Why can't I have sheets like my mother-in-law?

Begonia2005July 15, 2014

I have tried to get some really nice sheets that feel very silky, very soft, and very restful when I slip in bed.
My mother-in-law has one such fitted sheet in the bed we sleep in when we visit. It feels divine when I get in bed.
It is an old sheet that she has had for many years - so I don't know what quality level it was considered back in the day when she got it, and I am not sure she knows either.

Knowing how frugal she is and how she always goes for the lowest price she can get away with, I don't think she ever ventured into anything of the Sferra/Matouk/Peacock Alley types. Could it be because this cotton sheet may have become like silk from so many years of washing?

At the same time, it has no rips or holes in it but it does feel quite thin yet strong overall - which is superb for the summer. What comes to mind when I touch it is silk.

I, on the other hand, have been sticking my nose into luxury sheets (or should I call them "so-called" luxury sheets) in the hope that I will be able to buy some amazing level of softness like my mother-in-law has. Not that I can afford luxury linens, exactly; but I did manage to get a discontinued Peacock Alley Duvet Cover from Tuesday Morning once.
I also just got my son a Ralph Lauren Sateen Dunham sheet set and while this might not be considered "luxury", it was still supposed to feel nice.

Both DID feel nice at the store, especially the PA which also has nice, quality stitching (the RL not so much); but once I washed them that film of "something" from the manufacturer goes away, and only a somewhat rough sheet is left.

Both, including the PA, which is supposed to be officially "luxurious", are VERY FAR from my mother-in-law's old beaten sheet.

Although they seem sturdy and well made (except that RL's stitches are questionable) at the end of the day they still have some level of subtle roughness beneath the apparently soft make on top...or somewhere in there.

I should mention I did the baking soda, vinegar rinse and washing again trick to "break them in" after purchase, plus perfect pressing with a strong iron steamer... and it's still not the "soft" I have in mind.

Maybe I acquired the "Princess and the Pea" syndrome?

I have heard so many people complaining about post-purchase-and-washing roughness and some even saying that truly high quality, durable, silky-soft cotton sheets don't even exist anymore...that I wonder whether I should even waste my time looking.

Any suggestion for a brand guaranteed to give me that "waow" feel AFTER washing would be appreciated.

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I'd like to find some nice 'soft' sheets also. my favorite set I bought about 30 yrs ago at Mervyns. since they are gone I don't know where to go. I checked the label on the top sheet and don't find them being made/sold anywhere these days. The bottom sheet wore thru a number of yrs back.

I do see a lot of sheets that say they are soft and then include 'sateen' in the description. I stay away from them because my memory of 'sateen' (from about 48 yrs ago when I worked in a fabric store) is that it is NOT soft.

I really need a new set... I have a few sets that are not very soft. a few from my sister and a few from the goodwill. one set from GW is soft but tho marked as Q size, it isn't! I do use the top sheet but can't use the bottom.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:28AM
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I don't know about luxury sheets; mine are from Land's End. I have a 15 year old set of their oxford cloth sheets--the bottom sheet especially has become very smooth and soft. My guess is that they are around 250 or 300 thread count.

Part of what you are looking for may just be the effect of time and wear and washing on a decent quality cotton sheet.

Try looking into the cotton from which the sheets are made. That makes a difference, too.

Combed cotton is a step above just plain old cotton. In combed cotton, the fibers are combed and aligned in the same direction, so the threads are smoother.

A step up from that is Egyptian or Supima or Pima cotton--all cottons with a longer fiber, so fewer ends to poke out of the thread and make pills and feel "rough." Turkish cotton is getting up into the same ranks, IMO.

It's a combination of the type of cotton used, how the cotton is combed and spun into thread and how the thread is woven that makes a sheet soft or silky.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:39AM
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Have you checked the fitted sheet for a label? You might have to check quite thoroughly, since the labels on the older sheets (I have some from the 1940s) can be tiny and roll up into the seams after awhile.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I too have very old sheets from MIL and can't match them for softness or durability anywhere. I know she didn't buy anything fancy...it was just what was available at that time was a far higher quality.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:48AM
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... and of course they've been washed a bazillion times, and those earlier laundry detergents were pretty harsh. And they were dried by hanging in the sun. So. The fabric had to stand up to that treatment... or rather, had to get softer.

And if you have REALLY old sheets, they were beaten on the rocks down by the river, lol....

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:02AM
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I know my aunt used to have satin sheets, and I remember they were the slickest things....you'd fall out of bed, but they were soft.

Yeah, I know what you mean about some of those old sheets vs anything I've bought in the last 10 or 20 years.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:05AM
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"And if you have REALLY old sheets, they were beaten on the rocks down by the river..."

mclarke, lol!

Timely discussion as I have to go buy king sheets and a mattress cover today.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Sheets were made so much better back then, which is why I often go on eBay to see what is available in terms of "vintage sheets". they have a lot of them, so check out eBay.

I do have a set of Thomas Lee sheets which are very silky feeling without being sateen. I LOVE the way they feel (very smooth and silky), and they haven't changed in the five years I've had them. I follow their washing directions to a t, namely warm water, no bleach. They're expensive, though. Another you might consider would be linen sheets. VERY soft and lightweight, but again, expensive. See Restoration Hardware.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:23AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I bought a set of sheets that were supposed to be cotton, very high thread count and they were nice and soft but had no durability...it wasn't long before DH put his toe nail through it...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:27AM
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"Could it be because this cotton sheet may have become like silk from so many years of washing?"

Yes. I don't think there were some kind of magically better sheet making materials or processes in The Old Days. When you are sleeping on sheets that have been laundered for decades, you are just sleeping on sheets that have been softened by laundering for decades :).

There really is no quick way to duplicate that feeling. You just have to get decent quality sheets and wash them and wash them and wash them and...ad infinitum.

I'm noticing that my last batch of JC Penney egyptian cotton sheets, which are crisp but soft now after years of use, are getting pinholes. Sigh, the curse of bleaching. I should get a new set and start the breaking in process I suppose.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Egads! I just had a vision of Annie D's hubby's toenails! LOL!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:00AM
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I think like everything else...they just don't make them like they used to. Growing up in the 50's and 60's, we had the kind of sheets you are talking about. My mom probably bought all our sheets at Penney's and always cotton "percale"...that seems to be the magic ingredient missing today. They were soft, crisp, and lasted for years. I have a set I bought from Penney's probably 10 years ago that remind me of the old ones. I have a sateen set I bought at Costco that I dislike very much. If you can find a Percale sheet it's worth trying.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:01AM
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I see you tried to break them in with baking soda, vinegar and a rewash- but have you tried using white vinegar as your fabric softener? I switched to it and my towels and linens are much softer and the towels much more absorbent. I use a cup of vinegar per wash load.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:10AM
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This subject comes up here about every 6 months. You can do a search to find other similar threads. They're all very long with many posts as, it seems that the majority of us here on this forum are also always on the lookout for them. Sheets like we grew up with that are crisp, cool and well-made. Sadly, I haven't found any like that so far. I have a set of (at least 6 year old) Ralph Laurens that are close.
I would think that some very smart entrepreneur would realize that he/she could make a fortune just by finding an old formula and making them for us all. Unfortunately, at this time, it seems that no one is that smart!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Just want to second two comments here. First, it is well worth looking for vintage sheets...I have found some great sheets and pillow cases at Salvation Army. You won't often get matching sets, though.

Second, percale is also what I think is missing. When you find a good percale set and wash them down for a year or so, they get that soft "rub" to them, while still having a crisp "snap" when you make the bed. Hmm...there ya go: a good sheet will have a "soft rub" and a "crisp snap." Ha! :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:30AM
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Holly- Kay

I just purchased some LLBean Pima Cotton Percale sheets. They are beautifully stitched, soft, and cool. The one caution though is that they are made in China and actually it wasn't a sheet set as the top sheet, bottom sheet, and pair of pillow cases are sold separately.

They were more costly than I would expect made in China goods to be and I wasn't thrilled that they were imported but it seems that's the way the world is. Though I like them I will be looking elsewhere for another set.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:33AM
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Check out the Vermont Country Store as well. they have percale sheets "like grandmas".

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:39AM
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We provide sheets and towels for our renters. I read several reviews and decided on these: http://t.jcpenney.com/tablet/jsp/browse/pp/product.jsp?Ntt=&ppId=1a149e3&categoryId=cat100250068&subcatId=&deptId=dept20000012&regId=&cmcatId=cat100250068&currentDim=&dimCombo=&currentDimVal=&dimComboVal=&grMode=
We tried one set before ordering 12 sets. I think they are a great value and a nice quality sheet for the money. They do have some poly in them, so don't wrinkle much. We have a weekly cleaning service to clean and do the laundry. The tenants so far have been leaving excellent feedback.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:40AM
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I have the Thomas Lee sheets also but their fitted sheet isn't large enough for my mattress. I use Macy's Hotel Collection 600 TC Egyptian Cotton for the fitted sheet. It's a sateen, but smooth & cool. I buy them on Ebay - way too expensive at Macy's. Check out Ebay. I've bought various Frette (Celeste, percale) Peacock Alley sheets but really like the Hotel Park 600 TC or Bloomingdale's Hudson Valley 600 TC. They are the same.
I love the TL pillow cases (ironed) & will change iit cleaning lady puts something else on my pillow.

This post was edited by romy718 on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 11:01

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Last year, I bought a set of sheets with a crocheted edge from one of the flash sales sites. It is the best set of sheets I have found in a long, long time. They are incredibly soft and smooth and launder like a dream with hardly any wrinkles even though they are 100% cotton. Wouldn't you know that I can't find a brand name on them anywhere nor can I remember which site I bought them from. It makes me crazy!

I agree that the best sheets are made from 100% long staple cotton. The thread count doesn't even have to be very high for them to feel wonderful. The best percale were the old Charisma brand (pre-1985) that were sold in most department stores. They were made of Supima (U.S.A. grown long staple cotton) and had a great crisp finish. I see that the Charisma brand is being used again, but I don't think it is the same manufacturer.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:55AM
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romy, the Thomas Lee fitted sheet isn't big enough for your mattress??? Wow. I have a VERY thick mattress, and it's too big for it. One thing, in fact, about Thomas Lee sheets is that they are larger than most. I was surprised to read that. How on earth did you ever find sheets deep enough, then, for your bed?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:06PM
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Has anyone tried JC Penney's
Royal Velvetî 400tc WrinkleGuard⢠Sheet Set? They look like they have good reviews.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:18PM
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Thank you all for your answers.
Some comments:

1. How can I verify what kind of cotton the sheets were made of? How long the staple, etc? If they say Egyptian, or Pima etc on them - then you have some info. If not, there's nothing written anywhere about ply, staple, etc.
I forgot I also need that PhD in textile engineering. Now that I am done with a medical degree, law, pharmacy, construction, IT and Education - just to get mt kids through school, I will grab the textile one quickly too.

2. If washing it for ages is the only hope, I am afraid there isn't much hope. :-(. If I must wait until I am 70 to have such sheets...then well, I guess I am in for a longer ride without soft sheets. Also, this might be really, really bad - but we don't change sheets extremely often. Between full-time career, two kids and cooking, I can hardly change my sheets every few days like a hotel does.

3. I guess trying e-bay for vintage might work but it can be time-consuming to nail exactly the right thing, plus again - can't touch.
It seems there is a huge trend towards "buying-blind" with all decent merchandise being on the Internet, and hardly anything left in stores.

What bothers me is that you can't even have a brand guarantee anymore. If I knew shelling out the money to get X brand would guarantee softness and high quality, I would do it once and would get it over with.
But I got Peacock Alley - which is supposed to be all that - and I am still not impressed.

Just when I thought that going to Vermont's Country Store would solve the problem because, after all, they specialize in all things "grandma", you see reviews that say their sheets are far from grandma's. So what gives?

Maybe it really is a question of washing the living lights out of them over the years.

I have recently started drying mine on the line and yes, I am using the WHITE vinegar trick.

Don't see much softening up though.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Yes -- the real trick is washing and using them for years!

We buy 1200-1500 thread sheets from overstock -- and wash-use-wash to get that softest-to-the-silky feel .... so lovely in these hot summer months! :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:53PM
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You can order a swatch of the Thomas Lee sheets from them so that you can feel them. They also have a 90-day return policy if you're unhappy with them. they should, for what you pay for them! However, they really and truly are silky soft, and they really and truly do stay that way. they are oversized, though, which I love. The flat sheet actually fits well on these new thick mattresses!

But, they are tooooooooo expensive! What you feel in the swatch IS what you will have in the sheets forever, only if anything, with further softening up as time goes by.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:56PM
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I read that those super-high TC-s may not necessarily be a good sign. Do you find them much softer/better than sheets with lower TC, 800 and below?


I actually do have two swatches from Thomas Lee.
When I first got them I could recognize they feel different from mainstream store sheets. They have quite a bit of softness/fine-ness to them, this is true - but I still feel some level of roughness in too, believe it or not.
It may sound crazy but it is definitely not that ice smooth feel of my mil's sheet.

OK, I think these are the right words to describe the difference:

- all new nice sheets I tried, no matter how soft, high quality and "brand-y" feel a little bit like paper. Matte and a tad rough.

- my mil's sheet feels ICE smooth.

That's the difference: PAPER sheet vs ICE-smooth sheet!

I think those who said that type of smoothness comes from wash and wear must be right. Thomas Lee look nice but not nice enough to justify the price. They still feel like paper to me, perhaps even a bit more than others I have tried.

The funny thing is I have some sheets on my daughter's bed which I got them a few years ago from BBB, at a time I didn't care much about bedding. I just wanted to get away cheap. Not very high quality sheets because they are already breaking apart at the edges, looser weave, pilling, etc. However, they are DARN soft. More like fleecy soft - and they are 100% cotton, nothing synthetic.

It seems as though you can spend a lot on some fancies and still get that solid paper matte, slightly rough feel which I hate...and you can spend less, and get very soft but probably deteriorating fast, which is a problem in and of itself.

The world of linens seems to be quite crazy and I never knew it. I used to think it was pretty simple:
Go to store. Grab some cotton so you won't be stifled in synthetics. Pay. Leave store. Go home.

But...it doesn't look like it anymore. The whole "home" world is up in arms about not being able to find sheets like grandma's anymore. So there must be something true to this.

I didn't use to care at all about bedding. Must have been those 20's and 30's when all you care about is clothes, make-up and perfume. But then, in my upper 30's I slept in a nice hotel and realized what a difference high quality bedding can make; and then I started to care.
Guess it's a sign I am getting old. :-)
As my sister says, "in my 20's, I could have slept on a rock".

Now...lo and behold, even Thomas Lee or PA don't feel that great to me.

This post was edited by Begonia2005 on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 14:03

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:59PM
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You can beg your MIL to leave you her sheets in her will...lol.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:02PM
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It's one single pitiful fitted sheet. :-))))

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:07PM
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There are very, very few linens produced today that we'll be able to pass down to the next generation.

At least we can recycle them into household rags, I suppose, to prevent them from ending up in the landfills with all the mismatched $2.00 Old Navy flip-flops.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Try bamboo sheets.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:20PM
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Isn't some kind of synthetic in them...or I understood the process involves quite a lot of chemicals. I didn't understand exactly but I read they can't quite be passed as 100% natural.
I also heard some complaining that they can be clammy and stifling too.

Cotton is still "the tried and true" thing - but only if done right, apparently.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:30PM
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Yes -- I have heard that too -- always hard to tell with thread counts of any kind or make or ilk! :)

But -- I will say that after MANY many washes in hot water -- and using them regularly -- our sheets have lasted well AND softened very nicely .....

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Reporting in as one more sheet addict! The sheets that my MIL and Grandmother had were those wonderful old scalloped Wamsutta sheets - they were 100% cotton percale and later called supercale or elite....alas I do not believe they are available. I have 2 sets left...they are worn to perfection and are cool & crisp. Today - I agree with Tibbrix...the closest is the Thomas Lee brand. Another brand that is not as elegant but quite nice is the 250 count all cotton percale from The Company Store -. I have the latter in a summer cottage...the jury is out ...but I will report back after a few more washings!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:09PM
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I LOVED those scalloped sheets with the different color scalloped trim. I think you can still get them. I've seen them. Again, though, VERY expensive.

I bet eBay has some.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Re: bamboo sheets. Are they crisp and cool? The closest I've come to anything bamboo are several pairs of DH's socks. I was surprised at how much longer they take to dry in the dryer. They're not holding up as long as his other socks either. They were from a Clark Shoe store and were not cheap. Do bamboo sheets take longer to dry, too?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Ok, back from Macy's with my new bedding. It was overwhelming -- mostly sticker shock and trying to find simple, classy ecru or white for a king bed (all sizes but king for the pretty stuff, lotsa ugly otherwise).

I bought the Macy's Charter Club Classics -- 400 count, 100% generic cotton, made in India (if that matters). Any opinion on these sheets?

Bought a new bed skirt, and looked and looked for ecru/white matelasse or something similar, but no luck. At least there was a Martha Stewart quilted coverlet at half price. Unfortunately no plain white or ecru in king size, so I got a pale yellow print that isn't bad. But coming home, I realized I forgot to get a new mattress pad. So I ducked into our local Kohls to get one, and there was the perfect plain, ecru, quilted coverlet with a pretty scalloped edge!

Maybe I should paint the bedroom in one of those wonderful Farrow & Ball off whites...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:43PM
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I just googled "cotton percale sheets" and here is a list of places that supposedly sell them:

Exceptionalsheets.com, Kohls, Target, Company Store, Garnet Hill, LL Bean, Overstock, BBB, Wayfair, Linensource. Penneys did not come up but I think they sell a version as well.

I may take a look at some of these sites. I'll report back if I find anything significant.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I think you should just ask your MIL if you can have the sheets of hers that you love and tell her you will of course get new sheets for her house.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:01PM
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This post was edited by jstell2008 on Fri, Sep 26, 14 at 20:44

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Those old sheets that are very thin and feel so soft are probably without a doubt the old Wamsutta "Supercale" or comparable type that were made with good long staple cotton IN AMERICA and contain polyester. My grandmother had several of these sets and like an idiot I didn't keep them when she died. I also have bought the Thomas Lees and I like them but they are almost a little too stiff for me. I found some Peacock Alley at Tuesday Morning which was actually labelled "Dream At Home" which are percale made in Portugal and have the old fashioned scallop on the edge. I got a set in blue and red. These are thinner than the Thomas Lees and are more similar to the old Supercale types. I have gotten into the habit of changing the sheets once a week and ironing them after laundering on gentle cycle in warm water and drying on lowest setting, which makes the first night sleeping on them in particular wonderful.
The first thing you need to do if forget about anything other than percale. Don't buy anything made in China. Linens made in Italy or Portugal seem to be better. I don't even know if they make sheets in America anymore. I once found a sheet of Sferra "Linnea Casa" Percale at Tuesday Morning that felt wonderful, but unfortunately, they only had one set in king and I need queen. I check Tuesday Morning periodically--they always have these luxury sheet brands, but most are sateen. I usually find a couple of percales mixed in amongst the mountains of sateen.
By the way, why does hardly anyone make sateen anymore? The website Garnet Hill makes what look like high quality percale but I haven't tried them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:53PM
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I recently needed to buy new linens for a vacation home and didn't want to break the bank, but am very picky about sheets. I've tried various ones as you mentioned like RL that felt great in the store and then not so much after washing. Years ago I'd bought Costco Kirkland brand sheets and loved them, but both DD's bought them about a year ago, and said they were different from what they used to be so I avoided all Costco sheets in my trials. But then someone on GW mentioned that the Costco Charisma sheet sets were a fantastic price and wonderful, and didn't wrinkle much. So I tried one set and was convinced. I've only bought the white ones, but I've decided that's my go-to sheet for right now. Sadly if you need any twin sheets they don't have that size, but do have king and queen. The only weird thing about the Charisma sheets is that the ends of the fitted sheets have a different fabric set into the part that is below the top of the bed. It's not felt or seen once the bed is made, and I'm not sure why they do it unless they think it makes them more durable. The cost is $39.99 for a queen set with 4 pillowcases and $49.99 for king with 4 pillowcases. The sizing is generous so I use jumbo queen pillows. The king seems about standard for king, but both are deep enough for my mattress.

The great thing about getting them from Costco is also that you can always return them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:28PM
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You might have a point. It didn't occur to me that these sheets might have some polyester in them, which would clearly give them that icy softness. I never considered it because polyester sheets feel very stifly and clammy to me and these sheets sure don't.

Then again, if it's a combination with a lot of high quality cotton, I wouldn't be surprised. Next time we'll go, I will have to dig up for the tag!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I recently bought 2 sets of Pottery Barn 400thread count Classic sheets. My options were limited because I needed sheets for XL Twin beds. They are 100% cotton. They come out of the dryer somewhat wrinkled, but not horribly so. I iron the pillow cases and the upper edge of the flat sheet just for esthetics, not for function. I am very pleased with them.

The sheet that I like most is from Sears. It came with DH when we married. The fitted sheet disintegrated years ago, but the flat sheet is still going strong! Wish I could find more.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:43AM
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I think Jokewing may be right in terms of having a little polyester in the old percale sheets.....I don't remember my mom's sheets being as wrinkled as the cotton sheets today..they came out of the dryer pretty smooth.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:00AM
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These guys have the percale made from the long staple cotton with some polyester, SINGLE PLY.
These might actually be what you're looking for.

Another tip for sheets and a great night's sleep is to line dry them. Also saves energy, saves on your electric bill, etc. Unless it's raining when I have a turnover, I line dry all of my tenants' sheets so that they can climb into bed their first night to fresh smelling, cool airy sheets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Long staple cotton sheets.

This post was edited by Tibbrix on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 10:37

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:27AM
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Neiman Marcus White Sales.....good percale sheets.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:27AM
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I generally buy nice sheets for our bed, but I needed new sheets for a twin bed in a spare bedroom. I was in Walmart one day and saw some sheets that were really cute. I rubbed them with my hands and thought, "Why not?"

Oh my gosh. I took a nap on the bed that afternoon and slept like a baby!

I have to touch a sheet before I buy it, but let's just say I'm no longer a sheet snob. lol

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:41AM
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Tibbrix....the sheets from Crane and Co. appear to be sateen....any sateen sheets I have purchased are not like the old percale.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:00AM
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I can't stand sateen sheets.

I think this person needs to ask her MIL if she would be willing to part with her sheets in exchange for some new ones!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:17AM
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I recently found 100% cotton percale sheets at Marshall's. They were made by nicole miller and were kind size. They didn't have a price on them so I took them up front and they only charged me $30! Score! Now, the don't sleep as "cool" as I would like but they're nice enough!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:21AM
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This may be a helpful read...

Here is a link that might be useful: The Best Sheets

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Try eucalyptus sheets, they are amazing! We had some bamboo ones too that lasted about 5 years, couldn't find the same kinds again so we tried the eucalyptus from bed bath and beyond. Crisp, soft and wonderfulðÂÂÂ


This post was edited by mrsfireman on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 0:47

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:41AM
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This is exactly what is sitting on our bed right now and believe it or not, it is our ONLY sheet set besides a worn out, horrible, super-pilled flannel sheet set that we take out in the winter when it gets really cold and the eucalyptus feels simply too cold. I DO love the feel of these sheets, they are definitely very soft, but as laughable as this might be, it still kind of bothers me, striclty psychologically, to know that it is not a 100% natural fiber.

Given I don't have any nice cotton sheet set, I wanted to find out too. So I am still chasing for the cotton sheets of my dreams.

In the meantime, I simply wanted to find some good ones for my kids. After returning a Ralph Lauren set which was fine but too big, I grabbed an Organic Cotton Sheet Set from Target, mainly for the fit, and called it a day. I am so done with my son's sheets for now. It fits, it's OK, it felt very nice and smooth in the store but of course it roughened up after I washed it. Then again, ALL OF THEM seem to do that.

While at BB@B, the Wamsutta DreamZone Micro-Cotton sheets caught my attention. It felt very, very soft and icy in the store, and I almost got it.
Then I saw a review online that said it made the person "sweat like a pig"...maybe because of a very high TC? It is 100% cotton, after all.
No TC was mentioned on the package.

I don't know, it sounded a little suspicious - so I will keep looking.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:46AM
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Downy. Downy! (I use unscented.)

I agree they don't make them like they used to. Fieldcrest is not the same now, it's terribly disappointing. And yes, of course, on top of that old sheets are broken in.

But liquid fabric softener, used generously and often, does wonders. Vinegar is not the same at all. Vinegar is a rinse aid and can help with soap buildup - which, if soap was built up in the clothes, will help them feel softer. Liquid fabric softener coats the fibers - kind of like conditioner for your hair!

I'm a massage therapist and I actually use Macy's Charter Club at work and at home. Swear by them. Target made lovely bamboo ones at one point, but no longer. (Bamboo does take longer to dry, I use some bamboo pillowcases at work and they always take longer!) I also have the Target organic cotton ones at home; they aren't so great.

I agree thread count isn't important; it is all about the quality of cotton.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:20AM
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I should say I like the Macy's Charter Club Damask Stripe and Solid. They make other styles, but I don't know about them.

And even between packages of that same brand there are differences! The grey sheet set I got was particularly nice, but the matching duvet cover was NOT matching in quality. Different batch of cotton.

I also think dark colors such as brown can be less soft.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:25AM
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Sorry to revive this but...question for wormgirl:

I thought it is better not to use fabric softeners: first, for the chemicals and then, I heard it affects the fabric too.

You are right that vinegar doesn't do a thing.
I used it on several sheets and it absolutely doesn't work.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:32PM
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The 'old sheets' many of you mention were probably percale. It's what I remember my Mom talking about and saying never to buy the cheap muslin ones. I'm pretty sure she bought them at either Penney's or Montgomery Ward as those were the only two 'department type' store back when I was a kid~speciality linen stores had 'not been thought of yet'. When they were washed and became worn as well as thinner, with no balling up, they became as smooth as silk.

Here's the definition of percale........

Here is a link that might be useful: what it is

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:36PM
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The "hotel sheets" from Home goods take me right back to sleeping in a bed at my grandma's house. You can move your leg and feel the softness.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:40PM
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LOL, another sheet thread. As always, my standard answer is: 100% linen.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:44PM
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This Penney's that's been referred to a few times, is that JC Penney's? Or something different?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:46PM
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Tibbrix-Macy's 600 TC Hotel Collection makes an extra deep fitted sheet-fits a 25" mattress. Our mattress is 23" or so, pillow top with 2 body size impressions - big mistake on that mattress purchase.
My Thomas Lee are 5 or 6 years old. Love them for the top sheet & pillowcases.
Begonia - read the Macy's reviews on the HC 600TC & buy one sheet on EBay. I think you'd be pleased.
Or find a sheet that looks like MIL's & do a switch.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:18AM
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I was just about to comment that my kids heard my mom referring to Penney's, and they asked if that was the same store as J. C. Penney.
(It is.)
It's very funny to them that Mom calls it Penney's.
Oy. I'm getting old.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:12AM
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I'm always on the lookout for my favorite sheets: cool and crisp because some day my favorite old Wamsutta's may finally fall apart.

Fortunately I am still using my old Wamsuttapercale sheets - they were a 50/50 blend of cotton/poly and then later they became 60/40 (I think 60 poly/40 cotton) and if I felt like walking upstairs to my linen closet I could check. I also have a few sets of Springs percale.

My MIL worked in the linen dept at Beale's and that's what she always gave us as Christmas presents. At the time I suggested it so that she wouldn't buy me red paisley sweaters that didn't fit or weird kitchen appliances that were never used.

I have some sets that are over 20 years old and they're still wearing and laundering well. I have replaced the elastic on most of them .We're not talking high thread count either - these sheets were 200 or 250 thread count. They haven't pilled, some of the printed sheets have faded over the years but none of the fitted sheets have worn thin.

I have bought some of the high thread count sheets when I was seduced by a particular color or design. But they haven't lasted, they pill and the fitted sheet gets thin and tears.

It's funny because now that my kids have left home they've asked me what sheets were on their double beds when they were living here. I laugh because they'll never find them. I'd give the sheets to them but they all have king beds and even though I dearly love my kids - I'm not giving them my Wamsutta's.........although maybe I'll add them to my will.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:05AM
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I had a friend who sent her sheets out to be laundered. She had them lightly starched, too. She discovered that to get the crisp, pressed feel that she loved, she could not use sheets above 300TC. I do not recall her ever telling me if she bought sateen or some other finish. Regretfully, she is no longer with us, so I can't call and ask.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:23AM
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Melsouth.....growing up and even now J.C. Penney we've always called it just Penney's..never J.C. Penney.....it was mom's go-to store for sheets, towels and underwear for the family. I think she also bought dad's white dress shirts there as well. Fond memories going there as a kid at our little local "outdoor mall."

I do believe the best percale sheets are the lower thread count..I'm just not impressed by the expensive high thread count sheets.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:47AM
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Wigardenerwannabe, I gave serious consideration to the Wrinkle Guard that you mentioned. I had to buy so many sets that I went with the ones I listed.
Having some polyester keeps them from wrinkling. They get great reviews also. Try a set.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:44AM
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I bought some sateen sheets from Garnet Hill for the guest room in a different color than the link below, but same pattern. I was hesitant about the sateen, but figured I'd give them a try for the guest room. They are wonderful!! Very, very soft and they don't wrinkle like my own cotton sheets. I haven't tried their solid sateen yet, but will.

On my own bed I have their hemstitched supima percale, which are not nearly as nice. More of a crisper feel and they wrinkle a lot.

Now I take a lot of naps in the guest room.

Here is a link that might be useful: sateen sheets

This post was edited by peacamp on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 11:08

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Begonia 2005,

Seventh Generation makes a liquid fabric softener. I haven't tried it yet but may get some next time when I run out of my Downy Free stash.

Without going on a whole rant -- remember water is a chemical, our bodies are made of chemicals, and there is nothing inherently bad about chemicals. As far as harmful chemicals in household products, fragrance is one of the worst! Even essential oils can be potent irritants. So buying unscented cuts down on a lot of them right there.

I haven't researched it but I was under the impression fabric softener is *not* high on the list of harmful products. I believe silicones are the main ingredient - like dimethicone - which are used in many hair conditioners and skin lotions.

Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how "natural" you try to be.

As far as it harming the fabrics - I do not know of this except to say, fabric softeners make towels much less absorbent, so I don't use them except occasionally, when the towels get hard and crunchy feeling.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:21PM
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We went through this a few months ago when we bought a thicker mattress. We have one old sheet set that feels as you describe (it's a twin from my childhood; DD uses it now) and it turned out to be a poly/cotton percale. We tried various "nice" quality sateens, which felt too slippery and hot, and one percale from BB&B, which felt too rough.

We ended up with LL Bean Pima Percale sheets and we are very happy with them. They don't feel exactly like the old sheets, but they are crisp and cool, yet smooth. I can't speak to durability yet, but they do seem to be softening up with each wash (though they were soft enough to start with).

WalMart has a percale blend that I almost tried. It gets very good reviews on their website. You might look into that if you'd rather buy sheets locally so you can feel them. I am thinking the flat sheet might be slightly smaller than LL Bean's and that might be why I didn't go for them, since our mattress is so ridiculously thick; but I can't remember now if that's really the case.
Mainstays 250-TC sheet set at Walmart

Here is a link that might be useful: LL Bean Pima Percale

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:13AM
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northcarolina--thanks so much for that link to the Mainstays sheet sets....what a surprise! I picked two twin sets up today since I've had so much trouble finding decent quality at a low price, and was amazed to see that they felt great and are even hemstiched around the hems for the pillowcase and sheet! As you said, the reviews are great on them. Thanks so much for sharing that info as I'd have never tried them otherwise.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:52PM
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It may have been me that first mentioned the Charisma sheets from Costco. I love mine, and I thought that I didn't like sateen sheets. They are lightweight, silky and cool. They don't feel "slimy" like some sateen sheets feel to me. They don't pill at all, and don't come out of the dryer full of wrinkles. I love sliding into bed with my cool, silky sheets.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:23PM
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I was just cleaning out my linen closet today and removed some sheets I took from my mom's house after she passed away. I was going to give them to Salvation Army, because they are a 1970's brown. Maybe I should sell them on eBay or etsy instead......

She gave me a set of jersey sheets when they first came out. They were the greatest thing as well. That woman sure did buy nice sheets.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:39PM
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Hello friends, I'm chiming in just now after a slight absence and cannot resist tossing in my two cents worth on this topic, as I've had quite a similar experience. Some time ago my mother-in-law gave herself a wonderful birthday present, in that she bought all new everything for the boudoir, down to and including new carpeting, and I said, "Way to go, Rosemary, you and Johnnie deserve this treat!" She had a couple of old sheets that she earmarked for the church's charity drive but I wheedled them away for use in my own bedroom. One set, which I believe was Wamsutta, was like the silky ones your mother-in-law has, and the they were designed by Yves St. Lawrence, in awesome pinks and purples. The colors nothwithstanding, those elderly, well-worn and washed, and much beloved sheets were pure perfection to my husband and me. The lovely smoothness of that old bedding transported us into the sleep of the angels. I promise, we NEVER noticed the pink and purple designs, and we slept on them for another 20 years until they could no longer manage to hold together in one piece.
Oh! Holy cow, I just came out of my reverie and realized you had asked a question! Mea culpa! My bad! Here's my suggestion for silky sheets, or at least for as close we can come these days: Buy 100% Egyptian Cotton in a reasonably good thread count, like 300, 400, 500. I'm now a retired senior with rather thin, frail skin, which I feel warrants the smoothest, most silky bedding I can afford. And I buy my Egyptian cotton sheet sets from Penney's, when they go on sale twice a year. And they last forever, well, I'm still using them 8 years later! I have 3 sets and just rotate. Give them a whirl; they're quite reasonable on sale, and enjoy!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:14AM
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This post was edited by kimberlyrkb on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 7:14

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:01AM
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I have bought two sets of sheets I have a question about. One set is by Martha Stewart at Macy's; it's white eyelet, maybe $120/queen set, and they're noisy! I also bought a set of Ralph Lauren at Home Goods and they are noisy, too. I can hardly sleep due to the crinkling and crunching. Will this get better? They seem crisp to me, but maybe this is not the same "crisp" all of you are referring to?

I was just looking at the Garnet Hill site and found this description in their Hemstitched Supima 300tc sheets. Might be what some of us are looking for?
"Heirloom-inspired in every way and woven of pure Supima cotton combed to remove all but the finest long-staple fibers, our 300 thread count cotton bedding possesses the soft yet crisp hand craved by enthusiasts of classic percale. The flat sheet, cases and bedskirt are embellished with timeless hemstitch details. The fitted sheet is fully elasticized for a better fit (deep-pocket Queen, King and California King sizes will fit mattresses up to 15"). Imported."

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:13AM
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Bed, Bath and Beyond sells Wamsutta sheets. I bought a set for our bunk beds, but nobody has slept on them yet. Have you tried those to replace your heirloom Wamsutta sheets?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:54AM
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FWIW, I haven't read through all the posts but I did just purchase sheets from Kohl's and washed them last night. They are called The Big One percale sheets. The washed beautifully, are soft, came out of the dryer a little bit wrinkly (but I probably overstuffed it). Haven't put them on the beds yet and can't speak to their longevity, but so far so good. And the price was right. I think what got me was the "percale". I have sheets from 20 years ago that are percale. They were Wamsutta from JC Penney. I couldn't find them anywhere so I took my chances with these. Again, the price and the percale are what got me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohl's The Big One percale sheets

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:02AM
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