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Feature Articles-Clothing Concerns

What is THREAD COUNT and why does it matter?
Or, Hints for buying sheets
Sharon Stevens, Former Assistant Coordinator, Missouri Textile and Apparel Center,
College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

You are most likely to see references to thread count on packaging and advertising for sheets. Thread count is the number of horizontal and vertical threads woven in one square inch of fabric. Thread count can range from 80 to 1000 (and maybe more by now). In general, the higher the thread count, the softer the fabric feels and the more pill-resistant it is. But, when buying sheets, there are things to consider besides the number of threads.

High quality sheets have at least 180 threads per square inch. The Linenplace web site http://www.linenplace.com/ describes 200-220 as a good thread count, 230-280 as better, and 300-400 as best. Higher thread count sheets are usually significantly more expensive and not everyone agrees that the higher count means a better sheet.

Three additional components are important when considering thread count: yarn size and ply.

Yarn size refers to the thickness of the yarns that are used to make the fabric. A higher yarn size means a finer yarn. Generally sheets are made from a yarn size range of 40 to 100. Obviously, the finer the yarn, the more of them will fit in a square inch.

Ply refers to the number of individual yarns used as a strand. Single ply fabric is woven from one, individual yarn; 2-ply fabric is made from yarns that are twisted together and then woven. If 2-ply yarn is used, the finished construction will have twice the thread count of the same construction made from single ply yarn. 2-ply yarn must be made from a very high yarn size (like 100) or they will feel thick and heavy.

Another important consideration is fiber. Sheets may be made from various cottons, various cotton blends, polyester, or other man-made fibers. Cotton/polyester blends outsell cotton sheets largely because they wrinkle less and cost less. Be sure the read the label to determine the amount of cotton in the sheets. It may say Egyptian or Pima cotton (high quality, soft, strong types of cotton), but contain only a small percentage of it.


Detroit Free Press. http://www.freep.com/.
The Linen Place www.linenplace.com/