A percale weave is a low thread count and tight weave found on sheets and bed linens. The weave is woven in an in and under design, with the threads pulled tightly together in a lattice pattern.
It is made with both combed and carded threads, and can be constructed of fibers such as cotton, polyester or mixed blends, with cotton being the most favored. There are more than 200 threads per square inch, tighter than standard weave. The classification of percale in the United States, requires that there be a minimum of 180 threads running in one direction per square inch. The threads are tightly woven, resulting in a fine finish and texture. It is this configuration that makes percale strong and long-lasting.
Percale has a matte finish rather than a shiny one, and feels cool and soft to the touch. If it is pure cotton, it feels rougher than a cotton blend with a stiffer texture. Percale has a medium weight and washes well. It becomes softer with washing. Percale sheets can shrink as much as 2 percent after the first washing.
They should be washed separately from clothing in cold or warm water. If the sheets are 100 percent cotton, they may require ironing after leaving the dryer. A cotton blend requires less ironing and is smoother and less wrinkled.