Bedding is a very personal choice – from the colors and patterns, to the accent pillows (or lack thereof), and the materials and thread counts. With many packages and options, it is also a confusing process. The good news is that, with the little bit of knowledge we will provide you with here, you will be well prepared to make an educated bedding decision.
First, some basic bedding terms you should know:
- Bed Skirt - A piece of material laid on top of the box spring on a bed and used to decorate the base of the bed and hide the space underneath the bed.
- Comforter - The top layer of bedding, usually consisting of two layers of fabric, filled with either down or fiber filling.
- Down - Natural feathers used to fill cushions of pillows, bedding, and upholstery; the material traps air to provide extremely soft comfort; also a very warm insulator often used in bedding (particularly comforters).
- Duvet - A duvet is similar to a comforter and/or a quilt in that a duvet is also composed of two layers of fabric with an insulation substance between. However, the difference between a duvet and a comforter and/or quilt is that the duvet is to be placed inside a duvet cover. A comforter and/or quilt can be used as independent bed covers
- Duvet Cover: A giant pillowcase-like covering that fits over a duvet. It is open on one end, typically closed by buttons, ties, Velcro, or a zipper.
- Egyptian Cotton - Cotton grown exclusively in Egypt and the longest fiber staple in the world. This means less linting, more durability, more luster and a softer feel, frequently used to make sheets and other bedding materials due to its softness and high quality.
- European Sham (also known as Euro Sham, Eurosham, European Pillow Sham) - A large pillow case used as an accent in bedding sets; usually contains additional fabric surrounding the standard pillow case and commonly included as a part of bedding/ comforter sets.
- Feather Bed - Feather –filled sacks made to fit under or on top of the fitted sheet
- Fill - The material used to stuff items such as comforters or pillows. Natural down and man-made synthetics are examples of fill materials.
- Fill Power - A measure of how many cubic inches one ounce of down will loft and expand to fill an empty space. Fill power usually ranges from 500 to 800 cubic inches, with 625 or greater considered excellent. A higher fill power means that the down will loft more, insulate better and provide greater warmth and comfort.
- Fitted Sheet – A sheet with pockets at each of the four corners and an elastic band around the sheet, made to fit the mattress.
- Flat Sheet – A sheet that is hemmed on four sides usually with a larger hem or cuff at the top of the sheet.
- Loft - Measured by fill power and is the ability of down to fill an empty space.
- Neckroll Pillow - A small, oblong accent pillow commonly found in bedding/ comforter sets.
- Percale – Smooth fabric: a smooth-textured closely woven cotton or polyester fabric used for bedsheets and clothing. It sometimes has a glazed finish.
- Quilt - Created by placing a layer of cotton or some other fill between two layers of fabric. Held in place by stitching or sealing in a regular, consistent, all-over pattern.
- Sateen Weave - A weave structure having single vertical threads woven over four to eight horizontal threads and under one horizontal thread. This weaving method gives the fabric a smooth finish and shows off shiny threads.
- Satin Weave - A basic weave, characterized by long floats of yarn on the face of the fabric. The yarns are interlaced in such a manner that there is no definite, visible pattern of interlacing and, in this manner; a smooth and somewhat shiny surface effect is achieved.
- Sham (also known as Pillow Sham or Standard Sham) - The fabric used to form an encasement to a pillow, traditionally known as a pillow case (pillowcase).
- Thread Count - Measured by counting the number of threads per inch in the woven fabric in both directions of the weave (these directions are referred to as warp and weft). Generally, the higher the thread count, the silkier and lighter the sheets.
- Top of the Bed – This is an industry term that refers to all textiles used to cover the mattress – from the sheets to the pillows and comforter/duvet.
- Tri Pillow Pack - A pillow combination consisting of three decorative pillows.
Now that you’ve got the key terms under your belt, you can understand the different commonly packaged options available for purchasing your bedding. Here are the options frequently available:
- Sheet Sets – Available in 300, 500, and 1,000 Thread Count sets – it is critical to understand the relationship between price and thread count before purchasing. To learn more, read our article on sheet sets, or view sheet sets at a featured online retailer.
- Comforter Sets – Contains a comforter and some bedding pieces. Online manufacturers sometimes break them into the three following categories.
Ensemble Pack – Comforter, bed skirt, and standard shams
Deluxe Pack – Comforter, bed skirt, standard shams, and tri pillow pack
Super Pack – Comforter, bed skirt, standard shams, tri pillow pack, and pre-filled Euro pillows
- Luxury Bed in a Bag – More luxurious than standard comforter sets, includes a comforter, a complete sheet set, and standard shams. Matching Duvet Covers and Euro Shams are also available.
- Daybed Bedding – Bedding specifically designed for us with daybeds. Daybed bedding sets typically include a comforter, bed skirt, and two king-size shams. Pair with twin sized sheets set for a complete bedding set.
- Futon Covers – Fabric covers designed to completely cover the mattress used on futons. Futon cover sets typically come with the cover and two coordinating color accent pillows.
Different retailers will package bedding in different ways. Good online furniture retailers put together sets based on what consumers buy most frequently. Your personal preference will depend on what thread counts you prefer – will you pay more for a softer feel? – and how you like to ‘dress’ your bed.