Thread Count Meaning

Most home textile products have a thread count listed on the product description.  Typically the higher the number, the better the quality of fabric. For instance, a 180 thread count sheet is of good quality, but a 300 thread count sheet has a much better feel and hand.

 Let’s define what a thread is - A slender, strong strand, string or cord, especially one designed for sewing or other needlework.  Most threads are made by plying and twisting yarns.  A wide variety of thread types are in use today, e.g. Spun cotton and spun polyester, core-spun cotton with a polyester filament core, polyester or nylon filaments and monofilament threads.  Thread is a general term for yarns used in weaving and knitting, as in “thread count” and “warp thread”.


Thread count is determined by how many threads are in one square inch of fabric. In the 300 thread count sheet, one square inch of fabric would have 180 threads going in one direction (warp), with 120 threads going in the opposite direction (fill). Add the 180 with the 120 and that equals the 300 thread count.

 thread count image

There are different types of thread counts.  In the sketch above is an example of true thread count of individual threads running in each direction to equal total count commonly called single pick thread count.

The highest single pick weaving machines in the world that I know about can achieve 600 thread count.  

The next method is to multi ply each thread - If the example above used double ply threads the thread count would be 100 x 2 ply by 80 x 2 ply to equal 360 thread count.  This process can use up to 6 ply’s per thread.  That is how very high thread counts are produced.   Higher and lower thread counts are now produced with the multi ply method to reduce cost per production yard of woven fabric.