Sleep Well At Night With Ethical Bedlinen

Today I want to talk to you about bedding. Last week on Instagram I wrote a post about it being the three month anniversary of the book. And I alluded to the final paragraph of the book where I said I was increasingly aware of the gap between those of us who have a home to buy things for and those who sleep on the streets.

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

A couple of days earlier I had received an email from a new company, just six weeks old, who are making ethical bedlinen and whose chosen charity this year is Centrepoint. And so it all came full circle as last year I started making a monthly donation to them.

William Coulton is a former management consultant who set up Rise & Fall with his business partner, Jed Coleman, to try and cut out all the noise around bedlinen and strip it back to its basic components – stuff to sleep on. They wanted to make sheets in a way that could help the people doing the making, then use the people who were doing the buying to help those who might not have their own bed to put sheets on in the first place.

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

Rise & Fall will donate £3 from every set of bedding sold to Centrepoint. In addition to that they use a factory whose owners employ mostly women (90 per cent of the workforce) and who pay for them to finish their schooling and/or gain other qualifications – not just in sewing and textiles, but often in IT and other subjects not related to the job they are doing at the factory.

The first batch of cotton is traceable back to the area it was grown, the second will be back to the exact farm it came from. The water used in the factory is all recycled – it takes huge amounts of water to make cotton – and there are massive rain vats on the roof. The factory is run on 100 per cent green energy, says William.

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

But what about the bedding itself? Well it’s cotton and there are two types – percale and sateen, the latter, it turns out is not cheap satin in a Dynasty- style fashion but refers to the length of the fibres used to make it. I didn’t know that and have spent years avoiding sateen bedding because I thought it was fake satin. Anyway, listen carefully because here comes the science bit:

Threadcount – as you probably know – is the number of threads per square inch. The basic idea is the higher the better. Only, of course, it’s slightly more complicated than that. If you have short cotton fibres the machines can knot them together which makes the fabric feel rougher. The key is to have extra long fibres thus avoiding the knots and making the sheet softer. But you can also manipulate the thread count by packing the fibres more closely together thereby increasing the count. This means the sheet will be heavier and may be rougher as well.

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

Percale is a weave of one thread over, one under while sateen is one over and four under. Percale sheets should be no higher than 400 thread count or they will be hot and heavy to sleep under. Sateen, says William, should be 600.

“More than that is overpacking the sheets but customers have been primed that it’s all about a high thread count so that is what they look for, although that isn’t the whole picture,” he said.

“We use Egyptian cotton, which is grown in India, but that basically means it has long fibres which are very fine so we can create a high thread count without the sheet being too heavy. If you want soft and snuggly you should buy sateen and if you prefer hotel crisp then percale is the one for you. Or you might want to change with the seasons.”

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

When it comes to washing, 40 degrees is fine. If you tend to tumble dry then do so only until the sheets are three-quarters dry and then hang. Rise & Fall don’t add the extra chemicals that makes sheets crease-free so you will need to hang or iron at the end.

“Our bedding is really plain and simple. There are no fancy details. A white sheet is the cornerstone of the bed. We wanted to get that right,” said William.

So, now that you know buying a set of Rise & Fall bedding benefits the women who make it as well as helping homeless people in the UK, you can as the saying goes,  really can sleep well at night.

rise and fall bedding image by Kate Watson-Smyth

Rise & Fall gave me a set of bedding – mainly for photographic purposes – their website isn’t quite there yet – but you don’t need to look at pretty pictures to hand over your money for a good cause. If you need some plain white sheets then this is as good a place as any to buy them. They also come in a bag that doubles up as a shoe or laundry bag when travelling.

You can also see my new Rouen bed from Sofas and Stuff, which has led to an entire Decorating Domino Effect involving new beside lights and wallpaper. This is anaglypta – I told you I was getting some. The next time you see it it will have been painted in a deep, dark foresty green and I will show you the pattern close up – this post wasn’t about that.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I love the principles behind this and am about to buy new linen for a whole house 👍. As Anna above says, its great to have a real explanation and not just hang on to that Egyptian cotton and thread count obsession without really understanding either

  2. How wonderful shall head over to their site now. May I ask where your over head board lights are from – they look to be plug n and have such a lovely wall mount. xx

  3. Because I am a grandma with a life long passion for white Cotton and Linen bedding, by now know it all but I thought the explanation re thread count and what it takes to produce our bedding excellent information to share.

    What I would like to know is where the kettle comes from….very stylish? I will also look up Ligurian Luccio!!

  4. This sounds like a brilliant company doing lots of great things. I’d love to see them apply their approach to social justice to their procurement too and wonder why they don’t use organic cotton. Conventional cotton is said to be the most polluting industry in the world after oil and the global price war to push down cotton prices so we in the West can have affordable bedding/clothes is resulting in thousands of farmer suicides across India. Obviously it’s hard for companies to do everything ‘right’, and we should always applaud steps towards better/fairer manufacturing. I really hope their commercial imperatives aren’t seen as a higher priority than someone’s quality of life – as it would seem to counter the laudable aims and values you’ve passionately described.

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