When you’re shopping for new bed sheets one of the questions you might have is about thread count. What is a thread count? Is it better to have a high thread count for better sheets? It’s not always so straightforward! This handy guide from NONAGON.style will answer your questions and help you understand thread count.
What Is Thread Count?
Thread count is a measure of how many threads are in one square inch. When making fabric, threads are interworked together so you have both a vertical weave (warp) and horizontal weave (weft). To measure the thread count, we count how much thread is used in both. Additionally, extra threads (picks) can be woven in which make it possible to have really high thread counts.
Is It Always Better to Have High Thread Count?
Not always! It totally depends on what you’re looking for from your sheets. A higher thread count doesn’t mean the softest. One important consideration for bedsheets is the quality of the thread, and whether you are looking for sheets that are thicker and durable, or softer and cooler.
Good sheets can range between 200 to 600 thread count, but you can find anything up to 1500! Above 600 you’ll start to find the sheets are heavier and denser. Don’t assume a low thread count means low quality, either, as it can also depend on the finish, fibers and method.
What Are the Differences Between Fibers?
Fibers are spun into thread. There are many different materials used to make thread, and they all have their own qualities. There are natural fibers such as cotton and silk, as well as synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester.
Cotton is by far one of the most popular types of thread used for sheets, and there are many different types of cotton to look out for. The highest quality is long staple cotton which produces long, strong, silky fibers. You may have heard of Pima, Supima, or Egyptian cotton, which are all extra long staple cottons. Short staple fibers are more difficult to spin, making the yarn less uniform.
Silk is produced by boiling silkworm cocoons and extracting the long fibres. It is one of the most elegant fabrics, with an incredibly soft texture. The textiles produced require delicate care, but are fairly durable and recommended for allergy sufferers and those with skin conditions.
As one of the world’s fastest growing plants, bamboo grass fibre is a sustainable choice for fabric. Bamboo sheets are also popular because they feel cool to the touch and absorb moisture well making them breathable.
Flax and Linen
With a coarse texture, linen is one of the strongest natural fibers and twice as durable as cotton. However this means they are less soft than cotton. Linen sheets traps warmth in winter months, but has the ability to breathe in summer months too. Given its rough texture, linen is more commonly used for top sheets, duvets or shams.
What Are Weaves?
This is a strong type of weave, where one warp thread goes under one weft thread to create a tight textile. This type of fabric will be cooler, crisp and have a matte finish. Usually it’s lightweight and won’t pill over time.
These sheets will feature a weave where several threads are woven in warp and weft. The loose threads that aren’t as tightly woven as a percale can mean you see a diagonal finish on the material when you look closely. Textiles like this are more susceptible to snags but the texture can look more shiny, silkier and satiny. This quality means they’re more likely to be wrinkle free, or crease resistant.
Light and Crisp, or Soft and Silky?
If you’re looking for sheets that feel light and crisp, you’d be better looking at a percale weave textile made from cotton. When you want a heavier sheet, start looking at something 400 thread count and up; these will also be more durable. Of course, for those seeking something smoother and softer, a sateen weave sheet is your solution.