Everybody throws the term “thread count” around, but do you really know what it means? Thread count refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch of the item. In order to determine thread count, you count lengthwise (warp) and widthwise (weft) threads. So 100 lengthwise threads woven with 100 widthwise threads produce a thread count of 200. This is a good thread count.
The idea behind thread count is the finer threads you can weave together, the softer and finer the fabric. However, this is not always true. To get a sense of the type of fabric various thread counts produce, consider that a thread count of 150 (75 threads one way, 75 the other) produces muslin, which feels rough. Good-quality sheets come in at 180, and anything above 200 is considered better quality.
From time to time, you will see huge numbers like 800 thread count. You should recognize that in many of the situations the manufacturer is counting what is known as piles, not threads. Piles are the fibers that make up a thread and there could be four (4) piles in a thread. By counting piles instead of threads, the “thread count” for a 200 thread piece of fabric jumps to 800.