Is Thread Count Important When Choosing Bed Linen?

Is Thread Count Important When Choosing Bed Linen?

If you are looking to buy bed linen, time-honoured tradition says that the greater the thread count, the better the sheet. Countless times we’ve had it ingrained into our minds that large numbers equate to luxury – and we accept this to be true because quality must be measured in some way, right? But, if you sat down with a group of textile experts and ran this type of logic by them, it’s likely you’d receive quite a few sceptically raised eyebrows, why, because the statement is wrong! Julian Tomchin, a linen expert, spoke with The New York Times, and told them ‘as soon as you go beyond a thread count of 400, you need to be suspicious’.

Thread count, by its definition, is quite simple and is calculated by the number of warp and weft threads in a square inch piece of fabric — ‘warp’ is vertical and ‘weft’ is horizontal. Although this may seem quite straightforward, in theory, it is not. Think about this for a moment — there are only a certain number of threads which can fit into one particular area, and for bedding, the number reaches its maximum at about 400. So, textile manufacturer’s need to come up with a creative counting system for the thousand plus numbers contained in bedding.

Considering the ply factor of the fabric is one of the more standard ways to do this. (A few details about the composition of material: Single strands are woven together to create the threads that make up one single piece which is known as ply. For two-ply, two strands are woven together, for three-ply, three pieces, and so on).

Some textile fabricators may choose to count the individual strands one at a time, which makes it easier to increase the thread count to double or even triple the number — and, the cost. Nonetheless, it does not make any difference to the quality of the linen. Other fabricators have been known to increase the count using thinner thread, but this can cause adversities in the linen by reducing its lifespan and not doing much to improve its comfort.

Thread count is a new concept, and during the early 2000s, manufacturers rolled out sheets with a thread count of 1,000+ so that they could distinguish themselves from their competitors.  Very fine cotton was used, resulting in greater ply, thread count which delivered superior material. Subsequently, their competitors followed their lead, even though before this, labelling of thread count was practically unheard of.

Some of the leading authorities have established that quality of fabric is not purely by its thread count, but that type and quality are what matters most.

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