In quilt cover fabrics, what does "Yarn count" mean?
August 17, 20162 min read
The term “Yarn count” is often quoted when talking about quilt cover fabrics.
What is it and what does it mean?
Yarn count is a measure of the thickness of a yarn in a knitted or woven fabric and it is important. I don't wish to complicate this article, but yarn count is not the same as thread count which is another subject. To learn more please click here for an article on thread counts.
Yarns can be spun from fibres using a number of types of different spinning systems to produce a wide variety of styles and thicknesses. The thicker a yarn the harsher its feel to touch. Conversely, a thinner yarn will be softer to touch but will not have the strength of a coarse yarn and will be more expensive to produce.
There are several measures of the thickness of spun yarns in textile terminology, but most bedding and linen yarns are described using the English Cotton Count system (ECC or sometimes also known as NE). The ECC yarn count scale was devised during the industrial revolution in the 18th century which in itself was primarily instigated by the textile industry in northern England. The ECC yarn scale still survives today.
Using ECC, the yarn count is the weight of set length of yarn, with a higher number being the finer count. For those curious readers, the ECC yarn count is the number of 840 yard lengths of yarn per English pound of weight. As an example, 30/1 ECC is 30 lengths of 840 yards, which is a total length of 25,200 yards (approx 8,150 metres) which weighs one pound (approx 445 grams). Simple!!
In woven bedding fabrics, the usual coarsest yarn is 30/1 and can go up to 100+ for very fine fabrics. Kelly & Windsor use an exclusive range of fabrics that are manufactured with 40/1, 60/1 and 80/1 yarns.
A fabric designers choice of the right yarn is an important consideration relative to the performance and feel of a finished fabric. There is a dilemma however in designing a fabric, a coarser yarn generally wears better and is more durable whereas a finer yarn is softer and strangely quieter, an important point in bedding fabrics. Also of relevance, a finer yarn is more expensive to manufacture. The design of fabrics to suit a variety of applications and end use products is quite a skill.
We have designed our quilt cover fabrics using finer yarn counts to compliment the super softness of alpaca fleece fill and to create a fabric that is very soft drape and handle. Of least importance to us is cost, the finished products performance and feel is far more important in designing a premium quality luxury alpaca quilt.
Our fabrics have been specially designed by Kelly & Windsor after extensive evaluation, assessment, testing and are manufactured to the highest quality levels.