The ultimate luxury, cashmere is one of the finest and softest fibres available. It is buttery soft, and offers wonderful insulation to keep you warm in winter, and cool in spring. It resists wrinkles, and becomes softer with age, rarely pilling after use. It blends beautifully with silk to give the fabric more sheen and drape.
Cotton is the most widely used fibre for fabric because of its strength, durability and breathability. The word “staple” refers to fiber length. When someone refers to “long staple cotton” they are referring to variety 1, 2, or 3. The longer the fiber size of a variety, the more difficult it is to grow, and the more difficult it is to process. Hence the longer the staple, the more expensive it becomes.
Types of Cotton
1. Sea Island Cotton
Sea Island Cotton is in extremely limited supply, and is very expensive to grow and to process. It is typically used in very expensive men’s shirts.
2. Giza Egyptian Cotton
Just as Egyptian cotton is a high quality species of cotton, GIZA is one of the highest qualities of all the varieties of Egyptian cottons. Most of St.Geneve bed linens are made of GIZA Egyptian cotton. It is grown in Egypt and Turkey as well as a few other countries where conditions have to be ideal. Because the fibers are so long, it actually has to be hand harvested in order to keep the fibers intact. Machine harvesting damages the strands.
GIZA is the Egyptian cotton of choice for very high quality cotton goods. It is found in the very best bed linens and in the very best towels. It is also used for the highest qualities of embroidery thread.
3. Pima Cotton
Pima cotton is in between Egyptian Cotton and American Upland long staple in length and price. It is a very good quality.
4. American Upland Long Staple
This cotton is only “Long Staple” in comparison to American Upland Short Staple cotton. The American Upland cottons now comprise up to 90% of the worlds crop. They are much easier to grow and process, and are therefore much less costly. They are perfectly adequate for medium quality fabrics. They make poor downproof fabrics for duvets and pillows, as they will ultimately leak. They are also unsuitable for high thread count sheets, as they will feel limp and coarse after a few launderings. This is the cotton used in bargain duvets, and in inexpensive “luxury” sheets.
5. American Upland Short Staple
A less expensive version of cotton, and a very basic quality. Suitable for denim for blue jeans.
6. Asia Short Staple
Asia Short staple is very easy to grow and process, and hence makes very cheap cloth. Unfortunately, lightweight fabrics made from this cotton are very weak and limp. They wear out quickly, and launder poorly.
Linen is crisp, clean, comfortable and soft, yet strong and durable. The harder you use it, the softer it gets and the stronger the fibres become. Linen is so highly absorbent that it holds up to twenty percent of it’s weight in moisture before it feels damp, and easily releases it’s moisture in to the air to remain uniquely cool in the summer. It has excellent launderability, and it is non-allergenic, non-static, and lint free. It is even mildew and moth resistant. Bed sheets made out of linen are uncommonly strong, soft and wonderfully cool for sleeping.
Why St Genève Linen?
There are huge variations in the quality of linen. Our linens are woven in Italy from flax grown in Belgium, and for very good reasons. . .
Linen is made of fibers from the flax plant. The fibers are from about 5” to 40”. Of the 230 species of flax, only one; “Linum usitatissimum” is grown commercially.
The best flax fiber is grown in France and Belgium, because of the perfect climate and soil conditions. Flax fiber is also produced in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, India, Ireland and Canada, but from all these countries the quality of the fiber is inferior to that of Western Europe, and is naturally less expensive.
There are a number of factors that can affect the quality of linen. Part of a crop will be “Line” fibers, up to 40” in length, which make a much higher quality linen. The remainder will be ‘Tow’ fibers, which average 5” in length. The price of the long fibers is much higher because the fibers are more difficult and costly to mill.
Many factors in the growing season will affect the quality of the linen, such as the time and weather of harvesting. If a farmer harvests too early, in order to allow for another crop, the fibers will be fine and silky, but weak. It is critical to maximize the fiber length and strength without letting it get too old. Flax that is harvested during the late summer will produce longer and stronger fibers. However, the flax field cannot be used for other crops as it is too late in the season, so the linen grown at this time will be much more expensive.
Lower quality linens are used for less expensive items, such as inexpensive clothing, tea towels, friction towels, and other household linens. Chances are, if you find inexpensive bed sheets, they will have been made from low-quality linen fibers, and they will neither be as soft or strong. They will also tend to feel coarse after laundering.
Linen is the oldest textile material in the world. Evidence shows Flax being grown 9,000 years ago in Syria & Turkey. The Egyptians grew Flax along the Nile river 7,000 years ago, and the ancient linen used to wrap mummies has lasted just as long. Evidence of linen has been also found in Switzerland that is 10,000 years old, and it has always been used in Europe in varying degrees. In fact, the term ‘lingerie’ came from the use of linen as undergarments in the middle ages. Modern use of linen began in Europe in the 1600’s, and the tradition of fine linen weaving is notable in France, Belgium, and Ireland.
Why Micro Modal?
Micro Modal® is a soft, light and airy fabric made from beech wood cellulose. Because it is a natural fiber, Micro Modal® breathes 50% better than cotton, and remains soft and silky even after numerous machine washings.
Soft as silk, even cooler than cotton, and long lasting (with care), Micro Modal has become very popular as a bed linen.
Why St Genève Micro Modal?
To ensure the highest quality, all St Genève Micro Modal products are made using Lenzing Modal®, recognized for the same purity and extremely high standards that St Genève is known for. The thread is made in Austria, and is then woven in Italy.
The secret to the fibers success is pure beech wood. The cellulose is harvested from sustainable European woods and used for the production of Micro Modal. The quality is guaranteed through the control of the whole manufacturing process – from wood to fiber. The standard of the raw material is critical for the quality and is what makes Micro Modal so unmistakable.
Micro Modal Textiles are exceptionally light in terms of the structure. Ten thousand meters of this Micro fiber will weigh only one single gram. The low fiber stiffness of Micro Modal makes it naturally soft. Combined with its smooth fiber surface, Lenzing Micro Modal guarantees softness.
Even after repeated washing, Micro Modal remains absorbent, soft and supple.
Silk is an extremely soft and luxurious fabric. It is much stronger than any other textile fiber, when properly cared for it will last for many years.
Silk is perfect for sleeping during warm nights, as it can absorb up to a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp. It is the coolest of all fabrics, yet it responds so quickly to temperature that in the winter, it feels warm and inviting. Silk is hypo-allergenic, resistant to mildew, naturally flame retardant and because it does not generate static, it does not cling.
Not only does silk feel soft next to the skin and is an incredible fabric for sheets and nightwear, it is also great for people with rheumatism and other aches and pains because it is much easier to turn in bed.
Why St Genève Silk?
Our silks are of the highest quality, and therefore soft, crease resistant, seamless, and can be gently machine washed and dried, making them easy to care for.
In order to live up to the highest quality requirements, all our silks are certified according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100. All our silk fabrics are made by a mill in Germany that has specialized in silk since 1923.
The best silks are made from the long single filament that is unwound from the cocoon, and the very best come from perfectly even cocoons. The finest silk filaments are now produced in Brazil, where the climate suits the production better. Inexpensive silks come from other areas of the world, and from lower quality cocoons. The lowest quality silks are made by spinning together the short filaments left over after the long filaments are unwound, as well as from the fuzzy ‘floss’ found on the outside of the cocoon.
Good silk is expensive. That is why it is not seen too often. However, those that have these wonderful sheets know that they are worth it. Silk is easy to care for properly and it will last for many years, but it won’t forgive careless mistreatment.
Types of Silk
1. Cultivated Silk
This silk is produced in a controlled environment, from the Mulberry silk moth which lives on mulberry leaves. Silk filaments come from the cocoons built by these moths, generally known as silkworms.
When the silk filament is ready to be removed from the cocoon, the filaments are carefully unwound from several cocoons at once to create a single strand of silk. A cocoon can contain a mile or more of filament. The strands are then wound together creating a silk yarn. The weight of the yarn will vary depending on the number of strands used.
We use cultivated silk for our bed linens.
2. Wild Silk
Wild silk comes from cocoons produced by a different species of silkworm that live in a natural environment. Tussah Silk is produced in this manner, and is generally darker in color than cultivated silks, as well as being heavier. We use this silk as a filling in our silk duvets as it has more “spring” than cultivated silk.
History of Silk
Silk production originated in China. It is said that the wife of a Chinese Emperor discovered silk about 2640 BC when a silkworm cocoon fell into her tea and began to separate into strands. She is credited with being the first to unravel the cocoons and use the fibres for weaving.
This lead to the Chinese silk industry, which is still in place today. The methods of Silk production were kept secret by the Chinese for several centuries. Later development of the Silk Road trade route brought silk to other countries.
Over the centuries, silk production moved throughout Europe as well as Great Britain and North America, but China is currently still the largest producer of silk. Some other major producers of silk are Japan, India and Brazil.