Bedding Material 101 - Cotton


otton bedding is popular due to many factors. This natural fibre is greatly versatile and soft. You can select between different types of cotton, such as crisp yet soft long-staple cotton or warm Flannel. Most of the cotton bed sheets are highly breathable, durable, and easy to clean. 

Many are reasonably priced, while some grades of cotton fabrics can be pricey. The basic difference among types of cotton lies in their staple length. The staple length refers to the fibre’s length used for weaving the cotton into the bedding. There are three different staple lengths:


  • Short staple: 1-1/8 inch
  • Long staple: 1-1/4 inch
  • Extra-long staple: 1-3/8 to 2 inches 


The longer the staple, the fewer fabric ends will be exposed in the woven cotton fabrics, a synonym to better quality, softer and more durable beddings. Different Types of Cotton, classified by staple length, are:


Upland Cotton

Upland cotton is the most common short-staple cotton. The American classic comprises 95% of the cotton planted in the US. It's ideal for everyday products, including bed sheets. 

  • Pros: Affordable, durable, low maintenance. 
  • Cons: Rougher and less soft than long staple cotton bedding varieties.


Pima Cotton 

Pima belongs to the family of medium to extra-long staple fibres. Beddings made from Pima cotton are luxuriously smooth with a natural sheen. Traditionally grown in Peru, Pima cotton is now widely planted in southwest America. 

  • Pros: Extra strong staple, longer longevity, resistant to tearing, wrinkling, fading, and pilling. Smoother and softer than upland cotton.  
  • Cons: Relatively more expensive but still accessible.


Egyptian Cotton

Widely considered the most luxurious variety, Egyptian cotton is an extra-long staple variety. Like Pima cotton, Egyptian cotton also tends to be soft, vibrant, and high in performance. It’s a good choice for those who want super-soft bed sheets at any cost. 

  • Pros: Makes the softest and smoothest cotton fabric, crisp and breathable.
  • Cons: The real ones can be quite expensive. 

Both Pima and Egyptian cotton share similar characteristics. The difference lies in their origin – Pima is primarily planted in the USA, while Egyptian cotton thrives in the warm and dry atmosphere of the Nile River Valley. 


Flannel Cotton 

Flannel cotton is soft, medium staple cotton with a nappe or fuzzy finish. The napped finish comes from brushing or loosely spun weave, and the result is a soft fabric with snuggly-warm qualities. It's often woven with tartan and plaid patterns, making it a favorite fabric for bedding in the winter.

  • Pros: Soft, cozy and great for keeping warm during winter; heavy-weight and thicker, affordable. 
  • Cons: It starts piling up over time, creating little fabric balls on the surface, may trap heat. 


Organic Cotton

Organic cotton has become increasingly popular in recent years given broader awareness and adoption of sustainable lifedata-style. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton is a special species that does not require heavy and frequent use of pesticides, the chemical compounds that degrade and pollute soil. Organic cotton is also more water efficient in its growth than conventional cotton. Apart from those, individuals with sensitive skin conditions and are prone to allergies prefer organic cotton to the conventional counterpart to mitigate unwanted skin irritations. 


Apart from the type of cotton used, the weaving method also determines the texture of cotton bedding. The weaving process involves combining warp (lengthwise yarns) and weft (crosswise threads) components to generate a woven structure. Here are some common kinds:

Percale Weaves: One of the most well-known and recognized weaves for bed sheets is Percale Weaves. The weaves are presented in a crisscross form on multiple sides. Percale weaves are known for its breathability, suitable for warm weather uses and hot sleepers. 


Sateen Weaves: Bedsheets that are woven in sateen data-style are considered as Sateen Weaves. The surface of this sheet feels more fibrous, smooth, and luxurious. It also renders an elegant shine in outlook.


Twill Weaves: This weave renders a twill data-style that seems like diagonal lines on the sheet surface, as the name signifies. It has a similar appearance to that of denim. They are easy to drape, sturdy, and durable. 

In summary, longer staple length and thinner/finer fibres are often indicators of higher quality and softer cotton products. The weaving patterns, on the other hand, determine the properties of cotton fabrics. The sateen weave makes cotton fabrics smooth and shiny, while the twill weave contributes to the durability of cotton fabric. The percale or plain weave is one of the most popular patterns for granting fabrics the cooling and breathable features.