When considering cotton sheets, you should consider more than just thread count. Thread count is a measure of the number of yarns woven into one square inch of fabric. Thread count is important, but is only one part of the story. The quality of a sheet is determined by other key components as well, but it all starts with the quality of the fiber itself and the yarn from which it is made.
One of the world’s finest cotton is grown in Egypt. Egyptian cotton is renowned because it yields a long-staple cotton. The quality of the yarn is largely a function of the length of the staple or cotton fiber. This is because long-staple cotton can be spun into a smoother, stronger, much finer yarn so that it is possible to weave more threads per inch into the fabric resulting in a higher thread count. Many inferior, short-staple cotton yarns can be jammed into a square inch to create a higher thread count, but the resulting fabric can feel heavy and coarse–compared to a soft fine hand of an Egyptian or Pima cotton.
Pima Cotton is another fine cotton. Both Egyptian Cotton and Pima Cotton are made from premium cottons known for softness and luxury. Pima Cotton is an extra long staple cotton grown mainly in the southwestern U.S. These fibers are woven into a softer and more durable fabric than shorter cotton yarns. Pima Cotton is also known as Supima Cotton (which is a brand name).
After the finest cotton has been selected, spun and woven into cloth of the very best quality, the process doesn’t stop there. Finishing it can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product. Attention to detail continues into the fabric finishing and sewing which can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product.
Most all cotton sheets are mercerized-a process that helps plump the fibers, giving the fabric greater luster. When using a state of the art finishing process, it will bring out the subtle sheen of a sateen, the softest nap of cotton, the richest longest-lasting colors and enhances both the feel of the fabric and the quality of the weave.
When purchasing a luxurious Egyptian Cotton or Pima (Supima) Cotton sheet, you will notice the difference from a sheet claiming to be a high thread count. Again, the true quality of a cotton sheet is how it is grown, it’s construction and finishing process. Many sellers of sheets may claim on their packaging that it is a high thread count, Egyptian cotton, etc., beware of the small print as there are products with false labeling in the marketplace. In the small print, you will see that it states “feels like Egyptian Cotton “ and list a high thread count but in most cases, it is an all polyester product – not cotton.
Remember, you get what you pay for and when you pay a little more for your cotton sheets you get a much better quality!