Behind the Thread Count

We all hear the term "thread count" talked about a lot when it comes to bedding, but what does it all really mean? And does a higher thread count actually equal a better quality product?

Thread count refers to the total number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch.

Many bedding companies market thread count as an important factor for consumers to consider when purchasing sheets. The age-old saying "the bigger the thread count, the more luxurious the sheets," became a way for companies to increase profits without increasing the quality of their product. But speak to any textile expert and they'll tell you it's a dishonest marketing tactic. As Pat Slaven, textile expert at Consumer Reports says, “Now you see 1,000 thread count sheets but you just can’t get that many threads on a loom.”

It is physically impossible to fit more than 800 threads in a square inch, so how is it that companies are selling 1000, 1500, or even 1800 thread count sheets?

In order to understand better, let’s break down the process of how cotton and bamboo become a fabric.

Cotton Fibers

The type of cotton and where it grows affects the length of the cotton fiber. For example, the Nile River Valley has some of the most fertile soil in the world. Cotton grown there will have longer, stronger, and more plush fibers. 

At Tegreh, we have searched to find, not only high quality cotton fibers but also extra long stable fibers, ensuring the superior quality.

Creating Yarn

The staple fibers are spun together to create yarn. As Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Shannon Maher, explains, "Longer fiber is ideal, because when you spin the yarn, it gives it strength, which means less pilling."

Extra-Long Staple Fibers

Bamboo fibers are generally longer than, sometimes three times longer than cotton fibers. However, when made into yarn, bamboo provides a smoother surface and produces a smoother woven or knitted textile.

The length of the fiber means that the cloth woven from it has fewer ends. This makes a softer fabric because there is a greater area of smoother fiber sides than tips. Bamboo fabric is therefore more comfortable as it has longer fibers, and short fibers are uncommon.

Furthermore, bamboo fibers resist pilling - or entanglement - because the fibers are long, smooth and do not easily fray. They also have a much lower rate of spirality - or uneven loops in the weave - for the same reasons, meaning that there are fewer pattern and shape distortions in the weave that cause a rough feel. Bamboo fabrics also have a greater GSM, or weight, for the same reasons, which contribute to its durability without affecting its softness.

Generally speaking, this all makes bamboo more comfortable than cotton, even after long use and many washings. Often times you will find bamboo getting softer with each wash.

All this is not to say that all cotton linens are bad or that they don’t have their place. We have searched to offer high quality cotton products many of them are GOTS certified 100% organic with long staple cotton. Cotton linens are also more affordable and it can be tempting to look for the least expensive items. You will see other companies selling towels, sheets and all types of linens for a very cheap price. We know it’s possible to find sheets for under 30.00. these are usually cheaper cottons or lower thread counts (or inflated, high thread counts) Remember… you get what you pay for.

How 400 Becomes 1200 Thread Count

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Multi-ply yarn is made by twisting two or three strands of thread together. Manufacturers often do this for two reasons; to inflate the thread count or to use weaker threads made from cheaper cottons. Although the discounted price tag of some sheets might be appealing, they tend to yield heavier fabrics, coarser surfaces, and less breathability.

Why a Lower Thread Count Can Mean Higher Breathability.

The higher the thread count, the more tightly woven and stiffer your bedding becomes. Any thread count higher than 800 results in a thick fabric with little breathability, making airflow almost non-existent which is not good for our skin, especially during the warmer months.

Through testing, we've found 300 – 600 thread count to be perfect for bedding that is breathable, light, and ultra soft for the restful night's sleep you deserve.

Sateen vs. Percale

Percale Weave

Percale fabrics are made by following a one-over, one-under weaving pattern. Due to this tight-knit pattern, fabrics with this weave are matte, crisp, and have a noticeably tighter feel, which results in a coarser finish. So which weave pattern is the best? Either is great and has its benefits, it simply depends on if you prefer sleeping on softer or crisper sheets.

Weaves

Sateen Weave

Sateen fabrics are made by following a three-over, one-under weaving pattern. If you look very closely at sateen fabrics, you will notice a diagonal pattern. Sateen is usually made with thicker yarn and creates a heavier – but silkier – fabric. 

Check out our wide selection of sheets, towels and lounge wear in both Cotton and Bamboo, and decide which is best for you. But get them quick because the linens at Tegreh are selling out fast!

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