Your fabric choices explained - Cotton or linen?

How would you like your bed linen to feel?

How your bed linen feels against your skin is usually the most important factor when choosing sheets for your bed. Some people know that they prefer the starched crisp cotton finish, or the unique feel of 100% linen. We are all different, and thank goodness for that, as it means we get to offer many different fabrics to make you all happy. Here we explain the differences between our lovely fabrics to help you choose your next set of bed linen.

Smooth and silky

If you’re a fan of smooth and silky bed linen then our 100% cotton sateen might be just the ticket. The weaving technique for a sateen finish (two over, one under – see below for more info on wefts and warps!), will leave you with a fabric that has additional sheen on one side. Sateen feels silky, softer, and has a floatier drape than percale, making it a real pleasure to sleep in. Most of our statement patterned bed linens have a sateen finish, and our Luxury 600 Thread Count range too. Cotton sateen is low maintenance when it comes to ironing. Dry flat as much as possible and you'll need very little...if any at all. View all our Cotton Sateen Bed Linens.  

The sheen of sateen is not for everyone and this is where our Super Soft laundered cotton steps in. Although this fabric has a sateen weave, it has been laundered for an even softer finish and this process removes most of the sheen, just leaving a silky soft finish perfect for bedtime. 

Crisp and cool

If you like crisp white sheets, then "percale" is the one for you. Percale is the name for a crisp fabric where the yarns are very tightly woven together in a straight weave (one over, one under). Percales can be made of varying yarns, but we only use 100% cotton. For a fabric to be named a percale, it must have a 180 thread count or higher (threads per square inch of fabric). We have 200tc, 400tc and 800tc percales, all in lovely crisp white. View all our Cotton Percale Bed Linen Collections.

Softest cotton

Harriet's favourite is our 100% cotton bedding that has been ‘laundered soft’ for the very comfiest and ‘worn in’ feel. We do this in both plain and patterned designs, and it's the softest finish we do. Once the pieces are made, they are washed, and sometimes combed to soften the fibres. This makes for the dreamiest finish, that just gets better with each wash. This laundered, relaxed finish is perfect for lazy lie ins and lounging on your bed. In our opinion, it doesn't need ironing and looks even better with some crinkles. View all our laundered soft bed linens here.

Cosy and brushed

Perfect for chilly winter nights, brushed cotton is our most snuggly and cosy option. Also known as flannel or flannelette, brushed cotton is woven from 100% cotton and then washed and brushed to raise the fibres on the surface of the fabric.We have sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases available in this fabric that will keep you warm all winter long.

100% linen 

Linen has very different qualities from cotton, and we could waffle on about it for hours. The first thing you will notice is that it is more expensive than cotton. There are two reasons for this: 

1. Cotton is far more widely produced, making it less expensive 

2. The spinning and weaving of linen is more labour intensive which adds to the manufacturing costs. 

Linen is notoriously more prone to creasing, for example a linen shirt will crease more easily than a cotton shirt, however we think this is part of linen’s charm. It is a more relaxed look and we have spent many months working on the finish of our 100% linen collection to make it perfectly crumpled, soft and inviting. 

Our linen has a vintage laundered finish. The flax that we use to make our linen is grown in Europe and finished and dyed in Portugal with the rest of our bed linen. One main feature is that much of our 100% linen is piece dyed, this means that the items are cut and hemmed before they are dyed and tumbled. This gives each piece an individual relaxed look and a heavenly feel. Dyeing in this way also creates a very slight irregularity in the colour, especially around the edges. This all adds to its charm and makes each piece look and feel like it’s been a favourite for years. 

Linen is super absorbent and has much more texture to it than cotton. This is because the fibres are more chunky which also makes the weave more open. This open weave allows air to pass through the fabric keeping you cooler in warm weather and trapping heat to keep you warmer in the winter months. How clever! 

The thread count of linen bedding is not important; it would be low compared to our cotton products because linen yarns are much thicker than cotton, so you can’t squeeze as many into a square inch as you can with cotton. Linen bedding is special; it’s not for those that like a crisp and perfectly ironed bed. It’s made for a relaxed bedroom, with no ironing needed. Looked after it will only get better with time. 

If you haven’t tried 100% linen before, give a pillowcase a go and see what you think. It’s like nothing else and we're all queuing up to get some on our own beds. 

100% Hemp 

Hemp is almost identical to linen in how it feels and even how it’s made, so much of what we have said about linen (above) is also applicable to hemp. It has a chunky weave, plenty of texture, is very absorbent and has a wonderfully relaxed look. 

However, hemp is a bit of a super-star in the sustainability world so a fabulous choice if you are looking to make a conscious step towards eco-bedding. The hemp plant needs little to no irrigation and is also naturally resistant to pests and disease so can be grown without the spraying of any nasty chemicals. 

So if you love linen and want to do that little bit more for the environment, why not try some of our 100% hemp bedding?