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Types of Fabric

  • Main Types of Fabrics used for Linen 
  • Plain Weave
    Is a standard woven fabric, with an even pattern of “one over / one under”.  A basic cotton sheet is normally made of “plain woven” fabric. It is a strong and affordable fabric, that can be woven quickly. 
  • Percale
    Percale is a higher quality “plain weave” fabric made of either cotton-polyester or 100% cotton. It generally has a thread count of 180 to 200, whilst a high quality percale has a thread count of 250 or 300 thread count. Some people prefer percale sheets over sateen sheets, as the cotton feels “crisper” and the fabric looks more “matte” (i.e. less shiny). Because of their polyester content, polycotton percale sheets are less subject to wrinkles, and need less ironing – sometimes polycotton percale is labelled as “easy care”. This fabric is sometimes described as "Cool & Crisp".
  • Sateen
    Sateen is a weave, not a fiber. It is a more expensive way of weaving the fabric, using only natural fibres, and it should not be confused with silk. Sateen sheets are usually produced in a unique four-threads-over, one-thread method of weaving, which gives these bed sheets their special softer feel and shine, but only on the top side. Sateen woven fabrics are more susceptible to pilling (cotton balls on the surface of the fabric); therefore we recommend that you buy your Sateen fabrics from trusted brands, who test their fabrics for strength and durability.This fabric is sometimes described as "Soft & Silky".
  • Jacquard Fabrics
    Jacquard fabrics have the pattern woven into the base fabric in the cloth i.e. the design is not printed onto the surface of the fabric. Jacquard fabrics are generally higher quality and more expensive to buy. You will see more use of synthetic yarns mixed with cotton, to create the special three dimensional effects frequently seen in jacquard fabrics. A 100% cotton jacquard fabric is truly luxurious.
  • Embroidered Fabrics
  • Sometimes an extra embroidered pattern, made up of coloured sewn threads, are added on top of a linen fabric. Embroidery adds extra texture & details, plus also extra cost to the linen item.
  • Terry Towelling
  • Terry toweling (or “ terry”) is a woven fabric with loops added on top, that can absorb large amounts of water, and hence is used for bath towels, hand towels and face washers. 
  • Tufted Fabrics
    Tufting is most commonly used for carpets or thick bathroom floor rugs. “Tufting” is a type of textile weaving in which vertical threads are inserted into the base fabric, to make a super-thick fabric. 
  • Other types of fabrics used in linen: 
  • Satin
  • Satin is also a weave, not a fiber. Satin can be woven of wool, cotton, acetate, polyester, silk or other materials. All weaves of satin bed sheets are extremely smooth and sleek. Some Arabic speakers will refer to “Sateen” as “Satin”, but they are usually looking for 100% cotton sateen.
  • Italian linen
    Italian linen is a luxurious fabric made only in Italy from Egyptian cotton. The lustrous cotton and the high quality processes used in Italy to create the fabric are of such a high quality that bed sheets of this material are considered truly luxury items.
  • Silk Sheets
    Silk sheets are known to be more desirable and luxurious than any other sheets. Silk threads are longer than any other because each single fibre of the silkworm cocoon, unwound, can reach 1600 feet! This makes silk fibres very delicate and extremely strong. Silk fabric is not graded by thread count, but by "momme weight." The standard is a piece of silk that measures 45 inches by 100 yards. Two ounces per linear yard equals 12.5 momme weight. The higher the momme weight, the more silk that is used in weaving. Garments are usually made from 8 to 12 momme, while silk bed sheets usually have a heavier 16 to 19 momme weight. Silk is versatile and elegant and has a history of use going back more than 3,000 years.
  • Muslin
    Muslin is cotton that is rougher yet tougher than other fabrics. It’s a basic and cheap fabric, like you would buy in a supermarket or hypermarket. Muslin is frequently used in children's bedding and printed with shapes or figures. During washing, this fabric tends to "pill" and fade more than other bed sheets. The thread count varies from 128 to 144. 
  • Flannel
  • Flannel is a basic quality fabric. Quality is not measured by thread count, but instead by ounces of material per square yard of fabric. Four ounces or more per square yard is considered good-quality flannel. Flannel bed sheets are highly popular in winter in Europe, for their warmth and are often used in baby bedding. Flannel usually feels a little “fleecy”.  
  • (Image credit: Pamela Opie)