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.
Ginger Pear Bellini cocktail recipe.
Ginger Pear Bellini cocktail recipe.
Serve your classic bellini with a twist by adding sugar pear and ginger liqueur.
1 Slice the pear very thinly and place the slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; freeze until solid (the frozen pear slices will help keep the champagne cocktail icy cold).
2 Place the pear juice, French ginger and cognac liqueurs and the black walnut bitters in a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice; shake well.
3 Place 2 frozen pear slices into each flute. Strain the liquid from the shaker into the two flutes and top with the champagne.
Tip: *Bitters refers to alcohol that has had botanical ingredients like roots, herbs or bark added. Originally created as medicinal tonics, they give a flavourful punch to cocktails.
Makes: 2 servings.
Use gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic.
Nothing tastes like Christmas more than a batch of your best cookies! Gift them, eat them or leave some for Santa, we've got enough recipes to treat everyone this holiday.
Is it just us or does the scent of cookies baking in the oven smell even better during the holiday season? Whether you're whipping up your best batch for a cookie exchange party or for gifts, we've rounded up our favourite recipes to ensure everyone can enjoy a sweet treat this Christmas!
Get in the festive spirit with one of our favourite gingerbread cookie recipes! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
We think it’s about time the classic gingerbread man (and lady!) got a whole new wardrobe. Click here for seven super-sweet outfits made from bulk-food store candy that look almost too good to eat.
For years you’ve been overlooked and underestimated, relegated to the realm of basic, boring baked goods. We’re here to change all that, with a sophisticated makeover courtesy of a layer of fondant and a simple monogram. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Using just three household ingredients you can whip up a batch of traditional Scottish shortbread cookies for the holiday season. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These adorable gingerbread guys are great for a cookie exchange or kid-friendly holiday party. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Nothing reminds us of England more than a hot cup of steeped tea on a blustery winters day. Except, perhaps, if that cuppa is enjoyed with a melt-in-your-mouth cookie delicately laced with the distinctive bergamot orange flavour of Earl Grey. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Recipe developer and food stylist Tanya Eng uses gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
French desserts are synonymous with elegance: And, although they won't be prepared in a Parisian patisserie, these mini madeleines are no exception. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
This 21st-century twist on a classic afternoon tea treat incorporates a quality sea salt into the caramel, a flavour combination much loved by chocolate makers the world over. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Embrace the flavours of the autumn season with molasses, ginger and cinnamon cookies. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
A light, buttery cookie with the perfect touch of raspberry preserve. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Try this decadent twist on traditional shortbread for an incredibly sweet treat. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Prepare to be bathed in the sweet comfort of vanilla-chocolate overload that goes beyond the basics of cookie making. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These crisps are cinnamon graham crackers all grown up, great for snacking or dunking! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These wondrously crispy and chewy cookies are not only beautiful, but they pack a powerful chocolate punch, as well. Get the cookie recipe here.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without frosted cookies. Ornaments of all shapes are especially fun to make, either as edible treats for the tree or simply for the cookie plate. Click here to get the recipe.
What if you asked your brain what would happen if you had the foresight to roll a butter-taste-based batter around in a cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking? Click here for the recipe.
You'll love these tasty gingersnap cookies, perfect for dipping into a tall glass of milk! Click here for the recipe.
Enjoy these decadent chocolate cookies with a chocolate gnache filling. Click here for the recipe.
Originally a spicy chocolate Mexican cookie, this recipe has been changed to have a more contemporary flair with the addition of sea salt. Click here for the recipe.