200-250 thread count - 100% Cotton sheets
100% cotton percales should be washed in cold water, and line or tumble dried. They do tend to wrinkle, and can be expected to shrink 1-2% the first time they are washed. This shrinkage is taken into account when the sheets are manufactured. For this reason, they may fit loosely before laundering, and provide a snug fit afterwards.
Often, you'll see fabrics with a "sateen weave," which gives one side of the fabric a different satin-like texture and luster. This is achieved through a special elaborate process at the mill, where the fabric is woven. First, the fabric is woven in such a way that the threads are twisted on the front side of the fabric. Then, the fabric is "calendered" or passed under a steam-roller-like apparatus that applies 2000 lbs of pressure per square inch. Technically, the weave of a sateen is different enough to pull it out of the percale category altogether, and set it apart as its own fabric type.
Percale: In-depth information
Percale fabric begins its life as two sets of undyed, interwoven threads, known
as a "greycloth" that will later have its color and pattern "sprayed" on. Since
the threads are woven at a 1:1 ratio, the same number of threads will be found
along one inch of the length, and one inch of the width. The number of threads
along one inch (in each direction) makes up the fabric's "thread count".
The thread count of the fabric determines its density, and that generally gives
you a good gauge of its softness, although there are other factors that impact
the softness of the fabric even more than its thread count. One such factor is
The content of percale can vary widely. Though many people assume that
"percale" means a polyester-cotton blend, this is untrue. A percale can be made
of 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or any combination in between. Even a high
thread count 60/40 percale blend won't be as soft or luxuriant as a lower thread
count 100% cotton. Also, a dark colored cotton percale will feel stiffer than a
lighter colored percale with the same thread count.
Even within cotton itself, there are many differences in grade. Just as grapes
grown in certain regions are favored by wine connoisseurs over grapes grown in
others, the quality of cotton can be estimated by its origin. Our own domestic
cotton is an excellent breed called "pima" cotton. This is a long-staple cotton, and is relatively
inexpensive, considering its high quality. The fertile Nile valley which also
produces the same breed of Pima Cotton as the United States, calls their more
luxuriant textile "Egyptian Cotton." With its longer, silkier, and thicker
fibers, this cotton is woven into the absolute best percales. Unfortunately,
since it must be imported from Egypt, it carries with it a heavy price tag.
At the other end of the spectrum, some imported percales are very inexpensive,
and for good reasons. A combination of low thread count and high ratios of
polyester to cotton causes these percales to rip easily, feel rough to the
touch, and worst of all, pill. Pilling is that sand-paper feel that sheets can
get after washing. If you find your sheets doing this, and are bothered by it,
consider upgrading to a higher thread count, and better content. Though this
may mean more expense, you really do get what you pay for. All of our percales are domestically produced.
Percale fabrics are generally available in widths great enough to provide a
sleeping surface without any add-ons or seams. Extremely large or thick
mattresses may make add-ons necessary. Every effort will be made to not have any seams on the sleep surface.