The perfect t-shirt can make you feel good and comfortable for over a thousand uses. A great design is eye-catching and entices people to ask questions. Combine both, and you have a unique customized t-shirt!
Whether you’re looking to create a t-shirt for your business or just for fun, you need to consider more than the design. A good logo or icon will be useless if the shirt itself isn’t comfortable.
That’s why we created this guide to the most common types of t-shirt fabrics. Each type of fabric has advantages that cater to different climates and designs. Read on to find out which one is right for your custom tees!
Bamboo fabric is a relatively new contender in the world of t-shirt materials. It’s known for being incredibly soft and offering some unique advantages over traditional fabrics. Here’s what you need to know about bamboo t-shirt fabric:
Bamboo is often touted as a sustainable fabric choice. Bamboo plants are fast-growing and require minimal water, pesticides, and fertilizers compared to other crops. This makes bamboo an eco-friendly option for those looking to reduce their environmental impact.
Soft and Comfortable
Bamboo fabric has a silky smooth texture that’s incredibly soft against the skin. This makes bamboo t-shirts a comfortable choice for everyday wear. The natural round shape of bamboo fibers also helps to create a fabric that’s hypoallergenic and less likely to cause skin irritation.
Similar to polyester, bamboo fabric has moisture-wicking properties, which means it can effectively pull moisture away from your skin. This feature makes bamboo t-shirts a great choice for active wear and hot weather, as it helps keep you dry and comfortable.
Bamboo fabric has excellent temperature-regulating properties. It can keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold, making it a versatile choice for various weather conditions.
Antibacterial and Odor-Resistant
Bamboo fabric contains a natural antimicrobial agent called “bamboo kun.” This property helps to prevent the growth of bacteria and odor on the fabric. As a result, bamboo t-shirts tend to stay fresher for longer periods between washes.
Bamboo fabric is biodegradable, which means it can break down naturally over time. This is an important aspect for those concerned about reducing their clothing’s impact on landfills.
Printing and Dyeing
Bamboo fabric is receptive to printing and dyeing, making it a suitable choice for custom t-shirt designs. Its absorbent nature allows for vibrant prints, and it holds color well over time.
Disadvantages of Bamboo
While bamboo fabric has numerous benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks. One major concern is the process of turning bamboo into fabric. Traditional methods involve using harsh chemicals. However, advancements have been made in producing bamboo fabric using more environmentally friendly processes.
Quality and Pricing
As with any fabric, the quality of bamboo fabric can vary based on manufacturing methods. Higher-quality bamboo fabric tends to be more durable and long-lasting. However, this might come at a higher price point.
Cotton is the most popular type of fabric, used for bed sheets, towels, and yes, t-shirts! Cotton is a versatile fabric, so it’s no surprise that it encompasses 98% of t-shirt production worldwide. Here are the benefits of this natural fibre.
Flexible With the Seasons
Cotton is the best fabric for all kinds of weather. Its natural structure offers both breathability and insulation. This means it can keep you cool in the summer, but also warm in the winter.
Durable and Low-Maintenance
Some fabrics need to be hand-washed or taken to dry-cleaning. However, most people don’t have the time to do that, especially if it’s for a single shirt. Cotton is low-maintenance, so wearers only need to toss it in the wash.
It’s also durable, so users can get multiple wears out of their shirts without worrying about their quality deteriorating.
Natural fibres perform best when it comes to t-shirt printing. Due to the natural absorbency of cotton, the end printing result is usually vibrant. That’s why cotton is often the first choice when it comes to printing t-shirts.
Disadvantages of Cotton
Cotton is a great all-around fabric if you’re looking for something comfortable, but it’s not perfect. Because cotton is so popular, many companies offer it at different price points. There are also different types of cotton, so they may not have the same level of quality.
Cotton is great at absorbing moisture and sweat without retaining odour. However, its lack of moisture-wicking properties means it won’t be a good option for active wear. If you were to wear a cotton shirt hiking, all the moisture would go to the shirt and weigh you down.
Despite being a natural fibre, cotton is not sustainable. Many cotton manufacturers still use unethical practices. If you want to produce a custom cotton tee, you will need to go the extra mile to look for sustainable options.
Wool is another natural fabric that offers both versatility and durability. It’s chic and makes the perfect clothing for everyday wear.
A single sheep provides an average of 4.5 kilogrammes of wool every year. That’s equal to over 10 metres of fabric from a single sheep! As long as the sheep have something to graze on, they will keep producing soft, woolly fabric.
Wool has unique properties that make it naturally odour-resistant. This means you can get away with a couple of wears before you need to wash it. It is also easy to clean and safe to tumble-dry.
Despite being a renewable material, wool has some questionable sustainability. Shearing is good for the sheep as it keeps them cool during the summer and prevents parasitic infections. However, many farms also harvest sheep for meat.
British wool is the most sustainable as it has strict animal welfare regulations concerning the harvest of wool.
Unfortunately, wool shirts also don’t perform well in printing. Wool isn’t very absorbent, so ink may not adhere well to the fabric. It’s possible, but it’s a difficult process.
Linen is the most timeless fabric, often exuding a sense of luxury. Linen is lightweight and breathable. This makes it the perfect t-shirt fabric choice for warm or humid weather.
Hypoallergenic and Breathable
Linen is a porous fabric, making it one of the most breathable fabrics in the textile industry. Its molecular structure allows it to absorb more water than cotton. Despite being highly absorbent, linen is the best at moisture-wicking.
Moisture evaporates faster from linen fabric, which is why it’s a popular option for people with skin sensitivities. It’s also less prone to proliferating dust mites.
Regulates Body Temperature
Linen is another all-rounder when it comes to weather concerns. Because linen is so lightweight, it’s comfortable to wear during those hot summer days. Its moisture-wicking properties also prevent sweat from building up on the fabric.
More people have begun wearing linen in the winter because it’s so easy to style and layer.
Linen is your best option if you want to release sustainable t-shirts. Linen comes from flax plants, which by themselves are a sustainable crop. Flax does not need much to grow, unlike other fabrics.
100% linen only takes two weeks to decompose. Even then, linen is long-lasting, which means less waste overall.
Easy to Print and Dye
Linen takes well to dye and print thanks to its absorbent properties. It’s durable and resistant to high heat, which makes it a great material for DGT or direct-to-garment printing.
Linen is more expensive and a little more high-maintenance than cotton. It’s prone to wrinkles and shrinkage, which means you need to take extra care when washing it.
Rayon is a well-known cheaper alternative to silk. It has a similar chemical structure to linen and cotton, which makes it soft and comfortable to wear. Extracted from wood pulp, this textile is also sometimes known as viscose fabric.
Rayon is also referred to as fake silk due to its smooth and silky texture. It’s cool to the touch and is often used for making pajamas and underwear.
Easy to Dye
Rayon has an absorbent nature, making it a great fabric for custom t-shirt printing. Rayon is best for sublimation printing, which can create vibrant and long-lasting prints.
Unfortunately, rayon is not as durable as other fabrics on this list. Rayon is prone to shrinkage when wet and can get damaged easily without careful handling. Rayon can stretch after multiple washes, so it’s best to dry-clean such fabrics if you want to maintain their appearance.
Rayon may also contain harmful chemicals, like carbon disulfide. This chemical is what helps manufacturers achieve its silk-like texture. Because it’s derived from wood pulp, it’s also not the most sustainable fabric.
Polyester is a synthetic fibre derived from plastic. Once spun, these plastic fibres create a durable but soft yarn.
Polyester is ideal for creating t-shirts for people who are always on the go. Polyester can wick away moisture, so the wearer can stay dry even when they’re working up a sweat.
Durable and Flexible
Durability is one of polyester’s best qualities, able to withstand multiple washes without wrinkling. It’s best not to iron polyester shirts due to their sensitivity to extreme heat. Polyester is stretchy, but it will always go back to its original shape.
Takes Dye Well
Polyester takes well to dye and is ideal for making custom tees through dye sublimation. It is also resistant to fading, so any custom shirts will hold their prints for a long time.
People often have mixed feelings when it comes to polyester clothing. Some may find it as comfortable as any other item in their wardrobe, while others may find it coarse against the skin. This is because not all polyester fabrics are equal.
Polyester is also not the most eco-friendly option because it comes from plastic. While some companies offer recycled polyester, it will still take years to degrade once thrown away.
There might never be one textile to create the perfect custom t-shirt. All fabrics have their advantages and disadvantages. This may depend on your audience or the type of design you want to print.
Fabric blends bring out the best qualities from various textiles to create a beautiful and long-lasting print.
Cotton and Polyester Blend
Cotton-poly fabric is the most common blend you’ll see in the textile industry. Cotton may not be as durable as polyester, and neither will polyester be as comfortable as cotton. Together, these two t-shirt fabrics create a breathable product that’s less prone to wrinkles and stretching.
Cotton-poly also offers a unique heather-like texture, best seen in grey t-shirts. It’s also a popular blend for most athletic wear.
Tri-blends consist of cotton, polyester, and rayon. Cotton and polyester alone can make a more comfortable t-shirt. However, add rayon to the mix, and you get a shirt with unmatched softness.
The added rayon comes with a smoother drape, so clothes will fit better. This is the best option if you want your customized t-shirts to give a good first impression.
Best Types of T-Shirt Fabrics for Custom Printing
These are the most common types of t-shirt fabrics. Custom t-shirts can be a powerful tool for sharing a message or bringing a company together. However, a successful design is not only beautiful but comfortable and wearable.
Shirt Works can help bring your design to life. Contact us today to learn more about our services.