1. Thread Count is typically listed on the packaging. Thread count is determined by the number of threads per square inch of fabric. The higher the count the softer and more silk-like the material. It is important to note that as the thread count climbs, so does the thinness of each individual fiber packed into that square inch of material. Therefore it is imperative that high-thread count fine linens be laundered with care.
2. It Takes Three – it’s a good idea to purchase three sets of linens (sheets: flat and fitted), six pillow cases and at a minimum two duvet covers, coverlets, or comforters. Having three sets of linens will ensure that your bed is never bare. You can have one set on the bed, one set being laundered and another set in the linen closet as a backup. Those of us who have children and/or pets understand the necessity of having backup linens at the ready.
3. Size Really Does Matter - Unless you like to spend your free time standing in the returns/refunds line than you should measure twice and write it down (memory is such a fickle thing). Measure the length, width and depth (which is very important for pillow top mattresses). A fitted sheet should tuck under the corner not ride the middle of the mattress which I have seen many times because 14″ pocket fitted sheets were purchased for an 18″ pillow top.
4. Get Your Fiber - linens are produced from various fibers and materials (both synthetic and natural), with cotton being the most popular. The three cotton varieties are:
- Egyptian Cotton - this cotton is grown in the Nile Valley and is well known for it silky luxurious feel. Egyptian cotton can be blended with inexpensive fibers resulting in a less silky blend. The best advice is to seek out 100% Egyptian Cotton. This cotton can be expensive.
- Pima Cotton – is primarily grown in the Southwest United States. It has a nice smooth texture, is durable and is reasonably priced. Pima cotton is also grown all over the world, including Peru, Israel, and Australia (thanks to Jay Gunter).
- Standard Cotton produces decent quality linens however they lack the luxurious tactile hand of either the Egyptian or Pima cotton. This cotton is also the least expensive.
5. Get Touchy – Shop at a “bricks” store first and if you want you can buy online later. Why? We are human and we like to touch. We want to know how those 1000 thread count sheets feel as our hand glides across its smooth surface. As much as I love the internet – it does not allow you to experience before you buy therefore I don’t recommend online shopping until you have made your final decision. NOTE: Some online shops do provide small fabric samples but I still hold firm on linen shopping off-line first, find the bedding you absolutely love and then if you want proceed online for the transaction.