Sooner or Later, We All Need Bed Sheets
If you own a home, chances are sooner or later you'll have to buy a set of sheets for your bed. When choosing a set of sheets, the most important place to start is choosing a thread count. The thread count tells you the number of threads that are in one square inch of fabric. To get the softest and most durable sheet, aim for the higher end of the thread count spectrum (200+).
Secondly important is the type of fabric. While poly-cotton blends do not require as much ironing as 100% natural fibered sheets, ironing can usually be avoided by placing the sheets directly on the bed as soon as they are taken from the dryer. Keeping this in mind, know that there are many different grades of cottons. Their qualities are measured upon the length of their staple. Staple refers to the length that a particular piece of cotton can be pulled into a single thread. The longer the staple, the more durable and luxurious the cotton.
Types of Cottons
The two best cotton types are Egyptian and Supima (Pima). Both will provide an extremely soft and luxurious feel to the fabric. Egyptian cotton is grown in the Nile river valley in Egypt and Supima is a U.S.-produced very supple and durable cotton.
Poly-cotton sheets will tend not to breathe or absorb moisture as well as natural cotton. You will tend to save money if purchasing poly-cotton sheets, as their materials are less expensive to produce.
Having a name brand in the world of sheet-buying is unnecessary and is usually just a waste of money. The big bedding companies use the same type of fabric as the smaller ones.
The weave of the fabric is also an important factor. Sateen (not satin) is stitched with four threads over and one thread under. Most of the threads are on the surface so it is extremely soft. The down-side to sateen is that since there are more threads exposed to the surface, it won't be as durable as other types of fabrics.
There is also a pinpoint weave. A little more durable than a sateen weave, this weave consists of two threads over and one under. There are not as many threads placed on the surface, so the result is usually not as soft as a true sateen weave.
Making Them Fit
Finally, you should know the depth of your mattress before purchasing a set of sheets. The pocket size is a measure of the thickness of the mattress that the sheets were made for. You should always purchase a set that has a pocket within 3-5 inches of your mattress depth to avoid slippage of the corners when too small and excess material in the middle of the bed when too large. With today's pillow top mattresses, it's not uncommon to have pockets more than two feet! If a pocket size is not readily available in inches, these sets are usually labeled "deep pocket" or "extra deep pocket".
Now, when it's time to replace those old sheets, you'll be fully prepared.