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Holy Lamb Organics

The Truth About Thread Counts and Quality Sheets September 29 2016

Does higher thread count determine quality?

In the previous century, sheets with a 180 thread count were an incredible luxury.  “Now you see 1,000 thread count sheets - but you just can’t get that many threads on a loom,” says Pat Slaven, a textile expert at Consumer Reports.

Lets dive in to the issue to understand where these numbers come from and what else to consider when weighing quality.

Here at Holy Lamb Organics we've done a great deal of research to learn which threads go best with our bedding, and we'd like to share what we've learned with you.

There are four qualities to consider when searching for your perfect sheets.

Weave, Finish, Fiber Quality, and Thread Count


1. Weave Style

The weave is the pattern of vertical (warp) threads and horizontal (weft) threads that make up a cloth. This pattern will affect how the cloth physically feels, visually appears, and its longevity. This choice is personal and will reflect your needs.


  • Percale woven cotton is cool, crisp, durable, and long-lasting. 
  • Sateen woven cotton creates a soft, smooth, and luxurious feel with an elegant sheen on one side and a subtle matte finish on the other.
  • Jersey is a knit - an economical, stretchy, warm, and soft fabric.
  • Flannel is plain woven and then the surface is brushed, resulting in the cozy feeling of the fabric. Compare flannels by their weight not their thread count - ours stack up at a warm 6oz. 
  • Our Linen is plain woven (like the picture above) for a light airy drape. Linen is more breathable than cotton but also more insulating

2. Type of Finish

Most sheets on the market are chemically or mechanically treated to keep them from wrinkling or shrinking, or to alter how they feel.

Examples of these finish treatments include:

  • Mercerization: This strips off the outer layer of the fiber, giving the fabric a sheen. While the fabric can more easily absorb a rich depth of color, this process weakens the durability of the fabric.
  • Wrinkle resistance: This involves a resin treatment that reduces the need for ironing after washing. Watch-out! These treatments can be problematic to those who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. 
  • Shrinkage control: This process minimizes shrinkage but may make your sheets slightly less soft and diminish the breath-ability factor that allows us to stay cool while sleeping.

Why is this important? Selecting sheets by how they first feel in the store can often be misleading. Some manufacturers add hand enhancers, such as silicone softeners, that wash out after the first laundry cycle. That soft feeling could also be masking a treatment that weakens your sheets or affects your health.

What about our sheets? Certified Organic Cotton is NEVER chemically finished. Our sheets are GOTS certified so you can rest assured of their purity from field to you. They are minimally processed, with no fancy finishing treatments, to keep the integrity of the strong organic cotton fiber. Why would you want to remove that?

    3. Fiber Quality

    Speaking of strong cotton fibers, high quality cotton fabric is made of longer cotton fibers which are naturally stronger and softer. These long fibers, or Extra-Long Staples (ELS) are "single-ply" strands that will always result in lower thread counts. Our sheets use ELS cotton fibers to ensure you have the best sheets.

    Did you catch that? longer fibers = lower thread count = higher quality

    4. Thread Count

    Finally! You probably thought we'd never get here. Let's dig in....

      Thread count is literally how many horizontal (weft) and vertical (warp) threads cross in an inch. Depending on the weave structure, there are only so many threads you can physically fit on the loom. 

      Consumer Reports confirmed that among "100-percent-cotton percale sheets in [their] tests, some had a thread count of 400, but the highest-rated sheet had a thread count of 280." More does not equal better in this case. 

      Lets explore several ways that the thread count could soar:

      • Thread Thickness - if you use thinner, less durable thread, you can fit more threads on the loom. This method does not increase comfort and can significantly decrease the strength and therefore the lifespan of your sheets.
      • Count Thread Ply - instead of weaving with single strong Extra Long Staple threads, you can twist lower quality threads together into 2, 3, or even 4 ply threads.

        If you count the ply rather than the thread you can multiply the actual thread count.

        Who wouldn't be confused, if companies use two different methods of reporting thread count - one accepted and one a little misleading. Not to mention those plied threads lead to rougher fabric because you can feel the ridges of the ply.
      • Picks - this method is traditionally used to create decorative patterns in woven fabric. Extra threads run along the weft creating patterns independent of the main weave pattern. When used to increase thread count, the "pick" is just a second thread paired with the main thread. It does not add a pattern. If filler picks are used excessively, they can strain the warp threads and weaken the overall fabric


        Final Thoughts: 

        Our sheets? No filler here!

        Our Sateen, Percale, Linen, and Fleece sheets are woven simply with the strongest fibers and a suitable weave. Rather than compare thread counts, remember the bigger picture and be careful you are not distracted by artificial finishes. At Holy Lamb Organics, you are getting the best quality sheets that will long outlast any 1200 thread count sheet on the market! 

        And don't forget, natural fibers are more breathable, and our sheets are certified GOTS organic - they are better for the planet and for you! When the distractions are removed, you are really left with one choice, how do you want your sheets to feel?


        Explore our certified organic all-natural sheets





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