Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quality! But at what price?

Hunting for high-quality *affordable* sheets.  Cotton sateen by Eileen Fisher for Garnet Hill.

I'm a stickler for quality.  If I'm investing in something new for our home, I like to spend a little time learning about quality.  Whether I'm buying a furnace or a new set of sheets, I want to know what makes one item better than the other.  What's the best possible version (and can I afford it and do I need it)?  

It's always a fine balancing act, figuring out your wants, your needs, and what you're willing to pay for either.  And each of us differs - we each measure our products against an internal set of finely-tuned and inexplicable standards.  For some, quality means a beautiful-to-look at product or prestige (think a designer handbag).  For others, it's purely about function (say, warm and cozy sheepskin slippers) or reliability (a Toyota).  For some, the highest quality item is about craftsmanship, with a handmade item trumping a mass-produced one.  

Quality can mean high-tech (the new Blackberry), but oftentimes it's good old-fashioned nostalgia (knitted wool socks). 

I've been thinking about quality lately as I try to buy things for our home while spending the least amount of money possible.  I really deplore junk and clutter, and I like to buy the best I can afford.  But in this "Made in China" world, sometimes quality is hard to find, even if you look.

I suffer, too, from conflicting values.  I want to possess exquisite, high-quality things that feel and look beautiful and last forever.  But I'm also a bargain-hunter.  I fully plan to retire early and don't intend to give evil retailers any more of my money than I can absolutely avoid. Which is why I like to buy the best thing possible - so I don't have to come back next year and buy a new one.

You might think from my posts that I'm quite a shopper.  But in reality, I'm very careful with my money and apart from the odd splurge (a fancy Christmas gift, right Vee?), I don't lug a lot of junk through my door.  Ok, so I get carried away and buy too many kinds of tea, but I keep my "wasted money" spending to a very small scale.  

Which brings me to the subject of sheets.  I love bedding and spend lots of time looking at it, but I rarely buy it and find myself in dire need of some.
Hemstitch flannel flat sheet, $52 for queen, from Garnet Hill

Most of my old sheets are becoming threadbare, at least the fitted ones (the flats are still going strong).  So I'm in the market for a couple of new fitted sheets.  Did you know you can easily spend over $100 on a nice fitted sheet?  And I'm not even talking about fancy brand names here.
Eileen Fisher, flannel flat cotton-bamboo sheet, $80 for queen, from Garnet Hill

Besides a couple of good fitted sheets (preferably Egyptian cotton, preferably woven in Italy, preferably falling off a truck and hence free), I am also in the market for a nice flat flannel sheet.  Who knew buying a flannel sheet was so complicated (I don't want the whole set, as we don't like the pillowcases and the fitted sheet is too hot for David)?  Apparently, there are all sorts of things to consider:  the weight of the flannel (in ounces or grams), the material (cotton is de rigeur and bamboo is trendy), whether the flannel is double-sided, and will it pill?  
German-made flannel sheets: "Signature" collection, from Garnet Hill

Research suggests the Germans make the best (who knew?).  I am now looking at paying $80 for a flannel sheet.  Am I mad?  

Oh, and I'm also in the market for a new blanket.  I covet these pretty wool ones from Garnet Hill (below).  Or is cotton micro-fleece a better choice?  When we were in Paris, I discovered a cheery German company called Zoeppritz who make exquisite fleece in a million gorgeous colours - to match any decor!  Seems fleece is the new wool.  Choices!     
Washable wool blanket from Garnet Hill, $150 for queen


  1. Hi Terri :)

    Haha I thought it was so cute what you said about God Jul :P But yeah, I agree :P

    And yeah it's hard to find what you want, exactly the way you want it. I used to have flannel as well and I love the way it's never cold.

    Our fitted sheet is actually from Ikea

    And this is what we have on top

    For me it's very important that sheets are always 100% cotton and absolutely no polyester. Our blankets are now all in fleece too because they don't itch like wool does.

    I'm a sucker for modern things and our home is white, quite minimalistic, scandinavian and with some highlights in red or pink :)

    Right, time for some breakfast :)

    Have a great Sunday!

    Hugs, Susanne

  2. Love good quality sheets and have been very disappointed by those that have been pricey yet have failed to deliver. I like L.L. Bean for flannel and they're not quite as expensive as some. For warmth, I a.d.o.r.e. the new fleece sheets...they feel luxurious and never pill. Course, I'm sleeping in an unheated bedroom; otherwise, I'm sure they'd be much too hot.

    Your splurge arrived and looks fantastic...almost ready to send it north westward. :D

  3. Target's Fieldcrest brand has some lovely high thread count sheets that are fabulous for the price - particularily if you can find them on sale.

  4. T.J. Maxx. I can get a whole set of sheets for under $100... for a king size. They carry all kinds of "good brands".You just have to catch them at the right time!

    I am grappling with what kind of mattress to buy!

  5. The only problem with fleece is.... STATIC!! and in this town... plenty of it...last year at the festive season we stayed overnight at a local downtown hotel.. fleece blankets...ouch, ouch...and flashes of bright lights in the darkness to go with the zaps... every time you turn over..... not a minute of sleep for me that night...

  6. I wish we had Target or TJ Maxx here in Canada, but sadly we don't!!!

  7. Terri, Terri, we may not have TJ Maxx, but we do have Home Sense. You can get great quality sheets there.

    When I wnet to Toronto last year, I went in a shop called Au Lit where their twin sets of sheets went for "just" $1200!! I don't know how people can have a conscience when spending that much when they can pass by homeless people sleeping on the street just a street over...

  8. Oh a person can go mad when looking for sheets. It's such a chore. Always go for the big sale is my only advise. The discounters do it well. Even try the big department stores on down and dirts sale days in the bins. Sheets are so expensive but you have to go for quality or you won't sleep well.

  9. Anonymous8:55 pm

    I buy flat sheets to avoid the fitted ones. Also go for a lower thread count cause the higher ones are not always better and the 300-500 range softens up faster. ps your paris treasures are magnifique! Looks like you had a great time and we know you have a great eye!

  10. Hi Friend! I'm right there with you on the quality and the bargain conflict...I own one set of sheets. Just one, but they are nice. My fitted sheet finally wore through last month and I bought a new one. Not a new set, just the fitted one. I love my brand, Wamsutta. I buy the best ones they have because they are SUPER deep and fit my mattress well. And, they last for years.

    I find amazing bargains at consignment shops. I might find a name brand, Ethan Allen perhaps, piece of lovely furniture for a steal. That way I get the quality AND the bargain.

    Lovely to catch up here, sweet Terri! Missed you so! xoxo