Things you need to know before buying sheets
What Is Thread Count in Sheets?
Thread count is simply the sum of the warp (lengthwise) and weft (widthwise) woven together in one squire inch of fabric. In general the higher that number, (thread count) the better the fabric. But in our days, I have to say that thread count has almost nothing to do with the fabric quality and became only of a marketing tool.
Around 20 years ago, Textiles Mills around the World would use one type of quality yarns woven in the same exact process, so whomever achieved higher thread count in those days, did in fact achieved better quality fabric.
In our days, things have changed dramatically. As technology advanced, what was not possible for the older generation of textile manufacturers became available for this one. Lower quality fiber which was not used in making T250 sheets for example, now were able to be use even in up to T300. Weaving looms were updated as well to able to weave fabric in many methods and speeds.
To simplify things, a 300 Thread count sheets made with quality yarn from quality fiber, woven in an authentic weave can well be of much better quality than a T500 or even higher. Does thread count is sheets still means quality to you?
What is Cotton Quality or Yarn Quality?
Quality of the fiber used in spinning the yarns can be of the most important in sheets making. Longer fiber such as Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton can produce much better yarns than other cotton which lacks such fiber. Combing is additional process in which Raw cotton is blended and cleaned from short fiber. Fibers of 1.25 to 2 inches in length are of Egyptian cotton while 7/8 of an inch for those of Pima cotton. The longer the fiber, the better, stronger & smoother fabric can be constructed.
What are the weaving processes?
The way in which the fabric is woven has very important effect on the finished fabric. The old traditional weave, plain weave or percale weave is one process in which the fabric is woven in one over one. It produces much stronger fabric but also limits the ultimate thread count which can be archived to 400 thread count.
Sateen weave or satin is the weave in which the fabric is woven in four over one; it means four yarn acts as if they were one. In this weave most of the yarns would be on the top surface of the fabric, resulting in silky smooth touch. In this weave higher thread count can be archived, even up to 1000 thread count per squire inch.
Just as the previous steps were effects by the advanced technology, weaving also received its share. The term insertions started to be used, the more insertions used in weaving a fabric the lesser quality it will get. For example a T400 woven with one pick insertion can be of much better weave of a T1000 woven with 10 pick insertions. It means 10 yarns were being inserted into the fabric from the weft (widthwise) as if they were one single yarn, creating a thicker heavier fabric as a result of the yarn build up.