The Truth About Thread Count

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What is the Best Thread Count and Why Don't my Egyptian Cotton Sheets or Sheet Set feel as soft as the Thread Count listed on the package? Thread Count is the number of threads per square inch in the woven fabric of your Egyptian Cotton or Pure Cotton Bedding most commonly used for Sheet Sets, Duvet Sets and other specialty Bedding made for the U.S. Bed Sizes of King, California King, Queen, Full and Twin. Are Highest Thread Counts really the best when choosing a new Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set? These are questions most companies simply don't want you to know or ask.Thread Count, and its determination, is actually one of the biggest and most confusing issues today for consumers. While Consumer Reports has done an excellent job of monitoring Bedding products and trends, certain specifics have remained unanswered. Did you know Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set and Duvet Sets imports from other countries don't necessarily meet or uphold the same Thread Count standards as the U.S.? Are you aware that many either Falsify Thread Counts or intentionally Mislead Consumers as to the actual Thread Count of their Egyptian Cotton Bedding and products? Did you know that there is in fact a vast difference in how manufacturers are determining Thread Count for Egyptian Cotton and Pure Cotton Sheets, Duvets and Bedding? Manufacturers from many countries such as Egypt, China, Portugal, India and others are standardly using 2-ply or multiple-ply threads up to 4-ply, claiming the Thread Count of their Egyptian Cotton Sheets and Duvets to be double to quadruple what we consider to be the true value in in the U.S. And, while this may seem trivial on the surface level, the impact is substantial in the quality of product you're receiving. Rather than using one single-ply, Long Yarn Egyptian Cotton or Pure Cotton fiber of excellence, the cheapest  fibers are instead twisted together to create a longer "thread." You may even be surprised to learn that nearly all sets from other countries, and a significant number of domestic sets from smaller domestic "mills" utilize this practice in their manufacturing. This is the reason that a multitude of supposedly "high thread count" sets have appeared at such extremely low prices-the manufacturing cost involved is very low, based on the inexpensive fibers and poor-quality manufacturing. Why do manufacturers utilize these methods, and why is their such an increase in Inflated or even False Thread Counts for Egyptian Cotton Sheets and Cotton Bedding? The answer is quite simple: it all amounts to lower production costs.

So what does this mean to you as a consumer? For starters, it means that your new set you thought was , say,  "1000" TC is most likely truly only 250TC to 500TC. Worse yet,  it will most likely feel and wear like lesser quality than a domestic 180TC set. "But why?," you will probably want to know. "you just said the  lowest true thread count my new set could be is 250TC-so is must   be better than a standard 180TC set."  Well, we're sorry to say but that's unfortunately not the case, and here's why: in addition to the actual thread count, other key components include quality of manufacture and   also length and quality of the actual fiber. Twisting causes a compromised base resulting in weaker weave, a rougher surface and far less longevity. Most large or national manufacturers use single yarns and, although the thread counts typically stay in the 180-250 range, the single-ply threads used are going to last longer than two threads twisted or tied together. Even though the actual thread count may be lower, use of single yarns typically means that your set is going to have a far superior feel and last much longer. 

Odds are high that you, yourself, have purchased a multiple-ply import set, like most in the U.S. So how can these sets affect you, and is it really that bad? "I can buy 3 or 4 sets for the price of one," you might say, "isn't that better than investing in one set." It is very true that you can purchase several cheaper sets rather than investing in a good set. Unfortunately, what most consumers don't realize at the time is that frequent set replacement usually turns into loss by year's end. An excellent set is designed to last years, while cheaper sets are usually worn through in less than 365. And, if you have any similarities to our customers we speak with daily, you've probably replaced set after set, thinking each time that you're upgrading with what you believe to be a higher thread count than your previous purchase.  You may even be baffled as to why your recently-purchased set seemed to last such a short period of time, or why it began to pill after two washings. In fact, if you're like many of our new customers, this  may well be the reason you're shopping for new linens right this minute. 

Our Specialty bedding linens are the world's finest, with every set expertly comprised of top-grade, single-ply, Long-Yarn, pure Egyptian Cotton. No shortcuts, no modifications, simply the finest products made utilizing the best methods, knowledge and talent of the world's most exquisite weavers. Shop with us and experience why our customers return to us, on average, at least four to six times per year. We hope you join us, at least once this year. 

So how do I choose a good Sheet Set, or know what the best Sheets are, in what has become an increasingly confusing marketplace? For starters, understand that Thread Count is not the only determination in choosing a good Sheet Set. Many times, in fact, Sheets reflecting what appear to be High Thread Counts can often fall amongst the lowest range. Believe it or not, Thread Count can be one of the final factors to consider, not the first. There are many factors, the most basic beginning with fiber content. What's your set made of? Make sure the set you're considering is made entirely of Cotton, if possible. The best sets are made of Egyptian Cotton or Pima Cotton, with Egyptian Cotton considered the supreme natural fiber. So "why not silk, or polyester,?" you might ask. Silks are an excellent fiber, providing wonderful softness, smoothness and drape. Pure Silk is exceptionally soft however can be a fragile material, and can be difficult to launder. Silk blends, as can be found in certain sheet sets, can be a nice blended addition, providing additional smoothness. They often feel luxurious right out of the package but tend to be far less durable, particularly with repeated washings. When laundered incorrectly, or on too high of a temperature, they're easily ruined. Silk can also stain easier, tear or be less durable if caught in the washing machine. The addition of a silk set to your regularly used bedding may work well for you, but isn't recommended for daily use bif you're seeking longevity and durability. Polyester, on the other hand, is a very durable fabric. In fact, nothing outshines man-made polyester in terms of durability, and it has been frequently used as a blend in Sheet Sets until recent years. Polyester doesn't tear easily, requires little care, and drastically reduces wrinkling. Many sheets produced in the 60's, 70's and 80's were comprised of either mainly polyester or a polyester blend. Polyester was frequently blended with cottons, due to its wrinkle-reduction abilities. The key problem with polyester however is that it simply doesn't breathe. This, in turn, reduces moisture wick that is essential to a good night's sleep. During the night, your body will naturally release moisture, which is in turn wicked away by all-natural fibers such as pure Cotton. The only all-natural fiber to provide this excellent breathability and moisture wick is 100% Egyptian Cotton, 100% Pima Cotton.or 100% Pure Cotton.

Egyptian Cotton is the most superior of the Cottons, the most expensive, and currently the most popular for use in Sheet Sets and Duvets. There are however different grades and lengths, and the term Egyptian Cotton on packaging can be misleading. Until recently, use of Egyptian Cotton in bedding such as Sheet Sets, Duvet Cover Sets, Comforters and Coverlets has been extremely rare due to the expensive nature of the fibers. More recently, however, much of the bedding industry has been inundated with items marked Egyptian Cotton. Manufacturers have found a way around expense, by utilizing discard grade or short yarns. Because of this, bedding made of Egyptian Cotton no longer means that you're necessarily purchasing a top-quality item. In fact, the majority of sheet sets are now made with Egyptian Cotton, with the bulk of which are junk. Nearly all the sets you'll find are made of extremely short fibers. Fiber length is crucial in determining the quality and longevity of your new sheets, but a difficult factor to decipher as a consumer. These short fibers cause roughnesss, pilling or have surface balling, and result in extremely poor wear. So how do you know the fiber length of the set you're purchasing? Fiber length is not typically marked or notated on the package, at least not in terms of a numerical notation. Rarely, some manufacturers will specify that their product is Long-Yarn, at least providing the consumer some insight as to fiber length. Unfortunately this is a tricky area, as “Long Yarn” means simply that the fibers used are longer than the norm of short fibers. A good starting point of ruling out short fiber sets is to review the package or speak with the manufacturer about ply. Any reference to the product containing a multiple ply, such as 2-ply or 4-ply, is your immediate tip-off that the item you are reviewing is usually comprised of shorter fibers. Because ply involves twisting threads together in order to create a long fiber, you'll logically know that the necessity of fibers being twisted together to create length means that the fibers used are fairly short. Review the package or text carefully, as this notation can be buried in the fine print. Look for any notation that states 2-ply, which means 2 fibers have been twisted together, or 4-ply, meaning 4 fibers have been twisted together. This information is not always hidden. Some manufacturers, in fact, boldly place it in clear view on the package. With knowledge that most consumers are unaware of what ply actually refers to, some manufacturers attempt to insinuate that “bigger is better," hoping consumers will be impressed by larger numbers. Knowing full well that there is confusion surrounding the term of ply, some manufacturers believe consumers will be impressed by the bold listing of this number in phrases such as “this sheet set is woven of 4-ply yarns.” Consumers in the know realize that this actually means that the 1000TC Sheet Set they're reviewing is only 250TC. For manufacturers that do state their bedding products as Long-Yarn, test their knowledge wherever possible. To review, Long-Yarn is a relative term and refers only to the yarns used being longer than short yarns. Whenever possible, talk with the manufacturer or company to inquire about fiber length. Few manufacturers will be familiar with this information but those who are are generally capalbe of providing a better product. If the manufacturer is not familiar with fiber length or ply, you can be assured that the product you are receiving is most likely a standard one, not amongst the top tier.

Know the company reputation of the Sheets, Duvet Set or Bedding from which you are purchasing. While this may seem insignificant, it holds far more relevance than most consumers initially realize. Understand that in-store retail sets are designed to appeal to the masses, and tend to fall into the category of standard quality sets. Because most retail stores operate according to a theory of volume, product knowledge is not going to be as highly specialized in areas where the goal is volume of units sold. Prices may seem appealing. Be aware that, in nearly all situations, high-end sets are simply not available at traditional retailers or mainstream shopping venues. Additionally, know that retailers offering many different varieties of items are not going to be bedding specialists. Don't expect them to be. It's simply not their focus, so don't be disappointed or have expectations that simply aren't going to be met. If the retailer you're considering offers a range of non-bedding items, don't expect them to possess extensive knowledge about the sheet set you're considering. There are many online retailers, most of whom carry similar or identical standard sets as can be found in stores. Again, realize that there are standard retailers, and there are specialists. Do not expect to receive the same level of knowledge and service from a standard retailer as from a specialist. If you can, scan the company's product description for references or links to where they've been featured. Or, type the company name into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, accompanied by the type of product you're seeking. Find out what others have to say about the company or its specialization of products whenever possible, whether this is in the form of feedback, reviews or referring non-biased sites. For companies that specialize in a variety of products other than bedding, never accept the company's general reputation. You'll find that companies that handle a range of non-bedding products typically have a very different reputation for their bedding items than that of their other products. A catalogue that offers a fantastic grill may not offer the most superior bedding, often the case. Do some quick research to see customer feedbacks, or outside posts or links to sites that are often found in search engines. If a company is truly great in their specialization, you will find reference to their products from outside sites, articles or publications, or non-biased references.  

Check whether the claims of a company actually make logical sense. Does the company have non-biased Press articles or rankings, not simply paid ads? You'll see information for online sellers that boasting the “best luxury sheets” or “highest thread count” and all the while claim to be Bedding or “Luxury” Stores. Do a bit of quick research, and you'll find nearly zero reference to nearly every one of them. Ask the company where its products have been featured through magazine, newspaper or internet articles. Save yourself some serious time by weeding out the majority of false and inflated claims that are simply a time-waster. We live in a world of “bests” and the truly best products are featured through non-biased journalism. If a retailer makes claims to offer the “finest” then ask the company where they've been featured, to provide you simple information to substantiate its claim. No related articles or features? Then you can come to your own logical conclusion as to whether they're the best. When a company is top in its industry, people want to hear about it, and journalists cover it. If the seller mentions features, ask whether they're non-biased journalistic features or placed advertisements. There is a large difference. Any company can pay to advertise in nearly any publication, whereas actual articles and publications are entirely non-biased and the only true indicator in checking reputation.

What is the company's knowledge of its Bedding products, or does it really have any knowledge in this area at all? There's just no way around this one. When you're surrounded by a sea of “best,” “softest” and “luxury,” it pays to find out how much the company really knows about its products. Pose a few simple questions, and you can have a world of insight in just moments. To be frank, most companies don't have the slightest idea what they're talking about and you'll often get the runaround. In fact, ask the right questions and you'll probably get some long pauses, vagueness followed by silence, rounded out with a few “I'm not sures”. This is your investment. Does the company provide a phone number? Don't be afraid to call. No number, then why not? Are you not worth their time? Does the company provide knowledgeable Product Specialists? If no, then why not? If a company is truly an expert and top in its field, then why do they not have extensive knowledge about their products or are unable to provide this type of service? If you have a contact phone number, use the enclosed Checklist at the end of this article, to help you ask the most important questions and find out what the company really knows about its products. If the company is good, you'll get responses to your questions and maybe more. Possibly even additional information you may not have thought to ask. You'll also get thorough answers to your questions, not a runaround or vague responses. Don't get the answers you asked, or need? Then maybe it isn't the company or product for you. If a company doesn't know its products, then how is it so sure its products are the “best” ?

Can the company provide you with concise, detailed and clear information about its Sheets, Duvet Sets and Bedding? It's easy to provide one-lines sentences that tout an item as the best and you'll find those statements everywhere. Obviously very few products do actually fall into the top tier of being “the best” and yet we're surrounded by those statements. So which bedding products truly are the best? How do choose the best sheet set, duvet or blanket? And how do you weed out the remainder? It's easy to make claims, especially when only a few sentences are provided about a product. If the company provides information, pay attention to its depth and detail. This generally give you a good idea as to how intimate a company is with its products. A specialist is going to provide you with a good amount of information about the product, that's yours for the taking, if you want it. Not just a line or two about material and colors available. On the other hand, a company unfamiliar or only generally familiar with its products won't take the time. Not every description will answer all of the questions you may have. Which is why it's important to speak with a knowledgeable staff member, should you choose. But it's also important to have some solid insight into a product from the get-go. If the description is short or extremely lacking, there's probably a reason.

Understand that the best Sheets, Duvets, Bedding and Fine Linens are not going to be found in standard department stores or mainstream retailers . Department stores and general retailers are designed for the mass consumer, and are generally going to be able to offer merchandise which will appeal to the public as a whole, at appealing prices, and with goods that can be manufactured in volume to supply large quantities. This is not to say that department store merchandise is poor, but be aware that high-end bedding will not be found in those locations. Department stores do not have the ability to offer specialized bedding, and are appealing to mass appeal. The selection will not be the same, nor will quality as is available through a specialist. Because it is essential to such stores to able to provide merchandise at an appealing price point to consumers, most often decisions for offered merchandise is going to be based on what type of pricing the store can obtain to pass on to the consumer. With a wide range of goods, stores such as this are unable to specialize in any particular arena.

Top brand names in fashion do not necessarily translate to top Bedding. In fact, we dare you to find even one. Many brand names of clothing have occasionally been surfacing into the home goods sector, with some very mixed results. Most depend on consumers to see them as top in an area, based on their brand name in the fashion world. But understand that the clothing brand you love does not necessarily translate to the most superior bedding. In fact, it can often be quite the opposite. Large-scale clothing manufacturers typically work in high volume for garments they're producing, with the same occurring for manufactured bedding products. As with any manufacturer, bedding products may be outsourced to the cheapest country of manufacture or labor and often are. The next time you're in a department store, read the label and feel the product you've been eyeing. Removing the label from your mind and viewing the product objectively, you may be very surprised. If the brand was not associated with this product, what would you think of it? Does it feel phenomenal, or so-so? Does it feel different, match, or feel less than standard bedding you've purchased? Importantly, look for the place of manufacture. Does it list locales such as India, China or Portugal? While some bedding made in these locales is standard quality, consumers often find this is not the case. In regions where large volumes are manufactured, at high rates of speed, quality will be negatively affected. And in some locales, affected drastically. What is the listed ply of the set, or is the ply even listed? What is the true Thread Count, keeping in mind its relation to ply? Is the set 2-ply or 4-ply? Keep in mind that 2-ply or 4-ply reduces the thread count by 50% to even 25% of the Thread Count listed. These are all factors to consider. Don't immediately assume that big brand names in clothing produce the highest quality bedding.

Understand that prices that appear “too good to be true” usually are, and are often related to "seconds" or inferior quality merchandise. This is not to say that the most expensive bedding is necessarily the best purchase. The best purchases are based on knowledgeable decisions, not price. But understand that price can provide great information as to the quality of bedding you're purchasing. The cheaper the cost of manufacture, and the less labor involved in a bedding product, means a lower price for the consumer. While, at face value, this can seem like a fantastic deal, know that the opposite can really hold true. Cheaper quality manufacture offers less quality, less durability, less life. If you have to purchase the same set five times over during the year, are you really getting a better deal, or are you actually paying more?

Know that “Discounters” hold close ties to the concept of volume and usually deal in 'Seconds' and Irregular items. We all love to get a deal. What most discounters don't or won't reveal is that, most times, merchandise is not simply overstock or colors or styles from a past season. Often you will find, in the mix, what are known as “seconds,” “irregular” or cull items. First-quality bedding is that which matches the manufacturer's guidelines concerning areas such as stitch, bolt cut and dimension, flawlessness and inspection, etc. Those items that carry flaws or do not pass the inspection process are considered “seconds” or marked “irregular.” Often these items can appear through channels as overstock, or excess of an item that did not sell during the regular season. Many manufacturers mark the packages properly as “irregular” items and sell these items to Discounters at deeply discounted prices. Often, however, items slip through with traditional packaging that is not stamped as “irregular,” yet consumers discover major issues after purchase. These might range from major stitching flaws to improper fitted sheet fit, crooked hem, inadequate and incorrect dimensions, surface flaws in the Egyptian Cotton, to a range of serious issues. There are also some discounters and major discount chains, whom claim the regular retail price of their bedding to be extremely high, in order to make their discounted price appear as such as so deeply discounted.

Yarn-dyed Sheets, Duvet Sets and Specialty Bedding, a rarity worth the investment. Yarn-dyed bedding refers to the yarns being expertly dyed before the actual weaving process. A more time-consuming process, yarn-dyeing is used in the best bedding items and helps provide better color retention and accuracy. Vat-dyed sheets and bedding is far more common, where the products are dyed after the weaving process. Texture and regularity of dye can be drastically affected with the cheaper vat-dye process although it is most common. The highest quality bedding items are always yarn-dyed, laundering better and holding far superior color retention without stiffness or compromised fibers. Whenever possible, check with the manufacturer or company if the method is not listed in the description. Italian Egyptian Cotton Sheets, Duvet Sets and Bedding Sets are yarn-dyed.

When packaging truly makes a difference : buying a complete Sheet or Duvet Set . Whenever possible, purchase your new Sheet Set or Duvet Comforter Cover Set as an entire set and not as separate pieces. Purchasing your new Sheets or Duvet Set as an entire packaged set helps ensure that the pieces you are receiving will be from the same dye lot. Fabric material or finished articles are dyed in lots, with pieces packaged together coming from the same dye lot in the same timeframe. When pieces are sold separately, the assurance of pieces coming from the same dye lot are minimized as they can arrive at separate times and have been dyed in separate lots. The variations are typically minimal, though can be more pronounced. Purchasing in pre-packaged complete sets ensures the pieces you are receiving have been dyed together.

Take the responsibility to continue educating yourself about Specialty Bedding before and after your purchase: join chat rooms and forums. Don't just take our word for it, because we'd like you to share your own. We believe that sharing experiences to be vital. We're passionate about what we do, and can give you everything we have to offer. But we can't make up for the thousands of customers who can give you firsthand insight into their thoughts, feelings, experiences and personal knowledge. Please visit us at to learn more about bedding, to hear what consumers such as you have to say about their experiences, and talk freely about home and interior decorating, tips for bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens or any room in your house. Venus Rising Limited, the only open forum for exclusive specialty bedding and linens.

So what does this information mean to you as a consumer? There are so many factors and so many Thread Counts available, "How do I choose the Best Thread Count, and does a High Thread Count really mean I'm buying the best Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set or Duvet Set available?"   What do misleading Thread Count numbers mean to you as a consumer? How will it impact you that the majority of import sets are listing falsified numbers? For starters, it means that your new Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set you thought was " 1000TC " is more accurately only 250TC or in a best-case scenario 500TC. But don't stop there, because that's not accurate either. It's actually lower than both of those numbers, because there's another factor that must be taken into account: your " 1000TC " set, that is really only 250TC will most likely feel and wear worse than a domestic 180TC set. "But how could that be?," you're asking. "You just said the lowest true thread count my new set could be is 250TC, so is must be better than a standard 180TC set." Well, we're sorry to say but that's unfortunately not the case, and here's why: in addition to the actual thread count, other key components include quality of manufacture and also length and quality of the actual fiber being used. Twisting causes a compromised base, resulting in weaker weave, far rougher surface, reduced sheen, gaps and far less longevity. Some large manufacturers producing good quality linens use single yarns and, although the thread counts typically stay in the 180-250 range, those Sheet Sets that use single-ply threads used will far outshine tthose created with two threads twisted together. For the few manufacturers still going to the expense of utilizing single fibers, there has been far more of a move of major manufacturers shifting production to outside countries such as China, India and Egypt in particular. If it's made in Egypt, it must be good, right? Since Egypt is where Egyptian Cotton is grown, it only stands to reason that the best Sheets would also come from there, correct? Wrong. Just because the best fibers are grown in a locale, this does not mean the best products are produced in that same locale. In fact, it's widely known to be quite the opposite on the whole. To put it kindly, Egypt, China and India are not widely talked about in terms of offering the finest weaving methods. In fact, quite the opposite. And China and India are known to put great pressure on volume not quality. Though quality of manufacture varies according to the actual manufacturer, these regions are well known to produce some of the cheapest Sheets available. Even though the actual Thread Count may be lower, use of single, long-yarn Cotton or Egyptian Cotton yarns means your set is going to have a far superior feel. And it's going to last longer, much longer. If you've purchased Sheets in the last two years, you've probably purchased a multiple-ply set. You may not have even known it. It may, or may not, have been printed on the package. And, if it was, you-like nearly every other consumer-probably had no idea what Ply was referring to. In fact, you're probably wondering how this even affects you and saying to yourself, "how bad can it be ?" You might even think, "I can buy three or four sets for the price of one, and isn't that better than investing in one set ?" And the answer is, very simply, no. Use any of those sets consistently and you're not going to be seeing them for long. It's true, you can purchase several cheaper sets rather than investing in a good set. Unfortunately, what most consumers don't realize is that frequent set replacement can, and will, turn into a loss by year's end. You may be so used ot replacing your sets out of necessity, that you may not even think about it. It may not occur to you that you've been picking up a new set every several months. An excellent set is designed to last years, while cheaper sets are usually worn through in less than 365. And, if you have any similarity to our customers we speak with daily, you've probably replaced Sheet Set after Sheet Set, thinking each time that you're upgrading with what you believe to be a higher thread count than your previous purchase. You may even be baffled as to why your recently-purchased set seemed to last such a short period of time, or why it began to pill and get surface balling after only a wash or two. In fact, if you're like many of our new customers, this may well be the reason you're shopping for new linens right this minute. Our Specialty bedding linens are the world's finest, with every set expertly comprised of top-grade, single-ply, Long-Yarn, pure Egyptian Cotton. No shortcuts, no modifications, simply the finest products made utilizing the best methods, knowledge and talent of the world's most exquisite weavers. Shop with us and experience why our customers return to us, on average, at least four to six times per year. We hope you join us, at least once this year. Call us at 1-877-42-VENUS or visit or join us now at



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