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T-Shirt Fabrics Basics - Cotton, Polyester and Blends

T-Shirt Fabrics Basics - Cotton, Polyester and Blends

Posted by All Day Shirts on 4/22/2021 to Product Guides

When you are shopping, what kinds of clothes do you buy? How do you choose the softest t-shirt material?  This is a common question that people ask. Don't worry, you are not the only one.

Finding the softest materials for t-shirts is a difficult task, especially when trying to balance it with the costs. Among the different types of t-shirt fabrics, there are a few that stand out. If you are looking for the best t-shirt for you, this is a great place to start!

Can you imagine having high-quality t-shirts that are also affordable? You could have the softest t-shirts and still have some money in your back pocket!

Doesn't that sound great! 

To learn more, read through our guide to selecting the best t-shirt material for you. 

Let's take a look!

Understanding the Different T-Shirt Fabrics

When examining the types of t-shirt material, it is important to determine what kind of printing you want on the t-shirt. Finding the right fabric is essential for creating a clear and attractive print.

It is also necessary to find a soft fabric material. After all, no one wants to buy an uncomfortable and itchy shirt!

Finding a way to incorporate comfort and printing into a shirt is a great place to start. This will give you the opportunity to print your brand on a t-shirt that your customers will love.

To start, we are going to walk you through the different types of fabrics and what types of printing work the best for them. This will help you to find the best option for your sales and the satisfaction of your customers. 

1) Cotton T-shirts

Cotton is one of the most common materials for t-shirt fabrics. This is mainly because it is one of the softest. Among the different types, our favorite are the Gildan G640 and the Next Level 3600 t-shirts, which are 100% Ringspun cotton. 

- Combed Cotton

In this type, the fibers are combed before they are made into yarn for the t-shirt. This process removes any parts that stick out.

As a result, the fabrics can be tightly woven. This makes it very soft to the touch and a comfortable shirt to wear.

- Organic Cotton

This cotton is grown in a way that does not use chemicals or pesticides. This process helps the cotton fibers to be longer, which makes the t-shirt very soft.

- Carded Open End Prima Cotton

Prima cotton is a high-quality type of cotton. It has longer fibers than the regular type, which makes it even softer. A bonus that customers love is that Prima Cotton is wrinkle resistant. This makes the shirt look stylish and feel comfortable at the same time. 

Cotton makes a naturally soft shirt fabric, which makes it both comfortable and durable. Its hollow fibers make it breathe well. which means that air can pass through it.

Printing On Cotton Fabric

Cotton t-shirt fabrics are excellent to print on and are often the preferred option for customers. Screen printers that use water-based inks are especially effective on cotton fabrics. 

DTG printing works well on cotton as well. This process works similarly to a digital printer that you would use in an office. It gives the fabric complex designs and color variation in a way that other types cannot.

DTG print on cotton
Source: www.firelabel.co.uk

This type of printing works the best with 100% cotton fabrics. DTG only uses water-based inks. To get the best results, 100% cotton is the most effective method. 

Cotton t-shirts are generally very cheap. Depending on the design and manufacturer, they may only cost a few dollars. 

2) Polyester T-shirts

Polyester is a durable fabric that has a low absorbency rate. This helps the t-shirts to dry quickly. The material also maintains its shape well, which decreases the likelihood of shrinking or stretching.

Athletic Activity

This is a great option for people who are athletic or spend a lot of time outdoors. Polyester is partially odor-resistant, which is useful for sweat. Its low absorbency also helps the fabric to dry very fast. 

When spending a lot of time outside, this is a useful quality to have. It can help you to stay cool in the hot weather and repel moisture.

Fewer Stains

This also decreases the likelihood of staining t-shirts made from polyester. Since it is not very absorbent, the fabric should not stain as often as other types of t-shirts. 

The fibers are strong, which keeps the t-shirt from wearing down over time. The material is less likely to shrink as well. After repeated washing and wearing, it will hold up well and will not fade as much as other fabrics. It also will continue to be a soft t-shirt fabric. 

Printing on Polyester

Heat Transfer printing works especially well on polyester fabrics. This method uses a computer to create a design and put it on adhesive vinyl. You can add the design to the fabric by adding heat to the design.

This is one of the most flexible techniques for printing because it works on most materials. Since the transfers are made of plastic, they attach best to synthetic fabrics.

Sublimation is effective on polyester as well. This is a new technique that melts pigments into the fabric. This is used in place of adding another layer to the fabric, as is done with transfer printing.

However, this method can only be used with synthetic fabrics. Otherwise, the colors would not attach. This makes polyester the best option for sublimation.

Polyester is generally inexpensive as well. Depending on the product and company, it can fluctuate in price. It also tends to be a little bit cheaper than the price of cotton.

3) Fabric Blends T-shirts

Blends are another type of t-shirt fabric that combines the best qualities of multiple fabric types. When blending different fabrics, the result is one of the softest materials. Our favorite blended t-shirts are the Bella Canvas' 3413C Unisex Triblend and 3415 Unisex Triblend V-Neck.

- 50/50 blend

This is a common combination because it is made of cotton and polyester. This reduces the need for decisions about cotton vs. polyester t-shirts.

Cotton is known for being soft and polyester is known for being durable. When they are combined, the fabric has both of these qualities!

- Tri-blend

These are wonderful for creating a clear print. They are also very soft to wear.

Tri-blends usually consist of cotton, polyester, and rayon. Rayon may be traditional or made of synthetic fiber, such as Modal. Combining cotton and rayon creates the softest t-shirt material. Adding in polyester makes it durable, which makes an amazing blend. 

- Polyester Spandex

Both are synthetic fibers, and the combination creates a fabric that is great for sportswear. Spandex is stretchy and polyester is durable. Together, they make a flexible and strong fabric. 

- 65/35

It may be made from 65% Ringspun cotton and 35% polyester. On the other hand, it can also be made from 65% polyester and 35% Ringspun cotton. 

This is especially useful because 100% cotton fabrics may wear out or tear. Adding polyester to the blend helps to increase the durability of the fabric.

- Poly-cotton

This poly-cotton is also lighter weight than regular cotton. Polyester is not breathable on its own. Combining it with cotton helps it to be more comfortable and less prone to static.

What is the softest material for t-shirts? Cotton is soft but combining it with polyester makes it the softest and most sturdy. 

Poly cotton also consists of man-made fibers. This gives it resistance and strength for its use. It is made from a stronger material than 100% cotton, which increases its effectiveness and makes it last longer.

Printing on Blends

Since these blends are often very sturdy, they are a great option for embroidery. The strong the fabric is, the more likely it is to succeed. As long as the weave is tight and secure, the fabric will hold up against the needles.

Blends find a balance in price between polyester and cotton costs. Cotton is very cheap, but polyester is more expensive. Combining the two makes the total product more affordable than 100% cotton.

For example, poly-cotton does not only rely on harvesting. This makes more materials available than for fabrics that are 100% cotton. 65% polyester and 35% cotton fabrics are the most affordable option. 


How To Choose The Best T-shirt Fabric

Before you choose a fabric, you need to know what kind of printing you want for your t-shirts. Here are five things that you need to consider when finding a material to print on. 

1. Identify T-shirt Requirements

The first step is to identify what qualities you are looking for in t-shirt fabrics. This includes qualities such as softness, odor resistance, and breathability.

2. Choose a Printing Method

It is also important to know which printing method you are interested in. This may include direct-to-garment, embroidery, or screen printing. 

3. Determine Your Budget

Next, know how much you want to pay. High-quality clothing can be expensive. This makes it important to know the maximum amount that you are willing to spend. 

4. Find the Right Style

You will need to determine if there is a purpose for the shirt. Are these for a certain event? Will these be used as an uniform? Will it be a sold as merchandise? This will help you to choose the style that is the best fit for you.

5. Know Your Audience

Lastly, know what kind of person will be wearing the t-shirt. This includes their age and sense of style. Being aware of these qualities will help you to identify the best t-shirt fabrics for a given person and situation. 


Our Recommended T-Shirts

When examining the three main types of t-shirt fabrics and the softest t-shirt material, you will need to know all about them to make an informed choice. Knowing the pros and cons about each will give you the information that you need to choose the best t-shirt for you.

100% Cotton T-shirts

100% cotton is the choice for you if you are looking for a soft and comfortable shirt. When asking the question "what is the softest t-shirt material", cotton is the clear answer. These t-shirts can be customized with ease and are made of breathable material. Remember, they may shrink and fade as you wash them. Yet, it is still one of the most popular options out there. 

Here are some of our favorites:

100% Polyester T-shirts

100% polyester is the choice for you if you want a shirt that is light and durable. It is less likely to shrink or fade as you wear it, and it is a great option for athletes to consider. Remember, printing methods do not work consistently with polyester. However, the fabric is smooth, and the prices are cheap. 

These are some of our recommendations:

Blend T-shirts

Blends are the choice for you if you want a little bit of both! 50/50 or tri-blend options are popular for customers and are affordable. They may be more expensive than 100% polyester, but this depends on the brand. This option can have the most durable and softest t-shirts as it creates a balance between cotton and polyester fabrics. 

Here are our top 3 picks:

To Sum It Up

If you take a look at these different types of t-shirt material, you will be able to find the best choice for you. Not every person is the same. Prioritizing the qualities that you are looking for will help you to find the softest t-shirt material. 

We encourage you to delve into all of these possibilities and your preferences. We are excited to help you find the t-shirts that you are looking for and give you the best experiences possible. 

Are you ready to explore these options?