on bed sheets.

April 28, 2016

bed sheets | reading my tea leaves

Getting a new bed in a new size, meant needing to make a whole bunch of decisions at once about new sheets. Oof. 

Turns out it’s not as simple as saying, “I’ll take the cotton ones, please.” 

I know I’m not alone in my consternation over bedding. Indeed: at the moment of writing, I’m sitting in a café (it’s a theme!) next to a newlywed man regaling his lunch partner with stories about his wife’s failure to notice how ill-fitting their bedsheets are. (I am not making this up.) He also has a complicated-sounding concern about a blanket that “oozes” from below the duvet, but suffice to say that if the end goal is a neat and comfortable bed, it appears that the route there is less direct than it may at first seem. In the words of this gentlemen: “It doesn’t really matter. But it does.”

In hunting for bed sheets, there was a shocking lot of information to parse—and I’ll pause to say that while I’ve test-driven a whole bunch of sheets in the past month, I’m not an expert on the topic. Don’t ask me my opinion on thread-count, I beg you. (Some people swear by it; other people say it’s hogwash. Most folks agree that anything with more than a 500-thread count is false advertising.)

Besides, beyond counting threads, there’s other stuff to wonder about. Questions of weave: sateen (smooth) or percale (crisp)? Origins of the cotton: American or Egyptian? Impact on the planet: Organic or conventional? Dyed? (Batch-dyed? Garment dyed?) Bleached? Doused in something or other to make them wrinkle free? There’s the question of what sheets feel like. Do they sleep hot or cold? Do they wear well? Do they hug the mattress or slide around all loosey-goosey? (My café friend would agree this last part is particularly egregious.)

A lot of this wondering about sheets has to do with personal preference. You might like the way your legs feel jack-knifing over a freshly made bed with sateen sheets and it might make someone else’s skin crawl. You might want a bright white set. You might swear by colors.

I don’t have all the answers. But through my work in this space I have learned about a few new and not-so-new companies doing nice things with sheets (and otherwise). So here’s a roundup of options I’ve recently vetted in case you’re on the hunt or might be one day:
bed sheets | reading my tea leaves

Coyuchi: Coyuchi is well-known for their commitment to the environment. We’ve really enjoyed their 300-Thread Count Percale Set. (They also have a range of sateen cotton and linen sheets should you prefer either.) The set we’ve used is lovely and crisp and cool. For the detail-oriented, they have elegant 7-inch wide hems on sheets and pillow cases that make them look a little more fancy than your average white sheets. They’re Fair Trade and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified, so you know that more than only being made with organic cotton, the whole supply chain is up to snuff. For these sheets, Coyuchi uses organic cotton grown and woven in India. If you’d prefer an American-grown option, their 500-Thread Count Supima Cotton set are made from American organic Supima cotton and finished in Portugal. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)

Flaneur: If luxury is what you’re after, Flaneur has your back. These are the only sateen sheets in the bunch. Full-disclosure: I typically think of myself as more of percale kind of person, but these guys are soft without being too soft. Flaneur’s Baudelaire Supima Golden-White Sheet Set isn’t dyed and the result is a beautiful golden-white color that comes from a sheet that’s not been heavily processed. These sheets also have the most beautiful finishes, including beautiful three-fold seams at the corners of the fitted sheets. The company has also made all sorts of other thoughtful choices, including using 100% DNA-tested American-grown, extra-long staple Supima cotton and biodegradable Lyocell thread. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)

Snowe: I realize this isn’t as important as the sheets themselves, but Snowe Sheets Sets come in their own neat little envelopes and you all know how much I like a neat linen closet. Like everything else sold by Snowe, the idea here is about bringing luxury sheets to homes at more affordable prices by selling direct to consumer. These 500-Thread Count percale sheets are made from long-staple Egyptian cotton and finished in Italy. (Available as sets or—newly!—as individual sheets.)

Authenticity50: I really appreciate the basic offerings of this white-sheets-only company. It’s another direct-to-consumer model specializing in Made-in-the-USA white bed sheets made from American Supima cotton. These A50 Sheet Sets sheets are truly no frills—and they shrunk a bit after washing a few times—but they’re comfy and soft and proudly made without the formaldehyde or other chemical additives used to make sheets wrinkle-free. They come with a 100-night trial period so you can make sure you really love them before committing 100%.

Parachute Home: After years of wondering what they’d be like to sleep on, I decided to try out my very first set of linen bed sheets. And I surprised even myself by deciding to add Parachute’s Linen Sheet Set in fog—a lovely light gray—to our rotation of white sheets. I’m on a big-time mission not to overheat this summer in our apartment and linen sheets seem like they might be the answer. Even better: Linen, made from flax, is a more sustainable choice than cotton raw-material wise. As for sleeping on linen? It feels so fancy! We’d done it once before—the bed at Table on Ten where we spent the night this winter was dressed in beautiful charcoal linen—but getting to slip between linen at home felt especially luxurious. (If you’re linen-averse Parachute also sells percale and sateen cotton sheets.) All Parachute Home sheets are Oeko-Tex Certified; so you can rest easy about the supply chain here, too. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)bed sheets | reading my tea leaves

PS: For the parents in the crowd: I’ll also let you in on the secret that we ended up opting for a waterproof mattress liner, just in case our early morning snuggler has an accident. We found this one affordably and so far, so good! It’s not loud or crinkly like some waterproof covers and it’s vinyl-free.

PPS: Some folks have questions about how fitted sheets fit on our new 10-inch mattress. The answer is beautifully! All of these sheets have elastic that goes around the whole perimeter of the mattress, so as long as we pull it tight when we first make the bed, it stays in place throughout the week!

Disclosure: All of these are sheets that I’ve had the chance to test-drive myself. They were provided free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

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  • Reply Katherine Glidden April 28, 2016 at 9:29 am

    We have the same waterproof liner and love it. Especially good for the breastfeeding mama. I share that fact and your BF post with all my new mama friends. So hard to find non-toxic liners but this one does the trick!

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Glad you’ve had good luck with it, too! I almost wrote that we hadn’t had the opportunity to test it yet…and so of course last night we did! Leak-proof!

  • Reply Sofia April 28, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Your post is so timely! Thank you for the (always) thoughtful reviews–real time savers as I research sustainable and beautiful alternatives for our own home.

  • Reply Molly April 28, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I ordered a duvet cover from Parachute and love it! I’ll definitely be shopping for more bedding from them. Thank you for listing other companies to check out as well.

  • Reply Natalia April 28, 2016 at 10:38 am

    perfect! I am in the hunt for sheets and your last note on linen was something to think about. I think they look SO NICE but am a soft cotton girl, myself. How do you find linen vs cotton??


    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      It’s a really totally different feel. The linen—and I know this sounds weird—makes our best feel softer and more sumptuous. I don’t have a preference per se—I still like the crisp feel of cotton sheets, but the linen feels great too! So excited to see how it sleeps come summer!

  • Reply Ally April 28, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I have Parachute’s sheets as well (and love the feel!) but purchased the white sheets and am having a terrible time getting them back to their original beauty. They have gotten so dingy. I’ve tried several eco-friendly ways (e.g. baking soda) with no luck. Any thoughts?

    • Reply Anna April 28, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Have you tried a long soak in concentrated borax and warm water, followed by sunshine? If you can find someone with a clothesline or sunny balcony, sunshine works absolute wonders for dingy white sheets.

      • Reply Ally April 29, 2016 at 7:56 am

        Limited outdoor space in Chicago but maybe I could find a friend to let me borrow a clothesline!

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Oh man, the eternal question. I think drying in the sunshine and trying an eco-friendly oxygen booster help a bit. (Though I’ve also come to accept that they’ll never stay pure white!)

      • Reply Sarah May 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

        Does linen have this same problem? I have heard that linen just gets brighter with washing, but can it really withstand body oils?

        • Reply Erin Boyle May 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm

          No idea! Seems dubious, but could be that the different fiber reacts differently to body oils! To be investigated!

  • Reply Summer April 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for all of these reviews! I’m on the hunt for new sheets…..I purchased the white linen duvet from Parachute a few weeks ago and I LOVE it (it also came in a beautiful linen bag for storage!) p.s. your blog is so lovely…

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Yes! The sheets come in those, too! So sweet!

  • Reply Alix April 28, 2016 at 10:51 am

    We’ve had pretty good luck with West Elm’s organic cotton sheets. They come in lots of prints and colors and are an affordable option for our full-sized bed.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 11:59 am

      We had those on our last bed, too! Agreed that they’re a great option and also GOTS-certified!

    • Reply Stacy April 28, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      Yes! We finally upgraded from Ikea/Target recently and purchased the organic cotton sheets from West Elm on sale. We are in love!

    • Reply SLG April 28, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      I finally tried bluing (ordered from Amazon) on my yellowing sheets, and it got them mostly white again where nothing else had. Not necessarily the most environmentally friendly option, but at least you can get by with only occasional use and miniscule amounts.

      • Reply SLG April 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm

        Woops, I meant to reply to the comment further up!

  • Reply Kim April 28, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Anyone tried using a large flat sheet instead of a fitted sheet? I like the look especially on my thinner mattress but is it a total pain? Does it move?

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 11:59 am

      I know people who swear by this, but I feel like I’d be constantly retucking!

  • Reply Kim April 28, 2016 at 11:15 am

    This Parachute is quite a find. Who doesn’t love an enveloped pillow case?!

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 28, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Ha, totally! Should have mentioned. LOVE those envelope cases!

  • Reply Libby April 28, 2016 at 11:49 am

    We are talking about getting a new bed and the idea of researching for months and spending real money on a mattress but not researching our sheets doesn’t make sense to me. So I’m so grateful for these! I love the idea of the linen sheets. I think I might be more inclined to go that route. I know it wrinkles easier but I don’t so much care about that on my bedsheets. 🙂

  • Reply Leslie April 28, 2016 at 11:55 am

    We also stayed at Table on Ten and loved the sheets. Think I tracked the company down as houseofbalticlinen.com — or else I found them and felt they were very similar. So I ordered from them and they are handmade in Australia. Very beautiful with mother of pearl buttons. Like the duvet cover but find it’s slippery so my quilt shifts inside. Think I will prefer it as a light blanket over the summer without the quilt inside. Also, check out brooklinen.com. They have very well edited and well priced sheet offerings. I have the sateen ones and love them a lot.

  • Reply kelly April 28, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I love new sheets! For a bargain but feels like luxury: Target’s Threshold Organic Sheets Sets. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

  • Reply jag April 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    any many animal shelters will gladly accept your old sheets/pillowcases – they just need to be washed, but it’s ok if they are stained, dingy, worn, etc

  • Reply abby April 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Your bed looks incredibly inviting. Really happy to see Coyuchi in your list. We are big fans of their bedding. I think my next sheet set needs to be linen though. What a treat that would be to sleep in!

  • Reply Jess T April 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been thinking about bed sheets a lot lately – so nice to read about some companies I’ve found on my own and others that I hadn’t discovered yet. I recently bought twin beds for my boys and went with flannel sheets from Green Living Organics (GOTS certified and Fair Trade certified) http://www.glo-organic.com/organic-cotton-flannel-sheets-1/ and for their mattress protectors (and mattresses and pillows) we went all-out wool from Shepherd’s Dream. Getting them luxury bedding and lovely sheet sets has made me anxious for the time we’ll be able to replace our own mattress and yellowing white sheets!

  • Reply leslie April 29, 2016 at 1:28 am

    i bought vintage french linen sheets from a flea market years ago, and they ruined me for anything other than linen. i’ve since been lucky enough to find linen (some vintage french, but also from area, brahms mount, restoration hardware, west elm, pottery barn) at thrift stores. ok, i’m sort of an addict.

  • Reply Aya April 29, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Hi Erin! Can you please let me know which set of sheets is pictured? Thanks.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 29, 2016 at 9:05 am

      These are the Flaneur!

  • Reply Nina April 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I feel like the page you’ve linked to on the Parachute website, about their Oeko-Tex certification, is really misleading. Firstly, the dissing of organic textiles – yes, some companies say “organic” when it isn’t, and also I guess a company could truthfully say that the cotton was organically grown but still process it non-organically; but if a product is GOTS-certified, that covers the processing as well as the farming (and includes some protection of labour standards too).

    Secondly, my understanding of the Oeko-Tex scheme is that it’s about testing the finished product for residues of substances that are harmful to humans – so, theoretically at least, dodgy stuff could be used in the farming and processing as long as no trace of it remained in the final product, or chemicals that are environmentally damaging but not directly harmful to humans could be used; the standard itself doesn’t regulate chemical use in the supply chain although presumably that’s usually how companies make sure their products are residue-free; and I don’t believe Oeko-Tex includes anything about labour rights.

    I don’t think Oeko-Tex certification is a bad thing, but presenting it as somehow superior to organic certification is misleading – the purposes of the two schemes are not the same at all, and it’s a real shame that consumers are very easily confused about the differences.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 29, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Hey Nina, Thanks for chiming on this. On closer inspection, you’re right: the language on the page is a little misleading. I should have been more thorough in my reading. Certainly no need to cast doubt on organic labeling, especially when it’s been GOTS-certified. (Though, I did take care to mention that GOTS-certification covers the whole supply chain in my post!) While I also think Oeko-Tex certification is a good thing—and of course a major step in the right direction—I agree entirely that it’s a shame that these kinds of things can feel so opaque as consumers. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Ever hopeful for increased transparency in labeling.

  • Reply Jen May 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    This post made me laugh at how ridiculous I am about sheets fitting tautly, which is apparently not so ridiculous after all! 🙂 Very informative!

  • Reply amanda May 5, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    THANK YOU for this! My fiance and I are in the process of putting together our wedding registry, and nice sets of sheets have been high on this list. I haven’t had a clue about where to start. This roundup is brilliant and much appreciated!

  • Reply Michelle February 12, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks for such an informative post! I’m in the process of putting together a twin bed for my toddler – can I ask about your bedspread? I really like how neutral it is.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 13, 2017 at 9:48 am

      The bedspread on our bed is from Brahms Mount! It’s a cotton ticking stripe blanket!

      • Reply Michelle February 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply Leah May 5, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Hi Erin,

    Just wondering how the Parachute linen sheets have held up over time? I’m interested in buying them but read a few reviews that said they shred after several washes.


    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 5, 2017 at 11:09 am

      We’ve had ours for a year and haven’t had any trouble at all with quality! Sorry to hear other folks have had issues!

      • Reply Leah May 5, 2017 at 11:30 am

        Thanks so much for your response! Can’t wait to try them out 🙂

  • Reply Mayra Carlson April 6, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I love this blog and I’m always so impressed with the high quality of your posts (that you put out EVERY DAY. How do you do that and stay sane???). It’s always a treat to read your blog in the morning before I tackle my day as a stay at home mom of four young kiddos. Thanks for helping me stay sane! ☺️

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 6, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Thanks so much, Mayra! Wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of a genius babysitter!

  • Reply christine November 6, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I would love it if you did an update!

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