The Myth of the Thread Count

The Myth of the Thread Count

Posted by Wilet Home on

One of the questions we get most often from our customers is “what is the thread count of your sheets?” This is because, due to some clever marketing, high thread count has come to be associated with quality, durability, and luxury. The trouble, of course, is that none of that is necessarily true. More importantly, linen is not measured by thread count, but rather, by weight. 
Below, we have tried to debunk the myth of the thread count as the ultimate measure of quality, and give you some more reasons to consider linen bedding as a superior alternative to 100% cotton, bamboo, and sateen.



Thread count is the number of threads contained in one square inch of fabric, including both the length (warp) and width (weft) threads. The thread count is the number of threads counted along two sides (up and across) of the square inch, added together. Pretty simple, right? Well, in reality, the amount of thread that can fit into a square inch of fabric is limited, and thread count over 400 has likely been subject to some creative counting. As bedding expert Julian Tomchin told The New York Times, “once you get beyond 400 threads per square inch, be suspicious.”
One way to get that number up is to factor in a fabric’s ply (the number of strands twisted together in each thread). Some manufacturers count each of these strands individually, therefore significantly increasing the “thread count”. In some instances, manufacturers choose to use thinner threads in order to increase the nominal thread count and create the illusion of a superior product, when in fact, such threads produce a product with a much shorter life span. 



Thread count is a fairly new concept, having been introduced two decades ago by some ambitious bedding manufacturers to market “1,000-plus” thread count sheets in order to gain a competitive advantage. Soon after, competitors followed suit and so the myth of the thread count was born. 
There is no federal or provincial law in Canada regulating the determination of thread count in various fabrics, and the industry standards simply counts the number of threads used, regardless of ply. Various consumer testing agencies have repeatedly confirmed that higher thread count does not guarantee better bedding and, in some cases, higher thread count results in stiff, stifling, and uncomfortable sheets. All to say that "thread count" is really just marketing jargon, and should not be relied upon as indicator of quality. 



Now, back to linen, and why we don’t rely on thread counts. Linen fibre is derived from the middle of the flax plant; therefore linen fibres are inherently thicker than bolls from the cotton plant. This is one of the reasons why pure linen will have a lower thread count than cotton, despite being considerably better quality.    
So if not thread count, then how is the quality of pure linen measured? The standard measurement  for linen is g/m2 (or GSM) and this denotes the fabric's weight in grams per meter squared. Our bedding is approximately 170 GSM, making it soft to the touch, light, and airy for a comfortable yet cozy sleep.
Now that you’re in-the-know about the myth of thread count, you can go forth and enjoy the far superior linen bedding of your dreams.

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