‘THREAD BARE’ – Why thread count is not the only marker for quality.

You’ve invested in a great bed with a comfortable mattress to go with it. And you’re ready to provide the finishing touches to what should become the best nights sleep you’ve ever had – the bedding.

But what makes an insatiably comfortable set of bedding?  

In fact, How many of you reading have heard about thread count and that a higher thread count means better quality? A fair number of you we would imagine!

Thread count has become a popular predictor in the quest for the softest, most sumptuous bed linen. But contrary to popular belief, thread count has nothing to do with a fabric’s breathability, comfort, or softness.

A 200-thread count sheet could be softer and more breathable than a 1000 thread count sheet. And there are many factors that can affect this. length of the yarn and quality of the fabric on the 1000 thread count sheet may be inferior to the 200- thread sheet.

Confused? We don’t blame you.

Some brands use thread count as a marketing ploy and to take maximum advantage of the general belief that higher thread count equals better quality.  With this in mind, these brands prefer to “jam” in as many threads as they can to increase the thread count.

These threads are usually short, stubbly and clog up the fabric just for the sake of it. The shorter threads used in a higher thread count sheet are prone to pilling and don’t feel as soft when you run your hand across the fabric.  Remember that feeling? We most certainly do!

Before we go into the attributes that make up the bed fabric, here’s an example of how it is impossible to define these characteristics by the thread count number alone.

Breathability comes down to what the sheet is made from.

A sheet made from cotton would have more breathability than a sheet made from polyester even if they were the same thread count. Softness and comfort also rely on the type of yarn, rather than its quantity. A 100% bamboo fibre sheet is much softer and slippery than a 100% cotton sheet even if they are the same thread count.

It is the mix of several attributes that determine and create the best quality fabric. 

Here are a few:

  1. Starting fibre

Fibres are spun into yarns.  And the longer the fibres are, the fewer ends that will stick up, resulting in a smoother feeling fabric. The longer the fibres, the better the cotton produced. Long fibres with fine properties are best because these can be woven into genuine high thread counts, creating unmistakable feel and luxurious quality.

Without the correct starting fibre, a true high thread count cannot be woven or manufactured.

Here are a few differenct types of cottons and their lengths.

Levant cotton
Native to southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (less than 2%).

American Upland
This strand of cotton ranges from 22mm - 33mm

Extra Long Staple Cotton
This strand of cotton ranges from 31.5mm - 40mm
Pima Cotton - 34mm
Supima Cotton - 34 -38mm
Egyptian Cotton - 31.5mm - 36mm
Giza 45 - 36mm - 48mm

  1. Thread count


"Liesdamned lies, and statistics" - Benjamin Disraeli

The ideal thread count for your sheets depends entirely on the type of sheets you are going to buy. This is because the meaning of thread count is simply the number of threads that fill a certain area of your sheet. Therefore, the finer the material your sheet is made from the higher thread count can be.

Thread count in terms of the European standard is defined as the number of threads that occupy one square inch. While in Australia it is more common to use 10 square centimetres.

Read the next sentence carefully!

The lack of an international standard means that even sheets with the exact same thread density can be labelled as having different thread counts.

As you can see from the above image there can only be a certain number of threads that can fit into the defined area. So, the idea that thread counts can go up to some of the huge numbers you see on some packaging doesn’t make sense.

Why do so many sheets have thread counts with such high numbers?

Over many years of marketing thread count has been highly associated with being a mark of quality.

Many sheet companies have used this loose understanding of thread count by trying to promote the idea that the higher the number the better bed sheets are (and more expensive).

And as the average consumer has no easy way to measure thread count, they are at the mercy of the retailer’s honesty when declaring their products thread count.

Just because a certain number of threads can fit in a defined area does not necessarily mean it is a good thing. For example, linen is a very high-quality fabric, but can have a thread count as low as 50. Its thread count is only low because of the way that the fabric is woven to provide its looser weave and finish.

  1. Workmanship and Weave

The weave of a fabric does not contribute to a better or worse fabric, so the question “Which is better?” does not apply. It is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer a flat plain weave, while others prefer a silkier finish.

The way in which fabric is woven also influences its feel. Cotton sateen sheets, for example, are softer than those with a classic linen weave. A satin weave has more warp threads on the top surface, resulting in a silk-like touch and appealing lustre.

Plain Weave

A traditional one yarn over, one yarn under, method.

Percale (Our cool and crisp option!)

A percale is woven the same way as a plain weave; however, it is constructed using a high-quality weave with a true thread count of 225 (per sq.10cm) or more.  The appearance is flat with a matte to semi-matte look. The finer the yarn and higher the thread count the more natural lustre you will see in the fabric.

Sateen (Our warm and silky option!)

A sateen weave is one vertical thread woven for every four horizontal threads. This type of weave produces a fabric with a lustrous look and satin feel. Generally made from an exceptionally fine yarn and has a higher thread count. Woven with more left threads on the surface, the construction of the weave is generally four yarns over, one yarn under.

nyte thread count and weave

The Italians are reputedly the world’s best weavers and are selective about using the best quality yarn.

nyte use Supima® cotton which has longer fibre lengths on average compared to standard Egyptian cotton. Our Supima® comes in either Percale with a thread count of 210 or Sateen with a thread count of 300.

Compared to regular cotton, Supima® cotton is twice as strong, inherently softer, and longer lasting. Grown exclusively in the USA on approximately 500 family-owned farms, great care is taken to preserve the health of the soil and conserve the water that nourishes it. Less than 1% of the world’s cotton qualifies as Supima® cotton.

We have transparency and quality at the heart of our supply chain providing you with the ultimate product, luxury hotel at home, Supima® cotton bed sheets.

So, you see, in the case of thread count, more is certainly not always better. Choosing the right bedding for you is often about personal preference.  By taking other factors into account, you can make the most informed decision when looking to create your best nyte!

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