Does thread count really matter?

Does thread count really count for anything? We’ve often heard that a higher thread count indicates a higher quality sheet, but that is not necessarily true. There are a number of factors to consider when buying bedding.


First, let’s define thread count. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric. Fabric is constructed of vertical threads (warp) and horizontal threads (weft), which are counted to determine the thread count.


The problem is, once the the importance of thread-count was set in consumers’ minds, manufacturers found ways to manipulate it to get higher numbers without improving the actual quality. Half a decade ago, a 180 thread count was considered luxury, but today there are 1,000 thread count sheets claiming to dominate that category. They may use thinner yards, 2-ply yarns, or even count the piles or strands that make up an individual thread, all of which can create a deceiving image of quality. So what is a reasonable thread count using traditional and genuine methods of measurement? According to Martha Stewart, 200 is a good standard. However, there are these other factors to consider when shopping for sheets, pillowcases and duvets:


1. Fiber.  100% cotton sheets are the most popular because of the material is soft, strong and easily cared for. Longer fibers also indicate better quality. Synthetic materials don’t breathe well and can you make you hot or irritate skin.

2. Weave: The weave of a linen affects the way it feels and looks, as well as how long it lasts. A percale weave is a preferable choice because it is balanced like a basket weave. Medium-weight and closely woven, it delivers a crisp and cool feel. It looks smooth and firm with no gloss and becomes even softer with laundering.

3. Location: Where the materials come from or the bedding is constructed can make a difference. Cotton imported from countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal will likely be higher quality than from China or Pakistan. These European countries specialize in sheet-making.

4. Finish: Some sheets can fool customers even to the touch by applying synthetic finishes that claim to be “wrinkle-free” or “shrinkage-resistant.” Proper care can guard against wrinkles without the use of chemicals.


We found that Marimekko bedding fits all of these requirements for fantastic everyday bed linens. Both the sheet and duvet sets are made in Portugal from 200-thread-count, 100% cotton percale, and are free from any additional finish. Dwell bedding is another a great option for those looking for quality and comfort. Also made in Portugal in a 200 thread count, the sheets are 100% combed Egyptian cotton for low-maintenance luxury.

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