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High Thread Count Bed Sheets

 How Many Threads Does A Bed Sheet Need?

by  Liz Beresford

High thread count bed sheets, often called percale, are much advertised, but what exactly does "high thread" count mean? You know that it means quality and comfort, but do you know why? It used to be considered good to have thread count of 180-200 but thread counts of up to 1000 are advertised these days.. So what is going on? Does high thread count always mean better quality? Is there an optimum thread count, and if so what is it?

Thread Count 101

Cotton is a woven fabric. The number of threads used in weaving are counted by the square inch. For example a thread count of 180 means a weave of 100 vertical threads per square inch, called the warp, and 80 horizontal threads, called the weft. The thickness of the thread is also a factor in this equation. The finer the thread the more of them there will be in one square inch, giving a higher thread count.

Another thing to be aware of is ply. Two ply fabric is made by twisting the yarns together before weaving, whereas single ply uses a single thread. Using two ply yarn doubles the thread count. So to compare the two remember that a single ply with a thread count of 100 is equal to a two ply with a count of 200. Thread count can go as high as 800 or 1000 threads, but you can buy perfectly good bed linen with a thread count of 180. The term percale means a thread count of at least 100.

A higher thread count is not necessarily better because the higher the thread count the thinner and more delicate the fibers will be, unless it is 2 ply. Since 2 ply doubles the thread count this makes the cotton heavier, not necessarily what you want in bed sheets.

A thread count of between 100 and 400 is really quite sufficient, there is simply no need to pay for anything more. If you are buying pure linen bed sheets, rather than cotton, a thread count of 100 is good, since linen has thicker fibers.

Of course a high thread count is not the only determinant of quality in bed linen. The treatment that the cotton fiber has received, for example mercerizing, and the way in which the bed linen is woven and finished, all contribute to the quality of the finished product. (Mercerizing is a chemical treatment which produces increased strength and a sateen finish which accepts dyes more readily.)


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