You sheet snobs know who you are, so don’t look away! I am only kidding, of course, but I think that many of us have probably bought into the great “THREAD COUNT MYTH” at some point. Actually, perhaps many of us STILL believe in this common misconception. It has only just recently become recognized…. drum roll, please…. that thread count is NOT actually the primary factor in determining the quality of a sheet!
So, first things first…. what exactly does thread count even mean?! Thread count refers to the number of vertical and horizontal threads that can be found in a one-inch square of fabric. Now, this may seem like a simple concept, but in actuality, this is where the confusion about thread count originates. You see, in order to determine the true nature of a sheet’s thread count, it is necessary to break each of those threads into even smaller parts.
A factor that must be considered is the “ply” of a fabric, which refers to the number of threads twisted together to make up a single “main” thread. Typically, sheets are made up of of either single-ply or two-ply threads. Single-ply obviously means that the main threads of the fabric are comprised of only one thread each, whereas two-ply means that the main thread is actually two smaller threads entwined together. Why does this even matter? Well, it matters because a manufacturer may choose to count separately each of the smaller threads comprising every main thread! In other words, a set of sheets being advertised as 600 thread count may actually only be 300 threads comprised of two smaller threads each. And again, why do we care? We care, because twisting two threads together to make thicker threads does absolutely nothing to improve the texture or feel of the fabric. So, you may pay more for a higher thread count sheet, thinking you are getting a better quality product, when in reality, it is no better (it is perhaps even WORSE!) than another sheet being advertised with half of that same thread count. In a nutshell, since there is not a standard upholding thread count quality, judging a sheet by its thread count is often an incomplete and inaccurate gauge.
So, what factors DO affect the quality of a sheet?
The answer to that question is a very large and diverse one. However, I think most luxury sheet lovers could agree that the thickness and quality of the threads are critical components in determining fine quality linens. We learned earlier that twisting two poor quality threads together does not make a better feeling sheet. However, beginning with high quality cotton, comprised of longer fibers, allows the fibers to be combed finer, which eliminates shorter fibers and results in a softer, more luxurious sheet. In addition, combining thinner, finer quality threads creates smoother, sleeker linens.
Another factor to consider is the the type of weave or the talent of the weavers themselves. Italy is considered to be the home of many gifted weavers, thereby creating the potential for sheets of Italian origin to be of higher quality.
It is also important to consider the ways in which the linens are finished. These processes can involve a variety of techniques, including various chemical, water, and heat treatments, all of which affect the final texture of the product.
So, how do you figure all of this out when you go to the store to choose your sheets? Well, do your best to keep all of the factors I mentioned in mind when you are making your selection. However, when it’s all said and done… it’s simple. OPEN THE BAG and FEEL THEM! Sheets are a completely personal choice, and YOU are the final judge! If they feel good to you, then they are probably the winner! Resist the temptation to be swayed by the “pomp and circumstance” of supposed thread count. You now know that it could all just be a bunch of “sheet”! (HA! Couldn’t resist!).
And one final tip…. Once you find a brand of sheets that you love, stick with it! Then, you will know the quality of the product you are purchasing before you even get it home. Two of my favorite brands that I sell at Knotting Hill Interiors are Matouk and Pine Cone Hill. If you are in the area, come by and check them out for yourself. They may be just the delicious sheets you have been searching for!
NOW, GO HAVE AN “It’s So Fabulous!” WEEK-END!