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Our Jargon Buster Guide

When buying linens you'll come across quite a bit of jargon. These are terms used throughout the linens industry to explain different types of fabric and the treatments used to create a particular finish. Our jargon buster guide is for you to make it easier to find exactly what you want – and without the need of a dictionary.

'Thread Count'

This is the number of threads per square inch in the bed linen. It makes the difference in how comfortable and luxurious bed linen will feel. A good average sheet, for example, might have a count of around 150. Then as the thread count increases so does the quality, with 200 marking where a luxury range begins.

'Egyptian Cotton'

Egyptian cotton offers exceptional quality and durability, because in cotton, size does matter. It all has to do with the length of the cotton fibres. The conditions in Egypt produce the longest fibres (more than 1.5 inches) and this means they are stronger and finer, giving a greater feeling of softness. It also means the threads are more tightly packed which makes the fabric stronger because there are more threads to the inch, as well as less ends so less fraying. Then there is the ‘ply’ of the threads – like the number of layers in toilet paper. Quality Egyptian cotton has two ply which means smoother, finer thread. This all combines to make for a more stable, tight weave which is unlikely to bobble and can absorb more dye to give longer lasting colours.

Pillowcases – from 'Housewife' to 'Oxford'

The most widely used pillowcase in domestic settings is called the 'Housewife', where the pillow fills to each corner of the pillowcase and an extra flap on the opening end holds it inside. An 'Oxford' pillowcase is the same except that it is stitched together to allow extra fabric to form a decorative border that frames the pillow. In contrast, the most widely used pillowcase in the hospitality industry is the 'Bag', because its simplicity allows for speedier housekeeping. Here, the pillowcase is longer than the pillow, with the extra length holding it inside rather than the flap, which makes the pillow easier to remove.

'Calandering'

This is a finishing process used to give a fabric more lustre. The cloth is pressure treated using rollers under high temperature to achieve a more shiny finish.

'Jacquard'

This is a type of weave, where a more complex pattern is achieved through combining different threads. The Jacquard Loom was invented in France by Joseph Marie Jacquard at the beginning of the 19th Century. It used an early form of what we now call computer cards to programme the pattern and allow for more intricate designs.

'Percale'

This refers to a type of weave used in manufacturing. Percale gives a fabric strength and this means it will last longer in multiple washes. Percale is generally only found in high thread-count fabrics.

'Damask'

This is a reversible fabric with a pattern weaved into it that gives the appearance of a sheen, reflecting light as it is moved. Today, damask fabric is manufactured using Jacquard Looms that are controlled by using computerised software.

'Mercerization'

This chemical treatment process for cotton was invented by John Mercer. The modern development of this process gives a softer and stronger fabric. Mercerized Egyptian cotton is the most durable and will be less likely to fade or lose its high-quality feel in repetitive washes.

What's the Difference between Cotton and Linen?

Both Cotton and Linen are natural fibres, but they are obtained from different plants. The Cotton plant is more widely known due to its wider use and colourful history, whereas Linen is taken from flax plant. Although there are many types of cotton with varying qualities and strength, linen fibres are generally stronger and also allow for a cooler feel.

How to Make 'Hospital Corners'

Making a beautiful bed is part of making your guests feel welcome.

Nowadays with fitted bottom sheets the first step is made much easier, but it's still good to make sure the sheet's elastic is stretched evenly around the mattress, because this will prevent the corners from riding up. Smooth out the sheet from the middle to the edges and tuck any loose bits firmly under the mattress.

The top sheet is where the method really counts. Find the widest hem on the sheet and put this at the head of the bed and pull the sheet until it evenly covers the mattress, with the excess falling over the bottom of the mattress. Make hospital corners by first tucking the bottom-edge under, then take one side-edge in your hand and pull it upwards until it is taut, with your free hand tuck in the loose material hanging down at the side, then pull the edge you're holding firmly downwards and neatly tuck it under the mattress. You should have a nice tidy diagonal fold, which is not only prettier but also stronger. Add your duvet with a flourish and it's done.