Garment Dyed vs Pigment Dyed T-Shirts


Posted by AllDayShirts on to Product Guides, T-Shirt Color Guides

The global market for custom printed t-shirts is expected to exceed $16.25 billion by the year 2028. Custom t-shirts have become a great creative tool for personalization and self-expression. 

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic helped to further drive the customization of t-shirts as a way to find humor as a coping mechanism during otherwise dire times. T-shirts are comfortable and versatile, and now they're more popular than ever.

But did you know there are many different types and methods for how to dye t-shirts? One method of t-shirt dye, in particular, involves garment-dyed t-shirts. 

What is a garment-dyed t-shirt and how does it compare to other methods of t-shirt dyeing? We'll explain everything you need to know in this guide, so keep reading for more information.

Why Are T-Shirt Fabrics Dyed? 

Dyeing enhances the aesthetic of the fabric, which would look very plain and bland naturally without any color. We dye t-shirts to have a form of expression and enhance our fashion choices. Colors can fit and represent certain moods or preferences for how we want to look. 

Certain fabric colors throughout history, such as purple, were once only reserved for royalty because of the costly and time-consuming process it took to create them. But today, thanks to mass production, everyone can find the colors they want in their size all over the world. 

An Overview of the Dyeing Process

Dyeing relates to the process of exposing a t-shirt dye to a type of fabric or fiber. The type of dye used and the fabric content heavily influence the intensity of the coloring that results.

Some fabrics like cotton are more breathable and moisture absorbable for wear, but this also means that they will take dyeing better for a richer, more vibrant coloring because the dye soaks in better.

For certain fabrics like polyester, the shirt or its fibers must be treated with a special chemical to properly absorb and accept the dye. 

Types of T-Shirt Dyeing

There are many styles of dying t-shirts, such as tie-dye, that can give a t-shirt a distinct look. But aside from regular dyeing, four main types of dyeing take place at different stages and in different areas of a t-shirt's production. 

  • Fiber dyeing
  • Yarn dyeing
  • Piece dyeing
  • Garment dyeing

Fiber dyeing focuses on dyeing the fibers before it is even spun into yarn. This process provides a more even dye penetration. It is a very time-consuming and costly method because the color is added months in advance.

Yarn dyeing involves dyeing the yarns spun from fibers before they are woven into fabric. It provides wonderful coloring because the yarn is so accepting of the dye permeation.

Piece dyeing refers to dyeing fabric after being woven but before it gets made into a garment. It is the most known way to dye solid colors. 

Garment dyeing is the end product. This is when a fully made t-shirt or other garment is dyed as the last step in the process. Garment dye only applies to created apparel, not fabrics or fibers.

What Are Garment-Dyed T-Shirts?

Garment-dyed t-shirts are shirts that are dyed after they have already been made into shirts. Ordinarily, bolts of fabric are dyed first and the t-shirt is cut and constructed from this fabric. Pre-dyed fabric bolts provide a richer coloring to the apparel items created from them.

Garment-dyed t-shirts have different areas of coloring where the dye has settled. The body of the shirt may appear faded and more worn while areas around the neck and underarms may have higher concentrations of dye. 

Garment t-shirt dye soaks in and permeates the whole shirt. It changes the color of the t-shirt. One of the main benefits of garment-dyed t-shirts is that the color won't rub off or fade as dramatically over time.

Recommended Garment-Dyed T-Shirts

Here are just a few of our favorites when it comes to the best garment-dyed t-shirts. It is important to know that, unlike some t-shirt colors which can have different fabric contents that influence their colors, all Comfort Colors t-shirts are garment-dyed t-shirts. 

C1717-Comfort Colors Heavyweight Unisex T-Shirt

Garment Dyed Shirt

Our Heavyweight Comfort Colors Unisex T-Shirt is made from 100% preshrunk 6.1-oz ring-spun cotton. It comes in a variety of 65 gorgeous colors in sizes Small to 3XL. 

GDH150-Hanes Unisex Garment-Dyed T-Shirt

Garment Dyed T-Shirt

This Hanes Unisex Garment-Dyed T-Shirt comes with a 5-point reinforced pocket. It is made of 5.5-oz 100% ring-spun cotton and it is enzyme washed for softness. It is available in 18 colors in sizes from Small to 3XL. 

04850C1-Alternative Men's Heritage Garment-Dyed Distressed T-Shirt

Alternative Men's Heritage Garment-Dyed Distressed T-Shirt is a 3.69-oz (30 singles) 100% cotton jersey with a featured distressed neckline and sleeve hems and hemline design. It is available in four colors from sizes XS to 2XL. 

What Are Pigment-Dyed T-Shirts?

Pigment-dyed t-shirts are also dyed after the shirt is already made. Pigment dyeing, however, uses a chemical bond to stick a coating of dye onto the t-shirt. A pigment-dyed t-shirt is only a layer of color that sits on top of the fabric compared to a garment-dyed t-shirt. 

It does not soak in as deeply as garment-dyed t-shirts. It’s not really dyeing because instead of dyes pigments are attached to the garment with the use of binders and locked into the surface of the fabric with ionic attachment instead of embedding into the fabric.

While not as rich in color as traditional t-shirt dye is, the intentionally worn and faded look it offers has become a popular style trend. 

Recommended Pigment-Dyed T-Shirts and Accessories

If you prefer the look of pigment-dyed fabrics, we've also got you covered. Check out our recommended products below.

130A-Threadfast Unisex Pigment-Dyed Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

Pigment Dyed Shirt

Try this Threadfast Unisex Pigment-Dyed Short-Sleeve T-Shirt made from 4.3-oz 60% preshrunk combed ringspun cotton (32 singles) and 40% polyester in 16 colors. Navy and Black colors are 100% cotton construction.

CVC provides a smooth, soft finish. Available in sizes XS to 3XL. 

AP200W-Authentic Women's Short-Sleeve Tee

Crafted from 5-oz 100% combed and ring-spun cotton, the Authentic Women's Short-Sleeve Tee (30 singles) has an incredible softness. It is available in 15 colors and comes in sizes XS to 2XL.

AD969-Adams Optimum Pigment-Dyed Cap

Pigment Dyed Cap

The Adams Optimum Pigment-Dyed Cap comes in three colors. Fashioned from 100% garment-washed cotton twill. It features a 6-panel unstructured, low-profile design and Cool-Crown mesh lining with four rows of stitching on the bill.

A tuck-away leather back strap displays the Adams logo with an antiqued brass buckle and grommet design.

1902-Authentic Pigment-Dyed Canvas Field Bag

Pigment Dyed Bag

This Authentic Pigment-Dyed Canvas Field Bag in Flamingo Pink is a 14-oz cotton canvas bag that has been enzyme washed for softness. It features a front flap design with brass turnbuckles, cotton webbing straps, and an inside hanging zippered pocket.

Distressed Style: Garment-Dyed vs Pigment-Dyed

When deciding between garment-dyed and pigment-dyed T-shirts, the choice is yours. Both will give you a distressed or faded look without compromising the quality of the shirt.

Just remember that a pigment-dyed t-shirt is not as colorfast as a garment-dyed t-shirt. Garment-dyed t-shirts are a little pricier, but they create longer-lasting and stronger colors.

Wholesale Blank T-Shirts and Accessories

For pigment-dyed and garment-dyed t-shirts and accessories, has what you need in stock and at wholesale prices. We carry all the biggest brands in men's, women's, and children's sizes.

We have 47+ years of experience as a U.S.-owned and operated blank t-shirt wholesaler. These blank shirts are great for printing your personalized designs for charity organizations, school events, business functions, or just for everyday wear. 

Place your order on our website today and check out our other blog posts like 6 Kids T-Shirt Craft Ideas.

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