It's time to address the thread count madness. Everyone is trying to grab your attention with ever higher thread counts, but is that what really matters when you're buying bed linen? Absolutely not. In fact, it could be the opposite.
First of all, what is a thread count?
Thread count refers to the number of threads or strands per square inch of fabric, counting horizontal and vertical threads. It indicates how tightly woven the fabric is.
When thinking about the best thread count for sheets, it’s important to remember an age-old saying: quality over quantity. The quality of the yarns or threads used is often more important than the quantity of threads, or thread count.
Here is some advice (in 4 short points) based on our extensive experience for over 17 years with 5-star hotels and interior designers, i.e. with the serious linen professionals.
Point 1: Let's eliminate anything below 300 thread count (the yarns are too thick to provide the smoothness we must expect from good quality linen).
Point 2: Above 300 thread count, what matters is not the highest thread count at all, but rather the quality of the yarn itself because you can only weave really great linen with good long staple yarns. What most brands don't tell you is that to reduce their costs, they use lots of short (read: cheap) yarns to make up a longer thread by joining up these short and rather inadequate yarns, and this obviously leads to pilling and bobbling which you will notice after a few nights.
Alternatively, because a 'thread' is actually made up of two or three fibres, they are counted 2 or 3 times. So low quality threads claiming to be 600 or 900 are actually lower in quality than a 300 thread count made from individual fibres.
This is how they get to "fake high thread counts", so do not be fooled by big claims about low priced-high thread count: this should be a red flag. You will be cheated out of your hard-earned cash.
Point 3: Pay attention to the feel of the fabric on the top side but also on the underside of the linen you are contemplating buying - the underside will reveal how well woven it is and how tight the weave is. Pay attention to the stitching which reveals the manufacturer's attention to detail and pride in their product which - you guessed it - will translate in better or lesser yarns too.
Point 4: Choose the best weave for you: satin or percale depending on whether you like your linen light, matte and cool (percale) or soft and silky (satin). Only then do you choose your thread count.
You are better off with a fantastic 300 thread count than a poorly made 800 or 1000 thread count. The highest thread count you can get from high quality individual long staple fibres is 300. This will ensure long lasting, immaculately feeling bed linen. Also, remember that a higher thread count will lead to a weightier linen - which might not be what you are looking for either.
At London & Avalon, we keep things simple. We offer the best-selling Island Collection which is a 300 thread count percale weave - using individual long staple fibres of 100% Egyptian Cotton. No ifs, no buts. It gets better with each wash, and independent laundry engineers have guaranteed it will last in mint condition for 250-300 washes. That's not to say it won't last longer, but nearly 6 years of weekly bed changes and continuous use is not a bad start!
If you prefer your bed linen to have a soft and silky (but not shiny) feel, choose our TC500 Heritage Collection. With the same guarantee of longevity, we reach this number but taking 2 sets of 250 individual long staple fibres and finely twisting them together to reach 500. We can achieve this because of the quality of the fibres we use...no short weak yarns tied and twisted together here!
So don't fall for the marketing myths, and companies who give you a choice of sheeting in 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 1000 etc. Ask yourselves why they're doing that. Simplicity is good.
We hope that this will help your decision-making next time you have to buy new linen, but if you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.