The Simple Facts About Thread Count In SheetsAugust 26, 2018
Bed sheet thread count is the actual number of threads or yarn strands in one square inch of fabric.
Generally, a higher thread count produces a correspondingly higher fabric quality. The best bed sheets have a thread count that is achieved by weaving the same number of threads in both the length (warp) direction and the width (weft) direction. This is a balanced weave which is commonly referred to as percale.
The best sheets have a thread count that totals 500 woven with 250 threads in the length direction and 250 threads in the width direction. Thomas Lee’s PerfectCale® bed linens are made this way.
In recent years, most American retailers offer bed sheets made with an inferior sateen weave. Sateen bed sheets are produced by weaving four threads over one. This weaving method makes fabric four times faster, thus four times cheaper, than the traditional percale or balanced weaving method. A sateen weave is a cheap way of achieving a high thread count. Most people complain that a sateen sheet pills after a few launderings and quickly becomes limp or raggy feeling. This is because the four threads that float on the fabric surface are easily abraded and break apart. Sateen bed sheets should be avoided.
Some high thread count bed sheets are made with yarn that has been plied together before weaving. This questionable practice is an overstatement of actual thread count. The United States Federal Trade Commission has opined that this is a deceptive marketing tactic intended to mislead consumers by overstating actual thread count. Bed sheets advertised with a thread count of 1000 are made by using poor quality yarn that has been plied together four times. The actual thread count is 250.
Any bed sheet that claims a thread count greater than 500 is either a sateen weave or made with plied yarns. Both should be avoided.