When purchasing a set of sheets, consumers should always be looking for cotton products made from long staple cotton (commonly referred to as ELS cotton). The long fibres of ELS cotton make a stronger and softer yarn and in turn weave into a much stronger and softer fabric. Most high thread count sheets are made from ELS cotton because a long fibre is needed to make a very thin, yet strong, yarn.
Most cotton seen in today's marketplace is upland cotton, Pima (Supima) cotton and Egyptian cotton.
Pima cotton is American grown cotton recommended by Supima. Supima is the organization in charge of overseeing the distribution of American Pima cotton seed throughout the US.
It's reasonable to assume that the lack of a "brand" (e.g. Pima cotton) means the cotton used to make the product is upland cotton. This is a shorter staple cotton and would lack the strength and consistency of the "branded" cottons. Pima cotton is a generic label (honouring the Pima Indians in the Southwest) given to any ELS cotton grown in any country from a particular type of long-staple cotton. The primary producers of Pima cotton are the U.S., Australia and Peru. Any of these producing countries can properly label their cotton: Pima.
Supima cotton is a brand name given to Pima cotton grown in the U.S. "Supima" is a licensed trademark of the Supima Association of America and exists to promote the brand. A product labelled Pima cotton might contain ELS cotton grown in the U.S. or elsewhere, but a product labelled Supima cotton must contain only ELS cotton grown in the U.S.
Egyptian cotton is a very tricky brand. It's obvious when you think about it but any cotton grown in Egypt can rightly be labelled Egyptian cotton. Egypt is one of the largest producers of ELS cotton in the world, but not all the cotton grown in Egypt is ELS cotton. It is possible to purchase a product labelled 100% Egyptian cotton with the expectation of it being made from the very finest cotton, when in fact it could be made from lesser quality, non-ELS, Egyptian cotton. To our knowledge, there is no way for the consumer to know the true quality of the Egyptian cotton used in the manufacture of a product. What can you do? Ask questions, use your judgment, and if possible be guided by the feel of the product. At Egyptian Cotton Kingdom all our products are manufactured from the finest 100% Egyptian Long Staple (ELS) cotton single ply (one ply) and our weave is sateen.
A word of caution: read the label carefully. If the label says "Pima cotton" and not "100% Pima cotton" then it is likely the Pima cotton has been blended with upland cotton. We typically assume the "100%" part when reading a label that says "Pima cotton". But if it doesn't say 100% don't assume 100%. The labelling used by manufacturers has become much more forthright in recent years so more often than not you will see labelling that is very specific about the cotton content. What you read is what you get.
PERCALE: A smooth, flat, closely woven and combed fabric that comes in 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/poly blends. Finer than muslin, expect Thread Count here to range from 180-300.
Percale stands for the way the fabric has been woven. In percale the yarns are woven in one over one, whereas Sateen is four over one. The one over one (percale) weave create a more even and stronger, also denser fabric. Single Ply of 300 thread count Percale make this better than a 600 thread count as most of the 600tc are 4 pick insertions. Insertions means when weaving the fabric. You have vertical yarns being inserted or hemmed by the horizontal yarns. If the horizontal hemming yarns are being done with 1 yarn at time it’s called single pick insertion, if it’s using 4 yarns, it’s called 4 pick insertion. The higher the number of insertions the faster the weave and the quality of the fabric becomes less. The reason for this is to save money. This is not the same thing as 2-ply sheets or 3 ply sheets which refer to the yarn being used in weaving and not how it’s being woven. Therefore, using the superior weave and woven in the best authentic way and is made from Egyptian cotton which is also ELS (long staple cotton) grown along the Nile you will be purchasing a superior quality product
PIMA or SUPIMA: Is high quality cotton whose long fibre staple is somewhat similar to that of Egyptian cotton. The differences are geographical only. Pima is grown in the south-western part of the U.S. and Egyptian is grown along the Nile River. Supima is made from long staple Pima. The soft hand feel of Pima and Supima make them very desirable in bedding. Expect to find Thread Count here from 200-300.
EGYPTIAN COTTON: This is the cotton queen of the Nile. Grown alongside the river this quintessential cotton owes its superior durability, lustre and silky hand feel to its extra long fibre staple. Thread Counts range from 200-1500.
SATEEN: a weave construction that has more yarn surface on the face of the cloth than other basic weaves giving a softer hand and more lustrous look.