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When choosing bedding, the thread count within 1 sq. inch is usually considered the princpal indicator of the quality of the fabric. However, there is more to textiles than just thread count and there are a number of things you may want to consider when shopping for your next bedding set.
Threads are usually made of fibres twisted together and spun. There are other types of threads, such as polyester fibres are created synthetically. Larger-sized threads tend to make the fabric thicker and more durable, while thinner threads are smoother and softer to the touch.
There is a diversity of fibre materials available on the market which could be woven and manufactured into fabric. Whether it be from natural fibres (e.g. cotton, wool, silk, linen) or synthetic fibres (e.g. polyester, microfibre, rayon), each type of fabric has its own desirable touch-feel characteristics. It is therefore important that you know the properties of some of the most widely used fibres for bedding.
Different types of fibres can be paired and woven together to enhance the quality of the fabrics. For instance, combining polyester microfibre threads with cotton threads result in the fabric being silky-smooth and crease-free due to the properties of microfibre, and cool and durable due to the properties of cotton fibre.
Dyeing and Printing
One of the major concerns in the process of dyeing and printing on textile materials is colour fastness and the quality of colour pigments. Colour fastness is the ability to withstand multiple washings, heat, perspiration and sunlight without running or fading. As the chemical nature of each textile materials differs, its affinity to different types of dye differs as well. Multiple dyeing techniques are therefore necessary to accommodate the chemical condition for each type of dye and fabric. For example, reactive dyes are favourable to cotton fabrics and imparts a vibrant, long-lasting colour while still retaining the softness of the fabric, whereas it is advisable to use disperse dyes for synthetic fibres such as polyester.
For textile printing, however, colour limitation is another cause for concern in addition to colour fastness. Formerly, a printing technique called “flat screen printing” was used the norm, whereby colours were pasted onto fabrics using customised blocks of painted screens made in the number of colours used. The more colours needed for printing, the more screens have to be made. This process is very time consuming, and the fabric becomes rough to the touch when many colours are laid atop each other. Later on, “rotary screen printing” was developed by combining flat screen printing with a novel colour technology using cylindrical printing press. The maximum number of colours that can be used for rotary printing are usually no more than 12 colours. Presently, “digital ink-jet printing” has been developed to eliminate the aforementioned problems. Using this technology, intricate textile designs can be recreated digitally using printer heads that propel minuscule colour droplets directly on to fabrics with no colour limitations nor detriment to the fabric’s texture.
On the other hand, synthetic fibres use the “paper transfer printing” method by first printing the designs on to a special paper, then using heat to transfer the designs on to the fabric itself.
The finishing process is the final stage in textile production after weaving, bleaching, dyeing, and printing in order to achieve the desired characteristics and/or properties before fabrics are distributed and processed into bedding or other designated products. There are many types of finishing processes and steps that fabrics go through depending on its purpose of application, such as softening, coating, flame retardant, colour fixation, sanding, chemical dust mite control finishes, and many more.