If you have ever been in the market for good bed linen then you’ll have heard the term ‘thread-count’. There is much confusion though over just what thread count means. Let’s clear that up…

Thread-count is the measure of the coarseness or fineness of fabric. Thread-count = the number of threads per square centimetre (or per square inch) of fabric. You count both lengthwise (warp) and widthwise (weft) threads. So 100 lengthwise threads woven with 100 widthwise threads produce a thread count of 200.

Having a high thread-count doesn’t necessarily mean it is a high quality product if the threads themselves are not high quality.  The quality of fabric can also depend on fibre quality, yarn size, finishing and construction.  So when you look at sheets think about the weight, the fibre, the finish and the feel.

To help you get an idea of the different fabric thread counts, take into account that muslin has a thread-count of 150 (75 threads one way, 75 the other) which feels a little rough, certainly not silken. Good-quality sheets come in at 180, and anything above 200 is considered better quality.

So how are counts such as 800 or 1,200 possible? Is it possible to fit that many threads into a square centimeter (or a square inch)? The short answer is no it isn’t possible. Some manufacturers count not just each thread, but each fiber (called plies) that make up each thread. So a single thread might be three plies twisted together; one manufacturer will call that one thread, while another manufacturer will call that three threads.

So when choosing your sheets, ask for a fabric sample or go by how they feel, don’t rely solely on the thread-count for quality.

This article was written by Julia Paul of CrispHome.co.nz

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