Buying guide: The truth about thread count
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.
What is thread count, really?
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.
What to look for when buying sheets
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!
What to avoid when buying sheets
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.
What do you prefer?
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.
Find the perfect gift for anyone on your list with these beautiful gifts all under $50.
We know: Expenses tend to add up over the holidays. From festive decorating to holiday entertaining and gift giving, of course, it’s hard to keep a budget under control. But giving a beautiful gift that will be loved and appreciated doesn’t mean spending a small fortune. Lovely, thoughtful gifts can be inexpensive yet meaningful. To help inspire you, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite gifts under $50!
1 Time For Tea Set: The perfect gift for the consummate tea lover on your shopping list this Christmas! This adorable tea set comes with a mug, a single-serve stainless steel tea infuser and a ceramic stir spoon, all perfectly perched on a wooden tray, making this easy to use any time. Trust us: Any tea lover will love this gift. Time For Tea Set, Indigo, $24.50.
2 All Natural Body Butter: Who doesn’t love the luxurious lather of a moisturizing body butter? This richly formulated, fair trade shea butter has vitamins A and E to quench dry skin and also has sweet almond and avocado oils for added moisture. Plus, this lotion’s hotel-chic packaging makes it a pretty countertop display, too! All Natural Body Butter, Bambeco, $22.
3 6x6 Instagram Collage: Help someone bring their Instagram photos to life with this beautiful Instagram display. Using Masterpix, photos are printed directly onto Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which is really thin, durable and clear. This is a great personalized gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive so they can display some of their favourite photos around the house. 6x6 Instagram Collage, Masterpix, $30.
4 Milk & Rose Glass Taper Candle Holders: Candles are a common Christmas gift but this year, why not give something a little different? These taper candle holders are absolutely exquisite and will delight any hostess who loves to make her table extra special when she entertains. Milk & Rose Glass Taper Candle Holders, White Lilac, $50.
5 Wood Calendar: We love the idea of personalized gifts and this wooden calendar is not only perfectly personal but also very handy heading into the new year. Choose 12 beautiful photos and turn them into a 12-month calendar. The printed pages sit in a handcrafted clipboard made from reclaimed beetle pine. This is a gift that will be treasured for years to come. Wood Calendar, Artifact Uprising, $30.
6 Pryce Bowl: At just $49.95, this bowl looks a lot more expensive than it is. Made of blown glass and featuring a hand painted platinum silver ring around the polished rim, this bowl will make a great centrepiece on any table. Its clean, classic look gives it an enduring appeal and it will look right at home on tables for generations to come. Pryce Bowl, Crate and Barrel, $49.95.
7 Cable Knit Pillow Cover: These super soft cable knit pillow covers are made from 100% organic cotton and will turn any sofa into an ideal napping spot. In a stylish shade of metal grey, this neutral pillow will easily slip into any decor scheme., Plus, check the website for the matching throw! Cable Knit Pillow Cover, Boll & Branch, $45.
8 Striped Marble and Wood Bookend: The bibliophile on your Christmas shopping list is sure to appreciate this gift. These bookends are made in India from interlocking pieces of mango wood and marble so not only will they help keep their bookcases in order, they’ll do so in some serious style! Striped Marble and Wood Bookend, West Elm, $49.
Wrap the prettiest presents under the tree with these 10 essentials
Instead of traditional red, white and green, add a pop of pink to your holiday packages this year! This pretty paper features a repeat candy cane pattern that’s sweet and whimsical. Illustrated by Canadian artist Lindsay Stephenson, this paper is sure to charm this Christmas. There are three sheets per roll and rolls are shrink wrapped to protect the paper. Candy Cane Wrapping Paper, The Penny Paper Co., $12.
This red and white wrapping twine will instantly add a festive look to all your gifts. It’s also perfect for securing cellophane if you’re preparing plates of baked goods to give. Red and White Twisted Rope Ribbon, Minor Thread on Etsy, starting at $3.25.
Dress up your gifts with pretty ornaments affixed atop with twine or ribbon. These 100% wool snowflake ornaments will not only make every present look special, but they’re also an extra little gift for someone to hang on their tree and think of you for Christmases to come. Felt Snowflake Ornaments, West Elm, $6 for set of 4.
Printed on luxe paper and featuring an adorable winter-inspired illustration, this gift tag will make a wonderful first impression! Choose from four different paper types to personalize your gift tags just as you like them. Winter Snow Friends Gift Tags, Minted, starting at $30.
Recreating a vintage-looking holiday scene, this gift wrap from Rifle Paper Co is perfect for dressing up your presents. If you can’t get enough of this pattern, greeting and ornament cards are also available. Holiday Snow Scene Gift Wrap, Rifle Paper Co., $8.50.
Washi tape is perfect for decorating everything from gifts and cards to envelopes before you pop them into the mail. Add your own personal touch to all of your holiday gifts and cards with this variety pack of Washi tape, which features six rolls in different patterns. Christmas Washi Tape, Hobby Hoppers on Etsy, $11.
This two-pack gift wrap set comes with a festive plaid pattern and a fun, printed pattern expressing the cheerful sentiments of the season. Printed on premium paper with a satin finish, these co-ordinating papers will add a decidedly chic look to all your gifts this Christmas. Holiday Wrapping Paper Gift Set, Ashley Brooke Designs, $30.
This cheeky Christmas card paints an all too familiar scene for many of us (guilty as charged!). Make friends and family chuckle when you send out these less traditional but highly entertaining holiday cards this season. Everyone Was on Their Phone Card, Indigo, $15.95.
We have two words for these bunny Christmas gift tags: Simply adorable. This pack of 10 gift tags is professionally printed on white card stock and comes with white and gold metallic twine for an added touch of chic. Bunny Christmas Gift Tags, Paula and Waffle on Etsy, $8.
You probably won’t get through the holiday season without needing a gift bag or two so stock up on bags of all sizes to fit those awkwardly shaped gifts or ones you just don’t have time to wrap. This premium bag has sturdy handles so it can bear the weight of a heavy(ish) gift, yet looks stylish all the same. Oh What Fun Plaid Bag, Indigo, $6.
We look to a Toronto abode for eight Swedish seasonal decor ideas worth stealing.
Come winter, the coziness and understated beauty that define Scandinavian design are all the more welcome – and this Toronto abode lets it be known. Read on for eight Swedish decor ideas worth stealing this season.
1 Get adventive: Forgo the chocolate Advent calendar this year in favour of a fabulous DIY creation. Count down the days until Christmas with 24 mini paper gift bags. Embellish each with natural finds like twigs and sprigs of greenery before securing them onto a fabric-covered corkboard.
2 Embrace nature: Bring the serenity of Scandi style into your home by drawing inspiration from the wintry outdoors. Here, a fresh evergreen wreath and garland, bird ornaments and a stack of logs subtly spruce up the fireplace wall.
3 Style strategically: Nordic design is all about capturing the magic of minimalism – even at Christmas. Scope out simple yet striking seasonal adornments like the ornate paper snowflakes festooning this banister, which nod to the holidays but are still in keeping with the entryway’s calming neutral palette.
4 Pare back parcels: Let’s face it: Wrapping holiday presents in layers of red and green is a tad overdone. Go against the grain this year and opt for soft-hued paper, such as this white ribbed style. Then adorn your gifts with burlap ribbon and sleek DIY gift tags.
5 Add whimsy: While there’s nothing wrong with decking out your home in an array of colourful baubles, the Swedes favour subtler star-shaped decorations. Think of the bunting seen here as an alternative to string lights that’s quieter but still offers the same dreamy quality.
6 Create seasonal swag: Make your living space sparkle and shine by fashioning your own festive garland. Cut holiday shapes out of shimmery paper or wallpaper swatches and stitch them together delicately with white thread.
7 Welcome neutrals: How do you take a muted space from sterile to sophisticated? Home in on the details. Elements like mismatched chairs and a non-operational fireplace filled with logs lend enough interest to this bright dining room so that, come December, a few festive accents feel like plenty.
8 Layer textures: When temperatures dip into the negative double-digits, we crave all types of comfort. Emulate the Swedish way of combatting the cold with heaps of texture, whether through small details (stylish place settings and votive candle holders wrapped in yarn) or larger additions (a faux sheepskin throw).