Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 39

Thread: Thread Count in Quilting Fabric

  1. #1
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    The Finger Lakes of upstate NY
    Posts
    2,321
    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
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    East Oklahoma - pining for Massachusetts
    Posts
    8,195
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Posts
    12,428
    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Front row
    Posts
    14,661
    Blog Entries
    2
    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aledo, TX
    Posts
    672
    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Front row
    Posts
    14,661
    Blog Entries
    2
    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
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    New York State
    Posts
    36
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aledo, TX
    Posts
    672
    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
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Dudley, UK
    Posts
    911
    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.

  11. #11
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    2,263
    Butterflywing, thank you for the great explanation of cottons and thread count. How did you come to learn all that? I always wondered why Egyptian cotton was considered better. I just assumed it sounded exotic, a marketing thing.

    I've bought Egyptian cotton sheets and always been disappointed. Frankly, for me, weave makes more of a difference than thread count. I miss the old percale weaves. 200 - 260 thread count was just fine with them, and American cotton. I bought printed sheets from the early '70s, back when I was a kid, actually (always liked pretty linens). Haven't been able to get printed sheets for the last 10 years, and I haven't found the newer ones to be anywhere near as nice, comfortable or durable. Any idea why my experience seems to go counter to the "improvement" in material?

    Interesting that Indian cotton is considered the coarsest. I've always liked Indian cotton blouses and shirts. Weave, again. I didn't know it had to do with fiber length.

    As for quilting, I'm working with solid colors right now. Got some standard cotton at Joann's and when one of the colors turned out to be a synthetic blend, I went in search of that color in 100% cotton. Finally got some in the fabled Kona cotton, but I don't like the Kona at all. It's much coarser and denser than the Joann's cotton. Granted, the Joann's stuff is only decent, not top quality, but the Kona stuff is more like sailcloth, IMO.

    Maybe I'm just contrary or backward or something.

  12. #12
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    after a whole explanation, i lost the whole thing in a storm. will get back on this.

  13. #13
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    okay, i will start again. i think the storm is over.

    egyption cotton, since it has longer staples, has fewer pokey ends. that accounts for the smoothness. it might be woven in the one under, one over weave or the two/two or the twill weave that you see on work clothes. it always feels silky. it comes in between 300 up to anywhere depending on how thin a strand they started with. remember the spaghetti? the old percale sheets were 120 tc. that's what most of us grew up with. i don't know how old you are, but 200 - 250 has been widely available for not more than 15 years.

    about 15 or so years ago the thread count started going up. that was a marketing thing, convincing people that they needed smoother sheets. they do feel better, but let's face it, we don't need them. just like you don't need filet mignon when sirloin is very nice too. that was started by designers. okay then.

    the old printed sheets were printed with dyes and such that are not necessarily considered healthy today,or they create pollution. the machinery is also heavier and more difficult to build and maintain, and you need more staff to run the work. getting the picture? today's dyes are cheaper, although not as nice, easier to use and less than or non-polluting. the machinery is computerized and automated. less working staff. altogether cheaper to produce.

    much of what you see today is not really printed at all. it's stamped on. if you feel a white-on-white sheet, you can feel a rubbery substance that creates the pattern. it makes it feel very stiff and it will not get softer.
    it's non-absorbent and non-cooling. in other words, not very comfortable, but very popular. they are usually 200-250 tc.

    weaves: if weaves are important to you, then you should understand that sheets do come in several weaves. the most common is the one over/one under, just like most cotton. there is also two/two, and the twill weave, just like work clothes. if the staples are long and therefore smoother, you might prefer one weave over another. but it always, always depends first on the length of the staple. if the cotton has short strands and a lot of 'pokeys' the weave won't feel as smooth.

    i also like indian cotton but only for garments. it has short staples because of the growing conditions, and makes a loose, pokey weave. it's great for summer clothes because you can take advantage of it's poorer quality to create clothes that are cooler, and more absorbent. when you perspire, the sweat (pardon me) can evaporate. it's also used for ethnic clothes. but, for those that can afford it, bedding is bought from america. in europe, american bedding is very desirable. don't ask me why. maybe egyptian cotton cottons are too expensive. i know that visitors from england, ireland and the scandinavian countries all send it home. as well as the sultan of bruneii (sp?).

    american sheets are considered worldwide to be of good quality. long staple, strong. easily dyed. not as high quality as egyption cotton, but really nice.

    the higher the tc, the harder it is for the needle to slip between the fibres without breaking them. if you use a ballpoint needle, it's very blunt and pops between the threads, and if you use a sharp the point can tear the threads and weaken them. if you look at some sheets, especially stiff ones, (they have been overdyed to achieve a saturated color), you can see, at the sewn edges, teeeny holes where the needle went in. they are usually white holes. it really shows on darks. also, because of the overdying, the sheets are not soft.

    moda batiks have a high tc and a strong dye, so that it runs as little as possible. the combination makes it hard to sew. the dye is very imortant here.

    1500 tc sheet may last longer than you. the thread staple is probably longer than anything i have ever seen.

    dunster, one reason that sheets don't stay on the bed is that the sheet manufacturers can't keep up with the mattress companies. the mattresses are getting so high it's become ridiculous. i'm short and i have to climb up onto my bed. i won't get suckered into that again. another reason is that they use cheap elastic - another issue for another day.

    you don't need a special tool. you need a STRONG magnifying glass. but if the package tells you the tc and the country of origin, and you don't see any stamped patterns, you should be okay.

    joann has a cotton muslin with a rather loose weave that is very popular, because it sews easily. it comes in 108" and gets very soft. but always remember that all cotton will shrink..the looser the weave (lower tc) the more shrinkage. because there is more space for the threads to come together and tighten. in a tighter weave, there would be less space between the threads for the threads to shrink into. i don't know if i said that right.

    tc = fibre length. fibre length = smoothness. it all has to work together. whatever is then done to it usually detracts from the good feeling of cotton.

  14. #14
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    2,263
    butterflywing, thanks for your great response!

    I'm wondering how you learned all this and where I can learn more.

    I have to disagree about 200-250 thread counts not being widely available until 15 years ago. That would make it 1994. I've been buying 200 thread counts since my college days back in the late '70s and early '80s. Somewhere along the way, 260 counts came in.

    I never bought 120 thread count sheets. I did have some 180 counts, and they were good quality back in the day. I always got them from better department stores, then from Linens 'n' Things when that opened. Then about 10 years ago, I tried a Kmart sheet set by Martha Stewart. It was 180 and it was awful - coarse texture, what you'd expect from Kmart but not what I'd expect from Martha Stewart. Prints had almost disappeared by then, and percale weaves were hard to find.

    I just don't like 300+ thread count sheets at all.

    Sorry for the digression, but I'd really like to find more info on cottons, printing out your own fabrics (maybe that is from another thread?) and now that you mentioned it, more about the old dyes. I hadn't known they had anything harmful in them.

  15. #15
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    the 200's and 250's were available, but not widely. if you lived in a college town or a large town you probably could get them. otherwise, good luck. 20 years ago 120's were very common and 180's were one step up. when fitted sheets (yes - i am that old) were introduced, the thread counts went up to 180. that became the new norm. martha stewart has a bottom line for places like k-mart and a better line for places like, , say, macy's cellar. do you know the country of origin? when you say prints, you mean the old dye jobs, yes, they were gone. they were not replaced until those awful prints/patterns became available.

    many people don't like the 300 thread count sheets. they feel flimsier, and they are lighter weight. thin strands don't weigh as much. they also have a body-feel that people are not used to.

    someone asked where i learned this: my dh is an architect and he worked for rutgers university managing their in-house architectural department. we moved to this town because it was closer to his work, and bought a victorian fixer-upper. shortly after moving here and sinking a lot of money in the house, rutgers dropped their own department and farmed out that work. my husband was unemployed and my tailoring business had not yet taken off. i took a job at an upscale home furnishings store where manufactures made us take classes in sheets, pillows, draperies and such, so that we could knowledgeably sell. it was a fantastic education. we learned thread counts, different drapery styles, fancy drape rods, you name it. they spent a bundle teaching us what they felt we had to know to seel high-priced goods.

    i've never looked, but can you google? i'm sure the library books has on the manufacture of household textiles.

  16. #16
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    5,722
    set your self up a blind test clip small squares from lots of fabric...yes wallmart too...and quiltstore...don't cheat...feel them without looking make a pile of the one syou like best...then take a look...this is for you no need to report, its interesting...just for you.

  17. #17
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Quote Originally Posted by Loretta
    I have used OLD sheets for quilt backings and they work well. The thread count was fairly high, but the sheets had been washed a lot over a 10 year period. They get a lot softer after repeated washings. Now I look for them in thrift stores.
    old sheets are good because the threads have worn thinner. even though
    they started thicker, they are thinner now, leaving places for the needle to travel through. make sure they aren't TOO worn or they will wear out altogether.

  18. #18
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Quote Originally Posted by Boston1954
    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.
    right. needles have too much trouble going in and out of high tc fabric.. the higher with a standard width staple, the harder. if the staple was thin, thin it would be fine, like eqyptian cotton. but that's too expensive.

  19. #19
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    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
    i really don't know the thread count of quilt fabric, but i bet it differs. i've never seen it on the bolt end, but i have seen country of origin.

    save your money. buy a very strong magnifier instead. what you're really paying for is the stand to make it easier. i had one years ago, because a friend in the industry gave it to me, and it had a crossmark in the center. when i lost it, my dad scratched a new cross in a good strong magnifier. it worked fine. lost that, too. don't give me anything valuable. hehe

  20. #20
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    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.
    fine hotels are the biggest buyers of highest quality sheet sets. clientele pay for it.

  21. #21
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    2,263
    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    the 200's and 250's were available, but not widely. if you lived in a college town or a large town you probably could get them. otherwise, good luck.
    Honestly, I was 12 when I started buying my own linens (in 1972), and I got them in major department stores, not specialty stores. Mostly Macy's-quality stores, but JC Penney carried them, too. Almost all of them were 200s in the '70s, a few 180, then some 260 by the '90s. And I was in the Midwest to start, came east in the mid-'80s.


    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    Do you know the country of origin? when you say prints, you mean the old dye jobs, yes, they were gone. they were not replaced until those awful prints/patterns became available.
    Not sure if this question was meant for me, but I want to say they were US sheets. But LOL, we know almost nothing is made in the US, so maybe they were made in Japan. Certainly not China, just whatever country made most sheets sold in the US at that time.

    I do have one set imported from Australia, bought around 1997, and they've always felt a bit different. I didn't like the feel at first, but they've worn down to softness. The pillowcases are different, with an extra inner piece to cover the exposed side of the pillow.

    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    someone asked where i learned this: i took a job at an upscale home furnishings store where manufactures made us take classes in sheets, pillows, draperies and such, so that we could knowledgeably sell. it was a fantastic education. we learned thread counts, different drapery styles, fancy drape rods, you name it. they spent a bundle teaching us what they felt we had to know to seel high-priced goods.

    i've never looked, but can you google? i'm sure the library books has on the manufacture of household textiles.
    Oh yes, I've gotten bits and pieces of info from the web and books. I'd like something less disjointed, more comprehensive. Were your classes taken through your company or from a college or textile school?

  22. #22
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    we were bused to the distributor's main office in nyc, shown slideshows, given samples to examine, shown movies and given seminars, one day at a time over the course of 3 days. we were then questioned extensively to make sure we understood..

  23. #23
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisanne
    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    the 200's and 250's were available, but not widely. if you lived in a college town or a large town you probably could get them. otherwise, good luck.
    Honestly, I was 12 when I started buying my own linens (in 1972), and I got them in major department stores, not specialty stores. Mostly Macy's-quality stores, but JC Penney carried them, too. Almost all of them were 200s in the '70s, a few 180, then some 260 by the '90s. And I was in the Midwest to start, came east in the mid-'80s.

    VERY UNUSUAL FOR THE TIME FRAME. 200'S WERE NOT WIDELY AVAILABLE UNTIL THE 90'S


    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    Do you know the country of origin? when you say prints, you mean the old dye jobs, yes, they were gone. they were not replaced until those awful prints/patterns became available.


    Not sure if this question was meant for me, but I want to say they were US sheets. But LOL, we know almost nothing is made in the US, so maybe they were made in Japan. Certainly not China, just whatever country made most sheets sold in the US at that time.

    I do have one set imported from Australia, HUH? bought around 1997, and they've always felt a bit different. I didn't like the feel at first, but they've worn down to softness. The pillowcases are different, with an extra inner piece to cover the exposed side of the pillow. COMMONLY FOUND NOW.

    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    someone asked where i learned this: i took a job at an upscale home furnishings store where manufactures made us take classes in sheets, pillows, draperies and such, so that we could knowledgeably sell. it was a fantastic education. we learned thread counts, different drapery styles, fancy drape rods, you name it. they spent a bundle teaching us what they felt we had to know to seel high-priced goods.

    i've never looked, but can you google? i'm sure the library books has on the manufacture of household textiles.
    Oh yes, I've gotten bits and pieces of info from the web and books. I'd like something less disjointed, more comprehensive. Were your classes taken through your company or from a college or textile school?

  24. #24
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    currently central new jersey
    Posts
    8,700
    Were your classes taken through your company or from a college or textile school? I WENT TO PRATT INSTITUTE, A COLLEGE OF ART, ART TEACHING ARCHITECTURE AND FASHION DESIGN. PART OF THE FASHION DESIGN COURSE WAS THE IN DEPTH STUDY OF TEXTILES. WHEN I BECAME INTERESTED IN QUILTING, I ZEROED IN ON COTTON QUILTING FABRICS.

  25. #25
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    2,263
    I came back because I'd forgotten to ask what you meant about the printed fabrics (that's below), and you'd already responded. Thanks for taking time to answer all my questions!

    In response to your "HUH" about the Australian sheets, I remember getting them at Macy's, which was selling "special shipment" of the Australian linens for quite a pretty penny.

    I was getting lost in all our quotes and responses, so I'm just copying and pasting this one:

    butterflywing wrote:

    Do you know the country of origin? when you say prints, you mean the old dye jobs, yes, they were gone. they were not replaced until those awful prints/patterns became available.

    What I forgot to ask before was, what "awful prints/patterns" did you mean? When I started buying sheets, I was getting florals where they were all intertwined, kind of a medieval look although some were kind of '60s mod. Marimekko was big back then, too. I stayed with mostly florals through the years. Chintz florals got big in the '90s. I never noticed any problems from the dyes, but I gather they had harmful chemicals? I'm surprised I never noticed anything in the news about it. Anyway, were all the large prints the "awfuls" you referred to?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.