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Is Percale the Right Cotton Weave for Your Sheets?

It’s easy enough to think of cotton sheets as a single product, but there’s plenty of nuance – particularly when it comes to the type of cotton weave. While some people love the silky, luxurious feel of sateen for their cotton linens, others find it too slippery and not breathable enough. That’s where versatile cotton percale comes in. In the interest of helping you find your perfect cotton bedding match, we’re taking a close look at one of the most beloved cotton weaves of all – cotton percale.

What is percale?

The word “percale” refers to a specific type of weave used to produce a piece of fabric and not the material it’s made from – even cotton percale can be made from any type of cotton, so it’s important you look for one of the highest quality.

Then word is derived from “pargalah”, a centuries-old cloth from Persia, but percale was originally exported from India in the 17th and 18th century and became a popular weave in 19th century France. Cotton percale is woven using a traditional one-yarn-over and one-yarn-under weave, and in order to be marketed as genuine percale in the United States, the fabric must have a thread count of at least 180 threads per square inch.

A percale weave feels the same on both sides of a set of sheets, and this smooth, crisp weave has a matte finish that gets better with every wash.

Why pick percale?

For cotton sheets and pillowcases with the same smart feel as a crisp white shirt, look no further than versatile percale. With its ultra-breathable weave, percale feels comfortable against the skin in any weather, making it a great choice for summer sheets or warm climate bedding. Percale has an airy yet crisp feel, due to the combination of a lighter yarn weight and a tight, flat weave.

This casual, no-sheen finish means that percale is slightly more susceptible to wrinkles, but we love it both sharply ironed or left unironed for a lived-in look. This weave offers superior durability, and resists pilling, fading, or fraying. For warm sleepers, the crisp, cool breathability of percale can’t be beat. Percale is not to be confused with linen, which is actually made of flax, not cotton.

Where to find percale?

Because percale can be made of any fiber – and cotton percale can be made of any type of cotton – it’s important to do your research before purchasing cotton percale sheets. You’ll want to look for the highest-quality fabric possible – and for cotton, that means extra-long staple pima cotton that’s proven pure. In order to be sure you’re getting the best, look for the PimaCott label, found on a broad range of Wamsutta sheets and pillowcases. The PimaCott seal ensures that the cotton used to make your bedding is always proven pure, high-quality pima cotton.