Sateen vs. Percale:
What's The Difference?

Your perfect sheets exist, but finding them can feel like a chore. Linen or cotton? Percale or sateen? The right choice is personal, and once you acquaint yourself with a little insider terminology, the decision will be easier to make.

Starting with the fiber that launched Coyuchi, organic cotton. Organic cotton is highly versatile; the same fiber can be spun into fine or thick yarns, woven or knit, left smooth or brushed—and the results can vary from cool and crisp to warm and cozy. Let’s look at two of the most popular weaves for sheets, percale and sateen.

woman making bed with Organic Crinkled Percale™ Sheetswoman making bed with Organic Crinkled Percale™ Sheets

Sateen vs. Percale

While other varieties like Jersey (knit to feel like a vintage T-shirt) and Flannel (brushed for a warm and fuzzy finish) are popular, our Percale and Sateen collections garner more questions due to the subtlety of their differences. Both fabrics are woven from long staple, GOTS-certified organic cotton, and both have been a part of the Coyuchi family for decades. But how do you tell them apart?

Percale: Lightweight, Crisp + Cool

Our percale fabric is made with a balanced weave where threads alternate over and under, creating a matte finish and a crisp, smooth hand. Percale feels cool when you slip into bed and its crispness causes it to tent away from the skin, allowing for better air circulation.

The sheets that started it all, our 300 Thread Count Organic Percale Sheets are a true Coyuchi original. While others focused on high thread counts, we knew finer, tightly woven cotton provided better quality and comfort—and we set the standard when we chose to do it using organic cotton.

Choose Percale If:

  • You are dressing the bed for warmer weather, or you tend to get hot at night.
  • You like your sheets to feel crisp + cool.

Sateen: Exceptionally Soft + Smooth

Our sateen fabric floats multiple yarns in one direction over a single yarn, creating a smooth, lustrous, and very soft surface on one side, and a slightly matte one on the other. This silky, durable, and wrinkle-resistant finish makes it a favorite for high-end hotels.

Our 300 Thread Count Organic Sateen Sheets came about after the success of our Percale, over 15 years ago. While most sateens at the time favored a much higher thread count—which led to thick, stiff, heavy sheets—Coyuchi opted to take the fine yarns from our percale and weave them into a, lower thread count drapey sateen that softly cradles your body. While the supply for organic cotton (and finer quality, long staple yarns, in particular) was extremely limited at the time, Coyuchi innovated to create our 300TC Sateen, and it’s been the standard for organic cotton bedding ever since.

Choose Sateen If:

  • You are dressing the bed for cool weather, or you tend to get chilly at night.
  • You like your sheets to conform to your body. 
  • You like your sheets to feel soft, silky, and luxurious.
  • You prefer sheets that are relatively smooth right out of the dryer (without ironing). 

Get To Know Our Percale Collection 

overhead shot of Organic Crinkled Percale™ Sheetsoverhead shot of Organic Crinkled Percale™ Sheets

Organic Crinkled Percale

  • A touch softer and lighter than our original 300 Thread Count Percale.
  • All-over crinkled effect for a more casual, relaxed look.
  • Great for hot weather and/or higher body temperatures.
overhead shot of 300 Thread Count Organic Percale Sheetoverhead shot of 300 Thread Count Organic Percale Sheet

300TC Percale

  • Clean, breathable, and tightly woven for a slightly more substantial feel than Crinkled Percale
  • Smooth and crisp for a casually elegant look
  • Great for warm weather and/or warmer body temperatures.
Bed made with Heritage Percale beddingBed made with Heritage Percale bedding

Heritage Percale

  • Crafted from 100% American-grown organic cotton
  • Made of extra long staple cotton, creating an exceptionally smooth handfeel
  • Our most refined percale collection
  • Great for warm weather and/or warmer body temperatures

Get To Know Our Sateen Collection

Overhead shot of 300 Thread Count Organic Sateen sheetsOverhead shot of 300 Thread Count Organic Sateen sheets

300TC Sateen

  • Rich, buttery softness that’s warmer and heavier than percale, but still breathable
  • Smooth and fewer wrinkles for an elegant look
  • Great for cooler weather and/or lower body temperatures
overhead shot of organic relaxed sateen sheetsoverhead shot of organic relaxed sateen sheets

Relaxed Sateen

  • Very soft and drapey without the sheen of other sateens
  • Washed for a lived-in, casual look
  • Great for cooler weather and/or lower body temperatures
organic relaxed sateen eye masksorganic relaxed sateen eye masks

Organic Relaxed Sateen Eye Mask -

  • Made from our Relaxed Sateen fabric
  • Organic cotton batting adds extra cushioning for true organic comfort

What about thread count?

In recent decades, “thread count” has become a buzzy term to help shoppers determine the supposed quality and hand feel of sheets. Thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads present in one square inch of woven fabric. Popular marketing might lead you to believe that more yarn equals better fabric, but this is rarely the truth.

In an effort to pad their numbers, some mills use a “double insertion” technique: running two yarns through the weave as though it were one. The result is a higher thread count, but the weave will be unbalanced, creating a lower quality fabric that is less durable and more likely to tear.

The next time you're shopping for your dream sheets, take those thread counts with a grain of salt. If you instead set your sights on: the integrity of the yarn used, the weave selected, and the quality of the finished product, you’ll find the best bedding you’ve ever slept on.

Related Articles: Debunking Thread Count

Still not sure which fabric is right for you?  Explore our Sheet Guide to find your perfect sheets.