Many people love the luxurious feel of satin sheets. But things can get confusing when shopping. There is satin and sateen, and they all have different materials. The difference between satin and sateen sheets is quite simple.
The term "satin" refers to a particular weaving process. It does not refer to a type of material. The weave produces a smooth fabric when the filling thread pass under several warp threads and over one warp thread. This results in a minimum number of interlacings and allows the warp thread to reflect light and give the fabric its luster. The back of the fabric is dull.
Sateen refers to the satin weave but uses a particular type of cotton as the threads. It is not a type of material. It has a shiny surface and dull back.
Satin is made with silk, rayon, acetate, nylon or other man-made fiber. Sateen fabrics are made with 100 percent cotton. Mercerized cotton is used and has been treated with sodium to produce a higher sheen. Carded and combed cottons are used. Rayon is occasionally used.
Weaving consists of interlacing horizontal, or warp threads, with the vertical, or weft threads, to make a fabric and is typically done on a loom. Satin was first woven by silk weavers in ancient China and is named for the Chinese port Zaitun, where Middle Eastern traders found it.
Satin weave is used for making clothing, bedding and furnishings. It is also the most popular weave for silk fabrics. Sateen is popular in fabrics used for draperies, linings and bedding.