Why Egyptian cotton
Why Egyptian cotton
Egyptian cotton has not gained such a reputation without reason over the past three centuries. Egyptian cotton "is" the world's finest cotton and the following characteristics are what sets Egyptian cotton apart from other natural fibers:
- The length of the fibers ranging from 1 ½ inches to 2 ¼ inches makes it possible to make the finest of yarns without sacrificing the strength of the yarn
- The strength of the fibers makes fabrics more solid and more resistant to stress
- Its ability to absorb liquids gives fabrics made of Egyptian cotton deeper, brighter and more resistant colors
- Its softness feels like nothing else in the world
Egypt: Weather and Soil
Egypt’s moderate year-round climate and the fertile soil of the Nile River are ideal for cotton production and a primary reason for superior quality of Egyptian cotton. During the 45 days when the fibers are forming and maturing they need very stable weather, which is the case in Egypt during the months of July and August. The result is a superior quality of cotton high in thread count and with long staple fibers.
Hand-Picked and Specially-Processed
Hand picking ensures that the fibers stay well spread and soft. Once harvested, Egyptian cotton is processed on a roller gin covered by natural leather and treated by a vegetal non-chemical tan that causes no damage to the fibers. Centuries of experienced skills and knowledge of the cotton industry contribute to the value of Egypt’s product.
From Seed to Bale
Egyptian cotton passes through the following stages in production:
Planting Stage: This starts by the end of February in Upper Egypt and continues until early April in Lower Egypt.
Harvesting: Egyptian cotton is hand-picked in September and October.
Ginning: A simple roller gin that is covered by natural leather then gins Cotton. One ginning box produces 100 to 120 pounds per hour.
Baling: After ginning, Egyptian cotton is baled and sold in rings. The Cotton Arbitration and Testing General Organization (CATGO) monitor the cotton from harvesting to baling, to ensure the purity of the cotton varieties.
Thread count refers to how many threads make up one square inch of sheet fabric, including the horizontal threads (called weft) and the vertical threads (called warp.)
Most weavers consider 500 to 600 threads per inch to be the maximum count – but extra threads (called picks) can be twisted into the weft, adding to the thread count without actually doing anything to make the fabric softer or more luxurious. As a general rule, you’ll find 400 to 600 count sheets to be very soft and comfortable, yet far less expensive (and far stronger) than higher thread counts.
120-180 Thread Count -This range is most suitable for basic domestic use
200 Thread Count - very cool and light cotton
400 Thread Count – soft yet more substantial Egyptian cotton than the 200 count
600 Thread Count - Here is where the exclusive end of quality begins, It is a beautiful luxury.
800 – 1000 Thread Count and UP - Ultimate Luxury, pure indulgence, a step above the 600 Thread Count.
Weave – Do You like it Soft or Crisp?
Sheets that don’t specify any particular type of weave are generally a basic weave with the same amount of threads in the weft and warp. These tend to be low thread count and quite inexpensive.
When it comes to named weaves, the two most common are percale and sateen. Like basic-weave sheets, percale has the same number of warp and weft threads, but the cotton is combed, woven tightly, and is of a higher quality than basic weaves. Percale sheets are strong and durable, with a crisp feel that many people love. Choose percale sheets with a thread count between 200 and 400 if you want a lighter fabric, 400 to 600 if you prefer a heavier fabric.
Sateen sheets (not to be confused with satin, which is a fabric, not a weave) are very soft and silky, and have a slight sheen, thanks to a higher percentage of warp threads than weft threads. Although this makes sateen sheets extra soft, it also makes them likelier to pill and rip, so these are not the best choice if durability is a concern, such as on a child’s bed. If you love the sensuous feel of sateen sheets, choose a set with a thread count between 300 and 600 for strength without a loss of softness.
Fabric – Does It Matter If It Comes From Egypt?
While you’ll find many choices of bed sheet fabric, cotton and cotton/poly blends are the most popular by far. But although blends are better at resisting wrinkles -- and are durable and inexpensive -- nothing beats the comfort and breathability of 100% cotton sheets.
But even after narrowing it down to cotton, you still have choices. Does it really make a difference if the cotton is Egyptian, Pima, or no particular variety? Well, yes, actually, it does. Egyptian cotton is the highest-quality cotton in the world, with long, silky fibers that weave into exceptionally soft and comfortable sheets. Pima is a similar, long-fiber variety of cotton that is grown in the United States, Australia, and Peru. It’s often sold under the brand name Supima. It’s an excellent choice as well.
If the sheets are cotton, but don’t specify 100% Egyptian, Pima, or Supima, then the cotton is probably a lower-quality variety that won’t feel as nice against your skin, and may not be as durable. You’ll pay more for Egyptian or Supima sheets, but the extra cost is worth it. After all, you’ll spend eight hours every night on those sheets, so make them the best you can afford.