November 20, 2017

What’s the difference between Percale and Sateen?

How to choose the best sheets for a heavenly night’s sleep

The choice between percale and sateen sheets can be a tough one. In fact, the majority of people buying them probably don’t know what they really mean. We like to explain that while all of our sheets are made from high quality 100% Egyptian cotton, the difference between percale and sateen is subtle, so the actual difference in feel is about 30%. Not important to some, but for others, it plays a big role in how well they sleep at night. We’ll use this opportunity to explain the technical differences so you can make your mind up for yourself.

What exactly are percale and sateen?

The names "Percale" and "Sateen" simply refer to the weave used in the manufacturing process of your sheets, not the fabric itself. In woven fabrics, threads follow one of two directions - thread set vertically is called the warp, while thread set horizontally is known as the weft. The way in which the weft thread is woven over and under the warp thread determines whether it’s percale or sateen.


Percale is tightly woven weave – accomplished in a classic one-thread-over-one-under fashion – giving it a crisp, matte finish that’s ultra-breathable. The best way to think about a percale weave is to picture the perfect white button-down shirt — crisp, clean and fresh, becoming softer with every wash. While we love Percale all year round, it’s particularly delightful (and forgiving) during the balmy Australian summer.


Thanks to its unique weave, Sateen has a delicate lustre, giving it a luxurious look, the same you'd find in your favourite boutique hotel. It's slightly softer than percale and silky to the touch, while our world-class cotton adds a level of comfort and durability.

Caring for percale and sateen

No matter which luxury bedding you choose, the look and feel of it is only part of why quality is important — it should also wear well and be easy to care for. Both percale and sateen will last a long time if washed according to their care instructions, but there are a few notable differences. Percale is a stronger and more durable weave, and will become softer the more it is washed - it does, however, have a tendency to wrinkle more than silky sateen. Due to their more delicate and intricate weave, sateen sheets require some extra care to avoid snags and pulls in the smooth fabric during use and laundering.

Note: There's a common misconception that high quality sheets shouldn't wrinkle, when in fact "wrinkle-free" sheets have usually been treated with chemicals like formaldehyde. We don't use any harmful chemicals on our bed sheets to stop them wrinkling - they are a natural product and are meant to wrinkle!

So... which weave is for you?

As you'll have hopefully realised by now, there is no "better" weave - it all comes down to personal preference. So to help you choose your best match, we've put together the below "nutshell" guide.

Feels like a crisp hotel sheet Like you'd find at a boutique hotel
Cool & lightweight Smooth & silky feel
Exceptionally breathable Lustrous shine, luxurious look
Matte, lived-in look Naturally less wrinkles
One over, one under wear Four over, one under weave

So what did you decide? Percale or Sateen? Remember, all IYLA sheets are crafted using 100% Egyptian Cotton, so you can't go wrong either way!