Tag Archives: thread count

The Truth about Fabric Ply and Thread Count

Serta Perfect Sleeper Egyptian Cotton 310 Thread Count Sheet SetEven though thread count is no longer a super important factor in determining fabric quality, the ply of the threads used is useful to know if you do continue to rely on that number. What most people don’t realize is that some manufacturers use the ply to manipulate the thread count, and therefore, raise the price of the product.

First, let’s define our terms. What is ply, and what is thread count?

Ply signifies the number of fibers that have been wound together to produce a single thread. You can have fabrics woven with single-ply threads, two-ply threads, etc.

Thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric — the warp (vertical threads) plus the weft (horizontal threads).

Because more than one ply can make up a thread, many companies have decided to add up every single ply to determine the thread count of their fabric. So if you see a sheet set with a thread count of 800, it was probably woven with multi-ply threads that technically add up to 800 plies per square inch. However, this sheet set should be labeled by the number of actual multi-ply threads per square inch, rather than the number of individual plies. It’s what Julian Tomchin. a leading expert in the textiles industry, calls “creative counting.”

Tomchin warns consumers in a 2009 interview with the New York Times to look warily on high thread counts. “Once you get beyond 400 threads per square inch, be suspicious,” he says.

Typically, 400 threads is the highest number that will fit in a square inch. A multi-ply fabric with a thread count higher than 400 is probably made with very weak plies, which ultimately decreases the value of the material. They will break, pill, and eventually wear out much faster than a quality sheet set that is made with a thread count of 300.

Overall, a good sheet set is made with long-staple fibers — usually 100% cotton — and has been treated in a way that enhances durability and softness. The best sheets get softer with use, thanks to a quality finish.

When you shop for new sheets and you’re unfamiliar with the brand, it’s important to keep the ply in mind. Ultimately, though, it comes down to how the sheets feel to you. No matter what the thread count is, make sure that you enjoy the feel of the bedding you’re buying.


Thread Count: Does It Matter?

Malouf King 600 Thread Count Egyptian Cotton Bed Sheet SetAsk most consumers about thread count, and they’ll tell you the standard logic: the higher the thread count, the better the sheets.

While thread count is a worthy feature to keep in mind, this number alone doesn’t determine the quality of the linens you’re buying. Numerous high-end linens manufacturers, such as SFERRA and Peacock Alley, agree that quality depends on more than just the closeness of the weave. When you shop for sheets, you want to look not only for thread count, but also for the weight, the fiber, the finish, and the feel of the fabric.

The weight of the material is simply how heavy it is. Some fabrics are very light, while others can feel heavier — and this factor partly depends on the fiber used. “The finer the fiber, the finer the sheets,” says SFERRA in their “Lose Count” promotional video. Long-staple Egyptian cotton is a great material, because the length of each fiber allows it to be spun very finely, resulting in higher quality sheets.

The finish of the sheets is essentially how the fabric is treated once it is woven. This process is a large influence on the color, luster, and feel of the material. Many mass-market brands have poor finishes that come off after just one or two washes; but high-quality brands will put on a finish that makes the fabric feel more luxurious the more often you use it. This feel is ultimately the most important factor in choosing your sheets. If you enjoy the touch of the sheets, you’ll like using them.

So next time you’re in the market for new bedding, remember that while thread count still matters, it’s not the be-all and end-all when it comes to quality. Once you’ve also considered the weight, the fiber, the finish, and the feel, you’ll be able to make an educated and knowledgeable decision on the type of sheets that you want.