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Thread: Thread Count in Quilting Fabric

  1. #1
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    Is there an average thread count in LQS quality fabric?

    I'm making several pillow cases as gifts, and it got me to thinking about DD going to college; I told her when looking for sheets for her dorm that we didn't want a low thread count... But how do I know that what I'm using to make these from isn't a low count?

    Is there a way to tell when buying - something on the bolt end, maybe?

  2. #2
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    I am pretty sure that a high thread count in quilting fabric is not a good thing. It makes it more difficult to quilt though for hand quilters. I made hubby some pillowcases for Christmas and they seem to be standing up very well to him using them. I would just buy what I think is pretty, and not worry to much about it.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I've read that quilting fabric thread count should be around 78. (Batiks are around 100.) It's a lot lower than quality sheets. Thread count is seldom, if ever, found on the bolt end.

    I've been tempted to buy this new tool to check thread count, called the Roxanne Optimal Strand Estimator (R.O.S.E.). I've only seen it on-line and would love to find out if anyone has tried it.

    http://www.quiltersbuzz.com/2006/02/..._fabric_q.html

  4. #4
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I think it's not so much the thread count of quilt shop quality but the weave of the threads. Something to do with the weft and warp ratio. I go by feel more than anything.

  5. #5
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i know that fine sheets today have a thread count of 300-400. that means that if you have a STRONG magnifying glass and counted the threads, lengthwise and crosswise in a single inch, that's the total number. good sheets start at 200. below that is okay sheets. the thing that makes the real difference is the quality of the cotton. the longer the staple, the finer the quality.

    so, think spaghetti.. you have very fine spaghetti, you stand it up in a glass. if you count the strands you have 400 pieces. now do the same thing with thick spaghetti. now count. you only have 200 pieces. same item, same glass. but because the spaghetti was thinner, you can get more of them=higher thread count. vs thicker, less strand=lower thread count.

    add to that the quality of the thread. it can be indian cotton, which is coarse and rough because that's what is able to grow in that climate and is very short. it can be american cotton, which is okay, because it's long enough to not have too many stops and starts. and you have egyptian cotton, among the finest in the world. when they spin cotton, they overlap the strands onto each other to get the length they need for weaving. if they start with poor quality, they have to weave in more overlaps. that makes it rougher and it wears out faster. so the longer the strands they begin with, the fewer overlaps they have and the smoother the 'hand' is.

    the finer the threads are, the smoother the fabric ends up being, the tighter the fabric can be because the ultra-thin threads can fit more into one square inch of finished woven product. whew!

    around 15 years ago there started to be this public craving for fine, expensive sheets, when actually hardly anyone complained about them before. everyone thought they were entitled to have what only the wealthiest had enjoyed before. but when a pattern is printed on sheets, like white print on white sheet, that print stuff is hard and stiff and doesn't breathe like cotton. goodbye, quality!

    so for quilting, the thinner thread sheets are not the best. they have the thinnest threads. very nice and smooth to sleep on, but they wear out quickly because....they are thinner.

    and that is the story of thread count.

  6. #6
    Senior Member motomom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    (Batiks are around 100.)
    No wonder I had a harder time hand quilting through the Batik squares on my son's airplane quilt!!! I have gotten to where I hate hitting one of those squares, it takes all the fun out of quilting the thing. It's still a WIP.

    Butterfly, I always wondered why the old sheets (she probably bought them in the late 60's) that my Aunt gave me when I got married are still nice and comfortable to sleep on, but the new ones I get are crappy, stiff, and won't stay on the bed. I finally bought some 500 ct egyptian cotton sheets, bit the bullet and spent the dough, and I haven't regretted it a bit! They are well worth it.

  7. #7
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I have 1500 thread count sheets. They are decades old ( 1973) and still in excellent shape. I haven't bought new sheets for my bed since. I worked part time in a four star hotel in CA and bought three sets of the new California King size, with my first pay check from the hotel. DH thought I was nuts paying that much for sheets. If silk could be cotton, that is how they feel.

  8. #8
    NY Nancy's Avatar
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    Thank you for the lesson on thread count!

    Now a question... I've noticed that Moda Marbles seem to be a different fabric than the other Moda prints. Yes, it seems to me like it might be a higher thread count; it is definitely a thinner fabric. I've only worked with batiks a time or two and don't have any pieces right now to compare... does anyone know if the Moda Marbles is printed on the same type of fabric that a batik is?

  9. #9
    Senior Member motomom's Avatar
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    No, I don't think it is the same. I have both some Moda Marbles and some Batiks, and the Moda Marble feels like the other quilt fabrics I have. It is nice, but printed, where the Batik is a dyed fabric. The Batik feels like a higher thread ct and the Marble is easy to quilt through. But I am hand quilting, I'm sure for machine quilting it wouldn't make much difference.

  10. #10
    PrettyKitty's Avatar
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    kudos to butterflywing for the info on thread counts!

    I backed a quilt with old bed sheets.....they were 400 count Egyptian cotton, and I certainly noticed a difference when machine quilting. No problems, it just 'felt' like it was harder for the needle to get through.

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