Bed Linen

Bed Linen Buying Guide

What makes the perfect bed linen? There's no right or wrong answer: it's a choice that's incredibly subjective.

The easiest part is choosing the size and colour or design you need - but there are plenty of other decisions to make. When searching for your ideal bed linen you'll find a whole host of fabrics, weights, thread counts and finishes to choose from - take a look through our guide to find out which options are right for you.

Fabric

There's a huge number of different fabrics to choose from when shopping for bed linen, and it's important to choose the right one for your needs. Some fabrics will keep you warm while others will keep you cool, and every choice will have a different feel against the skin too. Here are some of the fabrics that are most commonly used.

Cotton:

The most commonly used choice for bed linen, thanks to its affordability, durability, ease of washing and breathability. There are different types of cotton to choose from too: Egyptian cotton has extra-long fibres making it the highest quality and super-smooth, while Pima cotton is also known for being incredibly soft. Supima® is a branded type of Pima cotton.

Trademarked MicroCotton® is durable and absorbent, while the primarily US-grown upland cotton has shorter fibres than the other varieties, making it less soft but more affordable.

Tencel®:

This branded fabric is often considered to be more environmentally friendly than cotton, as it uses fewer natural resources to produce. Crafted from wood pulp from the eucalyptus tree, it may be less breathable than cotton, but it's incredibly durable, very soft and has natural anti-microbial properties.

Polyester:

This manmade fabric can be quite scratchy when used on its own, so you'll often find it combined with other fabrics, such as cotton. It's an affordable choice, and while cotton is far more breathable, polyester resists stains well and is durable, which is why you'll often find it used for inexpensive children's bedding.

Flannel:

Flannel is simply cotton that has been combed, making its fibres softer and more fluffy. It's an incredibly warm fabric, which is why it's used to create bedding sets that are designed for use in the winter months.

Bamboo:

It's rare to find pure bamboo sheets, as the material can be quite rough and stiff - not what you want from your bedding. Instead, it's often put through processes that transform it into rayon, which is breathable and durable and has a soft and silky feel.

Silk:

Silk is generally associated with luxury, and it's easy to see why. It's a fabric that's hypoallergenic by nature and is lovely and cool - and its smooth and sensuous feel is one of its big selling points. It's expensive, though, and requires careful laundering.

Blended fabrics:

Cotton/polyester, cotton/bamboo, cotton/rayon - there are various blended fabrics out there, but they almost all contain cotton. Generally, they are affordable, crease-resistant and designed to last, so are often used in children's bedding.

Weight

The weight of your bed linen may not be something you have considered before but can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Weight can be determined by the type of fabric you choose, but also by the way in which the bed linen is made.

You may want to choose lighter weight bed linen for the summer months and heavier fabrics for the winter - or some people simply prefer one or the other.

Thread count

The term 'thread count' refers to the number of threads in each square inch of your bed linen. The higher the thread count, the more closely woven the fabric - and the smoother, softer and more luxurious your bedding will feel. A higher thread count will generally also mean that your bed linen will retain its quality for longer, and it may even get softer over time too. A high thread count is generally anywhere between 200 and 800.

Finish

Fabric, weight and thread count all have an impact on how your bed linen will feel, how long it will last and how easy it is to care for. But there's one more element to take into consideration, and that's the finish. The finish you choose will impact on the colour, the texture and the style of your bedding, ensuring you can find something that's the perfect fit for your bedroom.

Jacquard:

A loom-woven fabric with an intricate pattern that is weaved directly into the fabric - it can often be more durable than other woven fabrics too. Jacquard can be made from a variety of different natural and manmade fibres.

Waffle:

As the name suggests, the weave of this fabric creates a design of squares that resemble waffles. Waffle fabric tends to be soft and smooth to the touch.

Printed:

Designs, pictures or patterns are printed straight onto the fabric.

Seersucker:

A lightweight fabric that is woven in such a way that it is stripy. The stripes alternate between smooth and more textured material, and in places, it can have a natural wrinkled look and feel.

Sateen:

Sateen finishes can often be found in bedding as a more affordable alternative to silk. Sateen fabrics are woven in such a way that the top is silky smooth, while the underside remains plain.

As you'll see from our guide, there's plenty to take into consideration when choosing your bed linen. While the design is important - you'll want something you love and that fits in with your bedroom decor - the choice of fabric, thread count, weight and finish that you make can have a huge impact too.

Whether you're looking for something silky soft or less so; whether you want to stay warm or cool down; whether you're looking for affordability or durability and luxury; and how you want the finish of the bed linen to look and feel... There are many different elements that go into choosing the bedding that's right for you. The tough part? Making that decision...