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Tips when purchasing percale or sateen bed linen

What is percale?

The word "percale" is derived from the Persian word "pargalah" meaning piece of cloth. Percale is a closely woven fabric used mostly in bed linens. The weave results in a strong medium weight fabric that stands up well to laundering. Percale refers to the weave and not the content of the fibre or yarn. Percale can be either a blend of polyester and cotton, for example 50/50 polyester cotton or 100% cotton. So the word percale refers to the weave of the fabric and not it's content. The terms "thread count" and "percale" is often used together. A thread count of 200 or higher is considered percale but sometimes 180thread count is also considered percale. Thread count or yarn count refers to the number warp yarn (lengthways) and weft yarn (crossways), which cross each other in a square inch. (2.5cm square)

What is the difference between percale and sateen?

Percale is a stronger, crisper fabric; because of the square weave method used to produce the cloth. Sateen is woven by using the sateen weave. Unlike the square weave's consistent "over then under" construction, sateen fabric warp yarns "float" over four filling yarns before interlacing under the fifth yarn. This pattern is then alternated on adjacent warp yarns, which keeps the construction tight. Sateen construction is cheaper to weave on the higher thread counts in order to save costs. Sateen is a shinier, softer fabric and appears to be a higher quality fabric because of the sheen. The material content and thread count contribute to the quality of the fabric. Thread count still applies to sateen weave.

What is Egyptian cotton?

Egyptian cotton refers to cotton exclusively grown in Egypt along the Nile River. The special growing conditions, high humidity and rich soil found in the area result in a long fibered cotton, 3.8 to 5.7cm long. When woven into cloth the fabric is very strong and smooth to the touch. Thread count is 200 or higher. The thread count refers to the number of warp and weft threads to be found in a square inch (2.5cm square) of fabric. Percale can be woven from Egyptian cotton. Since the term Egyptian cotton refers to the actual fibre, it does not automatically mean that Egyptian cotton is percale. Egyptian cotton can also be used in sateen weave.