Sateen vs Percale – for Miranda
May 15, 2011
Not all sheets are created equal. So, before you take out a second mortgage for 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets at $500 a pop, check out this quick glossary of terms and my two cents on whats what…
THREAD COUNT: Simply put, this is the number of threads per square inch. Hold the sheet up to the light, if you can see through the fabric and make out the actual weave, you’ve got a low thread count on your hands. The higher the thread count, the softer and more lustrous the fabric, and the more durable and less prone to shrinkage.
COMBED COTTON: A cleaning process that eliminates impurities and short, less desirable fibers.
MUSLIN: Considered to be low-end of the cotton spectrum, you may want to steer clear of these, as they tend to be one rough and tough sheet. They are generally used in children’s character theme bedding. Thread counts here range from 128 to 140.
PERCALE: A smooth, flat, closely woven and combed fabric that comes in 100 percent cotton or 50/50 cotton/poly blends. Finer than muslin, expect thread counts here to range from 180 to 200.
PIMA or SUPIMA: A high-quality cotton whose long fiber staple is somewhat similar to that of Egyptian cotton. The differences are geographical only. Pima is grown in the southwestern part of the U.S. and Egyptian is grown along the Nile River. Supima is made from extra-long staple Pima. The soft feel of Pima and Supima make them very desirable in bedding. Expect to find thread counts here from 200 to 300.
SATEEN is usually a cotton fabric that has a satin-like feel. It’s often found in bed sheets and other textiles throughout the world. Sateen is usually 100% woven cotton, although it is occasionally formed from rayon. Like percale, sateen does not refer to the material of the sheet. It refers to the method in which the sheet was woven. The weave is what gives the sateen sheet its soft, satin-like feel. The material is lustrious and smooth to the touch. Only carded or combed yarns are used.
A “sateen weave” means that there is one vertical thread woven for every four or more horizontal threads. Since more of the threads are exposed to the surface, the resulting fabric is much smoother than if it was woven with a standard type weave.
The best quality sateen is mercerized to give it a higher sheen. Mercerized cotton has been treated with sodium hydroxide to shrink it and increase its luster and affinity for dye. It is also makes it more mildew resistant and stronger.
Some sateen sheets are only calendared to produce the sheen. This is when the fabric is pressed between two rolling pins to give it a glossier appearance. This is lower-grade sateen. The sheen will eventually fade away with a few washings. This is not considered genuine sateen. Genuine sateen can be bleached, dyed, or printed.
PERCALE: The word, “Percale” refers to a specially woven fabric that is very often woven for sheet sets and other bed linens, and occasionally shirts too. This is the fabric used to manufacture most bed linens. Other different types of woven fabrics are flannel and sateen. The origin of the word percale comes from the Persian word “pargalah.”
Percale can be either 100% cotton or also a blend of cotton and polyester. The word “percale” refers to the way the fabric is woven together and has nothing to do with the materials used. The weight of the fabric is medium and washes very well. It can be white, dyed, or printed upon. Percale sheeting is one of the finest available, made of combed yarns and has a thread count of around 200TC. Carded percale sheeting has a thread count of around 180 and has a soft, silk-like feel. Percale was first made in New Bedford’s Wamsutta Mills in 1876. Wamsutta is still a very popular brand in today’s world of bedding.