When shopping for bedding or sheets, one term that gets seen a lot is percale. What are percale sheets? Are they better than Egyptian cotton sheets? What kind of thread count do they have? How do they feel? Should I buy them? Sit back, settle in, and we’re going to attempt to answer all these questions and more.
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What Are Percale Sheets?
Percale sheets are not actually a type of sheet in the commonly understood sense. The term “percale” actually refers to a particular weaving method. It is a very old method of weaving that produces strong, resilient and long-wearing sheets. The weaving method is such that one thread goes over another thread. Contrast this with sateen, another weaving method that often gets mistaken for a fabric type. Sateen is woven in a way that four threads go over one thread. The sateen weaving will produce fabric that is smooth and luxurious to the touch. Percale’s one over, one under weaving method, on the other hand, produces a criss-crossing latticework of threads resulting in a very tight pattern. This tight pattern is the source of percale’s legendary crispness and durability. Percale sheets are, by their very nature woven to be tighter, longer-lasting and of a higher quality than many other sheets.
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What Fabrics Are They Made From?
Since percale refers to a weaving style as opposed to a kind of sheet, percale sheets can be and often are made out of many different blends of material. 100% cotton, 100% polyester, 50-50 polyester/cotton blends, linen, pure Egyptian cotton – the permutations are endless. This is part of what has lead to the confusion about this type of sheets and given rise to many of the misconceptions. Very often, people have distinct preferences about the material they like to sleep on, or under. Some prefer the comfort and breathability that 100% cotton provides. Others feel 100% cotton is too crisp and wrinkles like a bad dream. These people might enjoy the lack of ironing that 100% polyester provides. The 100% cotton crowd might recoil in horror at sleeping on pure polyester and it’s lack of breathability. Others might find a happy middle ground and enjoy the increased durability that a 50-50 polyester/cotton blend can provide. The point we’re trying to make here is the choices and possible combinations for the fabric, and weave, that make up the sheets you buy are highly varied. Each person will walk into a purchase with their own set of experiences and expectations.
How Does Thread Count Factor Into This?
Thread count is a popular selling point these days that has been the source of much confusion. Weaving method and type and quality of material have as much importance on the quality, feel and durability of sheets as does thread count. Percale sheets will have a minimum of 180 thread count. Higher thread counts can increase the quality and durability of the sheets, however there does become a point of diminishing returns. Many people would be hard pressed to tell the difference between 600 thread count and 1000 thread count sheets, all other things being equal. In some cases the extra thread count will go hand in hand with higher quality materials. Whether the higher prices that often accompanies higher thread count are worth it will be up to the individual purchaser.
How Do They Feel?
As mentioned before, percale sheets are known for their crispness and durability. The very method that defines percale sheets produces a very tight fabric. This tightness is often referred to as being very “crisp”. However don’t be mislead – crisp does not mean uncomfortable. The finishing of the fabric will often determine whether percale sheets are comfortable or feel like pieces of paper.
Are Percale Sheets For Me?
Are percale sheets for you? Possibly. Those who buy percale sheets and are happy with them tout their long-wearing strength, their light feel, the perceived feeling of quality, and of course, their crispness. There is an extremely wide range of percale sheets that are available on the market these days. Reading as many reviews as possible, asking friends or family members for recommendations, shopping around and ultimately holding them and feeling them will result in the happiest customers.
Remember, percale sheets are great if you like a certain kind of sheet. Although they are not for everyone, they have retained a legendary following for literally hundreds of years. Try them out and you might be pleasantly surprised.
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