The higher the thread count ≠ the higher the quality of the sheets.

If you google the word ‘thread count’, you will find yourself reading about the truth behind thread counts and how the numbers are being strategically displayed to customers like yourself. Honestly, thread count isn’t the most important thing to consider when buying a new bedsheet set, as the breathability of bedsheet comes down to what the sheet is made from – Cotton or Linen. If the number of thread count really matters to you, then it is important that you understand how they are being calculated so as to make an informed decision when you shop for new bedding sets.

 

How is thread count calculated?

 

Thread count (sometimes abbreviated “TC”)  simply refers to the number of threads woven horizontally (“weft”) and vertically (“warp”) into a square inch of fabric. Yes, one square inch of fabric. Therefore, 140 warp threads woven with 120 weft threads produce a thread count of 260.

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The number of thread count is also affected by whether a bedsheet is woven using single-ply or multi-ply yarns (multiple threads twisted together to create a single thread). Sometimes extra threads are woven into the weft threads to bump up the thread count. This is how some bedsheets ended up having thread counts in the thousands.

Multi-ply yarns are also used to inflate the number of thread count. For example, sheets with 720 thread count may only have 120 horizontal threads and 120 verticle threads. But multi-ply yarns are used whereby 3 threads are twisted together and thus, it becomes three times as many thread counts (240 x 3 =720 thread count). In this case, weaker or lower quality cotton fibers are usually used to twist together to form one stronger thread. They are actually less durable than sheets made of single-ply cotton.

Lesson learnt: A bedding set with nearly 1000 thread counts doesn’t mean is it of equal higher quality.

 

What is the ideal thread count for bedding?

 

A good range would be 200 to 400 thread count per inch², whereby 200 is adequate while 400 feels softer. Let’s take into consideration that most weavers consider the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is about 500 to 600 thread count.

 

Thread count Conversion: per inch² vs per 10cm²

 

There are two systems for measuring threads – Metric and Imperial measurement. In metric countries like Singapore, thread count is commonly presented in 10cm² to customers. This is mostly due to marketing reasons, as it gives the sheets a higher thread count compared to the Imperial measurement (per inch²)

 

Let’s take for example:

If you must choose between

Option #1: $200 bedsheet with 500TC per inch²

Option #2: $200 bedsheet with 500TC per 10cm²

(assuming they are both made from the same fabric, 100% Cotton)

Immediately, you would think that both options are of the same thread count and you’ll just need to consider other factors, such as the design.

 

Well, stop right there and take a minute to look at the measurements.

If you chose Option #2, you’re actually paying the same amount for lesser thread count.

 

Let’s do the math together:

Assuming that for this 500TC per 10cm² bedsheet there are 250TC each, in the weft and warp of a 10cm² fabric

10cm² = 3.16cm x 3.16cm

Therefore, in every 3.16cm of weft and warp, there are 250 thread count

3.16cm = 250 thread count

1cm = 250/3.16

= 79.11 thread count

 

To compare the two options accurately, we should convert Option #2 unit of measurement from per 10cm² to per inch².

1 inch = 2.54 cm

In this case, 1 inch = 79.11 x 2.54

= 201 thread count (rounded up)

Therefore, in a 1 inch² fabric = 201 + 201

= 402 thread count

Therefore, 500TC per 10 cm² is equivalent to 402TC per inch².

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Now, let’s put things into better perspective:

Option #1: $200 bedsheet with 500TC per inch²

Option #2: $200 bedsheet with 500TC per 10cm² = 402TC per inch²

What was 500 thread count is actually 402 thread count. If you had bought Option #2, you will be paying $200 for 402TC instead of what you initially thought it was; 500 thread counts.