A guide to 'GSM' & 'Thread Count' in fabric and how to identify quality linen

While shopping for linen you’ve probably come across an array of terms, standards and marks of quality. Between GSM and thread count, it can be a little difficult to discern the true meaning of luxury bedding. We’re addressing these terms so you can identify the linen of your dreams.

What is GSM?

GSM or ‘Grams per Square Meter’ is a measure of textile weight — i.e. how many grams does one square meter of linen weigh. GSM helps buyers compare similar products and gauge the best use of materials in hand.
 Generally speaking, thicker textiles are denser and have higher GSM ratings. A typical pair of denim jeans, for example, will have a GSM of around 400. Heavy-use upholstery, winter jackets and bath mats may have a GSM in excess of 600.
 At Foxtrot Home, we carry 100% pure Flax Linen with a GSM of 165-180. Heavier than most linen apparel, but still soft to the touch, we’ve determined this weight to be the perfect balance of comfort and strength while being more accessible price-wise. Cosy and comfortable year-round, our linen is durable enough for machine washes, yet fine enough to dry quickly.






Lingerie, bridal,



Shirts, blouses, dresses



Flax linen, trousers, suits, skirts



Denim, towels, canvas, upholstery

 What is thread count?

 Put simply, thread count is the number of threads contained in one square inch of fabric. Linen has a much lower thread count than textiles like cotton — something brands that are marketing cotton love to play up. The reality is a high thread count does not necessarily guarantee quality or strength! Compared to cotton bolls, flax fibre is thicker and notably stronger, leading to naturally larger threads (and lower thread counts). As those in the know will tell you, flax fibre is still a far superior material — both in terms of quality, breathability and its low environmental impact.  

How to identify quality linen:

Flax linen has a low GSM and Thread Count, but as we have learnt, these measurements are not necessarily the hallmarks of quality. So, what is?

*Country of origin

European Flax®  certified linen (eg; from from Normandy-France, Belgium and Ireland) is considered superior to that of other countries; for two key reasons: 1) the local climate in these regions is ideal for the cultivation of flax fibre; 2) local farmers and artisans have a history of specialist knowledge which they’ve handed down, generation after generation. All Foxtrot Home French Linen is European Flax® certified! More about this in another blog....


Slubs are small, soft irregular bumps that occur naturally along the length of linen yarn. Far from being imperfections, slubs are an indicator that your linen is pure and unfettered — i.e. the real deal. Those of you with soft touch will be able to feel these bumps on pure linen textiles. Whereas they will be noticeably absent from bedding made from materials like cotton, polyester and other non-linen products.

 *Breathability and absorption

Sadly you won’t be able to test this until you slip under the covers. But should you spill water or coffee on your flax linen you’ll find it to be highly absorbent. The nodes on flax fibres latch onto perspiration, swell, and then release moisture into the air. This is breathability at work, and it’s the reason pure flax linen is able to regulate body temperature during rest.

Just another reason to love flax linen bedding!

Kate & Prue xx