What You'll Find in a Bedding Set
There are four main types of bedding sets that we’ll describe here. Please note that bedding sets differ from sheet sets in that they usually include some sort of blanket, like a comforter, and that all three types of bedding sets include different items.
Duvet sets are the simplest type of bedding set. They’re a good fit for anyone who has most of their bedding (comforter, sheets, etc.) but just wants to change up the style of their bed. These sets usually include:
- Duvet Cover: Duvet covers fit over comforters and are a great way to easily change the style of your bedding. They also protect the comforter from stains and are often machine-washable.
- Pillow Shams: Pillow shams are larger than standard pillow cases and are usually considered decorative. In a duvet set, they’re typically the same print as the duvet cover.
Comforter sets differ from the next two types of bedding sets in that they don’t include sheets. These are a great fit for customers who want to be able to choose sheets separately from their comforter. Comforter sets typically include:
- Comforter: A comforter is a type of blanket the includes a shell surrounding any one of a variety of fill materials.
- Pillow Shams: Pillow shams will usually match or complement the comforter.
- Decorative Pillows: Some, but not all, comforter sets come with decorative pillows like bolsters, throws or neck rolls.
- Bed Skirt: Some comforter sets include a bed skirt that goes around the bottom of the bed and either matches or coordinates with the comforter.
Bed-in-a-bag sets usually include just about everything you would need to dress your bed. Many people prefer bed-in-a-bag sets to comforter sets because they’re easy and take the guesswork out of decorating. They tend to have the following:
- Sheets: Sheets, both fitted and top, can be made from a variety of materials and tend to complement the comforter.
- Pillowcases: Bed-in-a-bag sets also include one to two sets of pillowcases.
- Pillow shams: Either standard or Euro pillow shams (or both) often come in a bed-in-a-bag.
- Comforter: Bed-in-a-bag sets include a comforter that coordinates with the rest of the set.
Complete Bed Set
A complete bed set is very similar to a bed-in-a-bag but tends to include more items, like a duvet cover or bed skirt.
- Sheets: Complete bed sets include sheets, both fitted and top, that coordinate with either the comforter or duvet cover.
- Pillowcases: The number and size of pillow cases will depend on the size of your bed, but they tend to match the sheets.
- Pillow Shams: Complete bed sets may include standard or Euro pillow shams that match the comforter or duvet cover.
- Comforter: The comforter can be made from a variety of materials with one of several fill types. If the set comes with a duvet cover, the comforter itself might be plain.
- Duvet Cover: Some complete bed sets come with a duvet cover to go over the comforter. The duvet cover is usually more decorative.
- Bed Skirt: Many complete bed sets come with a bed skirt.
What to Look for when Shopping for Bedding Sets
The feel and performance of a bedding set depends a lot on the material used. The items in your particular set can be made from any of the following materials:
- Cotton: Cotton is a popular material for both sheets and comforter shells because it’s natural and soft. It can sometimes trap heat, but Egyptian cotton—which is a little costlier—is known for its breathability.
- Flannel: Flannel can be made from cotton, wool or synthetic fibers and is known for its softness and warmth. Look for a high-quality, heavier weight flannel to avoid pilling.
- Linen: Linen is a luxurious material made from the fibers of the flax plant. Because the fibers are hollow, linen is excellent at promoting airflow and wicking moisture.
- Silk: Silk is one of the priciest materials, but many love it for its cool, luxurious feel. It’s great at regulating temperature and is also naturally hypoallergenic.
- Bamboo Rayon:Bamboo has a plush, silky feeling and is anti-microbial and hypoallergenic. It’s thermoregulating, meaning it’s great for those who sleep hot.
- Polyester/Microfiber: Polyester is made from synthetic materials and tends to be durable as well as stain- and moisture-resistant. Microfiber is a type of polyester with ultra-thin fibers so it tends to be softer.
Comforters are typically filled with one of the following materials:
- Down: Down can be made from goose or duck feathers and is known for its warm and luxurious feel. Some people do have allergies to down.
- Down Alternative: For those with allergies to down, a down alternative comforter is a great option. These are made from synthetic materials and meant to mimic the performance of down. Higher quality materials are warm while being lightweight.
- Cotton: Cotton tends to be lower cost than other fill materials but does have some issues with moisture retention and breathability.
Anyone looking for new bedding has probably heard of thread count, but what does it actually mean? Thread count is the number of lengthwise and crosswise yarns in a 1-inch square section of fabric and reflects the density of the material.
A higher thread count tends to lead to softer fabric, but claims of high thread count can be misleading. Some manufacturers boost thread count artificially by adding filler thread or counting multiple threads in a multi-ply yarn. Some materials are also not intended to have a high thread count and will not perform well. That said, look for a thread count in the 300 to 600 range.
Some materials are measured by weight rather than thread count. Look for the following:
- Silk: 14-19-pounds
- Jersey: 10+ ounces per yard
- Flannel: 5+ ounces or 170+ GSM (grams per square meter)
- Microfiber: 90-120 GSM (grams per square meter)
Natural and Organic Materials
Some people prefer natural materials, like cotton or bamboo, to synthetic ones, like polyester, especially when it comes to what surrounds them when we sleep. Natural and synthetic materials each have pros or cons, discussed above, so it’s up to you to decide which is the better fit.
With regard to bedding sets, organic simply means that the material used to make the bedding was grown without the use of chemicals. It only applies to natural materials like cotton. Many customers choose organic bedding because of environmental or health concerns. Organic bedding tends to cost a bit more, but if it’s something that’s important to you, it may be worth the premium.
It’s important to look into the return policy for your bedding set so that you have the option to send it back if it doesn’t work for you. Especially if you’re buying online, a good return policy is key in case the comfort, pattern or feel of the material isn’t what you were expecting. Most offer a 30-day return window, but be sure to double-check.