Why is Egyptian cotton considered to be among the best cotton? It starts with the weather! Egypt’s warm climate makes for a longer growing season – which produces longer and stronger cotton fibers. The end result is some of the most wonderfully soft and absorbent cotton available.
Then those fibers are made into strands of thread, of two or more ply of yarn that are circular when cut in cross section. This thread is smaller in diameter yet stronger than other cottons. Smaller thread means that more threads per square inch can be use to create stronger fabric which is light in weight yet breathes well. Cotton grown in the Egyptian fields will also produce less lint and therefore will not pill.
Photo courtesy of Lands’ End.
The Egyptians were skilled at making thread from plant. That thread is then woven into a fabric, and the bedding made from it is measured by the thread count. Choosing a high thread count sheets is not the only gauge of quality. In the case of cotton grown in Egypt, the higher thread count means the fabric will be incredibly strong and will last for years and years. If cared for properly, Egyptian produced cotton fabric can last for decades.
Percale means that the thread count is at least 180 count and was first made in Wamsutta Mills at New Bedford Massachusetts in 1876. Many people believe that percale is a fabric type; but it simply refers to the thread count. Percale can be cotton or a blend of cotton and other fibers.
Combed Cotton is a cleaning process that eliminates impurities and short, less desirable fibers.
Muslin is a rough and tough sheet. They are generally used in children’s character theme. Thread counts range from 128-140.
Pima or Supima is a high quality cotton whose long fiber staple is similar to that of Egyptian cotton. The differences are geographical only. Pima is grown in the southwestern part (Texas to Arizona) of the U.S. and Egyptian is grown along the Nile River. Supima is made from extra-long staple Pima. The soft hand of Pima and Supima make them very desirable in bedding.
Embroidering on this fabric is a pleasure. It won’t stretch, distort or otherwise create problems for the embroiderer. People have been doing this sort of decoration for centuries. Consider that just a few decades ago a “Hope Chest” was a common piece of furniture in any young woman’s life. She filled it with linens that she had embroidered with great love and anticipation.
Today’s sheet sets can come pre-decorated, ready to be cozy in and beckons you to slumber. I love to place a little of my marvelous craft upon my sets. I am not likely to go with the usual patterns and/or placement; I did create a little something I felt was different. These sheets are not Egyptian cotton, but they are comfortable and very soft.
I first decided on two designs that I combined. The swan is one I have had so long, I have no idea where I found it. I did see a swan right here at AnnTheGran that was so great, I wish I had seen it sooner. I liked the swan outline, because it is just elegant and reasonably priced. The wonderful 'water' design is from the collection by Mesiano and available here at AnnTheGran. The Mesiano designs are rooted in machine embroidery done by John Deer, a third generation embroiderer. The family began machine embroidery in 1910 and digitizing was called "punching."
I naturally measured the centers of the pillow cases and chose to place the lace point of the design just above the cuff of the case. The swan was floating above the lace as if it were water. Placing the top sheet seemed to be a little strange to me because I wanted it to be lying correctly when I turned the sheet down. Therefore, I had to sew it out upside down.
The really tricky part was to determine where to place the fitted sheet design. It was simple to determine where the center of the sheet was, but my mattress is a rather thick one, so I needed to figure out where to place my design including the depth of the mattress.
In order to determine where to place that design, from the top, I measured the mattress, a few inches for the under tuck and a few inches for the top of the fitted sheet. It came to 22” for my sheet. I love having a little something on the top of my fitted sheet. It is not only attractive, but when I make the bed, I know that the swan is on the short side of the mattress.
When I do this again, and I will, I plan to move the design further down the fitted sheet so that it will be just below the pillow cases and just above the turned over sheet. I am delighted with how that set came out. I hope you will try it yourself.