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Sateen vs Percale Weave Sheets: What’s the difference?

Weave methods such as percale and sateen are common terms found in the making of cotton bed sheets. The type of weave methods describe how cotton threads are woven together to make a fabric. When looking for bedding, these are the most prevalent weave methods in cotton sheets that you'll come across. While both percale or sateen fabrics are popular and comfy, you'll most likely prefer one over the other depending on your body temperature and preferred texture.

How weave method affects the sheet’s quality and feel

Smooth hand feel on fabric, photo by cottonbro on Pexels

 

There are a number of different factors that influence the quality of bed sheets.  The weave method of fabrics are often overlooked in comparison to more commonly considered factors such as thread count. Although thread count is indeed an important aspect to consider, high thread counts do not directly translate into a high quality bed sheet. Similar to thread counts in bed sheets, the types of weave methods can determine the quality of your bed sheets significantly on the aspects of durability, breathability and texture.

 

What are Percale and Sateen weaves?

 

To understand percale and sateen weaves, you first need to be familiar with the terms "warp" and "weft”. The "warp" refers to the threads that go lengthwise through the weaver's loom while "weft" refers to the strands that are interwoven with the warp threads. 

 

Thread texture and weave method, Photo by Teona Swift on Pexels

 

In percale weave patterns, the weft thread goes over one warp thread and then under another warp thread before returning to its original location, this is referred to as a one-over-one-under weave. 

 

In sateen weave patterns, the weft thread is weaved over three other threads before passing under one of them which is also commonly referred to as three-over-one-under weave. There are however, some exceptions where sateen sheets make use of a different thread pattern such as a “four-over-one -under” method as compared to the usual sateen weave pattern as mentioned earlier. 

Properties of the different weave method in bed sheets

Percale Weave 

Percale weave pattern

For percale weave fabrics, you can imagine the feel of it to be close to that of a cotton button-down shirt. Percale bed sheets often have a crisp, matte finish and lightweight feel akin to linen. The reason why it feels similar to linen is due to it having a simpler 1:1 weave thread pattern that is similar to that used for linen fabrics. Due to its structure allowing it to be lightweight, percale sheets are highly breathable and airy which makes them an excellent choice for those who want to sleep cool at night. 

 

Sateen Weave

Sateen weave pattern

On the other hand, sateen bed sheets have a smooth feel with a signature lustrous sheen in appearance due to their compact weave pattern which exposes more yarn to the fabric's surface. Sateen sheets are generally more dense than percale weave sheets which make them slightly less airy but more smooth in comparison. They are still able to ensure a cool night of sleep despite this however to a lesser degree than percale bed sheets. 

 

Weavve pink cotton bed sheet texture close up

 

Depending on your preferences on whether you prioritize the feel of your bedsheets or breathability, you may see one weave method as better than the other. Choose the ideal bedding for yourself by checking out our ultimate bed sheets guide here

 

Pros & Cons of Percale bed sheets

The thread count of most percale sheets typically fall in the range of 200-400. The lower thread count and less compact weave method allows for percale fabrics to dissipate heat from your body with ease as a result of its high breathability. Although cotton percale sheets are a good choice for cooling bed sheets, they do not have a silky smooth feel which some may not prefer. One solution to this is to opt for TENCEL Lyocell bed sheets which are popular due to their silky texture and excellent cooling properties as compared to cotton

 Cotton percale fabric texture close up, Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

 

Cotton percale sheets are typically soft upon first use and get more so after a few washes. They have a more matte appearance as compared to sateen sheets as they lack that silky sheen and are relatively prone to wrinkling. Percale cotton bed sheets in particular are also easy to care for and are generally quite affordable, making them a good choice for those looking to buy bed sheets that are inexpensive.  

 Pros

  • Crisp hand feel 
  • Softens with every wash 
  • Highly breathable
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Easy to maintain
  • Lightweight

 

Cons

  • Wrinkle prone
  • Lacks a smooth feel

 

Pros & Cons of Sateen bed sheets

Sateen sheets are inherently wrinkle-resistant and have a drape-like quality to them. They can also maintain a silky smooth look in comparison to percale sheets when not ironed. 

 Weavve cotton grey bed sheet set

Due to the compactness of the threads in a sateen weave, the resulting cotton sateensheets are slightly heavier than percale sheets which make them more snug and sumptuous than percale bedsheets. This would make them the ideal choice for those who prefer to sleep snug and cozy especially on cold nights.

 

Although percale and sateen weaves are more prevalent in cotton fiber bed sheets, these weave methods can also be applied to otherpopular bedding materials such as polyester, bamboo rayon, and TENCELlyocell to name a few.

 Pros

  • Smooth hand feel
  • Elegant lustrous matte appearance
  • More wrinkle resistant than percale weave sheets
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Softens with every wash
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Denser with drape-like qualities 

 

Cons

  • Slightly more prone to pilling than percale
  • Less breathable than percale 
  • The sheen finish may fade after repeated washes

     Woman reading book on bed featuring Weavve dark blue cotton bed sheets

    In summary, there is no clear winner in showdown of percale vs sateen weave methods as they both offer different benefits that cater to varying preferences. The takeaway is that percale bed sheets are more cooling as compared to sateen sheets and sateen sheets are smoother and less wrinkle prone than percale sheets. 

     

    There are ways to find a bed sheet that has the properties of both these weave methods through different factors such as material, thread count and yarn count. Find out more on which bed sheet material best suits your needs. 

     

    Discover Weavve’s Bed Sheets

    Weavve’s bed sheets are all responsibly made and Oeko-tex certified, ensuring that you sleep not only safely, but comfortably as well. Our bed sheets are free of toxins and harmful chemicals which make them ideal bed sheets for sensitive skin

     

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    Cotton Sateen bed sheets

    Girl reading book in bed featuring Weavve cotton bed sheets in cream colour

    The Weavve cotton sateen bed sheets are made with 100% long-staple cotton fibers with a 100 yarn count of fine single ply threads. This allows our sateen sheets to be irresistibly soft, smooth and strong, the use of single ply threads also means that they are lighter in weight as well.

     

    Our cotton sateen bed sheets use a four over and one under weave pattern as well as processes like singeing and calendaring to give them a luxurious sheen and smooth hand feel. Pre shrinking also prevents our sheets from shrinking during regular washing, thus ensuring a longer sheet lifespan. 

     

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    TENCEL Lyocell bed sheets

     Woman lying in bed with pet dog featuring Weavve TENCEL™ Lyocell bed sheets in white

    Made with the best TENCEL lyocell fibers that are spun into the finest 80s yarn count threads, our Lyocell bed sheets are silky smooth and temperature regulating making them ideal for Singapore’s hot climate. These fine single ply threads are then woven into a 400 thread count fabric, giving you stronger, smoother and lighter sheets. 

     

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