Bed Linen - A Buying Guide

Choosing the right bed linen is a big decision with all sorts of variables. You’d be forgiven for finding it a little overwhelming. There’s your bed size to consider, thread count, weave and hand feel, and even different types of pillowcases.

There are a few significant moments in your relationship with a bed. There’s changing the sheets, which happens every week or so; there’s making the bed, which happens every day or so; and there’s sleeping in it, which happens for hours and hours, every single night. Ideally, you’d like each of those moments to be pure bliss. Right?

That’s why you need quality bed linen, the kind that fits you, your bed and your sleeping patterns. The kind that truly lasts, getting better and better with every wash.

What material makes for the comfiest sheets?

You can find bed linen on the market in everything from silk to polyester. But to really hit that sweet spot between softness, strength and breathability it’s got to be cotton. Extra long-staple cotton to be precise. That’s why Rise & Fall only do cotton sheets in two different textures: Soft & Smooth and Crisp & Cool.

What is extra-long-staple cotton?

The longer fibre length means you get a smoother surface, with fewer exposed fibre ends. It’s often used for high quality, everyday items that get used and washed again and again - like towels and sheets. These longer, stronger strands mean the fabric won’t fray, pill or wrinkle as easily. The colour won’t fade as quickly and stains will come out more easily too.

So if you’re wondering how to get bed linen that really lasts, this is the cotton for you. It’s the extra-long-staple cotton that makes high-quality sheets get softer and softer with every wash. Find out more about extra-long-staple cotton

Which cotton sheets should I choose?

Cotton sheets can vary hugely in quality and hand-feel. Though you may dabble in flannel or jersey bed linen, the material won’t age nearly as well. The secret is in the weave pattern - which affects how sturdy and soft your bed linen feels. At Rise & Fall we’ve finessed two very specific weave patterns; a sateen weave we call Soft & Smooth and a percale weave we call Crisp & Cool.

Soft & Smooth or Crisp & Cool?

Our Soft & Smooth bed linen, in 600 thread count, is good for you if:

  • You love the feeling of ultra-luxurious, buttery soft sheets against your skin.
  • You want that little bit of extra weight and cosiness.
Our four up/one down sateen technique gives this bedding the smoothest and softest of finishes - making it perfect for cooler months.

Our Crisp & Cool bed linen, in 400 thread count, is good for you if:

  • You want your bed to feel like it belongs in a luxury hotel.
  • You’re a hot sleeper and always hunting for the cool side of the pillow.
  • You want GOTS certified organic cotton, perfect for sensitive skin.
The one up/one down percale technique means your bedding will feel cool to the touch while being soft and gentle on your skin - making it perfect for the warmer months.

Whatever you choose there are a few things you never have to compromise on with Rise & Fall. Both our ranges of bed linen are:

  • highly breathable to keep you cool, calm and collected
  • made from the world's finest fibres: 100% extra-long staple cotton

What does thread count mean?

We measure thread count by literally counting the number of threads (horizontal and vertical) in one square inch of material. Usually, more threads make for smoother, more durable sheets. Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

The thread count also affects the weight and thickness of your bed linen. This is important because the thicker the sheets the less breathable they are and the hotter you will feel.  Given that temperature regulation is one of the most important factors to a good night's sleep, getting this aspect of bed linen right is crucial.

Ever heard someone wax lyrical about 1000 thread count bed linen?  They’re wrong - this kind of bed linen tends to be much thicker (more like a blanket) and very hot.  

Note that the weave also determines the thread count.  The maximum thread count for percale (one up, one down weave) bed linen is around 500; for sateen it’s much higher, going into the 1000s.

To summarise, there’s an ideal thread count for each weave: 400 for percale and 600 for sateen. Bedlinen with these thread counts provide the perfect balance between softness and comfort on the one hand, and breathability on the other.

Should I get a fitted or flat sheet?

For the undersheet, it’s really up to you. You may be the old fashioned type who swears by a hospital corner but if you wriggle around a lot and need your sheet to stay put, then a fitted sheet is the way to go.

A flat sheet can also add an extra layer of luxury - used between the duvet cover and your body. It brings a five-star hotel feel and adds a little extra weight to help you drift off into slumber. It’s also a must-have for the summer heatwave when a duvet is just too much.

What is the difference between an oxford pillowcase and a normal pillowcase?

In standardised bedding, there are two types of pillowcase:

  • the oxford pillowcase, that has an extra border of fabric around the edge
  • the standard (or housewife) pillowcase that has a simple seam round the edge, fitting neatly around the pillow.

Both have the same internal size, fit the same pillows, and are equally comfortable to sleep on. The choice depends more on the look you want to go for. We like two of each, as there’s something extra luxurious about seeing that oxford detailing on the top pillows. It makes us want to dive right in.