The bedsheet market is massive, with many countries producing top quality cotton and then woven into fabrics with a great feel. Pakistan is also one of the top cotton and fabric producers in the world, which is why a lot of local sheets are of great quality. Available in various sizes and materials, with many different colours and patterns. Sheets have a varied price range depending on all these things.
History of bedsheets
A rectangular piece of cloth that is used as a layer on top of a mattress. It can also be used as a light covering while sleeping. The Egyptians are the first known people to make use of weaving and the loom to make linen. Original linen is made from stalks that belong to the flax plant. It is a soft material that breathes well and is therefore cool. Due to its properties, bedsheets were made from linen which why they are also referred to as 'linens'. At the turn of the 19t century, the world saw cotton cloth making become a lot cheaper and was used for bedsheets, as it is a breathable material that is durable as well. Bedsheets are made by so many brands and therefore have an endless stream of colours and patterns that one can pick from.
Materials used for bed sheets
Cotton is one of the most common materials to make clothes today is also used for bedsheets. The varieties differ and Egyptian cotton is considered pinnacle. The 'staple length', or length of fibres used to make fabric affect the result. The longer the staple length the better the cotton. Cotton is favourable as it is a breathable fabric that stays cool even in summers, gets softer over time and is easy to care for. The fact that it is durable also helps as it can be easily washed in the machine at home. Also, stains come out easier so it is convenient in that sense as well.
Made from flax which is a fibre of the Linum plant, linen is made from a long process which is why it isn't as common as it used to be, but still a choice material. A soft material that lets air pass easily, perhaps even more so than cotton and over time gets softer with more sheen. With certain weaves, it gives a quilted feeling. Linen sheets are anti-allergenic and are good for people with extra sensitive skin, keeping them safe. Linen sheets tend to stay wrinkled, as long as the bed is made they will look neat.
Although made from cotton too, flannel is considered separately as it is better at trapping heat. Cotton is fluffed creating a deeper 'pile', which enables it to retain heat. Flannel sheets also last longer than normal cotton ones. Generally, people want to know the thread count but with flannel, the sheets are compared in ounces/square yard. The fabric is soft and has a very comfortable feel against the skin.
A luxurious material produced by the silkworm, silk bed sheets are more high-end with a very slick feel. Silk sheets are considered the most luxurious, although some people dislike the slippery feel to sleep on. A material that requires a lot more care as well as it is delicate. The plus side is that they are hypoallergenic, so if you have any allergies these would suit you.
Polyester on its own would be too rough and scratchy to sleep on comfortably. It is usually mixed with other materials to give it a better feel, the common material mixed into it is cotton. These sheets do have the advantage of being budget-friendly. This is one of the more common large scale materials as a large segment needs to buy items on a budget. Another iteration of polyester is called microfibre, this is woven a lot tighter and is not very breathable. If one tends to feel warm at night microfibre might not work for them, but a good choice in winter.
Fabric made from bamboo makes great sheets that are soft like silk and breathe like cotton, giving you the best of both. Also, a durable fabric ensuring a good lifeline. Termed bamboo but generally 'rayon'; bamboo that is made into pulp then chemically processed and turned back into a solid, after which it is spun into thread. The environmental hit for this process is quite drastic as the chemical waste is quite a bit, despite people thinking it is environment-friendly.
Lyocell is a fabric that is made from wood cellulose. The base material makes it a cooling fabric, less than cotton but a lot more than some of the others. Aside from that, it is hygienic as it moves water particles away from the body, is very durable and is comfortable. One of the most well known branded lyocell names is Tencel, a slight evolution but essentially lyocell.
The last category is 'blends', this could be a number of combinations. Various mixes include polyester and cotton, linen and silk, linen and cotton, spandex and cotton or cotton, polyester and rayon. The blends have different results, for instance, the cotton, polyester and rayon blend has properties from all three materials. Breathability from cotton, strength from polyester and sheen from rayon.
The different weaves
The more common weave is called Percale, also known as plain weave. The lightness of this type of weave makes it a good weave for people who sleep hot and need sheets that dissipate heat. The Percale weave made from 'combed cotton' is better, it has a more soft feel and a smoother finish. The Flannel name is also used for the weave, it can be a plain weave or also a twill weave; making them soft and pliant. These are warmer sheets and work well for the winter months. Sateen is considered a more luxurious weave, it is cotton that is woven similar to satin with four threads over on the warp and one thread under on the weft. One may not know what 'warp' and 'weft' mean, what one needs to know is that it creates a silky and lush fabric that is also quite durable. Perhaps not as durable as tighter weaves but this lack is what makes it very soft and heavier too. A weighted sheet has a very comfortable feel for most people while they sleep.
Jersey is more a knit than a weave, it is essentially what is used for T-shirts and is usually a mix of cotton with some synthetics. The sheets made from Jersey are also casual looking and have a broken-in feeling; it fits the mattress well due to the slight stretchiness. Like Flannel, Jersey is also measured in ounces/square yard and retains heat well. Not as common as the other types of sheets though. Jacquard sheets are thicker and have patterns woven into them that are made from a special loom, also known as the Jacquard Loom. The well-known types of Jacquard fabrics are called Damask and Brocade, both of which are expensive. More people tend to use these kinds of sheets as bed covers as well.
Thread count and ply
The thread count is the number of threads that fit into a square inch, so if there are a 100 threads going vertically and a 100 horizontally, the count comes to 200. Thread count is talked about a lot when it comes to bedsheets, general wisdom would suggest the higher the thread count the better the sheet is. This should hold true, but beyond a certain thread count manufacturers cannot actually attain the count they are claiming. At that point, it is better to look up the manufacturer's reliability and reputation. Some people count individual 'piles' that are twisted to make a thread while others put down the actual thread count. A thread count under 200 is a little rough, but over time with washing the sheet does get softer. Good sheets range anywhere from 200 to 800 threads, anything beyond that is a personal preference. People do spend extra on 1000 to 1200 thread count sheets as well, such as some of the most expensive hotels in the world. The quality of the raw material factors in more than the thread count, a 200 count Egyptian cotton with long-staple fibre will be a lot better than say a 500 count with short-staple cotton fibre from other parts of the world. Aside from the thread count, the ply also affects the feel. The ply represents how many individual fibres were twisted to make the thread. A two-ply 300 thread count sheet will feel heavier than a single-ply 600 thread count sheet.
There are also variations in what the sheets are stitched like, some are flat, others are stitched with an elastic lining to fit over the mattress and stay in place or there are sensory compression sheets that are designed for people with sensory processing issues. These get tucked into the sides and are stretchy, which gives the person sleeping a weighted blanket feel that helps calm their nervous system.
Bedsheets are available in different sizes depending on the size of the mattress. Given the wide range of sheets available the price ranges vary just as much, depending on the material, thread count, size and brand. Pakistan is also one of the countries known for its quality of cotton and bedsheets. With some brands supplying hotels internationally.