How Much is Inside Thread Count?

Pillowcases have a very prestigious place in our society. They keep our heads and faces comfortable through our night's sleep, provide a fashionable exterior to our pillows and help to protect them from vomit stains.

I've always sought the finest quality in my pillowcases, and to me, the "finest quality" has meant the highest thread count. Thread count simply refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

If you use big threads to weave a sheet, the finished product will be thicker than if you use small threads. The finest sheets use very tiny threads, woven together to form a super-thin, delicate fabric. They do not advertise these as the thinnest sheets, or incredibly thin sheets. They call them high thread count.

As ancient weaving techniques have given way to modern techniques, the threads have gotten smaller and smaller, such that an increasing number can be crammed into one inch.

Thread count, like a surprising number of marketing metrics, is discouragingly troublesome to actually check for yourself. Take these $40 Martha Stewart brand pima cotton pillowcases, for example. The label says 360 thread count, but how much is inside?

On Friday night, we decided to find out.

I marked a single square inch of material and brought out my massive stainless steel fabric scissors.


"Wait!" Mike yelled. "Don't cut up your $40 pillowcases!"

"Then how will I pull apart the threads and count them?" I replied.


"Let's use the Eyeclops!"

Of course! The Eyeclops is my newest electronic tool, a super-powered magnifying camera, able to display anything at 200 times its actual size on the television screen. This was the perfect solution! I could count the threads and avoid cutting eyeholes in my luxurious new linens.



(For more information about the eyeclops magnifying camera, see the article on

Even with a super-scope, It would be a tedious job. The damn threads were TINY, and they were all in a row, each exactly the same. We needed something to help guide us when we were exploring this surface at 200x magnification.

We needed landmarks.

With a set of June's fine-tipped felt pens, I marked the half-inch with a blue dot, and the quarter inches with a pink dot. I marked all the eighth-inches with a yellow dot, and split every sixteenth with a green one.

Please continue reading part two of how much is inside threadcount?

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February 25th,  2008.

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