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Bedding Basics

Bedding Basics

Welcome to Aiko Luxury Linens of Miami and our Bedding and Linen Basics Buying Guide.

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What are Luxury Linens (the mystery of thread count)?

Care for Luxury Linens

  • More questions (and answers) about fine linens.

    Bedding Size Chart for common USA sizes

  • Alpaca: Alpacas are native to South America and have been raised for their beautiful fiber for thousands of years. Baby alpaca wool is finer and lighter than regular alpaca, and therefore more expensive. It is a warm and very strong fiber (more durable than cashmere).

  • Batiste: The best cotton batiste fabric weighs about 30% less than regular cotton. It is light, airy and soft to the touch. For Swiss cotton batiste bed linens, you may be interested in Les Naturelles. Ultra luxe Down Comforters such as those made by Christian Fischbacher in Switzerland have a cotton batiste tick. The result is extraordinary beauty and warmth without weight.

  • Cashmere: Most cashmere comes from the undercoat of goats that thrive on the high plateaux of Mongolia. Although China is the largest producer of raw cashmere, Turkey, Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan and India also produce cashmere wool. The finest cashmere is soft, light and provides excellent insulation. Italy and Scotland are renowned for weaving this beautiful raw material into clothing, blankets and throws.

  • Cotton: Cotton is a fiber from the plant species called GOSSYPIUM. Cotton has been cultivated in India since about 2000 B.C., as well as in Ecuador and Peru. The fabric was not adopted in Europe until the late 18th century. Prior to that time most textiles were made of wool or linen. Cotton grows on a bush or small tree, and in Europe may be labelled "baumwolle" (tree wool). Most of our sheets are made of 100% long staple or extra-long staple (ELS) cotton. For fine contemporary bedding made of 100% cotton we recommend Signoria di Firenze.

  • Cotton Count: Cotton count is also known as indirect yarn count and measures the thickness or diameter of a strand of cotton yarn. The higher the number, the finer, softer and more luxurious the yarn.

  • Cotton Flannel: Cotton flannel is a soft, napped fabric, woven using loosely-spun yarns. Once woven, the fabric undergoes a brushing process to create the cozy softness and warmth associated with a flannel. Brushing involves rubbing the fabric face with fine metal brushes to create delicate raised fibers, known as a nap, along the fabric's surface.

  • Eider Down: Eiderdown comes from the down of the eider duck that lives near the Arctic Circle. Rarer than diamonds, eider down is expensive since it is a natural material that cannot be cultivated, and is in limited supply. Utterly luxurious, true eiderdown is almost weightless. The finest eiderdown comforters and pillows are made for us by Christian Fishbacher of Switzerland. Please click here for more information about Icelandic Eiderdown.

  • Embroidery: Embroidery is the world's oldest textile decoration. We find evidence of embroidery on Assyrian and Babylonian sculptures. Today hand embroidery on table and bed linens is rare indeed, and quite expensive. Even fine, meticulously hand-guided embroidery is hard to come by. In Italy Bagni Volpi, Dea and Cottimaryanne maintain the artisan quality of finely embroidered linens.

  • Gigliuccio: Gigliuccio is an Italian embellishment which consists of a drawn thread technique between two rows of hemstitching.

  • Hemstitch: A hemstitch is a decorative drawn threadwork technique. A section of parallel threads are removed from the fabric and the remaining perpendicular threads are grouped together with additional thread to make small ornate holes. Despite its name, a hemstitch is not limited to the edges or hems of fabric � it can be used as an ornamental stitch anywhere on the fabric. An example of linens with hemstitch would be Raso Bedding by Quagliotti or Classico Table Linens by Sferra.

  • Hypodown: is a unique and creative solution by Ogallala Comfort Company that addresses the issue of alleries to traditional goose down. It is the combination of white Hungarian goose down and Syriaca cluster (produced by the milkweed plant) that make Hypodown duvets and pillows suitable even for people allergic to down.

  • Jacquard Loom: A loom equiped with a mechanism for weaving figured fabrics, invented by Joseph Jacquard in Lyon around 1800. In a jacquard weave, the design is woven into the fabric. Jacquard weaves may also be called damask (from Damascus), especially when they refer to table linens. The European manufacturer that produces exquisitely woven modern jacquard bed linens is Zimmer + Rohde.

  • Lace: Needlepoint lace was invented in Venice at the end of the 16th century. This Italian love of lace was then transported to France by Catherine de Medici upon her marriage to King Henry II. At the royal court lace adorned almost every article of clothing and endless yards of bed linens. Hand-made lace is extinct today, but beautifully executed machine lace is produced in Italy and Switzerland (St. Gallen).

  • Linen: Linen comes from the stalk of the flax plant. The plant has striking blue flowers and gives a fine textile fiber. The parallel arrangment of the basic fiber produces a very sturdy cloth. Thanks to it's insulating quality, linen produces an impression of coolness, ideal for summer nights.

  • Matelasse: A French term that means "quilted" or "padded". However, matelasse coverlets actually have no padding. Sometimes the word "piquet" is used interchangeably.

  • Merino Lambswool: The coat of merino sheep usually raised in Australia or New Zealand, that produces a very fine fiber.

  • Micron: A micron (or micrometer) is a measurement used to express the average diameter of a wool fiber. The fineness of the fibers contributes to the softness and luxurious drape of the fabric. The smaller the microns, the finer the fibers. According to the international standard, in order to be called cashmere, the wool must have an average fiber diameter of less than 19 microns. Excellent examples of cashmere throws are Dorsey by Sferra and Everest by Marzotto.

  • Modal: Modal is a term used for wood fiber. Modal sheets are produced from the cellulose fiber of beechwood, eucalyptus, or oak. Wood pulp is harvested from hardwood trees grown on farms especially for this purpose. Incredible as it seems, Italian wood fiber sheets are very soft, silky and absorb moisture much better than cotton. For a fine selection of modal bed linens, you may be interested in Legna by SDH, or click here for more information about Italian Wood Fiber bedding.

  • Oeko-Tex 100: An independant service that tests textiles for chemicals that are potentially harmful to people and the environment. Several European firms such as Schlossberg, Fischbacher and SDH have enjoyed Oeko-Tex certification for many years. For more information, see our Oeko-Tex page.

  • Percale Weave: In a percale weave the weft thread goes over one and under one warp thread. The result is a fine, even texture, and a crisp sensation. Many hotels use a percale sheets for their bedding, as it is a stronger construction than the sateen weave. Some of our best selling percale bedding collections are Sferra Celeste and Yves Delorme Athena.

  • Printed Fabrics: Printed fabrics originated in India and came to Europe via Syria and Turkey. In the 18th century they were used primarily for clothing and decorative bedlinens such as coverlets.

  • Sateen Weave: A type of weave whereby the weft thread goes over more than one warp thread. The result is sheen or luster on the front side of the fabric, a silky feel, and a graceful drape.

  • Screen Printing: Most printed fabrics are now screen printed (a form of stencilling). A stencil is affixed to a screen of fine mesh fabric which is stretched across a frame. Fabric is placed underneath and ink is placed across the top. A rubber blade squeezes ink through the mesh and unto the fabric underneath. When more than 1 color is needed, separate screens are used for each color. T

  • Silk: The art of cultivating silk began in China about five thousand years ago. In order to become a moth, the silkworm (Bombyx mori caterpillar) weaves a cocoon composed of over a thousand yards of unbroken silk thread. It is one of nature's extraordinary marvels. Today most silk yarn is imported from China, Korea, Thailand and Japan, but the finely woven luxury fabrics are produced in Europe. You may be interested in Italian jacquard Silk Duvet Covers or Italian Silk Sheets by SDH, Christian Fischbacher, and Quagliotti.

  • Substantive Dyes: Many substances are capable of yielding color, but few are resilient enough to withstand repeated washing or exposure to sunlight. Dyes that give a fast, lasting color without the need of extra chemical processes are substantive dyes. Among these are walnut (for black) and indigo.

  • Thread Count: Thread count is simply the number of warp and weft threads in a 1 inch of fabric. It is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Quality of fabric is determined by the quality of the raw materials (the staple length, strength and luster of the fiber), the weaving and finishing process.

  • Toile de Jouy: Printed fabrics on cotton or linen that became popular in 18th century France. They were first manufactured at a factory in Jouy-en-Josas, a village located southwest of Paris, near Versailles. Founded in 1760 by German-born Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf they represented primarily monochromatic landscapes with figures.

  • Warp: The vertical threads on a loom.

  • Weft: The horizontal threads on a loom.

  • Wool: The dense, soft and often curly hair forming the coat of sheep, and certain other animals such as goat (the source of cashmere), alpaca, llama, and camel. The finest wool comes from Australia and New Zealand. See our favorite wool blend blanket by SDH called Emma.

  • Yarn dyed fabrics: In a yarn dyed fabric, the yarn threads are dyed before the fabric is woven. The result is a richness and three dimentional quality to the fabric, not seen in piece dyed goods.