Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
I came across this picture on Martha Stewart Weddings a little while ago and it's got me inspired to create some of my own garden party decor. One of my favourite things about the warmer months (will winter ever end?!) is the chance to entertain outside, and nice lighting is key once dinner and drinks end and dusk slowly envelops the sky.
These little hanging votives have such a charming look and they're so easy to create yourself. First, grab a few glass and wire tea light votives, however many you'd like. I found these cute Mason jar-style ones at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
They're only $10 per set of 3.
Next, Buy a few rolls of thick, satin ribbon in whichever colour you like. I chose this baby pink option from Indigo as I thought its light colour would stay visible into the evening and would complement any garden party greenery.
Measure and cut out a few different lengths of ribbon so that your lighting will be staggered. Loop the ribbon pieces through the candle holder handles and tie them in a neat bow on one end. Be careful to ensure that no loose ends hang too close to where the flame of the candle will be. Hang your creations from sturdy branches. When you're ready for mood lighting, simply light white tea lights and drop them inside the holders. The twinkling ambience will make it hard to convince your guests to leave! Have anymore great diy project ideas for garden parties? Tweet me @ErynJean!
Your guests will love these healthy and delicious brownies.
Delicious and nutritious beets are the secret ingredient in these dark chocolate brownies.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8" square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2 Stir together the flour and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
3 Using an electric mixer, beat the melted butter with the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly; add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract and beat just until blended.
4 Add the flour and cinnamon mixture and beat until the batter is smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Add the beets and stir through until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
5 Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until a knife inserted in the centre of the pan comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
6 Cool completely before turning out the brownies and cutting them into
squares to serve.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 16 squares
Image: Maya Visnyei
Boasting a heart shape and a delightful blend of chocolate and fruit, these mini cakes are begging to be made and enjoyed this Valentine's Day.
We love the pairing of chocolate and fruit, so when this combination of sweet chocolate and slightly tart cranberry came together in the form of these adorable two-bite cakes, we knew it was a dessert bound to set hearts aflutter.
1 For the cranberry swirl, bring the cranberries, water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens to resemble jam, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely. In a bowl, beat together the cranberry mixture, cream cheese and flour until smooth; set aside.
2 For the mini-chocolate cakes, preheat the oven to 350F. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla, followed by the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Scrape 1/3 cup of the batter into each of eight greased 3"-wide mini-heart-shaped pans. Drop small spoonfuls of the cranberry mixture in the batter, gently swirling it with a skewer. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before drizzling with melted chocolate.