The way cotton yarns are woven determines the look and feel achieved in the final fabric. There are two basic types of cotton fabric - percale and sateen.
There are a lot of factors that create variation within these weaves, but generally percale is evenly woven, with one yarn over and one yarn under. This makes for a sturdy fabric with a matte finish and a crisp feel. Sateen weave has more yarns on the top surface, resulting in a delicate fabric with a silk-like touch and lustrous finish or sheen.
Percale is also known as plain weave and is the most common weave used for sheets. Dry to the touch, breathable and durable, HEATHER is a good example of this type of cotton.
The heathered effect comes from interweaving yarn colors that are then ring spun — tightly twisting long and short threads together to create the strongest, smoothest, softest yarn possible. This also makes HEATHER sheets slightly heavier in quality, providing extra comfort and longevity.
Percale weave is cooling, works in all weather and usually preferable if you’re a warm sleeper. Strong and long lasting, this weave has great durability and resists pilling and fraying. It’s generally a sound choice for summer sheets, guest bedrooms and teenagers, and is the type of sheeting used in hotels - it has what many think of as the feel of “classic” sheets.
PINS epitomizes classic percale with a crisp, smooth hand feel. Always cool to the touch when you first get into bed, with the breathability of a nice crisp shirt, the PINS pattern is reminiscent of bamboo. Still a strong favorite of AREA customers after almost 20 years.
The feel of percale sheets improves with washing. Over the last 30 years, we've come to appreciate the rumpled nature of lived-in sheets. The widespread preference for fussy, starched and ironed bedding has opened up to a more casual and easy aesthetic. ANTON demonstrates that wrinkles aren’t just a nice trait of linen sheets.
ANTON is cool, soothing and relaxed to the touch. This is non-fussy natural washed cotton for an easy, no-iron look.
Sateen weave has a soft drape and silky hand. Multiple threads “floated” over the surface make for luminosity, and though AREA sateen has a lustrous sheen, it’s not shiny. JEWEL uses heavier threads to create a thick, smooth and super-soft fabric.
Reversible with two equal front sides, JEWEL is our most exclusive cotton sheet and duvet program. It's remarkably versatile.
Sateen is tightly woven to trap heat and touches more skin surface, making it ideal for cooler seasons and climates, as well as for cold sleepers. It’s also a good choice if you prefer to sleep in a cooler bedroom year round, something research does show to be better for a healthy night's sleep.
PERLA is our newest sateen program, woven with extra-fine cotton for a relaxed supple softness. These sheets have an informal, almost-vintage flair and can be washed over and over.
Even with longer staples and higher thread count, sateen is a little more delicate than percale, though it will wear very nicely. It's also why it has such an appealing drape, buttery softness and barely any wrinkles. If you prefer a sleek look that can be achieved with little effort, sateen is foolproof.
LEO is a lustrous jacquard weave of sateen cotton that comes in duvet covers and shams. Decidedly modern and easy to live with.
As seasons change, so can your sheets. The crisp, cool welcome of percale after a long summer day, or warm embrace of sateen on a chilly night, both have enduring appeal. A combination of the two can be a great solution for transitional weather or for sleeping partners who are comfortable at different temperatures.
So which fabric is better? It's a matter of personal taste.