The Thread Count Story
Posted On: 08/13/2012
 

Breaking news: High thread-count does not a luxury linen make.

In recent years, there has been a lot of attention given to the number of threads per square inch in bed linens, known as the thread-count. So much attention, it seems, that many shoppers base their buying decision solely on the size of that thread-count number.

Linen buyers, beware!

There’s more to the story than that number. You can spend your hard-earned cash on a sheet bearing a high thread-count, only to find after the purchase that the craftsmanship is poor, as evidenced by side hems that fail and fray, poor finishing techniques that result in pilling of the fabric, and a sheet that doesn’t last through six months of wear.

Add to that sad reality the fact that some linen makers are inflating the thread-count by counting each filament as a separate thread. Good grief! Certain luxury linen manufacturers are so put off by this overemphasis on thread-count that they no longer print the count on their packaging. And we’ve recently seen some very beautiful Italian-made sheets with fashion-forward styling crafted of 250 thread-count fabric. If you considered nothing but thread-count in your buying decision, you might pass up some of the world’s most beautiful sheets!

At the other end of the thread count madness, one world-famous manufacturer is successfully producing a 1200 thread-count sheet only to have some customers complain that, although the sheet is oh-so-silky, the dense weave (necessary in order to fit that many fine threads into a single little inch) makes the sheet non-breathable and therefore hot to sleep under. Oh, dear…

So, what’s a shopper to do?

The simple answer is this: look beyond the thread-count to discover the real picture.

  • Determine if the sheet is all-cotton or a cotton/polyester blend (the presence of synthetic fibers compromises the breathability of the fabric);
  • Acquaint yourself with the types of cotton (The longer the cotton fiber, known as the staple, the softer the yarn it can be spun into. Pima and supima are long-staple cottons; Egyptian cotton has the longest staple);
  • See where the sheet is made (European-made sheets are considered the world’s finest);
  • Determine the fabric type (for example, sateen has a silky feel, while percale feels more crisp).
  • Once you have all these pieces of the puzzle, you can consider the thread-count (in a very general sense, the higher the thread-count, the softer the feel).
  • And finally, consider if the linens are a good value (taking into account price as well as durability).

So, now you know. Thread-count is only one of many facts to consider, and it isn’t even the most important one! Armed with the whole story, may you impress your friends with your linen knowledge, shop more wisely, and be rewarded with linens that serve you better, for a longer period of time, and at a better value.

 
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