For years you’ve heard that high thread count equals high-quality sheets. Some claim that more threads mean smoother sheets due to smaller gaps between yarns, or more threads mean stronger sheets. And sometimes, that’s true. For example, all things equal, a 100% cotton sheet between 250–400 thread count will be softer, smoother, and stronger than one with 100-200 thread count. But what about thread counts that climb as high as 1,000? It turns out that determining the quality of sheets depends on so much more than easily manipulated thread counts.
Down for the Count
For nearly 80 years we’ve created extraordinary linens, world renowned for their quality and comfort. And we’ve never fallen prey to the thread count hype. We knew then what was important for making quality sheets, and we still do.
Because we design, manufacture, and weave our own products, we run thread count tests frequently, as a quality check of our own sheets as well as that of our competitors. We take a square inch of fabric and count the number of individual threads running vertically and horizontally, by hand, one-by-one. It’s hard and time-consuming work, but it’s important.
What we’ve learned from years of counting hundreds of thousands of threads, is that some manufacturers are boosting their thread count numbers without increasing quality, often charging more for low-quality sheeting.
It’s Actually the Thread That Counts
The main way companies boost thread counts is by using multi-ply yarns—that is, yarns made up of more than one individual thread. So, a single thread suddenly gets counted 2, 3, even 4 times, but those threads aren’t 2-4 times stronger. In fact, they are often less durable and less comfortable because multi-ply is typically made by twisting lower quality yarns together.
But single-ply isn’t the only quality indicator—better threads are made with combed and ring-spun cotton. Combed Cotton is a process that removes shorter threads and strengthens cotton fibers before they are twisted into yarns. Ring-Spun describes an innovative technique for spinning cotton fibers into a single yarn. Other spinning or twisting methods result in rougher, weaker yarns.
The Beauty of Sateen
While thread count doesn’t really matter, the way that threads are woven together does. Most bed sheets are woven with a percale or sateen weave. Percale is a basic, straightforward weave where vertical warp threads and horizontal weft threads are woven one-over, one-under, whereas a sateen weave has vertical warp threads floating over multiple weft threads. The result is fabric that is smoother to the touch, more lustrous, and more elegant.
Start Strong, Finish Stronger
Once a fabric is woven it goes through a process called “finishing.” This includes a variety of techniques, including chemical and mechanical, that improve the look, performance, or feeling of the fabric. Our textile experts choose the optimal finishing processes to elevate the comfort and durability of our fabrics to achieve desired product benefits and performance. It’s this expertise and attention to detail that makes us a trusted partner to luxury hotels around the world.
Trust Your Skin
At the end of the day, comfort and durability are most important. And that’s what sets us apart from the rest. While other companies buy pre-made bolts of linens, we start from scratch.
When we design a new product, we decide what experience we want to deliver—softness, breathability, durability, etc. From there, we formulate the optimal single-ply yarn made from ring-spun, combed cotton, and use a sateen weaving technique to meet our goal of balancing comfort, quality, and durability. After that we cut, sew, and finish the product in our own facilities to ensure the highest possible level of quality and performance.
We have some of the world’s most experienced textile experts, scientists and engineers on our team, but their advice is quite simple: “Trust your feelings.” It’s not about a price tag, or a magic number of threads, it’s all about how the fabric feels against your skin. Buy sheets that keep delivering a luxurious experience wash after wash. Find and fall in love with the products that help you get a more refreshing night of sleep. Surround yourself with the comfort you deserve.