T-Shirts 101 – Basics of Buying Tees

Around the globe, the humble t-shirt has evolved into the cornerstone of most people’s wardrobes. As a result, printing on t-shirts and selling them online has become a popular choice for many entrepreneurs. How you choose what kind of t-shirt will suit your project remains a crucial first step to ensuring your clients receive a high-quality product they’ll love and be able to use for years to come.

Size, fit, material, softness, and weight are all important factors when choosing what kind of t-shirt to buy. It’s also important to pick fabrics that are less likely to pill, shrink or fade. While two t-shirts may look exactly the same, they may not perform the same.

Learning the nitty-gritty of t-shirt lingo can be confusing at first, so here are a few clarifications on terms you’ll encounter when buying t-shirts in bulk:

What Does ‘Singles’ Mean?

The term single refers to the diameter of a yarn, which is based on the number of times the fiber is twisted into shape. In other words, the higher the singles, the softer the garment. This is because more singles increase the knit of a fabric. Similar to bed sheets, singles refers to the thread count of a t-shirt’s fabric. Lower-quality t-shirts are generally made from 18 to 20 singles, while higher quality t-shirts have 30 singles or more. A higher singles count also means fabric is less likely to fade, look fuzzy or tear.

Isn’t that like the weight of a fabric? Not exactly. A fabric’s weight relates to how much it weighs per square yard. Outside the United States, the fabric weight is given per square meter. Fabric can have a heavyweight, but still, have a lower singles count.

What Does CVC Mean?

Chief Value Cotton, abbreviated often as CVC, is a blend of polyester and cotton in which cotton dominates. Originally, CVC blends were invented to lower export and import duties. However, given their softness and dimension, CVC t-shirts are often mistaken for more expensive tri-blends. In contrast with tri-blends, CVC t-shirts don’t have rayon making them a more economical choice.

Choosing a CVC blend means you can offer clients a higher quality product by spending less than on a comparable, tri-blend fabric. It also means you can invest more in your design or other elements of your business, such as marketing.


What’s the difference between Carded Open-End versus Ringspun?

Carded open-end is a less expensive way to turn cotton into yarn. To do so, fibers are wrapped perpendicular to the bundle creating texture at the micro level. Carded open-end, at the micro level, appears more ‘fuzzy’ and uneven. In contrast, ringspun cotton’s fibers all run in the same direction giving the impression of a smoother, tighter knit. Simply put, ringspun is higher in quality because the fibers, more tightly knit and smooth, hold screen-printing ink more evenly and are less likely to fade. Though carded open-end was the industry standard for decades, ringspun t-shirts now dominate due to how they look better and last longer.

Image result for carded open-end

Choosing the right kind of t-shirt for your project has its own challenges, but make sure to read labels on fabrics and create samples of the final product before mass-producing your work when possible. Consider these insights on t-shirt quality from Clothing Shop Online!

Looking for more t-shirt tips? Our guide to finding the right tee will give you plenty of insight on what else to look for, and our fabric care guide will give you insight on how to make them last!

5 thoughts on “T-Shirts 101 – Basics of Buying Tees

  1. It’s interesting that singles are the thread count of a t-shirt’s fabric and that higher singles mean it’s less likely to fade. My startup business needs to make merchandise and clothing to build our brand. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind as I continue my research about shirts.

  2. My wife and I are planning on going on vacation in a couple of weeks, and we like to buy t-shirts wherever we travel so that we can have some memorabilia. I like how you mentioned that shirts that have a CVC blend means that they are of higher quality. We’ll be sure to find ones that are made with a CVC blend so that we can get some good clothing items.

  3. wow whats a great information article.It is very helpful for the designers. Your idea is actually outstanding. Thank’s to share us such an important thing.

  4. I like how you mentioned how CVC t-shirts are higher quality T-shirts. Our family reunion is this summer and we need to find a shirt that we can have the whole family wear. We’ll have to find ones that are a CVC blend so it’s a higher quality shirt.

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