Thread count is a term used in the textile industry as a measure of how closely woven a fabric is. It is usually defined as the sum of the number of warp threads per inch (or cm) and the number of weft threads per inch. (It is sometimes confusingly described as the number of threads per square inch.) In recent years it has also become a subject of considerable interest and some controversy among consumers. Many consumers consider thread count to be a key measure of the quality or fineness of a fabric, especially bed sheets, and they seek out fabrics that advertise high counts. Manufacturers in turn have responded to this interest by offering fabrics with ever higher claimed thread counts (sold at ever higher prices), sometime achieving the higher counts by distorting the definition of the term with some “creative math.” In 2005 the Federal Trade Commission noted the growing use of thread count in advertising at the retail level and warned of the potential for consumers to be misled by distortions of the definition.

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