If you want bed sheets that are comfortable against your skin, long lasting and smooth then you are making a great choice with percale sheets. Percale is particularly durable and unlike other sheets, those made from this material will not start to pill after a few washes. Percale bedding is easy to iron smooth and it stays smooth and unwrinkled on the bed. That’s why it is the type of bed sheet favored by hotels and the hospitality industry in general as well as those homeowners who know about quality bedding.
What is Percale?
In case you don’t know, percale is not a fabric itself but a particular weave which can be used with different types of fabric. It is where the threads are woven very tightly and each individual thread in one direction crosses over an individual thread in the other, giving bedding made in this way a remarkably smooth appearance and feel. This means you can have percale cotton sheets or polycotton sheets or a cotton and linen blend and percale with other materials such as silk (although this is rare).
Don’t Confuse Percale with High Thread Count
Usually percale sheets have a high thread count of 200 or more but you may find higher thread counts, where the weave is not so tight nor the sheets so smooth. That is because the thread count is the count of the total threads in each direction per square inch. You may find with some high thread count sheets that in one or other direction three threads will be twisted together and woven with one or more in the other direction. The fabric will be heavier than that used in a percale sheet but the fabric will feel rough to the touch in comparison. If you want luxury bedding, look for high end percale sheets not just high thread counts.
You Won’t Always Find Percale on the Packaging
Because manufacturers know that buyers are looking for high thread counts as a sign of quality sheets, you are likely to find percale sheet sets where the thread count is emphasized but not the weave. You may even have to look for “cotton woven with single-ply yarns” in the description as is the case with these good value percale bed sheets on the left.
Egyptian Cotton Percale Sheets
Is it worth paying more for percale cotton sheets from Egypt? The jury is out on this. The cotton growing region in Egypt is quite small and of course all the cotton has to be imported so this makes it expensive. The main thing about Egyptian cotton is that it uses cotton with long fibers (known as staples) giving a smoother finer finish. The truth is that you can get the same long fibers from cotton grown in the US – Supima and Pima cotton has the same good qualities and is usually cheaper.
Fitted or Flat?
If you want a smooth finish to your bed, it is important that the bottom sheet fits well. My answer to that is to buy an over large percale flat sheet for the bed and then use hospital corners well tucked in to give a smooth bottom sheet which does not move. I hate struggling with those elasticated corners. I really do. And I love the way I can have a neat stack of beautifully smooth percale flat sheets in the linen cabinet. If you’d rather buy percale fitted sheets, make sure that they are large enough to fit your mattress in all dimensions including the depth – buy extra deep fitted sheets (usually called deep pocker percale sheets) if necessary. (You will definitely need these if you have a mattress larger than 10 inches deep) and also that they are made of a fabric that will not shrink, and affect the sizing.
Sometimes you have to put up with percale fitted bottom sheets because most sheet sets, no matter what fabric they are made from come with a flat and a fitted sheet. If I was very tempted by a percale sheet set like that I would end up buying two and giving away an expensive but unloved percale fitted sheet to a friend. But that is probably just me!
Colors and Styles
Most quality sheets, percale or not, are made in pale solid colors such as white, cream, oyster or pale blue. You can actually find sheets in every color of the rainbow and in many designs but with most of the brightly colored sheets you find for both kids and adults, the quality is not the best and percale is not so easy to find – most cheap kids bedding is around the 40 thread count mark. The sheets with percale weave on the left are some of the few you can get in great colors so they are well worth a look. If you have the budget for high end designer bedding ensembles, you will often find percale sheets included, but if that kind of expense is not in your budget you are better to buy solid colored sheets made from percale to have next to your skin and then buy a more colorful quilt or bedspread to add life to your room. Comfort is everything when you spend a third of your life in bed.
Are Percale Sheets Expensive?
Of course, percale cost a little more than poor quality sheets but it is well worth it for the difference in cost. In any case, you can usually find discount percale sheets on sale so there is no need to miss out. If you are looking to buy percale sheets you will find a good selection HERE on Amazon often with great discounts and free shipping.
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