Q1. Is Egyptian cotton the best?
A. Cotton is grown all over the world. High quality cotton yarn is spun up of long staple fibres. This is vital in producing good quality yarn and from this you can produce good quality cotton. Egyptian cotton is made from long staple fibres as is cotton from other countries. The Egyptian cotton producers have spent many years and large amounts of money promoting the “Egyptian Cotton” Brand. This is why it has become synonymous with high quality.
Interestingly, the top five cotton producing countries in the world are China, USA, India, Pakistan and Brazil in that order. China produces approx 25.5 Million Bales per year (6,000tonnes); Egypt in comparison produces just 1 Million Bales. These figures considered it is impossible for there to be so much authentic Egyptian cotton on sale as there is. The actual truth is that most of the cotton based products, for example bed linen, coming out of Egypt are made from imported cotton from India and Pakistan.
Q2. Is using good quality yarn the most important factor in producing good quality bed linen?
A. Yes and no is the answer to this. To produce superb quality bed linen you do HAVE to use long staple cotton but the quality of the cotton is just one factor. The cotton has to be woven well and then most importantly finished properly.
Badly finished cotton can have a bad “whiteness” and can look yellow in certain light. It can also suffer from large shrinkage after washing, sometimes up to 10-12%, and can also be very hard to iron if the cloth is not mercerized properly. One of the most obvious things that people notice about poor quality linen is a “Furry” surface and “Pilling” after washing. This is all due to the fact the cloth hasn’t been singed properly.
Q3. What does Percale mean?
A. Percale is a name given to woven cloth (usually used for bed linen) that is at least or over 200 Thread-count. It does not relate at all to the composition of the cloth.
Q4. What does Thread-count mean?
A. Thread-count shows the number of threads in a square inch of cloth. Thread-counts when related to bed linen can range from 120 to over 1,000. For example a standard men’s work shirt would be made using cotton with a thread-count of around 220.
Q5. What’s the best thread-count?
A. It’s impossible to answer this definitively as it can vary from person to person. The other problem is you can have 5 pieces of cloth all marked 200 Thread-count which feel completely different depending on the size of the yarn used to weave them, the quality of the yarn, the finish etc etc.
The best way to answer this is to assume good yarn is used and the cloth is singed, mercerized and finished to a good whiteness, the bed linen is then hemmed nicely and cut with generous sizing. If this is true a 200 Thread-count is totally acceptable and can and is used in 5 star hotels around the world.
If you then go up to a 300 or 400 Thread-count you get a softer hand-feel and if the correct construction is used a lovely “drape” to the cloth. The maximum thread-count worth considering would be a 600T, this is extremely dense cloth because so many threads are packed into a small space. 600 Thread-count would become very difficult to wash and dry and iron, it would also be very warm to sleep under as it is just not letting air through. Any higher than 600T and the fabric is just so thick you shouldn’t be using it for bed linen. Above 600T and the cloth becomes impossible to launder and dry, the bed linen is impossible to iron and the cloth is so thick it is uncomfortable to sleep under.
Q6. What is SUPIMA or PIMA Cotton?
A. PIMA cotton is a brand name for long staple American cotton. Created by the American textile export department to compete with Egyptian cotton, again the truth is not all bed linen labeled as PIMA or SUPIMA uses long staple PIMA cotton.
Q7. How much will my bed linen shrink?
A. Typically well finished cotton will shrink around 3-4% after the first wash and then never again. We build shrinkage in to the measurements of our sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases so that once washed they will be the size required to fit perfectly.
Q8. Should I wash my bed linen when it arrives?
A. Yes we recommend that you do. The cloth has come straight from the finishing process and so will have a slight smell of finishing. One wash will remove this. The first wash will also allow the bed linen to shrink to the correct sizes.
Q9. What benefits are there for using Polyester in bed linen?
A. Polyester is an oil based product and when woven into yarn it has a far greater degree of elasticity than cotton yarn. This helps to prevent creasing after washing. The polyester yarn helps hold the bed linen in shape and doesn’t shrink. The problem is, it can be quite uncomfortable to sleep under and hot in the summer. The truth is, if a high quality cotton yarn is used and the finish is done properly, 100% Cotton bed linen shouldn’t crease that badly and any creases should fall out after a few hours use.