. According to Consumer Savings Expert, Andrea Woroch, some manufacturers are cutting down on the quality and extras, and instead applying inexpensive tweaks to con shoppers into thinking they are getting more for their money, when in fact they’re not. They’re using less material, cheaper fabrics and different items on the clothing to make it less expensive.

Some examples of this are:

Skinny Jeans and Pants – these are promoted as a hot new trend for fall and back to school, but what you will notice is that they are softer and there is less material. Although the softer denim is a lot less expensive, there is a subtle price increase.

Unfinished Clothing – yes, believe it or not, many items are not completely finished such as hems on pants, skirts, and jackets. Also, cheaper quality stitching is used on pockets to save on thread. These are being marketed as a new look, but according to Woroch, the real reason is because it costs less to manufacturer unfinished clothing.

Zippers vs. Buttons – surprisingly, zippers are less expensive than buttons, so when it comes to mass production, manufacturers save a lot by making little tweaks and using zippers in clothing instead of buttons.

Use of alternate materials to replace cotton – with the rising cost of cotton, more clothing is being made with rayon. It’s a soft fabric and many people like it, however, the real reason it is becoming popular these days is simply because it is a less expensive to manufacture.

Less fabric in clothing – this is especially noticeable with many of the women’s clothing. For example, blouses and shirts are low cut and more revealing, once again saving on manufacturing costs.

So, how do we combat “con-flation”? According to Andrea Woroch, here are some tips to help you get more for your money.

Coupons – look for coupons online that are printable. Many stores offer them.

Swap, don’t buy this is a great way to save money on clothing for youngsters who quickly grow out of their clothes. Visit treadup.com and swap.com

Hold out for the holidays – this is when you will find the best deals on fall and winter merchandise.

Wait for Online Sale Days – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Free Shipping days will offer the best deals.

Shop off season – the fall is the best time to shop for summer clothing when the left-over items are on sale. Likewise, late winter, early spring is a great time for winter clothing sales.

Outlet Malls – this is a great place to shop for brand name items at discounted prices. Factory outlet malls are the venue manufacturers use to sell their items directly to the public, saving you money.