Frequently Asked Questions
Caring for Fine Linens
Don't judge a sheet by only it's thread count.
To understand what creates the most luxurious linens, thread count, the number of yarns woven into one square inch of fabric, is but one measure. It is important, to be sure, but it is only part of the story. For a sheet to have the look and feel that will change your life, three other key components must be present. It all starts with the quality of the fiber itself, and the yarn made from it.
The Quality of the Yarn.
The world's finest cotton is grown on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. Egyptian cotton is renowned because it yields the longest-staple cotton in the world. Where these marvelous fibers are spun into yarn makes a difference as well. Sferra, maker of what we consider to be the world's finest sheet, has the raw Egyptian cotton fiber spun into smooth, silken yarns by master craftsmen in Italy. Because these long staples can be spun into stronger and finer yarns, it is possible to weave more threads per inch into the fabric, resulting in a higher thread count that is lighter and more lush than the fabrics made of coarser, heavier yarns crammed into thread count.
Craftsmanship always makes a difference. Fine linens makers like Sferra enlist the world's finest spinners, weavers, sewers, embroiderers and artisans to craft extraordinary linens. They use the best mills who blend centuries-old history and knowledge of their craft with cutting-edge textile technologies, looms and facilities.
After the world's finest cotton has been selected, spun and woven into cloth of the very best quality, the process doesn't stop there. Fabric finishing and sewing can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product. State-of-the-art finishing brings out the subtle sheen of a sateen, the softest nap of cotton, the richest, longest-lasting colors and enhances both the feel of the fabric and the quality of the weave. In certain fine sheets, embroidery is done entirely by hand, whether it be subtle hemstitching, scalloping, or intricate embroidery. This allows for an attention to detail and a special grace that machine-sewn items can't duplicate. The end result of care and attention is a difference you can feel, in sheets that are woven with the luxury of fine heirlooms.
How and how often should I launder my bed linens?
Bed linens should be changed weekly. Unless dry cleaning is recommended, launder by first separating into light and dark colors. Avoid overloading machine to breaking long fibers like those in Egyptian cotton. Wash in warm water, using a gentle laundering agent, with final cold rinse. If presoaking is necessary, it should be done in cold water. Allow washing machine to fill up and begin agitating before adding detergent or bleach. Unless linens are extremely soiled, use half the detergent recommended. Remove washed bedding promptly from the machine. Shake damp linens before drying at low heat.
What is the proper format for a monogram?
A monogram is an ornate design formed by the combination of letters, usually the initials of an individual or couple, used to decorate or identify an object. Many customers opt to monogram their bed, bath and table linens, as well as throws and other gift items.
A traditional three-letter monogram for an individual has the initial of the individual's surname (or last name) set larger in the center, with the individual's first name initial to the left of it and the middle name initial to the right of it. For example, the monogram for John Paul Smith would read:
Modern convention calls for a married couple to create a three-letter monogram using the initial of their shared surname set larger in the center, with the wife's first name initial to the left of it and the husband's first name initial to the right of it. For example, if Mary Brown married John Smith, their monogram would read:
Some references say that for married couples, the husband's first name initial come first. It is really a matter of personal preference.
Old school custom, as espoused by Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette, would have the linens "marked with the married initials of the mistress of the house." This three-letter monogram has the initial of the woman's married surname set larger in the center, with her first name initial to the right of it. For example, if Mary Brown married John Smith, their monogram would read:
There is an option to have all the initials the same size (the center initial is not larger.) These monograms do not follow the format described above for location of the surname initial. If all initials are the same size, then they are simply listed in order with the surname initial placed at the end. For example, John Paul Smith would read:
Mary and John Smith would read:
How to keep your towels looking as plush and pretty as the day you bought them.
When you purchase a new set of towels, the first thing you should do is wash and dry before using them. It is important to remove any residue from the finishing process that might still be on the towel. Things like chemical softeners can get left behind on your towels and hinder absorbency. A quality towel should get more absorbent and soft as you use it, not less.
When washing your towels, it's best not to leave them soaking for long periods of time. Avoid detergents with Clorox or bleach alternatives, as they can discolor. Also refrain from using fabric softerners, as they can make towels less absorbent.
When laundering your towels, it's best to have a full load of laundry, which makes the washing more balanced and effective. Idealy, you should dry your towels starting warm and finishing at a cooler temperature. This takes longer, but will make the linens last longest. Never dry your towels on hot!
For stain removal, apply a quality stain remover product directly on the stain. Gently rub and scrub the product by hand before putting it into the wash.
Always store your towels in a dry linen closet.
Use this pillow formations chart to make styling your bed easy!
Achieving a pulled together bedroom begins with the bed. After all, it's the focal point of the space. That doesn't necessarily mean you need to add five hundred frill throw pillows to it. Even if you're a "swish the duvet and be done with it" type, with five more seconds spent stacking your sleeping pillows, you can create a clean bedding scheme.
There are many ways to arrange your pillows, some more formal than others. You can stack, prop, mix sizes, add decorative shapes, go symmetrical or pile with abandon. Use this detailed pillow formation chart for your reference.
- Simply stack your sleeping pillows neatly atop one another for a no-fuss presentation. Here, the bottom pillows have standard pillowcases, while the top two are encased in standard shams.
- If you prefer to dress things up a little, just layer a pair of decorative pillows in front of a sleeping stack. Use a pattern that incorporates a color from your bedding to tie together the look.
- Another option is to prop up pillows fitted with standard size shams in front of your sleeping stacks. This is best done with pillows that have some heft, as light and airy feather pillows have a tendency to be floppy, and thus sloppy.
- Go one step further and add a single decroative pillow, preferably 20x20 inches in size, centered in fron of the propped up shams.
- Prop your sleeping pillows up against the headboard, then layer pillows outfitted in shams in front. Finish with a centered pillow, encased in a boudoir sham, which fits a smaller 12x16 inch rectangular pillow.
- Start out identically to the formation above, but finish with a pair of boudoir pillows, centered in front of each pillow sham.
- This pillow formation starts with a pair of plump European squares. Use inserts that are one inch larger than the European sham to yield a full and rounded pillow. Next, add your sleeping pillows. Directly in front, layer standard pillows, encased in standard shams. Finally, add a fourth layer of smaller size pillows in boudoir shams.
- This pillow formation varies from the formation above only in that the fourth and final layer is a centered decorative pillow. Don't be afraid to go bold with pattern here. Or, for a more subdued style, use a decorative pillow with a tone-on-tone texture.
- For a more streamlined look, go with a pair of European squares, a pair of standard shams, pulled slightly to the outer edges of the bed and a third layer of boudoir pillows, pulled slightly to the center. It's clean, but with a bit of tension to make things interesting.
- Finally, do the same as above for the first and second layers, but center a single boudoir pillow on the standard shams.
Festive and Formal Table Linens.
For festive formal occasions, bring out the fine china and the good silver...and gold. Choose a European-woven linen, like SFERRA's Filigree, that is printed with a beautiful metallic Silver or Gold fretwork design. It coordinates with white tablecloths and linens, so you can easily dress your table in classic, elegant style.
For something a bit more eclectic, mix in some embroidered table linens. Pure white linen is the perfect classic ground for a romantic tablescape. For the winter season, add a little glitz and glam with a metallic Silver or Gold snowflake, like SFERRA's Frost pictured above. Dress your table from top to bottom in White using cloths, runners or placemats, or layer in a printed metallic pattern to create a warm and glittering Winter setting.
What is 'bamboo' fabric?
Bamboo fiber is 100% made from bamboo through a high-tech process.The raw material bamboo is selected from non-polluted areas in Asia.The whole distilling and production process produces natural and ecofriendly fiber without any chemical additives.
Bamboo fiber is also a unique biodegradable textile material. As a natural cellulose fiber it can be 100% biodegraded in soil by microorganisms and sunshine. It is a common fact that bamboo can thrive naturally without using pesticide. Scientists have found that bamboo owns a unique anti-bacteria and bacteriostatic bio-agent. This substance is combined with bamboo cellulose during the process of being manufactured into bamboo fiber resulting in a naturally antibacterial fabric. This antibacterial property means fabrics stay fresh and keeps away odor causing bacteria. It is proven that wash after wash, bamboo fiber fabric still possesses excellent function of antibacteria. Bamboo fiber’s natural anti-bacteria does not cause skin allergy as can sometimes happen with chemical antimicrobial.
Another benefit of bamboo fiber is its unusual ability to breathe and ventilate. A cross-section of the bamboo fiber will show that it is filled with various micro-gaps and micro-holes, giving excellent moisture absorption and ventilation. With this unparalleled micro-structure, bamboo fiber fabrics can absorb and evaporate moisture in a split second, making people feel extremely cool and comfortable in the hot summer.
Bamboo fabrics are made from pure bamboo fiber yarns which have excellent wet permeability, moisture vapor transmission property, superior strength and durability over time, soft and comfortable hand, better drape, easy dying, and splendid colors. It is a newly founded, great prospective green fabric. Bamboo fiber is praised as " the natural, green and eco-friendly new-type textile material of 21st century".
How does Percale differ from Sateen?
A Percale is a plain weave using a use a one-over, one-under structure. A Sateen uses of a different structure in the weaving process, usually a four-over, one-under. The Percale’s weave produces firm and smooth fabric with no gloss. The Sateen’s structure places more threads on the surface, producing the sheen and softer feel.
How do I use Euro shams?
Euro shams, also known as European or Continental shams, are sized to fit a 26 x 26" European pillow. These pillows and shams are generally used for decorative purposes, but they can also be used as floor pillows or reading pillows. Euro shams are often designed with decorative trims or flanges, which add visual interest and increase the overall size by extending beyond the outer edge of the pillow. Unlike a pillowcase, which has the opening visible on the side, a sham has a hidden opening of overlapping fabric in the back.
The secret to setting a beautiful, luxurious bed ensemble is the layering of pillows with different sizes, shapes and patterns. In a pillow arrangement, Euro pillows are placed in the back, against the headboard, creating a background. You would generally use three Euro pillows on a king bed, two on a full or queen bed, and one on a twin bed.
What size square table topper do I need for my round table?
A table topper is a tablecloth that can be used over a larger table cloth or alone on a table. Generally, table toppers are square and look very nice draped over a round table with the four corners pointing down toward the floor. In order to calculate the correct size square table topper for your round table, you will need to use the Pythagorean Theorem. To determine the size of the square table topper, follow these steps:
1. Measure the diameter of your round table.
2. Decide on the length of the drop - the distance that the points will fall from the tabletop toward the floor.
3. Add the amount of the drop, multiplied by two, to the diameter or the table. For example: If the table measures 60" in diameter and you want an 8" drop, then the tablecloth should measure 76" (60" diameter + 16" combined drop) corner to corner.
Caring for Table Linens.
Don't be intimidated when it comes to caring for your table linens. If you start with a quality product and follow a few simple fabric care rules, your table linens can last for generations.
First, it's important to understand the difference between cotton, which is typically used for everyday occasions, and linen, which is almost always used for formal occasions. While both are vegetable fibers, linen is stronger, smoother and wrinkles more easily than cotton, which is softer, fluffier and easier to maintain.
Wash cotton table linens using a regular wash (hot wash/cold rinse) and regular dryer cycle. Be sure to remove the linens from the dryer and fold when the cycle is complete.
For linen tablecloths and napkins, wash using a gentle cycle (cold wash/cold rinse) and dry on low. Remove immediately to avoid wrinkles.
What do I need to know about laundering my luxury bed linens?
Always check the care label before laundering your luxury linens. Remember that natural fibers will wrinkle and ironing may be required, depending upon your preferences.
Here are some important basics to remember when washing:
- Always pre-wash new linens before using. As fine fabrics are generally not pre-washed, this first wash is important for setting the threads, preserving the fabric's beauty and prolonging its life. Be sure to fully unfold, set the machine to include a cold pre-soak and use minimal liquid detergent.
- Never use fabric softener with any fine linens, as it coats and weakens natural fibers. Your lucury linens will soften naturally with frequent use and additional washings.
- Never use chlorine bleach with any fine linens, as it also weakens natural fibers and may cause them to yellow. If fabrics need bleaching, use an oxygen-based bleach.
- Use a mild liquid detergent. Do not pour detergent directly onto the fabric; rather, add it to the water as the wash tub fills, or dilute dtergent with water and then add linens. Unless linens are very soiled, you need only use half the recommended amount of detergent.
- Pre-treat any stains prior to washing.
- Most linens can be washed on a gentle cycle in warm water, with a cold water rinse.
- Separate linens into light and dark colors.
- Avoid laundering fine linens with towels or other items, especially those containing polyester and items made of heavy material like rivets, buttons, zippers, etc. These can damage fibers and fabric.
- Wash matching linens together, as each piece should be cared for similarly, regardless of whether or not it is soiled (or even used) to help maintain color consistency and brightness.
- Do not overload the washing machine, as this can cause unneccessary abrasion to the fabric.
Here are some important basics to remember when drying:
- Line drying linens in soft, outdoor sunlight is ideal (it's the most gentle and the sun provides natural bleaching) though this is not always practical.
- To machine dry, gently shake out and smooth damp linens before placing in the dryer (unraveling any items that may have twisted in the wash cycle).
- Never use dryer sheets with any fine linens, sas it coats and weakens natural fibers.
- Avoid overloading the dryer so items will dry evenly.
- Set dryer to the lowest heat. High heat settings will weaken the natural fibers and increase shrinkage.
- You may want to consider drying bottom fitted sheets and duvet covers separately, as the pillowcases sometimes get "balled up" inside those items and do not dry thoroughly.
- Remove items from the dryer promptly and while still slightly damp; smooth and let air dry before storing, or press with an irom while damp to remove any remaining wrinkles.
We recommend using three sets of bed linens in rotation; one on the bed, one in the wash and one in the linen closet. This will allow each set a rest from use and a rest from wash.
How about cleaning your pillows?
Over the course of several months, the down in your pillows will break down and you'll have dust mites all over them. Wash your pillows on hot and dry on hot. HOT is OKAY in this case; the pillow fluffs back up and is now sterilized. Wash your pillows every four to six months.
By sticking to a specific color scheme, then choosing a floral, a geometric and an abstract, you can easily create a curated bed using mixed prints.
Create a Pattern Palette - For a bold result, start with a large-scale floral or geometric print and then build out your fabric scheme, using that fabric as your inspiration.
Vary Your Patterns and Textures - A single floral paired with multiple geometrics and solids in a mix of materials can look just lovely!
Keep an Eye on Scale - Combining two or more fabrics in the same scale can be disastrous, because they will compete for attention. Begin with your largest scaled pattern and then layer down through medium and small-scale prints, all the way to solids.
Consider Wrapping Your Room - If you are in love with a very detailed fabric, like a floral or toile pattern, you can us it as a "neutral" by applying it to most of the major surfaces in the room. In this way, the fabric is less distracting than if it is used in contrast to other fabrics.