Updated: Feb 11
(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)
I received a lovely gift the other day. It was a set of bed linens from a company called “Late Mornings” as in, “these sheets feel so good that I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.” It’s a Romanian-based luxury bedding boutique that produces heirloom-quality, natural cotton and linen sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers.
The venture was established by, and continues to be run by, John and Cristina Ciobato. Their own words tell it best, “Our Romanian grandparents were born in a time before runaway consumerism, when everything was made with care, craftsmanship, and high-quality materials – meant to last generations, not discarded every trend cycle.” Late Mornings was inspired by the luxury linens the Ciobatos inherited from their grandparents. Ones made of natural fibers, devoid of harsh chemicals, and ones that continue to get softer and suppler with every washing. However, their grandparents would not call them “luxury” but just good, old-fashioned quality linens that get better with time.
Mine felt so silky soft that I wanted to learn more. The label read “Supima Cotton Sateen”. What does that mean exactly? Supima is the portmanteau of “superior” and “Pima”. Pima is a type of cotton grown exclusively in our own arid southwestern states. When Pima cotton fibers are at least 35% longer than other cotton fibers, they are considered Supima. These fibers are also finer and exceptionally soft, durable, abrasion-resistant, and will become softer over time. Supima is known as the cashmere of cottons and is better than many Egyptian cottons.
Late Mornings also offers 100% combed cotton sateen and percale bedding. Like Supima, the combed cotton sateen has a silky soft hand. It is ideal for people who want the look and feel of satin but at a more affordable price. It is especially nice in colder seasons as it tends to be warmer because of its density. Percale has a tight weave and a light, crisp hand. It’s a more breathable weave than sateen and, therefore, better for the warmer seasons when people want to stay cool.
This might be a good time to define a few terms. Sateen is a weave with a single weft yarn/thread that passes over one or more warp yarns/threads. Percale is the most basic of weaves with one weft over one warp and then one under. Combed cotton is a softer and stronger version of other cottons because of its longer and more uniform fibers.
I’ve been guilty of loosely using the word “linens” today. While linen is a natural fiber derived from the flax plant, I’ve been using the word to mean an item or items of bedding. I called my gift “bed linens” even though they are made of cotton. At the risk of further confusion, I should also add that Late Mornings produces linen bed linens. Because they use Belgium and French linen, theirs is most exquisite. It’s even stronger and softer than their best cotton and is suitable during all four seasons. It also has anti-bacterial properties which is ideal for anyone suffering from allergies.
I’ve also been guilty of not knowing a certain fact until recently. Thread count can be misleading. A higher thread count does not always mean better quality. It is better to have a lower count with a superior fiber than a higher count with an inferior fiber. The next label you read with a 600-thread count, take a closer look at the fiber. (By the way, it is also better to have a more expensive nylon carpet than in inexpensive wool one.)
The Ciobatos’ pursuit of quality led them to textile mills in Italy where fabrics are made from Supima cotton and European flax. These fabrics are then shipped to Romania and made into Late Mornings’ line of bedding. More information can be found by visiting www.latemornings.com