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Flannel is a wool textile (the word comes from an old Welsh word for wool), sometimes blended with either a synthetic fabric or cotton. Sheets made from flannel are incredibly warm and insulating.
Flannel sheets are a favorite during the winter months for many people, because they epitomize a feeling of snugness and safety that appeals greatly during a blizzard or rainstorm. Most high-quality flannel sheets are made from a blend of wool and cotton — the wool ensures warmth, while the cotton adds a softness highly desired in bed sheets.
Like all sheets, thread-count is an important indicator of quality in flannel sheets. Lower-end, 80-120 thread-count flannel will have a rougher feel than the 200 range, and at the upper-end of 300-400 thread count, the softness of the sheets will be unsurpassed. Not all sheets have their thread count labeled, but you can get a rough idea of thread count by holding the sheets up to a light — the less light that passes through, the higher the thread count.
Some sheet manufacturers do not give thread count for flannel sheets because they feel it is less applicable to the material. Instead, they will give a measure in ounces of flannel per square yard. High-quality flannel sheets will have a measure in excess of 4 oz. / sq. yd. (113g / 0.9 sq. m).
Many people who like the luxurious feel of flannel, but find it too hot in warmer climates or during summer months, turn to other fabrics. Pure Egyptian cotton is the primary replacement for flannel, with its nearly cloud-like softness. In recent years the price of imported Egyptian cotton has gone down drastically, making even 300 thread-count sets of sheets affordable for everyone. Sateen is another favorite, with its slick, satin-like finish on the interior. Sateen breathes very well, and so is favored by many over flannel, which can sometimes be seen as suffocating.
While other fabrics will always have their place, no home in a location with colder seasons should be without at least one set of good-quality flannel sheets. There is truly no substitute for snuggling up in their soft, down-to-earth warmth for the night.
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