Fieldcrest Cannon began as two separate family-owned cotton mills in North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century; they merged in 1986. The combined company, Fieldcrest Cannon, was subsumed into Pillowtex Corporation in 1997. The brand-name Fieldcrest Cannon, which graced the stores of Marshall Field for most of the 20th century, has been maintained. Fieldcrest Cannon now produces bed linens and bath towels at varying price points. The company markets its lines, including Cannon, through a marketing force that reaches department stores, mass merchants, catalog warehouse clubs and other retail outlets.
Fieldcrest Cannon has several types of cotton sheets available on the market. Each has a different percentage of cotton to polyester ratio and thread count.
Among the choices that can be found at department stores or online retailers such as Amazon.com and Overstock.com are 200-count, 240-count, 300-count, 400-count, 500-count and 600-count or higher sheet sets.
Each set may be 100 percent cotton or a blend. Common blends are cotton-polyester and cotton-silk.
Cannon sheets come in various weaves, as well. A sateen fabric weave has most of the threads on the surface, which gives the sheet a shine and feel like silk. Flannel has a raised nap, which helps trap warmth in the sheet and the bedding. Percale sheets are woven tighter than other types, and thus may wick heat away faster. (Percale sheets are sometimes blends; look at the label carefully if you want 100 percent cotton sheets.) Muslin sheets are often rougher, with a lower thread count (140 to 200). They wear well over time.
Cotton bed sheets provide year-round comfort. Sheets that are 100 percent cotton offer a more breathable fabric.
In a 1998 industry interview, then-Fieldcrest Cannon fashion director Tom McElroy explained cotton's allure: "Cotton is unlike any other fiber. It's unique. In hot weather it's cool and supple and in cold weather it's warm and toasty. And it's an easy care fiber. Cotton is unique in that ability too. You just throw it in the washing machine."
Fieldcrest Cannon released a wrinkle-free all-cotton sheet in 1995; it has been a best-seller for the company because of its comfort and ease of care.
Thread count is the number of threads, both vertical and horizontal, in a one-inch square of fabric. It can vary based on many factors, including the fibers used and the thickness of the threads used to weave the fabric.
Finer cotton thread can create a softer sheet; thinner threads make for higher thread counts per square inch. However, fine thread means the sheet will be more delicate. Go for a lesser thread count if you need a more durable sheet, say, for a child's bed.
A higher thread count does not necessarily mean a higher-quality sheet. The tightness of the weave also determines how long the sheet will hold up. The blend of cotton to other fibers may affect the sheet's comfort, warmth and wicking ability.