Types of Natural Bedding

Introduction

This section is designed to showcase the many types of bedding products that contain down and feathers. There really are few things in life that make a consumer feel as pampered as luxurious down bedding. Although we include many of the more popular uses of down and feathers in bedding, this list is certainly not all-inclusive.

Pillows

Although pillows may seem simple, there are actually many variables involved in making a pillow. The three basic parameters of a pillow are:

  • The fill
  • The fabric type
  • The pillow construction

The fill can be a blend of feathers or down all the way from 5% down / 95% feathers to 90% down / 10% feathers. The general rule of thumb is that the more down, the softer the pillow. A pillow with a 10/90 fill is 10% down and 90% feathers - this type of pillow is firm with a bit of give (This pillow is less expensive due to the lower down quantity). The 50/50 pillow likewise has 50% down and 50% feathers and is softer then the 10/90 pillow. Some consumers find that the 50/50 product is firm enough for support and soft enough for comfort. Although choosing the most comfortable pillow is completely subjective to the sleeper, often pillows are sold as 3 distinct densities: soft, medium, and firm. Unlike foam pillows, down pillows surround the sleeper's head with luxury and don't lose their loftiness or softness.

illows can be made from a variety of fabric and finishes. Although cotton is the most popular fabric type, pillow shells can be made of cotton, silk, tencel, etc. Generally, as the thread count of the pillow fabric increases, the price of the pillow will also rise. A thread count of 230 or higher means that the pillow is "down proof" (a measure of air permeability), but often lower thread count pillows are specially treated with starch sizing to prevent feather and down leakage. Pillows may have gussets (side walls), piping, or embroidery to embellish their appearance.

There are a few different pillow constructions:

  • Standard Bag - The basic pillow stuffed with some variation of the fillings mentioned above.
  • 'Chamber' - This type of pillow features a 'core' usually filled with feathers and then surrounded on the outside with down. This pillow features the firmness of feathers with the comfort of down on the outside.
  • Down Top - This type of pillow is similar to a single 'Chamber' except that the core is flat with the down still on the outside.

Down Comforters

When evaluating naturally filled comforters, there are 5 major considerations:

  • Comforter construction and size
  • Shell fabric
  • Fill type
  • Quality of fill
  • Fill weight

Comforter construction can include anything from a wide-open 'bag' filled with down and feathers to an inner-locking baffle box that traps the fill from moving within the comforter. Here are the basic construction types that you will most likely see:

  • Channel: Horizontal or vertical 'columns' that are either sewn through the top and bottom layers of the comforter shell or baffled.
  • Karo-Step: Either baffled or sewn-through crosses that limit the down movement within the comforter.
  • Ring Stitch: Small dots that are sewn through the top and bottom layers of the comforter.
  • Sewn Thru Box: Sewing the top and bottom layers of the comforter in horizontal and vertical lines, to form boxes that can range from 4" - 18" in size. The ultimate in eliminating down shifting in the comforter.
  • Baffle Box: a thin fabric connects the top and bottom layers of the comforter shell, allowing the fill to touch along the sew lines, providing more loftiness than sewn-through comforters.
  • Framed Baffle Box: The same as a baffle box, but with 1 or 2 "frames" along the four sides of the comforter.

Comforters generally are sold in three or four sizes (twin, full, queen, full/queen, king), although there is no real 'standard' size for a given bed size. Some customers prefer an 'over-hung' look, and as matresses are getting thicker, this requires a larger comforter for the bed. Most consumers do not tuck the comforter below their matresses, they simply allow it to hang over on the sides and foot of the bed.

Here is a chart showing some of the common comforter construction types:

Like pillows, comforters can come in a variety of fabric types that can be finished in different methods. They also may be accented with specialized piping, embroidery, color, scalloped edges, sateen gussets, etc. Generally, as thread count increases, so does the price of the product.

As discussed in the above, the fill type, fill quality and fill weight all dramatically effect the quality, functionality, appearance, and price of the comforter. Roughly 60-70% of the cost of a finished down comforter is in the fill, so this tends to be the most important element. The more weight and the higher the fill power of the down, the more it insulates. Often, these two figures are adjusted in tandem to make the desired warmth level of the comforter.

Down Blankets

Down blankets are used atop a bed for when a consumer wants to have less warmth - typically during the summer months, or in hotter climates. Most down blankers utilize a sewn-through box construction, and some have sateen edges to add to the esthetics of the blanket. Although less down is used in filling blankets, they are becoming much more popular among consumers as a substitute for a comforter.

Featherbeds

Although in Europe featherbeds are sometimes used instead of matresses, here in the United States, many people love to place them on top of their matresses as an extra layer of cushion and loft to sleep on top of. Featherbeds also come in a variety of shell constructions, including: bag style, channel construction (vertical or horizontal), bafflebox, and down-topped. They can be filled with a feather and down blend or synthetic clusters. The fabric is usually down proof cotton twill and some feather beds have gusseted side walls. One important note to remember is that by adding a featherbed, the sleeper will now have a new layer of insulation under her. This will make the bed feel warmer, and may warrant a lighter comforter to compensate for the bottom layer of insulation.

Decorative Pillows

Decorative pillows, often called 'pillow inserts,' are mainly used by consumers to put into decorative fabrics and place on beds, couches, etc. Decorative pillows come in dozens of shapes and sizes allowing tremendous flexibility to the end user.

Miscellaneous Bedding

Miscellaneous bedding encompases those types of bedding products where its use has a specific purpose - like a reading pillow or a pet bed. If you can think of a new design, it can probably be made. Here are several of the more popular types of bedding:

  • Body Pillows - These pillows are used in the bed for 'hugging' by the consumer while sleeping. They are also great for pregnant women to 'spoon.'
  • Pet Beds - Pet beds can be made for cats and dogs and are usually round, square, or rectangular in shape. These types of products are often filled with a feather mixture or a synthetic fill.
  • Reading Pillows - Reading pillows also referred to as 'Husband' pillows are designed to allow the consumer to sit upright in bed and read.
  • Travel Bedding - Travel bedding can include mini pillows and throws for use on airplanes to specialty pillow protectors for hotel pillows.

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