Sateen is a cotton fabric with a luster resembling that of satin. It is used for sheets and apparel and is known for its soft, smooth texture. The fabric is quite useful and durable, but it can also be more expensive than some other fabrics when produced with a high thread count.
Long-fiber, combed or carded cotton is used to make sateen. The cotton is then mercerized to bring out a sheen. Mercerization involves soaking the fiber in a bath of sodium hydroxide (such as lye) and then in an acid bath. The result makes the cotton fiber stronger and more easily dyed. It also adds a luster to the fibers.
This mercerized luster is one of the hallmarks of good sateen. The material should be very soft to the touch, with a high thread count, and should drape well. It uses the satin stitch in construction, which means the threads are mostly on one side of the fabric, giving that smooth look.
Sateen has been a popular fabric since the early 1900s. Being made of cotton, it is much cheaper than silk satin and is also more durable, as well as being machine washable. In the early 20th century, the material was often used for women's undergarments because of its durability and smooth feel.
People who want to more luxurious fabrics in their homes often choose sateen sheets for their silky qualities, and they've found that sheets with a higher thread count are very durable. They are more expensive than plain cotton sheets, however. Shoppers who like crisp, ironed sheets should probably look for percale in stores. Percale sheets are more like a traditional cotton fabric and some prefer their crisper feel and lower price.
Lining sateen is one version of this fabric, although it's not always made with cotton. When used for lining jackets or wraps, it is usually a heavy, luxurious, yet sturdy fabric. It may be made from silk, wool, nylon, polyester, or any other fiber that would produce the type of lustrous fabric required.