THREAD COUNT

Is thread count a measure of quality?

Thread count is a term that is often used in connection with the designation of fabric quality. Thread count (TC) indicates the number of threads per inch (2.54 cm) of a woven fabric.

In recent years, thread count has become a very popular quality indicator, especially for bed linen, but it is misleading as TC/thread count alone is not critical to bed linen quality. Lack of international standards concerning TC allows fabrics with exactly the same thread count to be labelled very differently – and this can make it difficult to understand a product’s actual quality. At Georg Jensen Damask we have therefore decided to establish the following basic parameters as criteria for quality: Quality of fibre, quality of yarn, dyeing, weaving method, finishing and thread count.

1. Quality of fibre (Egyptian cotton, cotton and linen)

2. Quality of yarn

3. Dyeing

4. Weaving principle

5. Finishing/mercerising

6. Thread count

1. Quality of fibre

The quality of plant fibres such as cotton depends on fibre length and fineness. The longer the fibres, the stronger and finer the yarn. Egyptian cotton has the longest cotton fibres. The fibre length of Egyptian cotton is between 30 to 50 mm. Georg Jensen Damask uses Egyptian cotton for tablecloths, bed linen and towels. Linen is used for tablecloths, kimonos, tea towels and dishcloths.

Linen is the epitome of a sustainable textile raw material and possesses excellent properties: it is durable, antimicrobial, heat-insulating and has a cooling effect on the body in the summer. And it is also highly moisture absorbent. In fact, the plant features some of the same characteristics that we find in wool.

2. Quality of yarn

Our fabrics are all woven from the best quality yarns, which are dyed prior to weaving in order to achieve optimum colour fastness. Yarn is a generic term for a strand of textile fibres. The construction of the yarn shows whether the product consists of single or twisted yarns. Georg Jensen Damask uses only single yarns for bed linen, which is only possible because we mainly use Egyptian cotton. A high TC derives from twisted yarns, which normally make a coarser product. Take a look at linen, for example – a quality product, but one that can have a TC as low as 50. The reason for this is that the individual linen yarns are stronger than cotton yarn. A high thread count is therefore not a sole indicator of quality.

3. Dyeing

Georg Jensen Damask mainly uses yarn dyeing, as this type of dyeing ensures the highest possible colour fastness and wash fastness for home textiles. However, one must be aware that even a lightfast colour will fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight.

4. Weaving principle

The damask weaving technique is characterised by dense, fine-threaded textiles. Weaving involves intertwining two thread systems at right angles, where the longitudinal threads form the warp and the transverse threads the weft. Both loom and jacquard weaving techniques can be used, where loom weaving produces simple patterns in checks and stripes, and jacquard weaving produces the sophisticated patterns and designs familiar to damask tablecloths.

Bindings are the intersections created whenever warp and weft pass each other in a pattern: There are three basic bindings – plain weave, twill weave and satin weave.
At Georg Jensen Damask, all three weaving methods are used, depending on the end product. The different bindings each enhance the optimal look of the various designs in different ways.

5. Finishing/mercerising

A variety of additional useful qualities can be added to cotton yarns and woven cotton fabrics through finishing. At Georg Jensen Damask we use mercerising, which is a permanent finishing process for cotton products.

The treatment results in a smooth, glossy look and makes the fibres stronger and more dirt-resistant.

6. Thread count

The true mark of quality is therefore not the number of threads per inch, but rather the quality of the cotton and the weave itself.