Yes, Lois, I know....many of you would never walk into a thrift store to look for used sheets. You just want to go into a store and buy SOME NICE SHEETS. I get that. So I'm gonna go a little deeper...
And you're right -- it is NOT as easy as reading the information on the package...
Of course, you
are looking for 100% cotton. But ALL COTTON IS NOT THE SAME.
like saying 100% beef. You have Filet Mignon at the high end of the spectrum, and hamburger at the low end. Both are "100% beef"....but they couldn't be more different.
In the good old days, percale sheets were made from extra-long-staple cotton. That means the cotton fiber is 1 1/5" long. Those vintage percale cotton sheets are still beautiful today -- after 50 or 60 years. THINK ABOUT THAT!! So -- what makes them so strong and durable? They were always, always made from extra-long-staple cotton.
Right now, there are two different types of long-staple cotton: Egyptian Cotton, and Pima Cotton.
However --when you see the term "Egyptian Cotton" on a package, it really means nothing. It could just be referring to the country of origin.
Pima cotton is also an extra-long staple cotton. However, it represents less than 1% of the cotton grown in the world.
And HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO BE LOOKING FOR:
Supima® is the trademark used to promote American-grown, extra-long
staple cotton. To bear the Supima® trademark, products must be sourced
through a licensed supply chain.
In the old days, thread count meant something. You counted the warp and the weft threads in a square inch of fabric -- added that number and the sum was your "thread count". Muslin was a coarse fabric with a thread count of 128 = Economy sheets. The definition of "percale' was a thread count of 180 or MORE = Luxury sheets.
sadly, at this point -- "thread count" has turned into a complete bogus marketing scam.& They often claim a thread count of
1000 or more... REALLY??? How powerful is the microscope you'd need to count that many threads in a single square inch?
Because it's not extra-long staple cotton
they're weaving, people!! It's spider web dust or dryer lint they gathered up and spun together...and those sheets are light weight and wimpy. When you sleep on them, they begin to pill...and they are TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE SHEETS.
So -- what thread count should you be looking for when you're shopping for new sheets? Before I answer that question -- I have to talk about one more thing...
In the old days, all cotton was created on a loom, using a simple satin weave. Fine cotton percale sheets were made from long-staple cotton strands that were woven over/under, over/under. The warp was the same as the weft.
THEN, with an eye to saving money by using inferior, cheaper, (think hamburger) cotton, they developed the "sateen" weave. Instead of an even warp and weft (a satin weave) -- the warp goes over one, and under four (or five or six). It is a way they can amp up the thread count...but, trust me -- this is NOT A QUALITY SHEET..
Although nobody uses the word "satin" in their marketing -- the ABSENCE
of the word "sateen" is the best you can hope for. And a good quality
satin-weave percale of extra-long staple cotton will have a thread count
of 300 or maybe 400.