Having good quality bedding is vital to having full, restful nights of
sleep. We spend one third of our lifetime in bed making the
bedding you buy an invaluable purchase. Because of this,
investing a bit of time and money into your new set of bed linens is
critical to getting the best bedding for you. When you start shopping
for new sheets, pillow cases, mattresses and doonas, you might come
across terms that you are unfamiliar with which is why we have created
this guide to help you in your search.
The thread count in sheets simply refers to the number of threads in a single square inch. The threads counted include the lengthwise (warp) threads and the widthwise (weft) threads. For example, if you were to have 200 warp threads and 200 weft threads, you would have a thread count of 400. To get a higher thread count, manufacturers use very fine thread that will result in a higher number. What this means for you as a consumer is you will get a much softer, more luxurious and lighter fabric overall.
To get an idea of what different thread counts feel like, consider that a thread count of 150 produces muslin which is a rougher feel than other fabrics – it is definitely not soft and silky. Good quality sheets start around 180 for thread count, while anything between 200 and 400 thread counts are considered the highest quality. There are sheets that have a thread count of 400 or more, but you have to be careful with these as the fabric will be much finer and might wear quicker overtime. You will also end up paying a much higher price tag for these sheets even though they don't represent the best value for money.
When researching sheets and thread counts, you might also come across the terms “single ply” and “multi-ply”. Multi-ply refers to two or more fibres being twisted together to create a thread. In the past, some manufacturers counted each fibre as a single thread, making the overall thread count go up. Because of this, consumers are reluctant to buy multi-ply sheets which is why single-ply has become the more popular option in recent years. When you are purchasing new sheets, keep in mind that the thread count does not mean anything unless it is constructed with good quality material. Generally speaking, the longer the fibres (staples) of the thread, the better the quality of the fabric will be.
We've listed below the most common types of fabrics used in the construction of cotton sheets:
Muslin is at the low end of quality cotton sheets with a thread count of 128 – 140. Muslin is most commonly used for children’s character bedding.
Flannel is a blend of cottons and is not actually measured in thread count. Instead, flannel is measured in ounces of material per square yard of fabric, with the higher number of ounces considered better quality.
Percale is a much softer, smoother and more tightly woven fabric than muslin. Percale comes in either 100% cotton or a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend. The thread count ranges from 180 – 200.
Sateen has a more lustrous look and softer feel which is due to more yarn surface on the face of the fabric as a result of the way it is weaved.
Jacquard refers to the construction of the sheets. With a jacquard weave, different coloured threads are woven together to create a design or pattern that will never fade.
Pima has a very soft, silky finish that is similar to Egyptian cotton. Pima is only grown in the US, Australia and Peru and has a thread count of 200 – 300. You can also find “Supima” which is 100% cotton only grown in Arizona, USA. Supima stands for “super Pima” which is incredibly soft and luxurious.
Egyptian cotton is perhaps the most recognized of all cotton sheets. It is a long staple cotton grown only in Egypt. It is one of the strongest, softest and most lustrous of all cottons produced. Thread counts for Egyptian cotton are 200 and above.
Bed sizes vary from country to country. Below is a basic guide of mattress size names and the corresponding US, UK and Australian sizes.
Bed Size Name
|Twin/Single||91cm x 191cm||99cm x 191cm||91cm x 191cm|
|Full/Double||137cm x 191cm||137cm x 191cm||137cm x 191cm|
|152cm x 203cm||152cm x 203cm||152cm x 198cm|
Super King (UK)
|183cm x 203cm||198cm x 203cm||183cm x 198cm|