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What is the best thread count for cotton sheeting?

best thread count cotton linen sheeting

What is the best thread count for cotton linen sheeting? Are you trying to decide which sheeting and bedding is best and getting confused by thread counts? Does high thread count mean higher quality? Firstly lets consider the question: What does thread count mean?

Lily Cape Linen sheeting is offered in 200 and 400 thread count

What is thread count?

Thread count refers to the number of threads horizontally or vertically per square inch of fabric. For example a fabric with a thread count of 200 should have 100 threads woven horizontally and 100 threads woven vertically per square inch. Generally, the higher the thread count makes the fabric more durable and softer. Let us consider what makes for the best thread count for cotton sheeting and bedding.

Let’s consider the two following thread counts to see the advantages of these:

200 Thread Count

Our 200 thread count range is made from 100% cotton percale fabric. Offering a higher density of threads and a plain weave, resulting in a crisp finish and soft feel. The thread count is not only breathable making it comfortable in warmer climates. It is also recommended for those with sensitive skin as it is made using 100% cotton percale. View our range of 200 Thread count cotton percale fitted sheeting here and our full range of 200 thread count sheeting and bedding here.

400 Thread Count

If you are after high quality fine linens a 400 thread count would be your answer. It is also important to ensure that the fibers used are of a high standard such as our Egyptian cotton sheeting with a 400 thread count. The Egyptian cotton sheeting with sateen finish adds luxury to any bedroom and is made exclusively from the longer length Egyptian cotton fibres and is woven with a Sateen weave. This results in stronger, smoother threads and combined with a 400 thread count you have durable sheeting. It also offers ease of care for the sheeting compared to some other thread counts. Cotton threads allow for a breathable fabric which is still suitable for warmer climates but also suitable for cooler seasons too.

Ultimately the choice between thread counts depends on your own preferences regards to durability, breathability and feeling of the fabric as well as care. Consider what your preferences are then take a look at the high quality options Lilly Cape Linen have here.

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A short History of linen – Part 3

flax seed plant

A short history of linen – part 3

Flax is the raw material of Linen. A beautiful, unique plant that produces high quality fabrics.

Field of flaz
Field of flax


flax seed plant
flax seed plant


flax seed

The Properties and Description of Flax

The botanical name of the flax plant is Linum usitatissimum. The English word, linen, is derived from the generic name, linum, and the term lint, from the old Scottish word, lin.

Today flax is a prestigious, expensive fiber and only produced in small quantities. It has a long “staple” (individual fiber length) relative to cotton and other natural fibers.

Flax blooms in clusters of bluish, navy-blue, and, more seldom, violet, rosy and white flowers that open up at dawn and close and fall at around noon when heat sets in. Each flower blooms for a few hours. Bees collect close to fifteen kg of honey from one hectare of flax field.

Flax fibers vary in length from 2 to 36 inches and average 12-16 micrometers in diameter. There are two varieties: shorter tow fibers used for coarser fabrics and line fibers used for finer fabrics. Flax fibers can be identified by their typical “nodes” which add to the flexibility and texture of the fabric. The cross section of the fiber is made up of irregular polygonal shapes which contribute to the coarse texture of the fabric.

The flax plant is an annual and is grown both for its fiber and the seed. The stem of the fiber plant is slender and tall and the fiber consists of the skin surrounding the woody core of the stem. Flax-seed is used for making linseed oil and also linseed meal for feeding purposes. Flax seed has also been found to be very beneficial in healthy diets.

The flaxes grown for fiber and seeds are the same family, but they have developed different habits of growth. For fiber purposes the seed is sewn thickly to prevent it from branching which would ruin it for fiber. The linseed type of flax has lost its capacity to produce worth-while fiber and the fiber type produces on a limited amount of seed. The flax flower is either blue or white and a flax field in bloom is a very pretty sight.

flax for fibre
flax for fibre


flax for seed
flax for seed

The quality of the finished linen product is often dependant upon growing conditions and harvesting techniques. To generate the longest possible fibers, flax is either hand-harvested by pulling up the entire plant or stalks are cut very close to the root. After harvesting, the seeds are removed through a mechanized process called “rippling.” The fibers must then be loosened from the stalk. This is achieved through “retting” which uses bacteria to decompose the pectin that binds the fibers together. There are natural retting methods that occur in tanks and pools or directly in the fields. There are also chemical retting methods which are faster but are typically more harmful to the environment and to the fibers themselves.

At this point, the stalks are ready for “scutching” which takes place between August and December. Scutching removes the woody portion of the stalk by crushing them between two metal rollers so that the parts of the stalk can be separated. The fibers are removed and the other parts such as linseed, shive, and tow are set aside for other uses. The short fibers are separated by”hackling” or combing them away, to leave behind only the long, soft flax fibers. After the fibers have been separated and processed, they are typically spun into yarns and woven or knit into linen textiles. These textiles can then be bleached, dyed, printed on, or finished with an umber of treatments or coatings.

Flax Production

The finest quality flax is produced in Western Europe, with Belgium growing, without question, the highest quality fiber produced anywhere. Used primarily for handkerchiefs, damask table linen and in fact for everything requiring the finest texture. Italy also produces a quality product.

Irish flax can be very good and is particularly strong, but quality due to the damp weather can be irregular. For that reason the seed from the Irish crop is rarely saved. Since about 1950 Canadian seed has the preference for Irish Linen. The dry climate of Canada, while not good for producing fiber, seems to impart an added vitality to the seed, which is then shipped to Belfast.

Russia and the Baltic States, by far, produce approximately 90% of the total flax crop of the world. Russia grows the low, coarser grades of flax and the Baltic States produce more of a medium quality fiber. Recently flax production has moved to Eastern Europe and China.

Germany, France and the Czech Republic are producers of flax, but mainly for home use. Holland also produces flax, and Dutch flax-seed has been famous for years.

The growing of good flax is expensive and the growing conditions must be suitable if satisfactory results are to be obtained. The climate and soil are very important, as, with the same seed and different types of land, different results will be obtained. The flax crop is pulled, not cut, because if it was cut it would be injured and valuable fiber would be lost. Hand pulling is therefore essential for the larger proportion of the total flax crop, and it is a tedious, expensive operation. (There are now mechanical pulling machines, but they are only suitable for large fields and for early harvest with no rains. Rain will “lodge” portions of the crop so that the machine will not be able to get hold.)

Flax thrives on poor soil, and even when using conventional methods of cultivation, it requires only small amounts of fertilizer. In fact, it reacts to overdoses of fertilizer by producing fibers of reduced quality. Mono cultures, with their negative consequences for the quality of the soil and for the animal world, are automatically prohibited: flax can only be grown twice on the one field before signs of “flax fatigue” begin to appear. An interval of seven years is necessary before flax can be cultivated on the same field again. Pesticides – with just one exception, which is in cases of acute fungal infestation – are not necessary. Absolutely no chemical medium is required in order to loosen the fibers from the stem. This can be achieved after the harvest either through the traditional method of rotting or “retting” the flax on the ground(which means allowing the natural rotting of the woody sections of the plant through fungi and microbes to take place) or through applying modern techniques which achieve the same thing by utilizing high pressure steam.

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A short History of linen – Part 2

Sennedjem"’s tomb, Ancient Egypt

A short history of linen – part 2

In the British Museum, London, are pieces of mummy linen at least 6000 years old. During recent examination, cuttings from these linens were microscopically examined and photographed(as shown) at the Linen Industry Research Institute, Belfast, Ireland, and were found to be as structurally perfect as linen made today.

Egyption linen and modern linen
Samples of original Egyptian linen 1st dynasty and modern example.


Flax has been used in the Middle East since the fifth millennium BCE. In Egypt its role was probably more important than in many other cultures, as Egyptians rarely used wool and cotton was unknown during much of their ancient history. It was seen as a gift of the Nile, as the Hymnto Hapi has it: People are clothed with the flax of his fields.

Through time linen has persisted. Its history is also closely interwoven with the Bible stories.Linen has always been held in reference as an emblem of purity, and it is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament.

The tribes of Israel used as their central point of worship, the Tabernacle. We are told that the curtains in the Tabernacle were made of fine linen, and when the high priest, Aaron, entered that holy place, he put on a holy linen coat & girdle and upon his head was a linen Mitre. In the history of ancient times, linen holds a truly unique place. This is also confirmed in the New Testament, which states that the seven angels who held in their hands the winds of destruction, were clothed in pure and white linen. Again from the Book of Revelations we are informed that the garments of those chosen to rule as kings and priests in heaven over the earth will be of fine linen.

One hundred years after the birth of Christ, Plutarch wrote that the priests of Isis wore linen because of its purity. It was not just a precious fabric of the Israelites. It symbolized cleanliness.

In ancient times, in almost every country, those who stayed on the land grew flax and wove the linen for its own use, but the earliest records of an established linen industry are about 4000 years old, and come to us from Egypt.

The Phoenicians, with their merchant fleets, opened many channels of commerce and trade to the peoples of the Mediterranean. It was the Phoenicians who introduced flax growing and the naking of linen into Ireland before the birth of Christ, but it was not until the twelfth century that we can find records of proper attempts to systematize flax production in Ireland.

Gauls and Celts, the earliest flax growers in Western Europe, learned about flax from Romans while Slavs, who were the first to start cultivating flax in eastern Europe, brought it from Greece. In the regions of early flax cultivation in Central Asia (Afghanistan, mountainous areas of Bukhara, and Turkmenistan) flax cultivation has remained primitive until the turn of the 20thcentury.

Flax has been known in Russia since 2000 B.C. Ancient manuscripts of the 9th-10th century B.C. contain evidence of linen made by Slavs. Oriental writers of the time described Slavs attired in linen clothes. Prior to the formation of Kievan Rus, all Slavic tribes that inhabited the eastern European plain raised flax. Flax was used to make sailcloth, fishing nets, ropes and linseed oil. In the 10th-11th centuries A.D. flax was extensively grown for fiber and seed. It was regarded to be an important crop both for crafts and commerce. Peasants used it to pay feudal dues and make payments to the czar’s treasury. Russian princes collected tribute in linen. Because of the amazing versatility of the plant – perhaps only to be compared with the role that bamboo plays in the Asian culture – people have always held it in high esteem.

Linen is the most ancient vegetable fabric known to man. For centuries people have been growing flax to make fiber and weave linen. But despite its venerable age flax remains to be as young as ever.



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A Short History of Linen – Part 1

Sennedjem"’s tomb, Ancient Egypt

A short history of linen

Working with natural fibers has always been one of my greatest interests. The most obvious were wool and cotton, in all the forms they were made available. One day I found silk. Oh – the joy of silk. How it looks and feels, then the wonder of working with such strong yet delicate threads. It soon became very important to me to find the fibers that have been used since the beginning of our history. I didn’t know a lot about linen, other than that it was usually comfortable and creased a lot on wearing. Irish linen sheets lasted several lifetimes and that it was more expensive than I could usually afford. Then I was given an opportunity to work with some first class pure linen and I was sold. I was lost in dreams of the perfect fiber and all that it could create. Over the past 25 years I have never lost my love of linen and all it offers.

Linen is one of the earliest products known to civilization. When man was in his earliest primitive state, living on the wide animals he hunted, the skins of those animals formed his only clothing. Later, when nomadic communities formed, driving herds of cattle and sheep across the lands of Eastern Europe during those great migrations, the wool from those flocks of sheep was used to clothe their owners.

After a long period of history, man settled down, built himself permanent cities, and cultivated the land. One of the products of the soil was flax, and out of the fiber from flax, linen was made. Linen is, therefore, the earliest known vegetable fabric to be woven.

The Antiquity of Linen.

An archeological dig carried out at the site of Neolithic lake dwellings in Switzerland turned up charred remains of food prepared from flax seed, and remnants of linen threads, ropes, clothe and fishing nets. So, man had already been growing flax as far back as Neolithic times. Traces of flax cultivation relating to the Bronze Age were found in archeological excavations in Spain.However, most of the finds of early flax cultivation relate to the Iron Age. They show that perennial narrow-leafed flax was cultivated all across Europe as far as Scandinavia.

Archeological excavations at the site of Iron Age settlements in Germany discovered remains of bread prepared from wheat, millet and flax seeds. Many archeological finds, literary records and linguistic studies also point to India, Turkmenistan, Asia Minor, Transcaucasia, Abyssinia,Algeria, and Tunisia as ancient flax cultivation areas.

Domestication of fiber flax to say nothing of seed flax occurred in India and China before that of cotton – more than 5,000 years ago. Some scholars believe that flax originally came from western Persia and spread over to other countries regarded to be the regions of early flax cultivation – India, China and Central Asia and westwards and southwestwards, primarily, to Babylon and Egypt.

Linen was heavily used in the Mediterranean in the pre-Christian age. Linen was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand spun yarns, were extremely fine and the fineness of the yarns in them cannot be produced even today on spinning machines.

Flax, from which linen is made, is one of the oldest agricultural plants in the world. Over 5000 years ago the Egyptians named it “woven moonlight”, due to its very singular beauty. A little less poetic, but all the more apt, is the Latin appellation: “linum usitatissimum” – the extremely useful flax plant.

When the tomb of the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Rameses ll, who died 1258 BC, about 3000 years ago, was discovered in 1881, the pure linen wrappings were in a state of perfect preservation.

The mummy of “Kaboolie”, a daughter of a priest of Ammon, who died 2500 years ago, is preserved in the library of Belfast, Ireland. The linen on this mummy is also in a state of perfection. Present research in Egypt has resulted in many wonderful discoveries, and it is a matter of historical accuracy that when the tomb of Tutankamen was opened, the linen curtains were found intact but all the other fabrics had crumbled to dust.

A linen mummy shroud

Sennedjem"’s tomb, Ancient Egypt
Sennedjem”’s tomb, Ancient Egypt


In the British Museum, London, are pieces of mummy linen at least 6000 years old. During recent examination, cuttings from these linens were microscopically examined and photographed (as shown) at the Linen Industry Research Institute, Belfast, Ireland, and were found to be as structurally perfect as linen made today.

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Throughout the past three centuries, Egyptian cotton has prevailed as one of Egypt’s biggest competitive advantages. With an established reputation of being the “best” cotton in the world, its softness, strength and superior characteristics, have positioned products made of Egyptian cotton as the world’s finest.

Egyptian cotton has not gained such a reputation without reason. Egyptian cotton “is” the world’s finest cotton and the following characteristics are what sets Egyptian cotton apart from other natural fibres:

The length of the fibre makes it possible to make the finest of yarns without sacrificing the strength of the yarn

The strength of the fibre makes fabrics more solid and more resistant to stress

Its ability to absorb liquids gives fabrics made of Egyptian cotton deeper, brighter and more resistant colours

Its softness feels like nothing else in the world

Egyptian cotton is hand picked which guarantees the highest levels of purity. In addition, hand picking puts no stress on the fibres – as opposed to mechanical picking – leaving the fibres straight and intact.

All these factors have resulted in Egyptian cotton being by far the best cotton in the world. Fabrics made of Egyptian Cotton are softer, finer and last longer than any other cotton in the world

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What is the Difference Between Egyptian Cotton and Percale?

In order to make a good decision and selection for your bedding, you may have wondered what are the differences are between Egyptian Cotton and Percale cotton? Also, how do the attributes of each cotton help you decide which suits your needs and preferences?

To answer your questions around this subject let us firstly answer the following questions, what is Egyptian cotton?

Egyptian cotton is made from cotton that is grown in Egypt. It is known in the textile industry as extra long staple(ELS) cotton. However, the Egyptian cotton is hand-picked resulting in less stress on the cotton, which in turn create longer, finer yarns. Therefore the cotton is both stronger and softer.

At Redhouse on River, we offer 100% Egyptian Cotton with a 400 thread count with a Sateen finish. The 400 thread count offers a soft yet durable Egyptian cotton. Favoured for its cool feel and sateen silky finish. This product is what you expect to find at top hotel chains worldwide. So it is an excellent choice for your home, Airbnb or guest house.

Then we need to ask, what is Percale cotton?

Percale refers to the weave used to produce the fabric which is then used for duvet covers, fitted sheets, flat sheets, and pillow cases and other bedding products. Percale is a closely woven cotton which produces a smooth, flat, closely woven and combed fabric that comes in 100 percent cotton. The thread count represents the number of threads used per square inch in the chosen weave. 

At Redhouse on River, we offer a selection of Percale in 100 percent cotton which is both soft and durable. We offer a wide range of sheeting, fitted sheets, flat sheets, duvet cover sets and pillow cases to match. They are available in Steel Grey and timeless and classic White to work in your bedroom decor.