What is Thread Count Anyway?
To start this discussion, I would like to quickly clear up what exactly thread
count is. In a nutshell, thread count is how many threads there are per square
inch. Thread count is counted by how many pieces of thread are going vertically
and how many are going horizontally. These threads are so tightly woven together
that it feels like one piece of solid fabric. This fabric is used for bed
linens, as well as your everyday clothing.
So if your sheets say 200 thread count, it means there are 200 interlocking
threads every square inch. Usually there will be 100 pieces of thread going
sideways, and another 100 pieces of thread going up and down. A more common
approach for sheets is to have a different combination, like 120 going sideways,
and 80 going the other way. This is how the 200 thread count is calculated.
Sheets typically always use more thread count than shirts or clothing because of
the expected wear and tear on the sheets. This is an item that gets used daily,
versus a shirt that is worn once a week at most. A typical shirt is 60 x 60
thread count, or 120 thread count. This doesn't mean the quality is bad by any
means, it just means that there are less threads per square inch. The 60 x 60
means there are 60 threads going horizontally and 60 threads going vertically to
form a solid weave.
Generally speaking the more threads the better
quality or softer the fabric. But a lot of overseas vendors are now splitting
one thread and making it two, so your 400 thread count sheets may actually only
be a 200 thread count. And if they use cheap cotton, the more thread count isn't
always your saving grace. But for the most part, going by thread count is a fine
way to pick the quality of your sheets. I also think that advertising thread
count is more of a marketing ploy than anything these days. Quality cotton can
be a low thread county, but still be well constructed, have a soft hand, and
last a very long time.
Thread count is a simple measure of fabric quality, so that "standard" cotton thread counts are around 150 while good-quality sheets start at 180 and a count of 200 or higher is considered percale. Extremely high thread counts (typically over 500) tend to be misleading as they usually use 'plied' yarns. i.e. one yarn that is made by twisting together multiple finer threads. For marketing purposes, a fabric with 250 yarns in both the vertical and horizontal direction could have the component threads counted to a 1000 thread count although "according to the National Textile Association, accepted industry practice is to count each thread as one, even threads spun as two- or three-ply yarn.
The Federal Trade Commission agrees and recently issued a warning that consumers 'could be deceived or misled' by inflated thread counts." Dean Miller's beach bedding has never miss-lead or tried to deceive any of its consumers, and has always clearly stated that our cotton percale surf sheets are a high quality 200 thread count.