What Matters When Considering Fine Fabrics

June 26, 2019

by Julia Kong

You may have just splurged on a bedding set, thinking that its high thread count justifies your purchase. However, after removing it from the package, it screams motel quality more than the Ritz Paris. Have you just been cheated? 

Probably, says an article on the Huffington Post. According to author Jimmy MacDonald, manufacturers literally thread more yarn together to inflate the number, which misleads consumers into thinking that it is of a superior quality when it is not.

Imagine: One is a 250 thread-count sheet woven with 125 vertical and 125 horizontal, single-ply threads. The second, with a 750 thread count, can consist of a similar weave, except it uses a 3-ply yarn (like a braid) to inflate the number. Therefore, some experts believe that anything with a thread count of 400 and above should be treated with suspicion.

How, then, can you discern the difference between a fine fabric and the rest?

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First, it should be noted that the thread count still matters. Anything below 180 may not be desirable — when placed against a light, you will be able to see tiny holes in the fabric. So, in this department, something between 180 and 400 is good.

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Second, you may want to consider the quality of the yarn itself. As mentioned above, some fabrics are made using yarn that have been braided together. This may create a dense textile that obstructs airflow. If this is used as bedding, it may cause the user's body to overheat, thus, inducing restlessness. As a general guideline, single ply is the best.

The other thing to consider when it comes to the yarn is the length of its cotton fibre. Without going into specifics, longer is better in this regard. Not all cotton species can be woven into long, silky yarns (i.e., long staple cotton). This is why cotton types such as Egyptian, Pima, and Supima are prized for its softness, silkiness, and durability.

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Third, a fine fabric may be identified by its origins as well. There are some who prefer textiles made of organic cotton due to the fact that it is grown without harmful insecticides and pesticides. These chemicals can reside in the threads long after the fabric has been shipped out and may cause allergies such as rashes and headaches. This may be a consideration for individuals or babies who are suffering from existing allergies.

These tips, however, are only fully applicable when selecting a fine fabric for bedding. For other purposes — curtains, sofa coverings, tablecloths, and so on — different rules for textile selection will apply as they serve other needs.

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A final consideration when selecting a bedding material is its care and maintenance. As high-quality cotton are generally expensive, it makes sense to extend its lifespan by following these guidelines:

Always use cold water to wash the fabric whenever possible and if warm water is required, ensure that the temperature does not exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Hang sheets to dry instead of using a dryer. Use oxygen bleach to remove tough stains or to brighten the fabric. And, if possible, use laundry detergents that are made for delicate fabrics.

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