Knowing how T-shirt fabrics look and feel when worn is essential when shopping online. That’s why it’s important to know what is the best fabric for T-shirts.

The fabric used for custom T-shirts determines comfort, style and durability. The shirt material you choose should reflect your preference for stretchiness and moisture-wicking ability.

Even the softest cotton T-shirts won’t make you smile unless they fit your body and your wallet. Top T-shirt brands at Totally Promotional, such as Gildan®, Port & Company® and Hanes® offer high-quality cotton and cotton-polyester blend fabrics to meet all those needs.

T-Shirt Material Guide

Take the stress out of ordering customized T-shirts for your group. Use our shirt material guide to select the right logo T-shirts for everyone on your list!

100% cotton T-shirts

carolina blue gildan heavy cotton t-shirt with close up of fabric

Cotton is a staple fiber made from the genus Gossypium plant. It’s a soft, fluffy material that is spun into yarn and used to weave those weekend tees we adore. A big shout-out to Eli Whitney and his cotton gin!

Manufacturers have been selling 100 percent cotton T-shirts since the 19th century when they debuted as a lightweight undergarment. Today, they are one of the most popular articles of clothing on the planet.

Pros for 100% cotton T-shirts:

  • Pure cotton fabrics “breathe” to help keep your body cool and dry.
  • Cotton stays fresher and cleaner-smelling longer than other materials.
  • Cotton fabrics are hypoallergenic and rarely cause skin allergies.
  • Tightly woven cotton is incredibly soft and remains that way after washing.
  • Cotton is biodegradable and more eco-friendly.

Cons for 100% cotton T-shirts:

  • Cotton is more prone to shrinkage.
  • Cotton will wrinkle quicker than other T-shirt fabrics.
  • Thinner-weaved cotton fabrics have shorter lifespans.
  • 100% cotton tees can cost more than blended fabrics.

Industry tip: 100 percent cotton T-shirts are highly recommended for youth athletics and outdoor workers.

A customer favorite: Gildan® Heavy Cotton T-Shirt

Cotton-polyester blend T-shirts

sand colored gildan dryblend t-shirt with close up of fabric

Unlike cotton, polyester is a processed fabric invented by Dupont in 1951. If you’re old enough to remember leisure suits, you’ll understand why polyester got a bad rap early on. However, manufacturing processes have greatly improved; today’s polyester has a softer, modern look and a more comfortable feel. Blending polyester with cotton was an epic idea and a true match made in heaven!

The combination of cotton and polyester fibers brings many positives to the table, including durability. The majority of custom T-shirts and bulk sweatshirts at Totally Promotional are a popular 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester.

Pros for cotton-polyester blended T-shirts:

  • Draws strength from the duo of fibers.
  • Cotton-polyester is tear-resistant.
  • Polyester creates wrinkle resistance.
  • Cotton-polyester tees have less shrinkage.
  • The blend is often cheaper than a single fabric.

Cons for cotton-polyester blended T-shirts:

  • Polyester makes it less breathable than cotton alone.
  • It typically costs more than 100% polyester.
  • The blend isn’t as comfortable as other fabrics in hot weather.

Industry tip: Cotton-polyester blended T-shirts are highly recommended for company shirts and sports jerseys.

A customer favorite: Gildan® DryBlend T-Shirt

Tri-blend T-shirts

grass green colored bella+canvas triblend unisex t-shirt with close up of fabric

Tri-blend T-shirts are a combination of cotton, polyester and rayon fabrics. Rayon is the superhero of this trio for its super-soft feel. Think about the T-shirt in your closet that drapes your body nicely and keeps sweat from sticking. It’s probably a tri-blend fabric.

Rayon is created from purified cellulose fibers that typically originate in wood pulp. Yes, wood pulp. It’s not totally natural, though; it takes chemicals to produce rayon so it’s considered a semi-synthetic material.

Pros for tri-blend T-shirts:

  • The triple-blended material absorbs moisture.
  • Tri-blend fabrics are breathable.
  • Rayon adds a silky, luxurious feel to tri-blend T-shirts.
  • Tri-blend apparel is stretchy and comfortable.

Cons for tri-blend T-shirts:

  • Tri-blend fabrics aren’t as durable as other materials.
  • Washing tri-blends can cause some shrinkage.
  • Rayon and polyester are processed fabrics.

Industry tip: Tri-blend T-shirts are highly recommended for students and corporate gifts.

A customer favorite: Bella+Canvas® Triblend Unisex Tee

So what is the best quality fabric for T-shirts?

custom printed t-shirts and apparel with your design here

Our Totally Promotional team knows a lot about T-shirts. Heck, we even created a T-shirt glossary to share our knowledge! Our 30+ years of experience tells us the best fabric for T-shirts depends on how they’ll be used. The answer is different for every customer.

A Little League coach might want durable T-shirts for his rowdy team. A corporate procurement agent wants T-shirts that won’t easily wrinkle.

The guide above can help everyone determine the right T-shirt fabric for their particular situation.

If you’re still not sure, contact one of our friendly and helpful staff members. We love our tees and we’re sure you will, too!

get ahead of the competition with custom beanies

Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.

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