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How to Choose the Best Fabric for Your T-Shirts

North Carolina custom shirts

Dive into a sea of fabrics as we explore the best materials to use for your t-shirts.

Nailing down your design was just the beginning. You’ve spent countless hours perfecting and finalizing your idea and artwork, so now it’s time to choose which fabric to print your design on.

There is a wide array of fabrics out there, but not all of them work well for screen printing. After all, it is extremely frustrating to spend time, money, and effort on printed apparel only to have the design fade and disappear after the rigors of the washing and drying cycle in your laundry. We’ve compiled a concise guide in an effort to help you decide which fabric will be of the utmost quality to authentically showcase your brand.

Cotton: your best friend

Cotton is the Robin to his Batman, the surf to its sand, the Barney to his Andy, the burgers to their fries, … the list goes on. Screen printing and cotton just go together, and that’s why it’s a favorite pairing over here at Ironclad Outfitters. Simply put, cotton is the go-to material choice when it comes to screen printing.

Cotton is a natural fiber with a soft and fluffy texture. The final texture of the fabric depends on how the cotton is processed. There are four main subtypes of cotton – 100% Cotton, Combed Cotton, Ringspun Cotton and Organic Cotton.

Types of cotton apparel: 

  • 100% Cotton: The industry standard. This textured material is the most basic form of the natural product. Fibers are twisted together to make yarn. Then, the material is constructed by weaving the yard together. Cotton is relatively cheaper than other subtypes, accepts ink well, and is very durable.
  • Combed Cotton: Cotton is passed through an extra combing process before the yarn is constructed. The combing process removes short fibers, which are subject to breakage. This process improves the life-span of the fiber.
  • Ringspun Cotton: This fabric is made by spinning, twisting and thinning cotton strands and produces a soft, durable, light-weight, extremely fine cotton.
  • Organic cotton: Eco-friendly cotton is produced without using synthetic chemicals such as pesticides that harm the environment.

Blended Fabrics – If cotton isn’t your jam

Blended fabrics are essentially a mixture of two or more different types of fiber.

  • Polycotton: A mix of cotton and polyester. The polyester offers a less likely chance of shrinkage and cotton provides a softer touch. You can find various ratios of natural to synthetic blends in 50/50, 60/40, and more.
  • Triblends: Triblends are comprised of polyester, cotton and rayon fabrics. Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber and lends a softer feel and breathability to the final product. However, the combination of the three fibers can make the final print less vibrant.

Choosing the right color, fabric and style for screen printing is imperative to achieve the right look and feel for your apparel. Fabrics are to printers what canvases are to artists. A bad canvas can ruin a beautiful painting. The same can be said about a shirt or hoodie made out of poor quality material. This is why it is extremely important to choose the right fabric.

Still have questions? Don’t sweat(shirt), our team is here to help.