Bed Linen Buying Guide

We know the importance of a good night's sleep - and buying the right linen is just as important to help you get the rest that you need.  Read our guide below to learn more about the different bed linen options, to help you find the ideal bedding for you.


Buy the right bed linen

There are few pleasures in life as simple yet satisfying as sinking into a beautifully made bed. However, if you’ve indulged in a comfy mattress and stylish bed frame, make sure that the linen you dress them with is just as sumptuous. Cool, crisp sheets, tactile pillowcases and softly draping covers are key for a bed that’s as inviting for early nights as it is long, lazy lie-ins.

Fibre and fabric types

Bed linen can be made from natural or synthetic fibres – both have pros and cons. The most common man-made fibre is polyester, which is usually combined with cotton. As well as helping the linen to dry more quickly after washing, polyester reduces ironing time. On the downside, it’s not as good as natural fibres at keeping you cool.

Natural fibres include cotton, linen and silk. Breathable, easy to wash and durable, cotton is the most popular natural fibre. Threads are often brushed or combed to increase softness. Egyptian cotton is regarded as one of the best types as it has stronger extra-long fibres that create finer fabric, often with a higher thread count. Pima cotton has similar characteristics.

Linen is made from the flax plant and regulates your temperature as you sleep, being cool in summer while trapping heat in winter. Although it’s hardwearing, it’ll need ironing. Like linen, silk is good for regulating temperature. It can be combined with cotton for increased durability. A reputed beauty benefit is that it helps skin and hair retain moisture.

Thread count

Referring to the number of threads horizontally and vertically per square inch of fabric, the received wisdom is that the higher the thread count, the better the bed linen. However, that’s not always the case. Fibre type, finish and weave will affect how the bed linen feels and how well it lasts – essentially, fibre quality matters as much as thread count quantity.


The world of weaves can be a confusing one, so it’s good to know what common terms mean.  Percale is a plain, matt weave with threads in a criss-cross pattern. This makes it breathable and crisp. Twill or herringbone has similar durability but its pliability means it requires less ironing. Sateen is smoother than percale as it has more vertical threads, making it softer with a slight sheen. It may not be quite as durable. Jacquard is created on a loom of the same name that gives it a pattern of matt and sateen areas. Dobby weaves also result in patterns but these are textured. Waffle, or honeycomb, is another textured weave that creates small squares for visual appeal. Flannel fabric will have been brushed after being woven for a soft finish.

Buying tips from the experts

Molly Freshwater, founder, Secret Linen Store

‘The first thing to decide is what colour or style you want to go for. Do you like white or colour, fancy patterns or plain and simple? Start here and then you can look at quality. Higher thread counts and better yarns will be more expensive, but last longer. We use Egyptian cotton for the warp of our bedding, this makes a tough fabric that lasts well. Thread count is important, but not the be-all and end-all – a 300 thread count fabric with appalling yarns will feel worse than a 200 thread count made with fabulous yarns. The best thing to do is go for good quality, above 200 thread count and look after it.’


Lucy Ackroyd, design manager, Christy

‘Bed linen is used every day so you want something that is comfortable. A jacquard is a good option as offers a textured finish and is soft to the touch. White and grey will always be classic purchases but if your decor is neutral, add some pattern and colour with bed linen. Some weaves have tiny threads throughout, adding an interesting finish to the texture and enabling patterns to be introduced. To be on trend this season, go for green and blush pink.’

By Rachel Ogden

Feeling inspired?  Learn more about our Iris, Daisy and Foxtail Beds, as well as our other bed frames and mattresses.

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