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How to Look for Quality Used Cotton Sheets
I have the best linens. The best sheets, nicest pillowcases. Great weaves, wonderful hand, a luxury to touch and sleep on. And I got them all used. You can too.
When you buy used, you can afford to be a linen snob, buying only the best for your bed.
Thread count is all the rage these days, and you can buy new sheets for absurdly high thread counts, for absurdly high fees. And while a high thread count does ensure a good feel (if finer cottons are used), you won’t make a long-term bargain out of the expense. The higher thread counts rip very easily and don’t have the washable longevity of the mid-range thread counts.
A thread count over 180 is called percale, and used to be THE luxury bedding. It’s still a good thread count for all-cotton sheets, especially for combed cotton. Any used sheets in the 200s-300s for thread count is a steal. Most sheets will not bother listing thread counts, but they will tell you about the cotton type if it’s worth mentioning. And that’s the main secret to picking up luxury linens for pennies.
The key to the best bedding is locating the best cotton. I always pick up sheets that read Pima Cotton, Supima Cotton, and most especially the desirable Egyptian Cotton. A 100% Combed Cotton is also worth grabbing - combed cotton has such a soft hand and luxurious feel.
I seldom buy cotton/polyester blends. Polyester pills, and usually imparts a scratchy, plastic-like feel to the bedding.
I would consider picking up a blend for children’s beds, or for dressing day beds that see occassional use. I would still look for a quality blend, with a high cotton content - at least 60%. Any blend made by Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart Everyday or JC Penney will be a good buy, with great colors and classy patterns.
I also pick up muslin sheets when I find them - the older, more vintage ones will have a wonderful feel from decades of use and washings…and good muslin lasts and lasts. I don’t think you can even find new muslin sheets any more.
I frequent the Goodwills, mostly, although you can also grab fine linens for a song at garage sales. Everyone else is so busy hunting down collectibles that sheets and pillowcases are mostly passed over. I can tell a fine cotton just by feeling the sheets - eventually, you will develop a touch for this as well.
Keep in mind that you will have a hard time finding matching sheet and pillowcase sets. This never bothers me - with today’s unique styles you can mix and match.
My mixed style of choice is the Shabby Chic look of gently fading red and pink roses. The mixed prints on my pillows and sheets looks delicious!
Other styles that lend themselves to mixing:
1. solids and stripes that match your rooms main colors and accents
2. all-white…mixing eggshell, navajo and taupe looks nice
3. blue-on-white, pink-on-white or toile-type patterns
4. anything with a country design, or ginghams
While I like roses exclusively for my bed, I also see many pillowcases with other floral themes for you to collect - tulips, daisies, mums and mixed bouquets.
Make sure you give your “new” linens a good, hot washing before you use them to sanitize.
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