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When high thread count is too high

The lure of high thread count can easily be used to manipulate shoppers into thinking they’re buying better quality linen than they really are. In actual fact, you might have more chance getting a good night’s sleep by counting sheep, rather than the number of threads in your bedding.

 

Nonetheless, the popular assumption is that the higher the thread count, the more luxury and comfort you’re buying into. So, how can this be used to scam shoppers? Are those ridiculously high thread counts really worth the extra money? And what should you really look out for to guarantee quality?

Can you be sure you’re not being scammed?
Thread count can be misleading because bed linen can legitimately be said to have a high thread count, while made of impure, poor quality cotton. Also, there are 'loopholes' that creative manufacturers can exploit to claim a technically higher thread count. That’s why those unbelievably high 1000 plus thread count sheets are possible. One of the surest ways to make sure you’re investing in the comfort you want is to always look into the source or type of cotton used.

Egyptian cotton deserves its reputation, being considered the most superior cotton in the world. Another worthy contender for your attentionis Pima cotton, which is produced in the US, but Sea Island cotton from the West Indies is another source not to be excluded. Do those astronomically high thread counts really matter anyway?

Thread count does contribute to the overall feel of linen, but after the thread count goes past a certain point, it’s really not contributing to quality anymore, but only to the price (and possibly bragging rights). 1000TC (thread count) cotton honestly feels just as lavish as 700TC cotton, provided it’s of equally good quality fabric. Some argue that anything beyond 400TC is already even too much.

As a rough guide, know that anything below 180TC is going to be of poor quality, while something between 180TC and 300TC is of decent quality and good value for your money. Linen between 300TC to 500TC is your luxury quality, and linen between 500TC to 700TC your superior luxury quality. Anything above 700TC, as mentioned, is arguably a waste of money, as the price rises exponentially while the quality essentially remains the same.

So what do you look out for?

Thread count is indeed a possible indicator of linen quality, but not the decisive factor many seem to think it to be.

If looked at by itself, it’s very easy for a shopper to get caught up in the buzz of thread count.

So as not to be disappointed, aside from the source of cotton there are three factors that can be looked into: fibre quality, yarn size and finishing.

[ images LA Nunnery Interiors ]

• The best fibre quality is long staple cotton. Staple refers to the length of the cotton fibre, and the longer the fibre the better, because it produces stronger and finer yarns. The longest fibres are Egyptian extra-long staple and Pima cotton.

• Yarn Size refers to how fine each yarn is – the higher the yarn size, the finer the yarn. Finer yarns allow for a lighter fabric. The ideal yarn size in quality sheets is anywhere between 40 and 100. Although very rare, a yarn size of up to 120 can be used for highly luxurious, but very expensive linen.

• Once the cotton yarns are woven into a fabric, that fabric can undergo finishing processes, such as singeing and mercerizing. The singeing process burns off the tiny fuzz that can later develop into pilling on your sheets, and mercerizing is a treatment to increase strength, lustre, and affinity for dye. Good quality linen will undergo both these processes, while linens of lesser quality probably won’t.

When shopping for bedding, you want to be paying for quality, not a marketing gimmick. If you keep in mind all the above mentioned factors, you can ensure you’ll get the quality you want. However, the best way to be sure would simply be to feel the linen for yourself. If that 300TC Egyptian cotton feels more like something you’d want to snuggle up in than those 1000TC sheets 'on special', then you know which option to go with. Then you’re all set to beautifully layer your bed and enjoy a great’s night’s sleep.

Queenie Bates