The Truth about Counting Threads

Prior to Discounters entering the market, we retailers depended on “thread counts” to help tell our linen stories. Thread count simply means the number of threads per square inch. The higher the thread count, the higher the quality. Makes sense, right?

But Discounters began using several, innovative manufacturing methods in order to legally advertise high thread count sheets at a low cost. One way they do this is by layering one inferior ply on top of another, which doubles the thread count, but also results in a stiff and uncomfortable sheet. (Also called a double ply sheet as opposed to a single ply sheet). Another trick used is weaving short, brittle strands of cotton and squeezing all they can into each square inch.

Then there are manufacturers who count threads that run both weft and warp, (sideways and up and down), instead of counting the number of threads that run in the same direction. So one manufacturer’s 200 thread count sheet can easily become another’s 400 thread count sheet. Further, since Italy has become synonymous with high quality weaving, some Manufacturers are resorting to importing cotton from third world countries and sewing it in Italy to be able to claim that their product is not just a high thread count, but “Made in Italy”, too! No wonder consumers are confused!

However, comparing thread counts on truly fine linens continues to be helpful in determining quality levels.

In the meantime, many manufacturers are now opting to “lose count”; choosing instead to extoll the virtues of quality cotton. We retailers, in turn, have likewise ‘gone back to school’ so that we can further educate consumers, too.

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