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.
Satisfy even the most discerning epicureans on your list with one of these fashionable foodie-approved finds.
We all have that person in our life who can prepare an intricate meal without so much as glancing at a recipe. That person who dabbles in all things culinary related on a daily basis and has a kitchen pantry that rivals that of celebrity chef Mark McEwan (or it at least comes close). Not sure what to treat them to this holiday season? Browse through our list of food-related gift ideas for inspiration.
A heart-smart treat for the health food aficionado in your life, this carefully curated six-pack of cold-pressed juices contains almost two pounds of fruit and veg in every bottle! Cold-pressed Juices, Dose Juice, $42 per 6-piece pack.
This elegant Art Deco-style coffee dripper is for your friend who has one foot planted firmly at home and the other off in some distant Parisian patisserie. Hario stainless copper Coffee Dripper, Indigo, $100.
If the Bat Cave had a coffee maker, this would be it. Nespresso’s latest boasts a matte black finish befitting anyone in need of a caffeine jolt before saving Gotham City. VertuoLine Coffee Machine in Matte Black, Nespresso, $249.
This high-ranking mustard deserves your salute. Flavoured with decadent wine and truffles – and only available for a limited time – it’s a covetable condiment fit for any top official. Black Truffle and Chablis Mustard, Maille, $43 US.
These striking mugs echo exotic corners of the earth that yield top-notch coffee, from Sumatra to Costa Rica. Pair a mug with beans from the same region for a gift guaranteed to please any java junkie. Stamp Art Mugs, Starbucks, $19 each.
These pretty, precious and feminine flasks are almost too stylish to sully with alcohol – but everyone has a friend who would! Stainless steel Odeme Flasks, 90 ml, West Elm, $29 US each.
This vintage-look colander is a timeless classic that takes an everyday kitchen tool from dull to display-worthy. Copper-plated steel Colander in Gold, Anthropologie, $34 US.
This Scandi-chic French press in pale pink (with a pretty copper detail) is not only a beautiful vessel for your morning brew, but also an ideal addition to any open shelf. Ceramic French Press in Sand, Yield Design Co., $120 US.
Treat fans of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to “the gift that keeps on giving.” Translation: their very own Jelly of the Month Club gift set! (Reference lost on you? See here.) Griswold Jelly of the Month Club Gift Set, Retro Festive, $40.
It may resemble salami, but this treat is made entirely out of chocolate. Containing hazelnuts, almonds, cherries and even rum, the confection is a certified crowd-pleaser – especially when presented on a cutting board. Chocolate salami, SOMA Chocolatemaker, $23.
Count on Alessi to make a conventional utensil undeniably sleek. Crafted from stainless steel and boasting a unique shape, the modern citrus squeezer also doubles as a pestle. Valerio Citrus Squeezer, Alessi, $71.
Building a beautiful cheese platter is something of an art form, but it helps to have stylish spreaders to complement the nibbles. This gorgeous set with rose quartz handles will make any table sparkle. Rose Quartz Spreaders, HomeSense, $15 4-piece set.
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.
Peonies wallpaper in Copper by Rifle Paper Co.
Wake up your space with one of these graphic and colourful wallcoverings.
Graphic and gripping, colourful and curious, bold and bright – these imaginative wallcoverings are no wallflowers, and they’re sure to energize any area of your home.
Few wallpaper designs are able to draw us into a world of whimsy quite like this quirky and colourful hot air balloon print. It’s the perfect fit for a bright modern nursery or an eclectic workspace. Schumacher Balloons wallpaper in Multi, through designers, Bilbrough & Co., $372 per single roll.
Inspired by the intricate shapes of crystals, this graphic wallpaper will literally have you peering at a room from an entirely new angle. Add to the unexpected look by opting for it in an emerald green hue. Cole & Son Curio Quartz wallpaper in Emerald Green, through designers, Kravet Canada, $234 per double roll.
Channel the tropics with this vibrant Osborne & Little wallpaper, which showcases flamingos peering through exotic flora. As far as we’re concerned, the flamingo trend is here to stay. Osborne & Little Matthew Williamson Cubana Flamingo Club W6800 wallpaper in 01, through designers, Primavera, $406 per double roll.
A true showpiece on its own, this bold patterned wallpaper draws from global influences. Featuring exotic flora and fauna, the print reflects a life well travelled. Thibaut Trade Routes Goa wallpaper in Blue, through designers, Kravet Canada, $128 per single roll.
Beloved stationary brand Rifle Paper Co. partnered with modern fabric company Hygge & West to bring forth beautifully designed wall coverings, such as this oh-so-dainty and delightful floral print. Peonies wallpaper in Copper, Rifle Paper Co., $190 US per double roll.
Portland-based interior designer Caitlin Wilson knows a thing or two about fashioning pretty and playful textiles. Take this delicate floral wallpaper for instance, which has a way of breathing new life into a space. Blooms Grande wallpaper in White, Caitlin Wilson, $178 US per double roll.
Add dimension and personality to your space with elegant wallpaper like this hand-screen printed option from designer Jill Malek. It will instantly lend your home a feminine glam feel. Peel wallpaper in Blush Gold, Jill Malek, $170 per single roll.
If there’s going to be an elephant in the room, it might as well be through this eclectic black and white wallpaper. While it may be tempting to apply the paper on multiple surfaces, we suggest starting small and using it to create an accent wall. Abnormals Anonymous Gossip wallpaper in Men in Black, NewWall, $95 per yard.