Confession: I have never understood the fuss about fancypants bedsheets. Everyone talks about “thread counts” and “Egyptian cotton” like it means something to the average human who bought a polka-dotted duvet set in Wilko 5 years ago and still quite likes it. Hotel bedsheets are talked about in raptured tones, but working as a chambermaid some years ago rapidly destroyed any illusions there — I’ve seen things on bedsheets no human should ever see.
In short, I hadn’t given much thought to bedding beyond “I need some.”
So when a company called Primary Goods (nice reference for the economics fans out there) contacted me to ask if I’d like to try their premium French bed linens, which they describe as “the best” and charge — well, a fair bit more than Wilko — for, I wasn’t expecting to be won over, but said I’d give it a go.
Here’s what happened.
Who gives a sheet
The first thing I discovered when talking to Primary is that there are major international differences in the way people make their beds. One of their key selling points for their bedding is that it solves the issue of your bedsheet getting scrunched up by the duvet and ending up by your feet — which is not a problem I’ve ever faced, because in the UK we just put the duvet straight over ourselves. There’s no sheet in between.
It took quite a few very confused emails to work this out, but the upshot is that in countries like the US, they put an (apparently pointless) sheet between themselves and the duvet cover, which then moves annoyingly during the night. Personally I’d just stop using the sheet, but culture is culture, so Primary has come up with a clever way to fix it: their bedsheets attach with poppers to the duvet cover. This was so popular in the US (where apparently 40% of people find their bedsheet on the floor in the morning) that their initial Kickstarter raised 5x its funding.
Apparently the “top sheet or no top sheet” thing is a whole debate on the other side of the pond, but here’s Primary’s take:
Suitably educated, it was time to choose my bedding set. There are five colours available: Charcoal Grey, Rosewood, Pure White, Cream and Smoke Grey. I went for Rosewood, which is a gorgeous dusky pink.
The sizes are again in American terms, but the Primary team helped me work out that my standard British double duvet would fit best in the Queen/Full size rather than the intimidating-sounding King/Cal King. There are different sets available, I got the one with white pillowcases but there are some with coloured cases (or ‘shams’ as they’re apparently called in the US) available if you prefer.
Unboxing my bed
Primary bedding arrives in a branded cardboard cube, inside which is a set of linen drawstring bags in the same colours as what’s inside. These are gorgeous in themselves and have already been repurposed as fancypants tote bags around the house.
Excitedly pulling these open to feel the fabric inside was the first indication that I really had been clueless about what makes for good bedding. I didn’t know I had opinions on linen, but dear lord, this stuff is gorgeous. The white top and bottom sheets are thick, heavy, sumptuous pure white fabric that somehow manages to be both naturally rough and deliciously smooth. I have idea how it works, but putting the fitted sheet on my mattress was a revelation: my bare legs slipped and slid gloriously across the cool surface every time I moved. Suddenly I wanted to toss and turn more, just to feel the fabric on my skin.
Similarly, the pillowcases are wonderful: I swear my hair is less messed up when I get out of bed these days, and when I sleep on my side, my skin sings its praises. I’ve actually begun to suspect part of the reason my cheeks used to break out was sleeping sideways on polyester pillowcases. They don’t tell you that on the packaging!
The duvet cover, meanwhile, is a little large for my standard double duvet, which means the duvet itself sometimes gets bunched up inside the cover. I think that’s probably an international sizing thing again, or possibly due to the fact that I have one of those really heavy duvets with stitched squares of thick filling. It’s easy enough to fix by shaking the duvet out when you make the bed, but I’m also working on a fix involving binder clips and stitches. Where’s my Nobel prize, eh?
Bunching issues notwithstanding, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It has that natural linen breathability, so that even during the dreaded heatwave weather I was cool instead of drenched in sweat as I used to be with cheaper, manmade fabric sheets. The French linen they’ve used scrunches up beautifully, so it always looks a little unkempt in that sexy Parisian way. Faceplanting on the bed has all the satisfaction of throwing yourself into a heap of crispy Autumn leaves, as the creases mould around you and you become part of the pile. In fact, my faceplanting has gone up at least 50% since I got this set.
Top sheet or not top sheet
So did the Primary Goods bedding set convert me to the American way of making beds? Am I a top sheet evangelist now?
Well, no. I did sleep with the top sheet on for a week or so, but I just found it really unnecessary, and that fabric is far too beautiful to spend its life in a drawer. So instead, the white top sheet has become my favourite cover-up for cosy nights on the sofa watching Netflix, and the rest of the bedding has become a permanent fixture of my room.
I’ve washed and tumble-dried it a fair few times since it arrived, and not only has it not bobbled up or started looking dull, I think it actually looks better when it comes out of the dryer all scrunchy and fresh.
Primary Goods bedding: the verdict
I’m absolutely converted.
The French linen bed set is beautiful, it’s comfortable, and my eyes have been well and truly opened to the difference good bedding makes to your sleep. It reminds me of the first time I wore a pair of well-made high heels and realised they don’t all feel like putting your foot in a mangle. Some things are worth splurging on, and since I spend a heck of a lot more time in bed than wearing heels, bedding has shot to the top of my luxury list.
But don’t take my word for it. The cats have both fallen in love with my bedding set, and have spent considerably more time being adorable on the bed since I made the switch:
They’re picky kitties, and I think their stamp of approval is worth twice as much as mine.
If you’d like to try Primary Goods’ bedding for yourself, either come round and get in my bed (invite-only!) or order here. You might need to pay an import fee if you’re in the UK, just to warn you.
As for me, I’m off to clear my bed of cats so I can sleep some more.*