A Dictionary of Bedding Terms

Credit: Plow and Hearth including Brahms Mount editorial notes.

We’ve come a long way in bedroom décor since the Egyptian pharaohs first moved their beds up off the ground around 3400 BC! One of the easier and more cost-effective ways to give your bedroom a whole new look includes selecting all-new bedding. But with so many bedding types out there, how do you find the ones that are best for you? What makes shopping for new bedding even more confusing is the myriad of unfamiliar terms used to describe and classify the different types and styles. (What’s the difference between a quilt and a blanket and a comforter and a coverlet? How do you know whether or not you’ll need a bed skirt? And what’s included in a quilt or comforter set?) Rest easy – to make your search easier, we’ve compiled a mini “dictionary” of some common bedding terms.

Sorting Out The Different Types Of Bedding

What do all those terms actually mean? This section helps you figure out the basics. 

Bed skirt: Also known as a dust ruffle, a bed skirt is a decorative piece used to cover the boxspring and legs of the bed. It fits between the mattress and box spring and hangs to the floor. 

Bedspreads: Also known as a spread, a bedspread is a bed cover with sides that go to the floor. Bedspreads do not require a bed skirt. 

Comforter: Also known as duvets, comforters are thick, quilted bedcovers filled with feathers, down or other natural or man-made fibers. 

Comforter cover: Also known as a duvet cover, a comforter cover is a sack-like covering with three closed sides and one open side that fits over a comforter to give it a new look. 

Comforter set: An ensemble that includes a comforter, bed skirt and two standard shams (twin has one sham; double, queen and king have two shams). 

Cotton batting: A layer of compressed cotton fibers used as a fill in quilts. 

Coverlets: A coverlet is traditionally a lightweight, woven spread used on the top of the bedding. It can be big enough to hang down the sides of a bed or just cover the top of the mattress so that the bed skirt or bed frame is exposed. 

Duvet: See comforter. 

Duvet cover: See comforter cover. 

Euro sham: A decorative casing for square pillows. These are often placed behind the standard size pillow shams as a backdrop, or on top of standard pillows as a coordinated set with a duvet cover. 

Pockets: The corners of fitted sheets sized specifically to accommodate today’s thicker mattresses. 

Quilt: Quilts are bed covers made up of three layers: a top, the batting (usually cotton or polyester fiber fill) and a backing. The layers are held together with stitching through all three layers. The top layer is usually artfully patterned; the bottom layer can either match the top or offer a contrasting look. 

Quilt sets: A coordinated bed ensemble that includes a quilt, two standard shams (one sham with a twin quilt) and, in some cases, a decorative toss pillow. 

Sham: A decorative covering for a pillow, often designed with trims, ruffles, flanges, or cording. Pillow shams are normally placed in front of the pillows used for sleeping, which would be covered with regular pillowcases. 

Sheet set: A complete set that includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet and two standard pillowcases (twin has one pillowcase; full and queen have two standard pillowcases, king has two king pillow cases). 

Shell: The outermost layer or cover of a comforter. 

Split corners: On bed skirts, corners at the foot of the bed, from the platform to the hem, constructed without seams to create an opening to accommodate bed posts. Used on beds without posts, the edges at the corners overlap to conceal the opening. 

Thread count: The number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch in a woven fabric. 

Features To Keep In Mind:

Looks are important, but getting a good night’s sleep is paramount. Keep these terms in mind, along with your own special needs, when shopping for bedding. 

Cotton-rich: Blended fabric with a higher percentage of cotton to give the fabric more of cotton’s natural characteristics, such as softness and breathability. 

Hypoallergenic: Having a lower incidence of allergic reaction - either naturally or as a result of special washes or treatments. Brahms Mount natural fibers address this potential issue directly.

Materials To Help You Relax:

The sky’s the limit when it comes to bedding fabrics! You can choose based on the look you’re going for, whether you’re a hot or cool sleeper, how easy the material is to care for, and more. Here are some of the more popular fabrics. Brahms Mount weaves only natural, non-synthetic, fibers. 

Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic fabric that is machine washable, wrinkle-resistant, and won’t fade in the sunlight. Acrylic window treatments are easy to care for and hold up well over time. 

Bouclé: Boucle is a woven or knitted fabric made with popular novelty yarn to create a rough, looped or knotted textured surface. 

Chenille: A luxuriously soft, textured fabric characterized by a thick pile. Chenille is usually made from cotton or wool, but also can be constructed of acrylic, rayon or olefin. 

Cotton: Derived from the cotton plant, cotton is a soft, lightweight and breathable fabric that is ideal for bedding because it can be woven into a wide range of patterns, colors, weights and textures. 

Down: The soft, fluffy substance culled from the underside of a bird (usually goose or duck) that is used to fill pillows, comforters and mattress toppers. Known for its lightweight, thermal properties, down naturally contracts to retain warmth when the temperature drops. Please watch out for animal-unfriendly plucking practices and look for safe down such as is offered by Patagonia (not a blanket maker). 

Eyelet: type of decorative cutwork in which the edges of a small hole are finished with embroidery. 

Fine Micron Wool: We have a lot of experience with This! 

Flannel: Flannel is a soft, light, woven fabric made of wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. Flannel sheets, while soft, are often exceptionally warm. 

Fleece: Fabric with a soft pile in imitation of a sheep’s furry coat. 

Lace: Lace is a delicate, ornamental fabric woven in an open, web-like pattern, often combined with different types of embroidery. We weave a leno pattern which is inspired by French lace Linen: We have a lot of experience with linen. 

Microfiber: A synthetic weave of tightly woven fibers that offer a smooth, supple surface with a silky hand and natural water repellency. 

Polyester: Polyester is an easy-care, synthetic fiber that’s machine washable, dries quickly, is wrinkle-resistant and takes dye easily. Polyester is often blended with cotton or with other synthetic fibers. 

Sateen: A luxury fabric woven very tightly, using the satin weave technique, which imparts (synthetic) a subtle sheen and a soft, silky hand. 

Satin: Fabric woven and finished to create a very smooth, lustrous face appearance (synthetic). 

Silk: Silk is a natural fiber that features a soft hand, lustrous appearance and superior draping qualities. 

Suede: Sueded fabrics include cotton, silk or synthetic fabrics designed with a napped finish to resemble the look and feel of leather.

It’s OK To Embellish A Little:

Fabrics don’t have to be plain – textured or patterned weaves, embroidery, embellishments and trim add visual interest to basic fabrics. 

Appliqué: Appliqué refers to a needlework technique in which pieces of fabric are embroidered onto a background fabric to create a design. 

Binding: A narrow length of fabric that has been sewn on to cover seams or unfinished edges. Referred to as “self-binding” when in the same color and fabric as the base fabric. Contrasting binding is of a different color, pattern or fabric. 

Damask: Damask is an elaborately patterned, jacquard-woven fabric constructed from silk, linen, wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. Common design themes in damask fabrics include flowers, leaves, fruit and animal figures. Metallic threads can be added to the pattern for effect. 

Embroidery: Embroidery is decorative, ornamental needlework stitches used to dress up a base fabric. Embroidery can be machine woven or done by hand. 

Jacquard: A jacquard weave creates an intricate, textured pattern within the fabric. Tapestries, brocades and damask fabrics are all jacquard weaves. 

Matelassé: A soft, jacquard-woven fabric with a quilted, puckered surface appearance that adds dimension and texture. Used most often in coverlets. 

Piping: A thin decorative trim used to finish a hem, seam or as an outline. Can be the same or contrasting fabric.