Monday, February 20, 2012

Buying Sheets 101

                                                            


“I want your sheets!”

Well, you can’t have them.  Not because I don’t love you…they just don’t make them anymore.  Most of the American mills (including Fieldcrest/Cannon that made our wonderful Charisma Dot sheets) closed several years ago. The linens we have purchased since then just don’t match up. And beware of the “Charisma” sheets out there now…they are NOT the same.

My major complaints:

            ~ It is hard to find a fitted sheet that actually FITS.  Nieman Marcus carried a great dotted sheet that was very close to our old ones but the bottoms were so large we could never get the bed made tight.  We use the top sheets and pillowcases we purchased, but folded the bottoms and stored them away for emergencies.

We have nice double pillow-top mattresses but they only require about a 13” pocket.  The smallest most places carry now is 15.”  I won’t buy anything that claims, “one size fits all” or is deeper than 15.”  There is a new place online called Cozy Town Linens that has numerous sizes for tops and bottoms (and they are American made).  I just found them and have not had a chance to buy from them yet. I will keep you posted when we do.

            ~ “Wrinkle Free.”  If you want a cotton percale sheet, there is no such thing as wrinkle free. You can either get a polyester/cotton blend that is or stick with 100% pima or Egyptian cotton.  We fold our fitted sheets right out of a hot dryer so they smooth out when folding.  I still iron the tops and Mike irons the pillowcases.  It may sound like trouble but it is one of the reasons our sheets feel so nice.

            ~ Poorly finished edges.  If I am paying a lot for linens that will last for years, I want them to be finished properly. The fitted should have elastic ALL the way around.  I prefer top sheets to be hemmed all the way around but did have one set with well-designed selvage edges that lasted as long at the sheets.  My biggest complaint is with the pillowcases.  First of all, I want both sides and the bottom seamed (not just a piece folded over and sewn down one side).  And, I want the hem sewn AFTER the seam so it folds over the rough edge.  [see photos]



The best:  Both side are seamed and the hem is sewn over the rough edges on both sides.



Not quite as good: Seamed on both sides and hemmed over one side only?
  



Both sides are seamed but the hem is seamed as well.




 Only one side has a seam and the hem is seamed.








~ Confusing thread count/cotton descriptions.  It used to be the higher the thread count, the better the sheet.  That was because the finer (longer, stronger) Egyptian cotton strands took up less room on the loom so there were more of them per inch. America got into the fine cotton business with its version of pima or “Supima” cotton sheets.  So look for those terms (Egyptian cotton or Supima cotton).

Thread count got tricky.  Many suppliers were making poor quality fibers stronger by wrapping two strands together and calling what used to be a 200 thread count sheet a 400 count and charging more. I have heard that this practice is being cracked down on but beware.  If you are getting a 600 thread count set of sheets for under $100, there is probably a reason you will notice only after the first washing.  The old Charisma sheets were 360 thread count Supima cotton (percale). They ran about $200 a set back then and were worth it as I am still using some of them 14 years after we opened.

Most sheets anymore are called “Sateen” but are mainly cotton that has been brushed to make it feel softer.  They never feel crisp to me and have a tendency to pill up.

Flannel sheets are a little different in that they they are supposed to be brushed and are judged by the oz. not the thread count.  Most regular flannel will be 4-5 oz.  But, pay a little more and get the 6-6.5oz.  It is well worth the money.  And they are oh so cozy in the winter (and I use the flat sheets as summer blankets)


Suppliers I always look at:

The Country Store
Linensource
Lands End
Neiman Marcus
(and now) Cozy Town


In conclusion, if you want sheets that feel like ours, get:

1. Pima, Supima or Egyptian cotton
2. Percale, (not Sateen)
3. 350-400 thread count
4. Measure your mattress for correct drop/pocket size
5. Get your spouse to iron them!

51 comments:

  1. Just wanted you to know that I am about to buy some sheets and remembered this blog and came back to find out what the PROS use!
    Thanks Rhonda!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Keep me posted on how you like them, where you get them, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can tell you know what your talking about in regards to sheets. So I was going to look at the suppliers you recommended and I was wondering if you could provide a link to the country store and possible the rest of the suppliers you recommend? Thanks for the info, really appreciate it. Scott

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, I have Charisma Supima sheets by Fieldcrest from about 12 years ago and they are still heaven. Today I went on a quest to replace them and thought I had found them until I read your blog. Your information has really helped me. Country Store apparently doesn't have the ones described as Charisma Supima 450 thread count at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Loved reading this. I am still using my Charisma sheets purchased when I worked for Linensource. Aaah, the days of American mills!

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you ever find sheets that compare, please let us all know!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amen, I am looking for sheets that can match my fieldcrest charisma sheets, but have yet to find any that even begin to come close. How do you shop online for a quality like "very thin, crisp, yet strong and soft. Oh yes, and wears like iron so they last 20 years." Thread count doesn't get at this quality, and I don't know what does. I now haunt high end thrift stores looking for used fieldcrest charisma sheets. There must be a better way.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I want someone with resources to start an American company and recreate those sheets. They could sell directly to folks like us and make a fortune!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too, love my Charisma sheets that I purchased years ago from the Company Store. I've tried replacing them and they are, in NO way, the same - even though they have the Fieldcrest Charisma name. The mill in North Carolina went bankrupt in early 2000s (partly because they would not bend to Walmart's demand to move production overseas and were outbid by other companies that would ... thanks Walmart), the name sold off, and the quality destroyed. Had I known I would have bought a lifetime of sheets. Yes, bring back the American mills and high quality cotton sheets!

      Delete
    2. I went to the mill in NC when they were closing and bought all that I could of the Charisma sheets. They are hands down the best sheets ever made. I am spending a fortune trying to replace them, and have friends doing the same. Please let us know if you find some that wont make us bankrupt!

      Delete
    3. Take a look at Thomas Lee, LTD. They are a couple of guys from West Point Pepperell and Dan River. I wrote more further down in the comments. I love these sheets !

      Delete
  9. It is official. There is a demand. Someone with resources could fill it and make a lot of money - and we could all have great sheets again!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I too have been searching for years for those Fieldcrest Charisma sheets...Nothing like them. I saw some Macy's Hotel brand Egyptian cotton 600 TC this morning...in the store they felt good, but at $180 a sheet I wondered if anyone had tried them, or if anyone had found a sheet that really did compare to the old Charismas?

    ReplyDelete
  11. $180 a sheet or a set? I would also be intereseted in any sheet folks have found that compares.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's $189 per sheet! They're on sale at Macy's until May 1, and I'll sacrifice myself to the cause and send for a flat sheet to test it and report back. King fitted are about $135 each in this sale...but if you recall, Charisma sheets were about $100 a sheet (King)way back then...and as someone here said, had I only known I'd have bought tons more!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Forget the Macy's Hotel brand sheets---just arrived after being on back order forever...no more like the old Charisma than any other (cheaper) sheets I've tried. Taking them back tomorrow....sadly.

    ReplyDelete
  14. One of my favorite home making activities is changing the sheets and dressing the bed. Nothing compares to the first night on fresh bedding. About 15 years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a couple of sets of white Fieldcrest Charisma "dot" sheet sets on sale. I made the mistake of giving away one set to our son when he was setting up his first grown-up apartment - he really would have been just as happy with anything we gave him. Well when making the bed yesterday I pulled out my sole set of Charisma sheets and made the bed and reflected on just how wonderful they fit and feel. This morning I got on line doing a search to see if there is anywhere to purchase these sheets. I happened upon your blog and see now that my search will not be fruitful. This is a shame - my 15 y/o Fieldcrest Charisma sheets are as wonderful today as they were the day I bought them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have some I no longer need. The link is below.

      Delete
  15. Has anyone tried the Vermont Country Store "clothesline crisp Egyptian cotton" sheets? I'd love to see a comment here about them. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know they sold sheets...will check it out.

      Delete
    2. I, too, am searching for replacements for the wonderful Fieldcrest Charisma sheets that I bought ten years ago. Bloomingdales used to sell them, but (thanks to your Blog) I now realize that it's not possible to replace the ones that I have. I'll check out your suggested suppliers. Thank you for publishing this blog--it was REALLY helpful!

      Delete
  16. I also have loved the old Charisma linens, and sold them in my shop, and now I miss them terribly. I sold the shop a couple of years ago, but just before I did, I bought some bamboo linens, and have used them for two - three years. I absolutely love them. They remind me of very old linen or very fine silk. The only problem is that they have to be washed in cold water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is good to know. I have wondered about those.

      Delete
    2. It appears they have just discontinued them. I had them in a cart but the link disappeared.

      Delete
  17. I love the old Charisma and I'm down to my last set any brand recommendations and what store

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Argh! Just bought a Charisma sheet set (and a set of standard pillow cases) for my new mattress set at Tuesday Morning today. I was so excited to think I found some Charisma to replace my other Charisma ones that now have some holes from 20+ years of use. And, after I read your blog, just checked the labels and the set is made in China while the pillowcases are made in India. It's 400 tc/sateen. I've washed them twice tonight and it's so not the same. :(

    ReplyDelete
  20. I wish there was a way to warn people....

    ReplyDelete
  21. So glad I found this blog! I got a set of Charisma for my wedding, and they finally gave out a couple of years ago. I have not found ANYTHING that compares since! Can't tell you how many disappointing sheet sets I've gone through in the past few years!! I'll let you know if I find anything..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A once in a lifetime opportunity! There are some for sale here...http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/181265202128?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

      Delete
  22. Thanks for your blog, I now can stop waisting my time looking for Charisma sheets. I've been looking for several years to replace the well worn sheets that I got as a Christmas gift 10 or more years ago. They get better with every washing they feel as soft as silk.

    I'm going to try some of your suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks all, though now I feel more hopeless than ever about finding sheets I can sleep on. The last 3 sets (various "high-thread-count" brands) I've bought felt ok in the package but are so scratchy once washed that I can't even lie on them, let alone sleep. Anyone had any success?

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is the best blog I ever read. I had Fieldcrest Charisma Sheets. I then bought I new "deep" mattress. I never could find sheets as good as the old ones. I didn't realize the Fieldcrest factory went out of business. It's been a struggle. I thought it was me. But it's the new sheets and the marketing. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  25. My husband and I just bought a king size bed and I am torturing myself trying to find good sheets. So far after a week of searching the internet....NO LUCK! I have read so many reviews and so many people are CONFUSED on TC! I found your blog very helpful, but am now annoyed that I will never get to sleep on the sheet that I dream of!! I wish I would have never researched so hard...it would have been easier to live life confused! :) Let me know if anyone has any luck.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Rhonda, thanks for the info. I have noticed that the Charisma sheets are not the same as they used to be. What a pity! When I lived in the US I always bought Charisma sheets but since moving abroad I buy Italian Somma or Bellora 400-600 thread count pima or sateen sheets, all are long staple Egyptian cotton. These cost between $230 - $400 a set, but are very fine and feel wonderful. Long staple cotton is important, the short staple sheets pill. I admit to being a sheet fanatic (: Only problem is size. Italian 'double' is a standard 180 cm, bigger than American queen and smaller than king. So now I buy the flat sheets and then have the bottom sheet tailored to the bed size.

    ReplyDelete
  27. thank you so much for the info. I am addicted to Fieldcrest Charisma sheets and luckily still have some but they are wearing out. I have spent over $1500 for a set of king sheets and none are as nice as the original charisma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check out these original Charisma by Fieldcrest king sheets. I bought a few sets of them over 15 years ago and now I have bought a new bed and they don't fit, so they are selling on ebay. http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=181265202128

      Delete
  28. I have some Charisma by Fieldcrest 100% Supima Cotton 310 Threads Per Square Inch Sheets on ebay in Australia. There are 2 unused luxury length king sheets, 1 unused California king fitted sheet, 2 king pillowcases and I am throwing in a used once king fitted sheet. They don't fit my bed and have been sitting in the linen press for about 15 years. If you love these sheets, which I did, you can get some here. A once in a lifetime opportunity!!! http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=181265202128

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi everyone,

    I am a certifiable sheet freak and have everything from antique pure linen from France and pure silk to Sferra Giza 45 to Porthault to Pratesi and Frette, American made muslin and percales. I could go on and on ! BUT, other than a set of summer weight linen from the early 1900's, my favorite set is from a company called Thomas Lee, LTD. They are just a tad thicker than the Charisma, but not as thick as Macy's Hotel 600 and they have that crisp, cool, soft feeling we all adore ! They run around $ 190 for a queen set. I love them ! (No financial interest here FYI).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and if you're looking for a really nice bath towel, Restoration Hardware has some. I buy the ones with the linen edge.

      Delete
    2. I just saw your recommendation. I went to the Thomas Lee site and see there is a choice: Bamboo or Cotton. Which ones are you recommending? Thanks!!

      Delete
    3. Cotton. I haven't tried their Bamboo (or any bamboo). You won't be disappointed, but if you don't like them, they will take them back up to 90 days after purchase !

      Delete
  30. I have not order anything from them...fitted sheets only come in 18" and are too big for my beds.

    Check out the comments on this website about their sheets:
    http://www.garnethill.com/hemstitched-supima-26-23174-3b-percale-bedding/221425?redirect=y

    ReplyDelete
  31. What about the Bloomingdale Charisma sheets? Are they not the same? I ordered a fitted dot sheet and I thought it was pretty good, but not quite the same as the old ones.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Not the same. The old ones are gone forever since the American mills have closed. Someone bought the Charisma name after Fieldcrest/Cannon went belly-up.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Coincidentally, I just took two king fitted Old Charisma sheets to the local tailor to have small rips repaired. I'd rather sleep in patched Charisma than any of the many brands of new sheets I've tried.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Just found a Canadian company called Au Lit Fine Linens. They sell percale sheets made from 100% Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe. Several different thread counts. I'm buying the lower count based on their recommendations because I want the feel of old-fashioned, crisp percale sheets. Expensive, but I only need one set of great sheets for my bed. Family business run by a mother-daughter. http://www.aulitfinelinens.com/

    ReplyDelete
  35. I, too, have been searching for the Fieldcrest Charisma 310 TC Supima Cotton sheets to add to my linen closet. The two sets I have now were purchased about 15-20 years ago at Strouds in California. I love them and am really disappointed that I cannot buy them anymore. I see some on Ebay, but from what I've read here, they are not the same and are, most likely, made in China. No thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have researched sheets for almost two years, trying to find Charisma/Fieldcrest. I'm relieved to find this blog and grateful for all the comments. My Charisma sheets came from Bloomingdales about 15 years ago, but are no longer available there. I'll write again if I find a reasonable substitute.

    ReplyDelete