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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, textile expert at Consumer Reports. Lets dive in to the issue to learn where these numbers come from and what else to consider when shopping for quality bedding. 

Weave

The weave is the pattern of vertical (warp) threads and horizontal (weft) threads that make up a fabric. 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 fabric. Economical, stretchy, warm, and soft.
  • Flannel is plain woven. The surface is brushed to create a cozy feel. Compare flannels by weight, not thread count.
  • Linen is plain woven for a light, airy drape. Linen is more breathable than cotton, but more insulating

Finish

Most sheets on the market are chemically or mechanically treated to prevent wrinkling or shrinkage, or to alter how they feel. Examples include:

  • Mercerization - Strips off the outer layer of the fiber, giving the fabric a sheen. While this allows the fabric to more easily absorb a rich depth of color, it weakens the durability of the fabric.
  • Wrinkle resistance - This involves a resin treatment that reduces the need for ironing after washing. These treatments can be problematic to those who suffer from chemical sensitivities. 
  • Shrinkage control - This process minimizes shrinkage but may make your sheets slightly less soft and diminishes the breathability that allows us to stay cool while sleeping.

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

About our sheets. All the sheets we sell are GOTS certified, so you can rest assured of their purity from the field to you. Certified-organic cotton is never chemically treated. The sheets are minimally processed, with no artificial finishing treatments, to keep the integrity of the strong organic cotton fiber.

    Fiber Quality

    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 for the best quality. Longer fibers = lower thread count = higher quality.

    Thread Count

      Thread count is simply how many horizontal (weft) and vertical (warp) threads cross in a square 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 lifespan of your sheets.
      • Count Thread Ply - Instead of weaving with strong single-ply Extra Long Staple threads, lower quality threads are twisted 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 bit misleading. Also, 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. When used to increase thread count, the "pick" is simply 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 Sateen, Percale, Linen, and Flannel sheets are woven simply with the strongest fibers and a suitable weave. Rather than compare thread counts, remember the bigger picture and don't be 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. Natural fibers are more breathable, and our sheets are certified GOTS organic. Better for the planet and for you. 

      References

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/11/04/thread-count-does-not-matter_n_6121180.html
      http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/09/higher-thread-count-doesn-t-guarantee-better-sheets/index.htm
      http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/04/q-a-when-buying-sheets-does-thread-count-matter/index.htm
      http://www.seattletimes.com/life/some-sheets-have-inflated-thread-count/
      https://www.coyuchi.com/the-naturalista/thread_count/

         


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