Do you think the definition of luxurious bedding is a high thread count? Then think again. While thread count is a consideration, there are other important features to measure comfort, quality and value: the type of cotton, the hand or feel of the fabric, and the nature of the finishing.
What is thread count?
It is simply a measure of how many threads – warp (lengthwise) and weft (width wise) – are woven into one square inch of fabric. The thread count of ‘standard' cotton or muslin is around 150; good quality sheets start at 180-thread count, and a count of 200 and higher is considered percale.
Thread count also has to do with the yarn construction and quality of the yarn. With finer threads, like those produced with Egyptian cotton, more can be woven into each square inch, producing finer, softer, more flexible fabric.
Don’t count on thread count alone
When it comes to sheets you love to touch the softness depends also on the quality of the fibre, which is why a 200-thread-count fine cotton sheet can have a soft hand.
Fine linens begin with fine cotton, and the quality of the cotton depends on the lengths of the individual fibres, or staples – the longer the staple, the better the cotton. Longer staples can be combed finer to remove more small fibres, allowing the cotton to be spun into a finer-textured thread with more tensile strength, and woven into a softer, more lustrous fabric.
Once you have established that you have the very best cotton, what’s next? Finishing processes have a lot to do with the way the bedding feels. Yves Delorme takes extra care to remove treatments used during waving. This finishing process not only helps reduce wrinkling, it maintains the clarity or brightness of the colour by preserving the cellulose core of the cotton and gives the fabric a smooth hand and silk, shimmering look.
The way in which fabric is woven also has an effect on its feel – cotton sateen sheets, for example, are softer than those with a classic linen weave. A sateen weave has more warp threads on the top surface, resulting in a silk-like touch and appealing lustre. Which is better? It’s a matter of personal taste; some people prefer the crispness of a linen weave, others like the softness of sateen.
While some may tout thread count as the best way to choose bed linens, those in the know, know better. The quality of the cotton and the way a sheet will feel on your body is what matters most for a good night’s sleep.