The amount of threads in fabric: the myth of good quality

A bigger amount of threads by inch doesn't necessarily mean that the sheets are better quality. Yes, more doesn't mean better.

How did this wrong idea came up?

The count of threads it's the numbers of threads there are in a square inch of fabric (you get this by adding the amount of threads in the warp and weave).

This is an index created as reference, “ceteris paribus”, meaning it works as reference if all the other factors that could influence the quality, stay the same. But this is not the case. To determine the quality of the sheets and the knitting there needs to be other factors taken into consideration. Otherwise, we'll inevitably become victims of false advertising and fine sheets to be "forged".

The "trend" of the quantity of threads started in the millennium and went from being half truth to being used as a scam endorsed by the industry to increase sells.

Actually, today we can find terrible quality sheets up to 1800 threads by square inch (hpp), made with weak threads that won't even last 2 christmases.

While it's true that the client will need a parameter to make sure they're buying something of value according to the price they're paying, this is not the only factor that should be taken into consideration if they want quality.

Besides, we need to consider other factors:

The type of construction for the knitting: The construction of the fabric determines how it'll feel on the skin, it's longevity and many times, it's pricing. 

There are those who prefer a taffeta or percale knitting, which have a more solid structure and are more "crispy" to the touch. In that type of knit, the horizontal and vertical fibres intertwine one by one, like a basket. 

Another that's very popular, which has plenty of versions, it's the Silk knitting.

In this type of construction the vertical threads go over three or more horizontal threads, this way, making a bigger platform of threads running in the same direction, fingers can run through them easier. Meaning, it gives a softer feeling. Therefore, like reflects better on the fabric's surface, resulting in a brighter fabric. 

Variety of the fabric: you must look for sheets with "extra-long" fibres. The longest fibre is ideal, because it's not necessary to twist so much to make a continues thread. But, Which one? Peruvian Pima? Egyptian? Supima?

There are many varieties of extra long fibres: Some being Egyptian (Giza being the best of all).

Having reached this point, it's important to pause and congratulate the Egyptian's government amazing initiative that was created many years ago with a guarantee and quality stamp of approval for Egyptian's cotton. However, not all Egyptian cotton has the same quality.

The American Pima is "the mother" of ours and Egyptian's cotton (Gosypus Barbadense variety).

This cotton, which name comes from a Native Indian tribe that grew it North America, was brought to America at the beginnings of the XIX century.

The plant has been adapting to the Peruvian "terruño", giving birth to a new variation very resistant to plagues and unlike American Pima, grows with some exceptionally long fibres due to the particularly climate of the Peruvian coast.

In North America, a business has dedicated itself to buy the largest and most selected fibres from Pima cotton that have grown in that country and commercialize it with the name of Supima as a commercial name (Superior Pima).

The quantity of threads are not everything: Even if a sheet has a high thread density, that can be increased by the manipulation of the spinning process, like using a short and weak fibre to make a thread with four tail ends, and considering it like four four threads! That way a knitting of 150 threads becomes one of 600 threads with a terrible quality thread.

Where and who warps the thread: As matter of fact, the knitted cotton fabric of warped threads (fabricated) in Italy, Switzerland or France, are going to be much better quality than one of 1500 threads made in Pakistan, China or India. It even might be that they don't use the longest fibres, but their knowledge and technology will make better threads and as a fact, better sheets. They are considered to be the gods of the "flat knitting" (type of fabric which is used to fabricate the sheets).

Who knits the fabric: Besides needing a good fibre and warping it to make the best cotton, there needs to be considered whom and what the next steps taken are going to be.

The fabric finish, the sheets confection. From that's where it'll depend the appearance, how it'll hold on the washings and how it'll look on the bed after these. There are fabrics that shrink too much (even though all natural fibre shrink approximately 5%). Nobody wants to see their bed with a bed linen that seems a smaller size after investing in it.

Labeling: Another serious problem used to scam most clients is labeling. Here are some examples:

  • In many countries it's legal to label "Egyptian cotton sheets" on sheets that contain as little as 10% Egyptian cotton.
  • Labels that have written in small writing "Contains" 100% Egyptian cotton. In fact, it's estimated that all Egyptian territory is not enough to cultivate all the products that brag about being Egyptian cotton. Also, as a fact, the rare times that the businessmen ask for control about the standards that the manufacturers sell to the certified labs, these can't know what variety of cotton they're working with.

It's important to read the labels very carefully.

Price: Definitely in this case, like in many others, the price and quality go in hand. Suspect of big promises at temptingly low prices.

So, What should we do to buy quality sheets?

It's not up to the clients to be "textile engineer experts" to buy their bed linen.

Appeal to the grandparents advice: Buy from someone you trust. From details and technical terms that the manufacturer must take care of.

The consumer should have to focus on the pleasant part of the shopping process: choosing if they like their sheet crunchy or soft. If they like that or another design and what colour matches their room better.

As one of the finest houses, we no longer advertise the threads, instead only if the cotton its in percala knitting (crunchy) or silk (soft and bright).

Obviously, we have the information for those who want to know it, but knowing the quantity of threads it's not the most important thing. We choose the best fabrics for our clients and they trust us.

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