What defines good quality bed linen? Does a high thread count mean the quality is better? Well the answer is a little complex!
Thread count is the number of threads per 10x10cm square of fabric. Different weave types require different thread counts to produce the desired finished product. For example, a percale weave would require a lower thread count than that of a sateen weave. This is because a percale is a plain weave structure. A 250 thread count percale is considered a good quality fabric, if you were to increase the warp/weft threads, then the fabric could become stiff and board-like.
In contrast, a sateen weave is a warp faced weave structure that can be made up of a higher density of warp threads resulting in a smooth, soft and silky finish. Thread counts for a sateen can vary from 300-1000 thread count. Does this then mean that 1000 thread count is the most luxurious quality?
The true indicator of quality is the yarn itself, long staple combed cotton fibres make for good quality fabrics. Long staple yarns such as pure Egyptian cotton will result in a softer, more durable fabric at lower thread counts. A 200 thread count fabric made with quality yarns will feel softer than a 400 thread count sheet made from inferior quality yarns.
Consider too that 100% linen launders well and is luxurious to sleep in. Linen is not classified by thread count and the fibres unique thermo-properties make for a fabric that’s exquisitely cool in summer and warm in winter. Linen is long lasting and tends to get softer and more luxurious over time with washing and ironing.
Things to consider when buying linen:
- The quality of the cotton and the way in which the threads are woven
- Personal preference, a percale fabric has a cool and crisp feel which ‘breathes’ so its perfect for the hot summer weather. A sateen has a silkier, warmer feel with a lustrous finish.
- Special features/embellishments such as embroidery, ladderstitch or cording/trim.