Learning how to choose what kind of t-shirt to use for your craft or screen-printing project depends on your crafting or screen-printing business needs. Some fabric and screen-printing choices make more sense for your bottom line than others. Or perhaps you’re looking for a different kind of t-shirt for your business due to changing needs.
Fabric and garment construction vary between t-shirts and, thus, yield different quality results. What kind of t-shirt you choose depends on your project’s price point, desired quality, and how you want the fabric to feel. Natural fibers tend to be more durable and age better over time than synthetic fibers, like poly-blends. This is because different fabrics have varying expiration dates, so a blend is only as long-lasting as its parts. However, this isn’t always the case, and, perhaps, a synthetic fabric blend may be better suited for your project. Some synthetic blends have superior elasticity and breathability. So, what kind of fabric you choose depends on your goals.
While several factors influence the quality of t-shirts, four stand out: the fabric used, how a screen-printing method has been applied, and which garment construction best fits your needs. Depending on the desired effect for your final product’s design, it may make sense to go with a more cost-effective fabric if the screen-printing application and ink are particularly well-done. Then again, if the fabric quality doesn’t stand up to constant wear, then it won’t matter how well-made a print may be.
Different kinds of cotton vary in fiber length and in how tightly those fibers are woven. The longer and tighter the fibers are, the longer the fabric will last. Long-lasting quality depends, ultimately, on a fabric’s softness and density rather than its weight.
What are some essential things to keep in mind regarding customized t-shirt quality? Below are some considerations:
- Understand the durability and breathability of the fabric.
- Check image quality or embroidered details.
- Read wash and care directions for t-shirts.
- Inspect hems, seams, and stitches for missing threads inside and outside of the garment.
- Count a garment’s stitches – the more stitches; the more time was spent on constructing it.
- Whether polyester, fleece, cotton or tri-blends, how will the fabric hold up to screen printing?
Here are some considerations on how to choose a t-shirt based on three levels of quality from Clothing Shop Online:
Perhaps you’re gifting a t-shirt to a friend or crafting with the kids. Or maybe, you’re creating a one-off t-shirt for a one-time event. Either way, you may only be looking for a simple t-shirt to do your at-home craft project. Likely these types of t-shirts won’t be worn as often or needed for screen-printing, so you may not need them to be as durable or soft. Several low-cost options exist for budget-friendly craft activities:
- Low Price Range: Several budget-friendly t-shirt options exist in the $1.99 – $3.99 range and are easy to buy for a family. Clothing Shop Online has dozens of budget options from companies like BELLA + CANVAS, Gildan, Anvil, Fruit of the Loom, and even Alternative.
- Shirts that are made of 100% cotton: While these kinds of t-shirts are not as soft as tri-blends, and may shrink in the wash if proper instructions are not followed, 100% cotton tees are durable and don’t shrink as quickly as other kinds of fabrics.
- Quarter-turned refers to a textile manufacturing process that rotates 1/4 of a turn to put a crease on a product’s side rather than its front, thus eliminating the ridge that appears down the front of a t-shirt and potentially causing it to drape oddly.
- Shirt Fit tees are usually unisex, or box fit and do not conform to people’s body shape.
- Budget-friendly t-shirt options that feature all of the above factors include tees from these brands:
- Gildan – Heavy Cotton T-Shirt – 5000
- Hanes – ComfortSoft® Short Sleeve T-Shirt – 5280
- Fruit of the Loom – HD Cotton Short Sleeve T-Shirt – 3930R
One the other hand, if your project requires a better quality t-shirt on which to screen print or embroider that will last several years, there are several fashion basics to choose from. The main features of better-quality t-shirts include:
- Mid-Price Range: Clothing Shop online has several mid-range fashion basics in the $4.00 – $8.99 range, which are priced for customers who prefer to balance a higher-quality end-product within their budget. Alternative, Jerzees, BELLA + CANVAS, Burnside, C2 Sport, FeatherLite, Comfort Colors, and Champion all offer several mid-range options.
- Tri-Blend fabrics are made of polyester, cotton, and rayon, offering a higher quality t-shirt. Tri-blends marry the elasticity of polyester with the comfort and durability of cotton. Rayon gives this blend a beautiful drape, making tri-blends ideal for yoga pieces or higher-end fashion separates.
- Ring-Spun cotton, in contrast to 100% cotton, is much softer. This is because its cotton fibers twist and thin in a way that makes it more durable than yarn. This cotton option is prized for its long-lasting softness and durability in the wash. In general, screen printing often looks better on 100% ring-spun cotton.
- Side-Seams run down the sides of t-shirts. Because they help better conform to your body, t-shirts with side-seams also cost more to produce.
Businesses tend to choose the best-quality t-shirts because of employees’ need to wear t-shirt uniforms day in and out, like people who work in restaurants and grocery stores, or for special company events, like those who work at tech-companies or other kinds of businesses that have cool company-branded t-shirts made. Band t-shirts and sports teams also tend to make their t-shirts from the best-quality fabrics and screen printing or embroidery techniques, enabling them to charge top-dollar for their end-product.
- High Price Range: Arguably, the most expensive option of the three in this line-up, t-shirts in the $9.00+ range can charge more for branded products because they feature higher-end fabric finishes that frequently cost more to make. However, the best quality fabrics and finishes tend to last the longest, offer the most attractive draping and new fabric technologies.
- Durability: Shirts within this category are usually used for screen-printing, water-based printing, and sublimation. Ultimately, if you invest in your printing techniques, as well as ink, you want to make sure that your designs will last. How ink adheres to quality fabric often determines how long your designs will last with repeated washing. For instance, t-shirts used for activewear or as work uniforms require fabrics that can endure increased activity.
- Specialized features:
- Moisture-wicking (sports and outdoor-hiking wear)
- Polyester blends
- Anti-odor technology (activewear and uniforms)
- Side Seams/ Retail Fit (band t-shirts and company branding)
- Latest fabric technologies
- Three high-range t-shirts that offer great-quality fabrics, specialized features, durability, and better fits include:
Whatever your t-shirt printing needs may be, consider some of the above details when figuring out what kind of t-shirt to purchase individually or in bulk. If you’re trying to economize your bottom-line as other business factors arise, you have several fabric options from which to choose.