I don’t know about you, but I suspect that, like me, you don’t want to pay $400.00 or more for one sheet. I do know that, also like me, you want a soft, easy to care for sheet which launders well and lasts a long time. Here is how to buy them.
First of all, you must understand that thread count doesn’t really mean much in determining what is a good quality sheet, or which sheet will be softer than another. Please pay attention here; this could save you a lot of money.
This applies to any woven fabric: cotton, silk, bamboo, linen or blends. Each one of these has particular properties. Next column I’ll talk about that.
Fibers are spun to form one long strand which is called a thread. Two threads twisted together is called a 2-ply thread. Think of unraveling a piece of yarn; did you get two or three or four threads? If four threads are twisted together, it is called 4-ply.
Now let’s weave that 2-ply ‘yarn’ into cloth. If we use 100 pieces of yarn per inch, we have used 200 threads (2 threads per piece of yarn). This is often referred to as 200 thread count. If we used 50 pieces of 4-ply yarn (4 threads per piece of yarn), we would have the same number of threads (200), but there would be fewer pieces of yarn (50) per inch.
Some sheet companies will use the 4-ply thread, 50 pieces per inch and say it is 200 thread count. These sheets will be a looser weave than the 2-ply and probably the spaces between the threads will be quite visible. Some will insist that this is 50 thread count but because there are no regulations about this, the thread count doesn’t tell you what you need to know. And to compound the problem, some companies add thin weft threads, (called pick threads), to up the thread count. 2-ply, 400 thread count will give you a silky sheet. I’ve read that thread count higher than 400 is redundant and probably the result of picks threads.
Long fibers make silkier, stronger, threads. The higher the quality of the cotton fiber, the longer the fiber. The longer the thread, the better it is suited to making high-quality 2-ply yarn. Egyptian cotton (identifiable on the package by a black triangle around a white ball) produces the longest threads, with American Pima cotton coming in a close second.
So you see that ply is what counts, and only companies using high-quality, 2-ply yarn tend to list it. If you find one that does, it’s probably a very high-quality sheet.
Fabulous sheets: Locally, go see Ginny at Victorian Impressions in downtown Salmon Arm. She knows a lot about them, and she sells beautiful sheets at reasonable prices.
Online: St. Geneve. They aren’t online for purchases, but you can look at their catalogue, and then order through one of the near-by stores. Their products are amazing. Simply amazing.
Tonic Living: I’ve not used their linens, but their cushions are amazingly priced and wonderful quality. They carry the Sarah Richardson line of linen.