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The complete T-shirt glossary of terms

T-shirt glossary of terms graphic

Shopping for the perfect T-shirt for yourself or your crew can be a little confusing.

Descriptions such as “self-collar” and “double-needle stitching” aren’t much help if you don’t know what they mean!

Customers should know exactly what they’re getting when choosing a T-shirt. So I invite you to use (and share!) these T-shirt terms as you browse our colorful selection of short- and long-sleeved tees. The glossary also is an ideal resource for fashion educators!

T-shirt glossary of terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U W X Y Z

50/50 
Made equally with two different types of fabrics.

A

Air-jet spinning
An open-ended, spinning process that uses a stationary tube to propel jets of air for twisting fibers into yarn. The process helps resist the pilling or fuzzing of materials.

Airlume®
A registered trademark of Bella+Canvas that identifies its highest-quality combed and ring-spun cotton. 
View one of our most popular Airlume® Unisex Tees for adults.

ANSI 
The American National Standards Institute. The private, nonprofit organization bears the responsibility of tapping representatives from government, industry, education and the public to create voluntary consensus standards to strengthen U.S. business competitiveness and protect the safety and health of consumers and the environment.

Anti-bacterial
A type of fabric incorporated with active elements such as silver to prohibit or destroy the growth of harmful bacteria.

Anti-microbial 
A type of fabric infused with active ingredients such as silver or zinc to inhibit the growth of microbes on surfaces for an extended period of time. It is often used to help remove odors caused by sweat.

Anti-pill finish
The addition of an application or a natural feature of fabric that resists the formation of fuzziness or little balls due to friction while wearing or cleaning.

B

Banded self-collar
A type of collar created from the same material as the shirt.

Bartack stitch
A heavy stitch used to reinforce seams or areas of apparel that are subject to stress.

Basket weave
A stitch method using horizontal and vertical strands to achieve a square pattern.

Binding
Fabric that is used to cover the raw edge of a round opening, such as a neckline, to achieve a neat finish.

Biowash
A finishing process using enzymes on wet fabrics to decrease pilling or fuzziness of knitted materials. 

Blank
Apparel that does not have a design, logo or other type of imprint.

Blanket stitch
An embroidery stitch often used to decorate the edge of necklines and sleeves.

Bonded fleece
Fleece that is attached to another material for added thickness and/or warmth.

Bonding
Joining sections of materials by using heat, pressure, adhesive or another substance.

Box pleat
Created when two sections of fabric are folded away from each other to form a wide, vertical pleat. It is often found on the top backside of a shirt.

Breathability
The ability of certain materials to allow moisture, such as sweat, to escape via transmission through the fabric.

Broadcloth
A type of tightly woven, plain-weave fabric with fine ribs that gives shirts a smooth appearance.

Brushed
Fabric that is finished by raising the surface fibers to get a soft, high nap.

Burnout
Also called Devoré, is a technique that produces a textured look such as embroidery when mixed-fiber material undergoes a chemical process. The chemical literally burns out a layer of the fabric.

C

CPSIA tracking label 
A permanently placed label that identifies the manufacturer, production location, date, batch number and other information regarding a product in case of a recall.

Cap sleeves
A short sleeve style with a small “cap” above the shoulder area that tapers to nothing beneath the arm.

Carded cotton
A type of cotton that undergoes a carding process to separate the fibers and align them in the same direction. The unrefined process leaves the fabric with a rough, inconsistent texture.

Chain stitch
A traditional jean-hemming stitch that creates a roping effect by using a continuous thread that loops back on itself.

Chambray
A plain-weave fabric with a criss-cross thread pattern that resembles denim but is much thinner and softer to the touch.

Circular knit
A fabric created with multiple loops of yarn or stitches in a line or tube. Shirts made with circular knit are seamless and less dense than flat-knit fabrics.

Collar
A typically small band of material around the neck of a T-shirt.. 

Color block
The pairing of two or more contrasting colors in a single piece of apparel.

Colorfast
Fabric that has been dyed in colors specifically treated to resist fading or washing away.

Combed cotton
A softer version of regular cotton that involves treating the fibers before they are spun into yarn.

ComfortSoft®
A registered trademark owned by Hanes® and used for various types of apparel.

Compacting
A process that uses a machine to pre-shrink and stabilize T-shirts to reduce the amount of shrinkage after washing.

Contrast stitching
The use of thread colors that contrast with the color of the T-shirt’s fabric.

Cotton fabric
Material made from the natural fibers of cotton plants, which are from the genus Gossypium.

Cotton sheeting
A lightweight, basic, natural fiber material used to make shirts and other types of apparel.

Cover seam/cover stitching
A type of stitching that looks like two rows of stitching on top of the fabric and a serge-like stitch on the backside. It provides stretchability to the fabric and covers a raw edge in a single step.

Crew neck collar
A shirt with a round neckline but no collar.

Crinkle cotton
Any cotton fabric that is treated via weaving or another method to create a wrinkled effect or texture.

Cross-grain
Refers to the threads of the fabric that run perpendicular to the unraveled or cut edge.

Curved hem
A hem of a shirt that is cut and sewn in a curve such as a half circle.

Cut
The “cut” of a T-shirt refers to the style such as how it fits and drapes when worn.

D

Decoration
Any imprint such as a design or other type of embellishment placed on a T-shirt.

Denier
A unit of density used to determine the thickness of the fibers in the fabric. The higher the denier count, the greater the diameter of the yarn.

Digital print
A process involving a large-scale digital computer printer to apply artwork via eco-solvent ink through the printer and onto material.

Double Dry®
A registered trademark owned by Champion® for shirts with moisture-wicking qualities.

Double knit
A type of fabric constructed with a double-knit weave for a more structured appearance.

Double-needle stitching
A sewing technique that involves two threads guided through a single eye to create a pair of parallel rows on top of the fabric and a zig-zag stitch on the back.

DryBlend®
A registered trademark owned by Gildan for a line of T-shirts designed to be durabile, comfortable and moisture-wicking.
View our best-selling DryBlend® T-shirt for adults.

Dri-Power®
A registered trademark owned by Jerzees brand that offers moisture-wicking qualities.
View our best-selling Dri-Power® T-shirt for kids.

Drop tail 
A style, also known as extended tail, where the back of the T-shirt is longer than the front.

Drop-needle
A unique knitting technique where a stitch or two is dropped to create a stripe or “run” in the T-shirt material. This often creates a see-through effect similar to lace.

E

Egyptian cotton
Referring to the extra long staple (ELS) cotton produced in Egypt, where the climate encourages the growth of longer fibers.

Embroidered
A method of decorating a T-shirt by sewing a design or text directly onto the material.

End-on-end
A technique that creates a lightweight fabric similar to poplin by using a one-to-one weave for a smooth fabric finish. 

Enzyme-wash
A washing process that uses enzymes to soften and give T-shirt fabric a worn look and feel.

Ergonomic
A T-shirt designed to fit close to the body. The style is often used for athletic and performance shirts.

F

Feminine cut
A style of T-shirt designed to better fit the body of a female. A feminine cut often includes curved side seams, narrower shoulders, shorter sleeves and an overall narrower fit.

Fine gauge knit
A type of shirt fabric made with a fine or small needle to produce a small stitch. 

Fitted T-shirt
A T-shirt that is cut to more closely follow the shape of a person’s body.

Flat collar/cuffs
A fabric with a finished edge used to create collars and cuffs on short- and long-sleeved T-shirts.

Flat knitting
Often called weft or back and forth knitting, it is a procedure that creates a sheet of fabric by knitting from side to side. 

Full cut
A shirt designed to be loose-fitting with more overall room.

G

Garment dyed/garment washed
T-shirt fabric that is dyed and/or washed after it is cut and sewn. The procedure softens the color and texture for a more broken-in feel.

Gauge
An indication of the number of stitches a garment has per inch.

Gusset
A small piece of fabric sewn between T-shirt hems for added reinforcement.

H

Hang tag
A type of tag that hangs down from a T-shirt and can include information about size, the manufacturer, fabric, washing instructions and more.

Heat transfer label
A label that contains information about a T-shirt and is affixed by heat and pressure. It is an alternative to a hang tag that can sometimes irritate the skin.

Heathered
A process that blends different colored fibers into one yarn for a soft, muted appearance.

Heavy cotton
A term used by Gildan® for its 5.3-oz. sturdy cotton T-shirt. It is the most popular Gildan T-shirt due to its affordability, durability and color options.

Heavyweight
In general, a T-shirt that weighs about 6 oz. and is manufactured with heavy cotton yarn.

Henley
A collarless shirt designed with a small opening or placket on the chest where several buttons are located.

Herringbone or chevron stitch
A special type of stitch used in embroidery that resembles a herringbone pattern, similar to the bones in the spine of a herring fish.

I

ISEA
The International Safety Equipment Association, which oversees the manufacturing of personal protective equipment and technologies. It is an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization.

Imprint
Any type of design such as a logo or text printed on a T-shirt via a printing process.

Interlock knit
A knitting process that creates a thicker fabric credited with keeping its shape longer.

J

Jersey knit
A soft, stretchy knit fabric that is smooth on one side and offers more texture on the reverse side. It can be made with various materials such as polyester, rayon, cotton and blends.

L

Locker loop
A small loop located on the top, backside of a shirt that is used to hang it on a hook. Locker loops are most commonly found on button-down shirts but are sometimes sewn into T-shirts.

Locker patch
A small panel typically sewn into the top, backside of a T-shirt to reduce stretching when hung on a hook.

Logo
A design, mark, symbol and/or name that identifies a company, brand or organization. 

Lycra® fiber
A trademarked brand representing a type of synthetic elastic fiber known as spandex. It is popular for its elasticity in clothing.

Lyocell/Tencel®
A form of rayon made from wood pulp. It is produced using recyclable, eco-friendly solvents and boasts wrinkle resistance and a silky feel when blended with cotton to make shirts.

M

Medium weight
T-shirt fabric that typically is 150-350 grams per square meter (GSM). The higher the GSM, the denser the fabric.

Mercerization
A textile industry treatment for cellulose fabric such as cotton to improve durability, dye acceptance and appearance, and to reduce shrinkage.

Mesh
A T-shirt fabric often made from polyester or a polyester blend that is highly breathable.

Microfiber
A synthetic fiber often made with a blend of polyester and nylon to create T-shirts that are more durable than cotton, retain shape after wearing and washing, and are quick drying.

Mineral wash (acid wash)
A garment-washing process involving a bleaching agent that makes T-shirt fabrics appear weathered and faded.

Moisture management
A fabric treatment process that wicks away moisture from the skin to keep a T-shirt wearer dry and comfortable.

Moisture-wicking
A type of T-shirt fabric that pulls sweat from the material and away from the skin for a drier, cooler experience.

N

Nap
The typically rough, fuzzy surface of certain fabrics such as velvet or wool.

Next Level®
A registered trademark for the Next Level Apparel company and its line of soft, comfortable T-shirts and other clothing.

Non-iron
Apparel such as cotton T-shirts that generally do not require ironing to retain a neat appearance.

Nylon
A material made from synthetic polymers containing polyamides and developed into fibers for the manufacturing of apparel.

O

Open-end yarn
A budget-friendly process of turning cotton into yarn for T-shirts by bonding fibers with a wrapped fiber that operates vertically to the fiber bundle.

Ounces Per Square Yard
A measurement for fabric in the U.S. T-shirts with higher ounces per square yard are thicker and considered more durable than those with lower ounces per square yard.

Over-dyed
Shirts that are treated with excess or multiple dyes for a unique, vivid color appearance.

P

PMS Color Matching
A standardized color reproduction system that gives a more accurate shade of selected colors. All PMS Colors correspond to a number and are more precise for logos and branding.

Patch pocket
A pocket sewn onto the outside of a T-shirt like a “patch” by using pre-cut pieces of material.

Peached
A finished fabric treatment that gently breaks some of the material’s fiber for a softer, more comfortable feel.

Performance fabrics
T-shirt material that is designed to be durable and stretchy for sportswear and other types of activity for people on the move.

Peruvian Pima cotton
A type of high-quality, hand-harvested cotton from Peru that is known for its exceptional durability, absorbance and softness.

Piece-dyed
Whole pieces of fabric that are dyed after the material is knitted or woven.

Pigment-dyed
A post-production process that applies dye to the surface of fully-sewn T-shirts for a weathered appearance. 

Pilling
The process that occurs when the surface of certain fabrics experience abrasion and produce fuzz or lint balls.

Pima cotton
High-quality cotton with a longer fiber than traditional cotton. It is considered wrinkle-resistant, durable and soft to the touch.

Pique knit
A uniquely weaved fabric with raised geometric designs such as parallel cords that give the material texture. 

Ply
The number of yarns twisted together to create a single thread and used to create a shirt.

Polyester
Any T-shirt material that is manufactured using polyester fibers or yarns.

Polyester blend
A T-shirt that is made with polyester and a mix of other fabrics such as cotton.

Poly-cotton
A type of T-shirt made with a blend of natural cotton and artificially-made synthetic polyester.

Polynosic
A T-shirt material made by blending rayon and polyester for a soft-to-the-touch finish.

Polypropylene
A type of material used to make apparel such as thermal T-shirts and designed for moisture-wicking.

Poplin
Plain-weave cotton material with tiny horizontal ribbing that produces a durable, crisp, silky-feeling fabric.

Pre-laundered or pre-washed fabric
Material that is washed after manufacturing. Pre-washed cotton T-shirt material is known for holding color better.

Pre-shrunk fabric
A process of washing or utilizing other mechanical means to condense the fibers of the fabric to reduce shrinkage later.

Princess seam
A long, round seam that provides shape and a more flattering fit for a woman’s T-shirt.

PVC
A type of material made from plastic polyvinyl chloride that gives a shiny appearance to T-shirts.

Q

Quarter-turned
A manufacturing technique that rotates the mill a quarter of a turn to eliminate or relocate a crease on a T-shirt.

R

Racerback
A sleeveless T-shirt with a T-shaped back across the shoulder blades for less restrictive movement.

Raglan sleeve
A sleeve made with a piece of fabric that continuously extends from the collar to the underarm. Often called baseball shirts, it is named for Lord Raglan who wore a coat of this style after losing his arm in a battle.

Raw edge jersey
A T-shirt style that either doesn’t have a sewn hem or has one with a single fold-over that allows the material’s edge to fray over time.

Rayon
A fabric that is made from a manufactured cellulose fiber derived from a plant source such as wood.

Reactive dye
A type of T-shirt dye that bonds with the fiber to produce a wide range of permanent colors.

Regular fit
Also called classic fit, the cut for these T-shirts tends to be loose and typically made for the average-size person.

Retail fit
A more trendy-fitting T-shirt that often runs smaller and has shorter sleeves.

Rib-knit
A type of T-shirt fabric with a ribbed pattern of raised and lowered knit rows.

Ring-spun cotton
A type of fabric made by twisting and thinning cotton stands into very fine, soft, strong rope of cotton fibers. The process makes T-shirts more durable.

Rip-stop nylon
Nylon material that undergoes a special reinforcement technique during weaving to make them more resistant to tearing.

S

Safety colors
A selection of bright or neon-like colors used to create T-shirts for those who need high-visibility clothing to prevent safety hazards.

Sand washed
A washing process using sand to soften and give a distressed look to T-shirts.

Scoop neck 
A T-shirt neckline with an exaggerated lower circle than standard styles

Screen printing
A process that pushes ink through a custom-made screen or stencil onto the T-shirt fabric.

Sculptured hem
The bottom hem of a T-shirt that is full and flowy for a casual look.

Seamless collar
A T-shirt collar that has no joining seams and is knit in a circle.

Self-collar
A T-shirt collar that is made from the exact same material as the shirt.

Semi-relaxed fit
A style of T-shirt that slightly clings to the body and is somewhat flowy.

Set-in sleeve
A standard T-shirt sleeve with a shoulder seam that continues around the arm in a circle.

Shoulder-to-shoulder taping
A finishing process that adds binding or tape to shoulder and neck seams for added durability at those stress points.

Shrinkage rate
The calculation of how much a T-shirt will shrink based on the type of fabric and processes used during the manufacturing.

Side seams
The seams located on both sides of a T-shirt that typically run from the armpit to the bottom hem.

Side vents
The slits created in the bottom side seams of a T-shirt for added style and greater movement.

Silk
A type of material consisting of a protein secreted by certain insects to make cocoons.

Single-needle stitching
A T-shirt sewing technique that allows one row of visible stitching on top and two rows on the opposite side.

Singles
Referring to the thickness of the yarn, which is determined by the number of times the fiber is twisted. The higher the single, the softer the T-shirt.

Slim fit
A more tailored fit that brings the fabric closer to the body by slight tapering across the chest and waist areas.

Soil release finish
A technique that includes a specific type of fiber and finishing agent used on T-shirts that makes it easier to remove dirt and stains via normal washing.

Spandex
Synthetic material used to give elasticity to T-shirts and other apparel.

Stain resistance
Any of several types of coatings applied to T-shirt fabrics that prevent or help reduce liquids and particles from sticking to the material.

Stonewashed
A washing process that uses abrasive stones on T-shirt fabric to soften it and create a distressed look.

Sublimation transfer
A T-shirt imprint process that transfers dyes of digital images onto fabrics. 

Supima® cotton
A trademarked brand of cotton that is considered superior in the U.S. Its extra-long staple fiber gives it extreme softness, strength and added color retention.

T

TACTEL®
A registered trademark of The Lycra Company, it is a form of nylon used to make T-shirts soft, lightweight and moisture-wicking.

Tagless
T-shirts designed without a tag or label to prevent possible skin annoyance and discomfort..

Tanguis
A type of cotton established by Fermin Tanguis of Peru. It is known for its strong, uniform fibers and immunity to plant diseases.

Taped seams
Fabric or finishing tape sewn over a seam to enhance a T-shirt’s durability and comfort.

Tapered fit
A slim-fitting T-shirt that tapers at the waist and drapes close to the skin.

Taslan
A high-tech, woven polyester T-shirt material known for its durability and quick-drying qualities.

Tear-away tag/label
Tags made from a paper-like material that can easily be torn off without tearing the fabric.

Tri-blend
A T-shirt fabric created by blending three different materials, often polyester, cotton and rayon.

Triple-needle stitching
A sewing technique that involves three threads guided through a single eye. Each stitch is sewn three times for greater reinforcement and fabric stretch capabilities.

Tubular knit
A type of T-shirt that is constructed without side seams.

Tuck stitch
A stitch created when a needle receives a second loop. T-shirt fabrics with tuck loops have reduced elasticity and increased width.

U

Unisex tee
A T-shirt that is manufactured and styled to fit both genders.

UVA-protected fabric
T-shirt material that is naturally or artificially engineered to protect the wearer from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

ULTRA COTTON®
A trademark name owned by Gildan® for cotton weighing 6 ounces. The cotton is spun tight to create a thick, satiny feel.

V

V-neck
A style of T-shirt with a neck opening shaped like the letter V.

W

Waffle weave
A fabric weave technique that creates a honeycomb appearance on T-shirts.

Warp knitting
A type of knitting that gives T-shirt fabrics crease-resistance and a fast-drying quality. Select yarns and patterning can increase the comfort and stretchability of warp-knitted items.

Water-resistant
A dense T-shirt fabric such as nylon and polyester that is woven tightly to resist moisture.

Water repellant
A T-shirt fabric that is embedded with a coating or treatment to resist the penetration of moisture.

Weft knitting
T-shirt material made with interlocking loops/stitches running left to right horizontally. Weft knits include rib knits, purl knits and jersey knits.

Wicking
The act of absorbing or pulling away liquid such as sweat from T-shirt fabric.

Wind resistant
The term for fabric designed to reduce or prevent air from penetrating through to the skin.

Y

Yarn-dyed
A process often used for heathered T-shirts that dyes the yarn before the fabric is knitted.

Yoke
The section of fabric that spans the upper back shoulder area and connects to the backside of a shirt. The back yoke helps the fabric lie flat and drape properly for appearance.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U W X Y Z

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