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    Manchester Buying Guide

    Whether you want a new pillow with the firmness you like, new towels that offer great absorbency for your whole family, or a duvet inner with the perfect weight and feel for you, this guide will help you decide on the best Manchester picks for you and your family.

    Towels are the hardest working product in the home. With a little knowledge, your new towels will look, last and perform better. Towels can add style to a practical part of the house, having more than one colour or design in the linen cupboard means you can change the look in your bathroom quickly and without too much expense.

    What to consider

    Fabric

    • Most towels are made of terry (loops), the most absorbent type of weave
    • Towels tend to be made of carded or combed cotton
    • Twists in the loops provide durability, stability and reduces linting time
    • Low/zero twist weave (eg. velour) is softer and fluffier but can lint for longer
    • The most luxurious towels are made from longer, finer threads like Egyptian cotton, world famous for its naturally occurring long fibres, which give softness and durability
    • Size and weight have a direct relationship to absorbency - simply put, the more cotton in the towel, the more absorbent it will be
    • Towel weight is measured in grams per square metre (GSM)

    Purpose

    Lightweight or smaller towels are practical:

    • Useful for children and babies
    • Throwing in sports, gym or beach bags
    • People with limited or restricted mobility
    • Good for smaller homes with less storage space
    • Cold or humid climates as they dry faster

    Heavier or larger towels are indulgent:

    • Excellent for pampering
    • Full coverage for tall or large body shapes

    Tips

    • Face cloths make an inexpensive ‘test pot’ to see if the colour or design works in your home
    • Wash towels separately before first use
    • Pile pulling: take extra care to avoid contact with sharp objects such as rings or the corners of shower doors, any snagged loops should be carefully trimmed with scissors, to the same height as the other loops to prevent the snagged loops from being pulled further
    • A number of everyday household chemicals such as cleaning products, cosmetics and skincare treatments can affect the durability and/or colour of towels. Avoid direct contact and thoroughly wash your hands after handling such products and before using your towels.

     

    We spend a third of our lives between the sheets, so it’s worth making a difference to the comfort of our slumber. Crisp or silky smooth, instant warmth or lingering coolness; everyone has a different idea of comfort.

    What to consider:

    Thread Count and Weave

    • Refers to the total number of threads woven into 10 square cm
    • Sateen has more threads on the face of the fabric creating a silky, lustrous surface, although slightly less durable than percale sheets
    • Percale is 225 thread count or higher, closely woven to create a crisp, smooth, matt finish that handles well and is long lasting
    • A higher thread count feels smoother, silkier

    Quality

    • Fabric quality should not be determined by thread count alone
    • The quality of the thread and the finishing are also key factors in assessing a fabric's quality

    Touch

    • Best to touch/feel a selection

    Size

    • Ensure the sheets will fit your bed, pay particular attention to the depth of your mattress as these vary widely
    • It is often hard to find flat sheets in double and super king sizes; this is because king single and king size fit a double and super king bed respectively

    Cotton Fabric

    • All natural fibre - premium option
    • Breathes easily for superior moisture absorption
    • Feels soft and not sticky against the skin
    • Gets better with age
    • Luxury fibres like Egyptian cotton create a superior sheet with a naturally silky lustre, softness and durability

    Polyester Cotton Fabric

    • Usually 50/50 blend
    • Easy care, wrinkle resistant
    • High colour retention
    • Maintains size and shape
    • Affordable and durable
    • Cotton assists with softness and moisture absorption

    Microfibre Fabric

    • Fine denier man-made fibre, usually polyester
    • A light brushing creates a soft peached surface
    • Wrinkle and stain resistant
    • Easy care and affordable
    • Impermeable to dust mites

    Flannelette Fabric

    • A soft medium weight cotton, brushed finish provides a soft cosy feel
    • Not as durable as unbrushed sheets

    Tips

    • Follow wash care instructions
    • Ensure detergents are dissolved before washing
    • Buying extra pillowcases mean you can change them more often than you change your sheets
    • Buy a pillowcase as a 'test pot' to see if you like the feel of a sheet before purchasing a set
    • Once you find the sheets you like, consider purchasing more than one set so you don't have to repeat the process for some time
    • When washing coloured sheets take care not to use detergents containing brighteners as they will fade the colour
    • Tips for Cotton Sheets: to avoid wrinkles, don't leave sheets scrunched up in laundry baskets, washing machines or dryers. Remove sheets from the line and fold as soon as they are dry. Just iron the cuff and pillowcases if you want a smooth look.

    A duvet inner to suit you and the environment in which you sleep is essential for a good night’s rest.

    Questions to ask yourself when purchasing a duvet inner:

    Climate & Season

    • What season are you buying for?
    • How warm/cold is your local climate?

    Sleep Pattern

    • Select the type of duvet inner that suits how you sleep

    Sleep Temperature

    • Do you typically sleep hot or cold?

    Weight

    • Do you prefer a light, airy duvet, or some weight on top?

    Look

    • Do you prefer a lofty, billowy look, or a flat and neat look?
    • Feather and down or polyester creates a plump, soft look on the bed
    • Wool and cotton provide a smooth, neat finish

    What to consider when comparing the most common Fill types:

    Feather & Down

    • Down provides efficient lightweight warmth
    • Lifts moisture away so you don't feel clammy
    • Small feathers support the downs loft (puffiness) and durability
    • Moulds to the body keeping you cosy
    • Stitching type (construction) will affect the movement and loft of the fill
    • A premium investment in your sleeping comfort
    • Naturally soft, resilient and durable
    • Come in different ratios of feather or down. The higher the down content, the warmer the duvet. The amount of fill (gsm) has an impact on the level of warmth, and the heavier the duvet the warmer it will be. Is warmer than wool or synthetic duvets because air gets trapped between the feather and the down to provide an effective insulation layer
    • Plump, lofty and soft in appearance
    • If you want an even loftier look and feel, consider purchasing a duvet inner the size up from your duvet cover

    Wool

    • Helps regulate body temperature as wool is a natural insulator
    • Warm in winter, cool in summer, transferring moisture away from you
    • Wool is non-allergenic
    • Wool is heavier than feather and down, but lighter than the same number of blankets required to achieve the same level of warmth
    • More affordable natural fibre investment in your sleeping comfort

    Cotton

    • Lightweight and breathes providing ventilation in hot or humid climates
    • Excellent for warm rooms and warm sleepers
    • Designed to keep your body temperature cool, rather than warm
    • Soft and durable
    • Hypoallergenic, has a decreased tendency to provoke a reaction

    Polyester

    • Man-made alternative to natural fibre fill
    • Provides lightweight warmth by trapping body heat in the bed
    • Does not breathe so needs to be aired regularly
    • Machine washable
    • Highly resilient and durable

    Tips

    • Fill Weight and Blend The amount (weight) and content (pure/blended) of fill determines how warm a duvet inner will be
    • Warmth ratings These are used on duvets as guidelines only to allow you to determine which duvet inners are the warmest or coolest within a brand range, they also assist you in gauging a fill weight to suit your personal sleeping temperature
    • If you have found a 'medium-warmth' duvet inner is suitable for your personal sleeping temperature in summer, and you have found it is not warm enough for winter, the warmth rating within the same brand will help you determine what you now need, eg 'high-warmth'
    • Casing/Outer High thread count or closely woven casings prevent fill from escaping, provides durability and helps keep out impurities, a luxury outer would be cotton with a higher thread count eg. 290 thread count, Japara cotton outer is a special type of weave, specifically used for duvet inners
    • Look Feather and down or polyester creates a plump soft look on the bed, wool and cotton provide a smooth neat finish

    Duvet covers are essentially a ‘protector’ for your duvet inner. Duvet inners need to be protected from the environment, dirt, natural oils, the family pet and other allergy causing irritants. Plus a cover is much easier to launder than the inner. There are a number of factors that determine the retail price of a duvet cover, the brand, the fabric, what it is made of, thread count and weight, design, style and embellishment. The more work and processes involved in the design the higher the price will be. Basically, a polyester yarn dye jacquard can be higher in price than a polyester plain dye jacquard of the same weight and with no embellishment. A printed cotton 250 thread count duvet with embroidery will be higher in price than a printed cotton 250 thread count duvet.

    What to consider:

    Fabric Content

    • Duvet covers are available in a huge range of fabrics from premium 100% Egyptian Cotton with a high thread count, to low thread count plain dye polyester blends, to embellished polyester faux silks and microfibre
    • Thread count and quality will determine the look and feel of the finished product - high thread counts and fine yarns produce a more luxurious and durable product
    • Natural fibres resist the effects of wear and time very well
    • Fine bed linen made from natural fibres do crease, particularly when new; but over time the fibres become softer and this will reduce

    Design & Colour

    • The duvet cover can become the feature of your room - can you live with it? Does it achieve the look you are after? Does it go with your current sheeting options or will you need new sheets as well?
    • Plain dye One colour all over, depending on the final design, fabric can be dyed and then sewn into a duvet cover. eg plain dye faux silk duvet cover with pin tuck panels, or it could be woven and then dyed eg. plain dye jacquard duvet cover
    • Jacquard a labour intensive process that allows the design and colour to be woven directly into the fabric
    • Yarn Dye colour is introduced by dying each yarn separately before the weaving process
    • Shammed Hem a wider than normal hem, the duvet inner does not go right to the edge creating a neater finish, also known as an Oxford or tailored finish
    • Trims additional touches that add more opulence, luxury and ultimately price to the duvet cover

    Size

    • Ensure you know the measurements of your duvet inner and mattress so you get the fit you like

    Co-ordinates

    • A number of duvet covers come with matching accessories like cushions and shammed or euro pillowcases for a complete ensemble, adding a throw or comforter can add some drama as well as extra warmth

    Tips

    • Buy a larger duvet inner and duvet cover than the bed - this can look nicer as it gives more over-hang, and helps with the challenge of fighting over the duvet with your partner all night!
    • Follow wash care instructions
    • Iron cotton duvet covers while slightly damp for a more effective finish
    • Duvet covers made from natural fibres do crease, particularly when new; but over time the fibres become softer and creasing will reduce
    • Wash and line dry inside out to help prevent fading and protect any embroidery or embellishments

    Often overlooked, mattress protectors are an essential element to a comfortable sleeping environment. Not only protecting your mattress from dirt, dust and allergy causing irritants; they add an extra layer of comfort and keep sheets from moving around on the mattress.

    What to consider:

    Common Fill Types

    Polyester

    • Man-made fibre
    • Can come with anti-allergy treatment
    • Does not breathe and requires regular laundering
    • Easy care

    Cotton

    • Natural fibre and hypoallergenic
    • Assists with moisture absorption
    • Luxury option (machine washable)

    Genuine Bed Protection

    • Breathable thin layer of polyurethane on the reverse of the protector
    • Promotes a healthier, cleaner sleep environment
    • Helps protect the bed against a range of triggers that can cause allergies and asthma
    • Protects the mattress from liquids and stains
    • Excellent for children who are toilet training or bed wetters and incontinence sufferers
    • Machine washable

    Fit

    Focuses on restricting movement on the mattress in the following manner:

    • Flat or easy fit: elastic on the four corners
    • Fitted: elastic edged fabric stretches down the side

    Outer

    • Usually cotton, polyester, or cotton/polyester blend
    • Quilting keeps fill in place and provides a design element

    Tip

    • Follow care instructions – most protectors are washable and should be washed regularly

    A comfortable pillow is a supportive pillow. It should align your head and body while you are sleeping and suit your size and favoured sleeping position. Pillow pricing is determined by: fill type, amount of fill, the size of the pillow and it's outer fabric. The most expensive pillow won't necessarily be the best for you, you first need to understand your preferences.

    What to consider:

    Comfort & Support

    The amount of fill affects the comfort and support of any pillow:

    • Firm / High Profile / Side Sleeper pillows have the most fill
    • Medium / Medium Profile / Back sleeper pillows have a mid-level of fill
    • Soft / Low Profile / Stomach Sleeper pillows have the least fill

    Fill Types

    Feather & Down:

    • Shapes snugly around your head
    • Moves moisture away from the head
    • Luxurious feel
    • With proper care can last 2 - 3 years

    Wool Blend

    • Wool on its own doesn't loft, therefore, it is not suitable for a pillow. However, wool blended with another fibre like polyester will loft and bounce back making it a good option for a pillow
    • Best blended with another fibre for better bounce back, can last up to 12 months with proper care

    Latex

    • 100% natural, long lasting
    • Retain their shape for the life of the pillow
    • Made from the sap of rubber trees, it is low allergenic and resistant to dust mites, mould and bacteria
    • Do not expose to direct sunlight

    Memory Foam

    • Customised support as it moulds to the shape of your head and neck
    • Durable - generally holds shape for uo to 5 years
    • A great option for people with stiff necks or injuries
    • These pillows cannot be washed or drycleaned, they often come with a washable zip-off cover, only spot cleaning and airing is recommended

    Polyester

    • Man-made fibre
    • Good value for money

    Outer

    • 100% cotton with a high thread count is the preferred option as cotton breathes

    A higher thread count outer:

    • Will assist in keeping the fill in place
    • Has increased durability
    • Helps keep out impurities

    Shaped/Speciality Pillows

    • Euro pillows (square) are used in some countries as a sleeping pillow, it is also a popular decorative pillow used to fully dress a bed
    • Tri pillows (triangle) provide good support for nursing mothers, reading, eating or watching TV in bed
    • Decoration – extra pillows add drama to the bed
    • Lodge pillows (extra large) standard shape designed to fit across larger sized beds

    Tips

    • When a pillow loses its shape and no longer provides support for your head, neck and shoulders, it is time to replace it
    • It will take up to two weeks for the body to adjust and realign to a new pillow, especially if the changes are significant eg. the old pillow is a soft and floppy polyester fill and the new pillow is firm latex or memory foam
    • It is highly recommended you use a pillow protector to extend the life of your pillow and maintain a healthier sleeping environment, don't forget to wash the protector regularly
    • Keep a supply of extra pillowcases and change them often
    • Buy new pillows when purchasing a new bed; this means you adjust to new alignments from head to toe
    • Children using a bed for the first time should start with a pillow with the least amount of fill, because the distance between the cradle of the neck and outer shoulder is narrower than an adult

    If you’re confused by jacquard and perplexed by thread count, here is a glossary to help you understand common terms often used to describe manchester products.

    Applique

    Surface decoration sewn, embroidered, or otherwise attached to fabric

    Carded cotton

    Initial process that cleans and brushes fibres before turning them into textile

    Combed cotton

    A process used in addition to 'carding' cotton, the cotton is 'combed' to remove shorter fibres from the yarn, leaving the plush, longer fibres used to create a higher quality product

    Cotton

    Cotton is 100% natural, non-allergenic, and a renewable resource, it is environmentally friendly as it breaks down in landfill. The quality of the cotton is determined by the length of the fibre/strand, and the quality of the fabric from there is determined by the treatment of the cotton and the construct of the fabric

    Cotton (as a fill)

    Breathable, ideal for humid, hot, climates

    Down

    The light, fluffy coating beneath duck and goose feathers, it is the lightest and warmest natural insulator known to man, it offers insulation against cold and heat, breathability, loft, softness and is lightweight, it is the most luxurious and expensive option for bedding. Down has the ability to absorb moisture we release in our sleep and pass it into the atmosphere, ensuring you are cosy but not clammy, and keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer

    Egyptian Cotton

    One of the world's most luxurious cotton fibres; characterised by longer, finer fibres, it makes a more luxurious product with a silky lustre and softness

    Embroidery

    Ornamental, sometimes raised design, created by decorative needlework

    Feather

    The small exterior feathers have the same properties as down, just not to the same level of excellence when down and feather are combined, the small feathers support the loft and durability making a more premium product

    Feather and down

    Feather and down is a less expensive option while retaining all the benefits, it moulds to the body keeping out draughts - is insulating while still being light and breathable

    GSM

    Grams per square metre, a commonly used scale for fabric and fill weight, it is a scale used internationally 

    Jacquard

    A labour intensive process that allows a design to be woven directly into a fabric

    Japara

    A type of weave, specifically for bedding, that contains fill, it is a very close cropped weave - assists in minimising the migration of fill

    Loft

    Used to describe the springiness/ fluffiness of a fibre, usually because it is a type of fibre that allows air to be trapped around it, it is a term associated with duvet inners and pillows

    Low twist / Zero twist

    Relates to a method of weaving terry fabric in towels, fewer or no twists in their terry loops are softer, fluffier, and more absorbent, are more susceptible to fluffing

    Microfibre (fill)

    Fine denier polyester used in duvet inners and pillows to replicate the feel of down but much cheaper, all other attributes are the same as other polyesters

    Microfibre (fabric)

    Polyester with a brushed surface, often used in apparel and now starting to show in bedding products

    Oxford hem

    A wider than normal hem that prevents the duvet inner/pillow going right to the edge, creating a neater finish, also known as a Shammed or Tailored hem

    Percale

    Closely woven, smooth-finished cotton, which results in finer bed linen, cotton percale looks matt and feels soft, launders beautifully - long lasting and durable

    Pill/Pilling

    A small ball of fibres that form when fabric is rubbed

    Plain dye

    Fabric is dyed one colour and then sewn into a duvet cover, pillowcase, or sheet set

    Polyester fibre

    A synthetic alternative to down or cotton with some benefits such as wrinkle resistance, durability, and high colour retention, sometimes spun together with natural fibres to create a blended fabric. As a fill it generates effective warmth and insulation by trapping air and body heat as it lofts. Machine washable, durable and good value, does not breathe - needs to be aired regularly

    Sateen

    Soft, light, lustrous fabric with loose interfacing in fine, dense thread, weaving process creates a silky handfeel and a high shine

    Shammed hem

    A wider than normal hem to prevent the duvet inner from going right to the edge creating a neater finish, also known as an Oxford or Tailored hem

    Tailored hem

    A wider than normal hem that prevents the duvet inner/pillow going right to the edge, creating a neater finish, also known as an Oxford or Shammed hem

    Terry

    Terry is a fabric that loops and can absorb a large amount of water, it is used for towels

    Thread Count

    The measure of the quality of a fabric (quality of the cotton should also be considered), refers to the number of threads per square metre of finished fabric

    Wool

    100% natural, sustainable, highly resilient and durable, wool helps to regulate body temperature as it is an absorbent fibre - this assists in keeping people warm in the winter and cool in summer, wool is naturally resistant to mould and mildew, with flame resistant qualities

    Yarn dye

    (Jacquard) Colour is introduced by dying each yarn separately before the weaving process

    The following hints can help deter allergy-causing impurities from getting inside your bedding, specifically your duvet inner or pillows, regardless of what the fill is.

    Tips

    • Use a pillow protector for your pillow
    • Use a mattress protector for your mattress
    • Use a duvet cover for your duvet inner
    • Look for bedding with high thread count outer fabrics
    • Regularly air and launder all bedding
    • Some products will have an anti-allergy treatment applied to the fill – usually synthetic and always noted on the packaging
    • Consider investing in genuine bedding protection as it is specifically produced to target allergy-causing impurities