Anatomy of a Bed Sheet Set

A bed sheet set consists of a “flat” top sheet, a “fitted” bottom sheet and a set of “pillow cases” (usually 2 but sometimes 4 pillows - Twin sizes can be one or two pillow cases). Nowadays, there are dozens of options out there for a buyer to choose from. In this blog, we try to explain some of the key options a customer should know about.



We begin with discussing the most basic property – Material. Bed sheets are typically made with Extra-Long Staple Cotton, Cotton, poly-Cotton (a blend of cotton and polyester), silk, bamboo cotton, microfiber and several combinations of these and other similar materials. Not all materials are equal and one has to consider personal preferences and budget to select the right material.


Thread Count:

Thread count is basically the number of yarns or threads “per square inch” of fabric. This count is a sum of perpendicular fibers and parallel fibers weaved together. It is generally understood that higher thread count means better quality, softer and stronger material. There are several reasons for this. Since more threads have to fit in one square inch of the fabric, it is accomplished by using finer yarn and a tighter weave. People often ask us what is a “good” thread count number they should consider buying. Overtime we have realized, this is a very tricky question to answer. “Good” means different things to different people. We now answer this question by saying that one should consider buying at the very least a 300 thread count bed sheet, if budget is a top criterion. But to really feel the benefits of a higher thread count, one should look into making an investment in a 500 or higher thread count bed sheet set. The difference is significant!


Singly vs. Multi-Ply Sheets:

While the Thread Count standard was established to create a measure of quality in the industry, it has, unfortunately, developed into an easy ploy applied by Marketers to artificially impress with elevated thread count numbers. Sometimes, to get higher thread counts, manufacturers end up using 2-ply or even higher ply threads. In easy terms, if two low quality yarn fibers are twisted together and used to weave fabric, it is considered two-ply fabric. So a 400TC 2-ply fabric is similar to a 200TC single ply fabric (this topic requires more attention, so more on this issue in a later blog). We always recommend our customers to stick with single ply sheets for durability, quality and feel. Deep Pocket Sheet Sets Traditionally, Sheet sets come with 12 – 14 inches deep fitted sheets. Nowadays, more and more people are buying taller mattresses or adding a layer of memory foam on top. It is not uncommon to see an 18 or 20 inch mattress. So if you own a tall mattress, you need to make sure you are purchasing sheet sets with a Deep Pocket fitted Sheet. We recommend that you measure your mattress and if it is 18 inches tall, for example, get yourself a 20 inch or higher Extra deep pocket sheet set.


Types of Weave:

Sateen: A lot of people confuse Sateen with Satin. Satin is a soft, shiny material generally completed from nylon, rayon, or silk. Sateen is a soft (but not glossy) cotton material. Sateen sheets have an elegant and luxurious look and feel. They are made using a sateen weave: The sateen weave structure is a multiple-thread (usually three or four) over, and one under. The result is a lustrous, smooth-faced, slippery surface and a surprisingly durable fabric. The cotton is then mercerized to give a high level of sheen. Mercerization involves soaking the fiber in a bath of sodium hydroxide and then in an acid bath. This makes the cotton fiber stronger and more conducive to dyeing. It also adds a shine to the fibers.

Percale is a plain weave fabric, where threads are woven one-over and one-under. This creates a matte, flat appearance. And precisely because percale threads are tightly woven, these sheets have a fine, soft, powdery texture and finish.

Selection of type of weave is entirely a personal preference. Most people select sateen sheets because they want the sheen. For those who prefer a matte appearance, percale is a better choice.

Next time you are in the market for any type of bed sheets, please consider shopping at Southshore Fine Linens. We specialize in authentic 100% Egyptian cotton Bed sheets. Whether you are looking for percale or sateen weave, deep pockets, or anywhere from 300 to 800 thread count bed sheets, we carry a broad variety of colors, materials, and designs in all sizes (Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King and California King). For a limited time, we are offering a 10% off discount coupon on your entire purchase. Just add your products to the shopping cart, and add the Voucher code “southshore” on the shopping cart page. 

We stand behind all of our products. We are available to answer any questions you may have and help you pick the right product. You can always reach us anytime at If you liked what you read here, please leave us a note. If you feel we managed to clarify any questions you may have had regarding Egyptian Cotton, please show your support and join (“Like”) us at We are a family of over 48,000. We could always use some new friends!