When it comes to distinguishing standard sheets from luxury linens, forget thread count and pay attention to textile or fabric type.
Quality linens have a lot more to do with fibers than thread count. You can have a sheet with a thread count of 1,000 made from short cotton fibers as opposed to a 400-thread-count sheet from long-staple cotton fibers that would be of better quality.
Like cars, the quality of bed linens varies. Most people understand why a Ford costs less than a Ferrari. However, the price tags on luxury bed linens, is not so simple.
What is the number one difference between that $50, 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheet sets sold at TJMaxx and those 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets selling for $900 in a boutique selling luxury linens? It’s the type of cotton used and where it was actually woven into fabric.
Thread count is the number of threads in a square inch of fabric. Threads can be single, double or even four-ply. Sometimes the threads are double-ply and twisted to create a longer strand, allowing for 300 threads to be described as 600-thread-count. Sheets woven with fibers constructed this way are less durable and lose sheen faster.
Another term tossed about when describing luxury bedding is Egyptian cotton. Everything that comes out of Egypt is called Egyptian cotton – which will include all grades of cotton from short staple to long GIZA staple cotton. The term Egyptian Cotton does not guarantee luxury linens.
Look to see what country made the fabric – most linens made in Europe where you have more skilled workers and higher standards, and where the true Egyptian long staple cotton fibers produced in the Nile River Valley, is shipped to be woven into fine linens.
Many types of linen labeled 100 percent Egyptian cotton actually are made from discarded short fibers twisted together and woven in factories in Pakistan or China. This is why so many so-called Egyptian cotton sheets have appeared on the market at low prices.
Besides thread count and fibers, the weave of fabric helps determine how sheets feel to the touch. Percale sheets are produced using a basket-style weave, yielding a smooth, matte finish, almost cold to the touch. Sateen sheets are woven with more fibers on the surface, creating a glossy, satiny look.
It basically comes down to the feel of the sheet is more important than the thread count. For crisp, cool feel, choose percale. Something a little warmer, choose sateen. It’s about personal choice.
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