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OK, Thanksgiving is over.  Were your guests comfortable?  What about those new sheets you purchased for your guest room?  Or maybe you passed on Thanksgiving and are looking forward to hosting your family for Christmas and are busy getting that guest room just right for your loved ones.

Hmmm..  If you are like most folks you are leaning toward those high thread-count sheets; the higher the thread count, the better. Right?  Not So Right.  I’m going to let you in on a trade secret that will help your select quality linens —–  ‘Thread Count’ is not what we should be looking for.

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What follows is a quick primer on linens, courtesy of Eastern Accents, one of my go-to-sources for luxurious bedding for my clients.

What affects the quality of luxury sheeting?

  • The first and most important factor is the type of cotton used.  Egyptian cotton has the longest staple, usually about three inches long. A staple is what you pull from a ball of cotton. Shorter staple cottons can result in yarns that break and fabrics that pill.
  • The cotton is then spun into continuous yarn. High quality spinning produces yarn that can be woven into strong, pill resistant fabric.
  • The yarns are woven into sheeting, usually percale (crisp) or sateen (shiny and silky).
  • The last step is finishing.  This process entails using a substance or mixture of substances added to the woven fabric to render certain properties; i.e. smoothness, drape, and luster.

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Why Egyptian Cotton?

  • Egyptian cotton is considered the best because it produces the longest, smoothest threads of any of the types of cotton. Egyptian cotton is less likely to produce lint or pilling, and the more it is used and washed, the softer it will get.

Types of Weaves 

Plain – better known as Percale
The plain weave is the simplest of all weaves, a simple over and under, alternating each thread, to make a “checkerboard” pattern. It is also the strongest of the basic weaves because the yarns are tightly interlaced.

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Satin Can be Cotton, Silk, Poly, Wool, anything called Satin or Sateen…….

The surface of satin weave cloth is almost made up entirely of warp or filling floats (The float is the portion of the yarn that you see, which extends over two or more threads).  While the highest thread counts are made with this weave, the resulting fabric weighs a little more than what can be achieved with plain weaves. It is very pleasing to the eye, and may have a simple, smooth lustrous appearance, or have patterns woven into it.  Sateen is a particular style of satin weave.

Thread Count
Thread count is a measure of how many threads are in a square inch of fabric.  Thread count is the most insignificant measure of quality in a fabric. The quality of the fiber used to make the thread is far more important than the thread count of the fabric. To make high thread count fabrics, thread must be spun very fine in order to fit a lot into a square inch.

The more threads there are in a square inch of bed linen, the heavier the product will be, not better or softer.

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So when you go shopping for those special linens, ask yourself if you are looking for crisp, silky smooth, lightweight or heavy. Don’t reach for and pay the extra price for a linen based on thread count.  Now you know!

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