Beyond Thread Count
Sferra's sheets are among the highest thread count linens in the world. So why would we tell you not to judge a sheet by the numbers?This article is from one of our favorite bedding lines, SFERRA Fine Linens. Frankly, we couldn't put this information together any more elegantly, so we are using it in it's entirety here. Obviously it is directed specifically toward Sferra's products, but it also does a wonderful job explaining just how much work is involved in producing a world-class product. There simply is no substitute for quality and experience. Don't fool yourself into thinking that a $100 1000-thread count sheet set from NoName.com is even remotely comparable to Sferra's 1020 thread count...or even Sferra's 200 thread count for that matter.
Because to understand what creates the softest hand, the finest drape, the most lustrous finish, and the world's most luxurious linens, you must consider more than just thread count, which is a measure of the number of yarns woven into one square inch of fabric. Thread count is important, but it is only one part of the story. The quality of a sheet is determined by three other key components as well, but it all starts with the quality of the fiber itself, and the yarn made from it.
The Quality of the Yarn
The world's finest cotton is grown on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. There, as the river recedes, it leaves a particularly fertile swath that nourishes the very best cotton. Egyptian cotton is renowned because it yields the longest-staple cotton in the world (the staple being the individual cotton fiber or "hair"). While others may claim their sheets are Egyptian cotton, Sferra is directly involved in the creation of their sheets every step of the way, allowing them to hand-select only the very best cotton from the Nile River valley. Once Sferra ensure's the superiority of our cotton, they have the raw fiber cleaned and spun into smooth, silken yarns by master craftsmen in Italy.
The quality of the yarn is largely a function of the length of the staple, or cotton fiber. This is because long-staple cotton can be spun into a smoother, stronger, much finer yarn, so that it is possible to weave more threads per inch into the fabric, resulting in a higher thread count.
Certainly, many inferior, short-staple cotton yarns can be jammed into a square inch to create a high thread count, but the resulting fabric can feel heavy and coarse, never comparable to the fine hand of Sferra's sheeting.
At Sferra, we revere craftsmanship. Since Gennaro Sferra first brought his exquisite handmade Venetian laces to this country over a century ago, we have always enlisted the world's finest spinners, weavers, sewers, embroiderers and artisans to craft our extraordinary linens.
Thanks to generations of experience and expertise, at Sferra we understand yarns the way a vintner understands grapes: what type and fineness of yarn to choose for each weave, and how to fine-tune each technical factor, from the number of picks sent through the shuttle to the diameter of the yarn, to create the desired hand: chamois-soft or crisp percale, silken sateen, lustrous jacquard. Sferra has built relationships with the best mills who blend centuries-old history and knowledge of their craft with cutting-edge textile technologies, looms and facilities. How Sferra creates the world's finest cotton percales, sateens and jacquards are trade secrets, but their customers are the beneficiaries.
Sferra uses a variety of yarn sizes (and thus, yarn fineness) to produce the different desired attributes and qualities of our sheeting: Sferra's Celeste 406 percale has a chamois-soft hand, while the 800 count Sereno makes for a very crisp and cool percale. And they have been able to spin a yarn so fine that they created the world's first 1020 thread count sateen sheet, Milos, and are continuing to develop additional designs in this ne plus ultra category of sheeting, thanks to the phenomenal response from Sferra customers.
After the world's finest cotton has been selected, spun and woven into cloth of the very best quality, the process doesn't stop there. Sferra's attention to detail continues into the fabric finishing and sewing, which can also dramatically affect the feel and the quality of the final product.
Most all of Sferra cotton sheets are mercerized - a process that helps plump the fibers, giving the fabric greater luster and strength - yet, they don't Sanforize their sheets (a process designed to help reduce shrinkage), preferring instead to cut the fabrics generously to allow for shrinkage.
Sferra's state-of-the-art finishing brings out the subtle sheen of a sateen, the softest nap of cotton, the richest, longest-lasting colors and enhances both the feel of the fabric and the quality of the weave. The fabric does not leave the mills unless it is as unblemished, smooth and sleek as possible, and unless it has achieved Sferra's exacting standards and impeccable quality.
Sferra offers several collections where the embroidery is done entirely by hand, whether it be subtle hemstitching, scalloping, or intricate embroidery. This allows for an attention to detail and a special grace that machine-sewn items will never emulate.
The final luxurious touch: instead of running decorative stitching or lace straight across the top cuff of the sheet, Sferra uses a European return on most of their finished top sheets. This means the design is formed with a mitered corner, and then continues 22 inches along the side of the sheet, which creates a much more finished, elegant look when the top sheet is turned down over the blanket cover.
The end result of all this care and attention, every step of the way, is a difference you can feel, in sheets that are woven with the luxury of fine heirlooms. But don't take our word for it: feel a Sferra sheet for yourself, and know that you can trust the integrity of the company who makes it as well as the retailer who sells it to you. Trust your hand, because nothing feels better than getting into bed at night nestled in the world's most luxurious linens.
The complete Sferra line an be found at this link: Sferra Linens, Bedding, Blankets & More.