So many times when a customer comes into Yvonne Estelle's, they ask what the difference is between our bedding and that of a 'big-box' or discount store. The answer is easy ... its the quality of the fabric. The inevitable next question then is - Isn't it just thread count?
What creates a luxurious sheet is more than just thread count (a measure of the number of yarns woven into one square inch of fabric). Thread count is important, but it is only one part of the quality equation. The quality of a sheet is determined by three other key components:
The Quality of the Cotton
The world's finest cotton is grown on the banks of the Nile River. There, as the river recedes it leaves a particularly fertile swath that nourishes the very best cotton. Egyptian cotton is renowned because it yields the longest-staple cotton in the world (the staple being the individual cotton fiber). Once the raw cotton is selected, it is cleaned and spun into smooth, silken yarns by master craftsmen in Italy. The quality of the yarn is largely a function of the length of the staple. This is because long-staple cotton can be spun into a smoother, stronger, much finer yarn, so that it is possible to weave more threads per inch into the fabric, resulting in a higher thread count. Certainly, many short-staple cotton yarns can be jammed into a square inch to create a high thread count, but the resulting fabric will feel heavy and coarse compared to a long-staple Egyptian cotton.
The Weaving of the Fabric
Thanks to generations of experience and expertise, Italian weavers understand yarns the way a vintner understands grapes: what type and fineness of yarn to choose for each weave, and how to fine-tune each technical factor, from the number of picks sent through the shuttle to the diameter of the yarn, to create the desired hand: chamois-soft or crisp percale, silken sateen, lustrous jacquard. How the world's finest cotton percales, sateens and jacquards are created are trade secrets passed down to generations.
The Finishing of the Fabric
After the world's finest cotton has been selected, spun and woven into cloth, the process doesn't stop there. Attention to detail continues into the fabric finishing and sewing, which can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product. Luxurious cotton sheets are mercerized - a process that helps plump the fibers, giving the fabric greater luster and strength. Sheets are properly sized to fit mattresses. Fitted sheets have elastic all the way around the perimeter and are designed with a 3-inch tuck (fitted sheets should never end on the side of a mattress). Flat sheets have a cuff (the turn down part of the flat sheet) that is generous and well constructed. Pillowcases are generous and cover the entire pillow insert.
The next time you're searching for bedding, consider these factors in addition to thread count and you will select quality bedding that will last longer and give you a better nights sleep. Afterall, you spend a third of your life in bed ... shouldn't your bedding be a dream!