T-shirts have been a staple in most wardrobes for decades now. With so many styles, designs, fabrics, and textures available, there is a wide variety to choose from. More importantly, however, it’s the type and quality of the fabric that often directly influences your choice.
Choosing the right fabric for your t-shirt also affects the t-shirt’s fit and comfort. From poly to cotton to linen, different fabrics have different characteristics, all serving specific purposes. So, your choice will typically depend on what you’re wearing the t-shirt for. Linen, for example, is best for warm weather, while polyester is the ideal choice for gym wear. Overall, cotton is the most popular choice for t-shirts.
If you want a more detailed look at the different fabric options for t-shirts, here’s a comprehensive guide of the best fabrics for t-shirts so you can make the best choice for your needs.
Best Fabric For T-Shirts
1. CottonCotton is the most preferred type of fabric used across the world for various purposes. It is the one fabric that has managed to make its way in wardrobes throughout the world. Be it a t-shirt, dress, skirt, scarf, or pair of socks, cotton is the most commonly used fabric and is readily available and is often the most economical option.
Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton, Giza cotton — there are up to 50 different types of options you can take your pick from. This means that every part of the cotton plant is utilized in some way or the other in producing a particular fabric. Cotton fabric is highly durable and gives you a comfortable t-shirt fit. Depending on the type of cotton, the fabric can often be incredibly soft on the skin, thus helping prevent skin rashes and other skin issues.
- Easy to clean and machine-washable.
- High breathability factor and support the proper circulation of air.
- High moisture absorption, recommended being worn during the summers.
- Good option for those with skin allergies or sensitivities.
- Most cotton fabrics are sustainable, organically sourced, and do not cause environmental degradation.
- Unable to hold dyes for too long, the t-shirt’s colors will typically fade away in a few washes.
- Most of the sustainable and organically-sourced cotton fabrics are relatively expensive.
- Tends to wrinkle a lot and might not retain its shape over time.
- If washed in hot water, you might observe significant shrinkage in the garment.
- Cotton fabric is made out of natural fibers because of which it is more prone to breakage and damage if not handled and maintained with care.
2. Pima CottonWant a fabric that’s softer, more durable, and more breathable than cotton? It’s time you discover the excellent fabric that is Pima cotton. Made from the Gossypium barbadense species of cotton, Pima cotton is incredibly soft and feels luxurious, making it a great choice for sensitive skin.
Pima cotton is made from longer, stronger, and more delicate fibers. Because the fibers are so closely intact, Pima is sturdy and highly resistant to tear. Although this cotton was first cultivated in Peru and was called American-Egyptian cotton, it was later renamed “Pima cotton” after the Pima tribe who helped cultivate in the US.
- Highly breathable fabric, very comfortable for hot and humid days to avoid excessive sweating.
- Higher durability factor than regular cotton, and can thus maintain its shape even after everyday wear.
- Softer than traditional cotton.
- The colors on Pima cotton do not fade too soon and last longer.
- Smoother texture and does not get wrinkled quickly.
- Pima cotton is a luxury cotton fabric, so it is more expensive than traditional, regular cotton.
- Exposure to high heat can damage Pima cotton very easily.
- Pima cotton is still cotton, so it can shrink if not washed properly.
3. PolyesterPolyester is a synthetic fiber that can withstand repeated wear and wash without undergoing shrinkage or any major changes in its shape. Did you know, during the 1950s–1970s, polyester was marketed as a miracle fabric that could be worn for 68 days continuously without any ironing?
Any fabric or piece of textile that is produced using polyester fibers can be termed polyester. It is one of the most popular and highly commercialized materials with significantly low production costs. This is also why it is extensively used for making garments.
- It is resistant to wrinkles and abrasion.
- Incredibly sturdy and durable.
- The fibers utilized in the production of polyester are strong but fine, making the final product lightweight.
- Because the fabric can dry quickly and has high moisture-wicking ability, it is a popular option for outdoor wear.
- The fibers that make up polyester can be easily dyed.
- It has a high elasticity rate.
- Polyester is essentially a form of plastic because of which it has a very low breathability rate.
- Being a synthetic material, polyester does not biodegrade quickly and does pose environmental concerns.
- The fabric is prone to burning, melting, and fusing your skin, which may lead to medical emergencies.
- Polyester is not a recommended option to be worn during hot and humid weather.
4. LinenLinen is made from fibers that are derived from the flax plant. It is one of the most sustainable fabrics available that can be tailored to meet your needs. Linen is a loosely woven fabric and has a textured weave. It is lightweight and incredibly breathable, making it a popular choice for summer.
Linen is also a versatile fabric that is used for various purposes, such as bedding. Did you know that linen was used in the mummification process in ancient Egypt? The flax plant has been used to create linen fabrics for centuries now, and the plant is cultivated worldwide. It is softer and sheerer than cotton and looks quite luxurious.
- It is made out of the flax plant, which makes it highly sturdy.
- It is a sustainable fabric.
- Does not stretch very easily.
- It is a biodegradable fabric.
- No chemicals are involved in the production of linen, which is why it is hypoallergenic.
- Prone to wrinkling and creasing very quickly.
- If linen is treated with bleaches and dyes, it can lose its biodegradable properties.
- It can become quite the task to iron linen clothes.
5. Poly-Cotton BlendWhen you want the best of both worlds, or both fabrics, in this case, poly-cotton blend offers the perfect balance of polyester and cotton. You get the best qualities of both fabrics. You get the lightness and coolness of 100% cotton and the wrinkle resistance and strength of polyester.
Compared to pure cotton and polyester, poly-cotton is a more durable, stronger, and versatile piece of textile used to produce various garments, especially a T-shirt. Poly-cotton blends are also incredibly soft, less prone to shrinkage, and very affordable. This is also why they are a popular fabric choice for t-shirts.
- Highly breathable and durable.
- The material is soft and comfortable.
- Compared to 100% cotton, poly-cotton blends are more affordable.
- Wrinkle-resistant and lightweight.
- Not suggested for wearing outdoors as it may not sustain itself during high temperatures.
- Compared to polyester, poly-cotton blends are expensive.
6. RayonIf you want a touch of luxury without having to spend too much, rayon can be the right pick for you. Quite similar to viscose, rayon is a man-made fiber that was created as an alternative to silk.
A cellulose-based regenerated fiber, rayon is made primarily from wood pulp. But it can also be produced from trees, cotton, and plants. It is a lightweight, breathable fabric that offers a beautiful drape. It is incredibly soft and has a smooth texture.
- Has a very lush and soft feel to it.
- An inexpensive option compared to other fabrics for t-shirts.
- Has a good breathability factor.
- Easy to dye on and can retain the colors well.
- To maintain the integrity of the rayon garments, they should preferably be dry-cleaned.
- The manufacturing process of rayon is harmful to the environment; hence it should be discouraged.
- Wrinkles easily.
- Not as durable as other fabrics.
Lycra, also known as spandex or elastane, is a synthetic material made by spinning synthetic polymers. The most common reason for using Lycra is its high elasticity factor.
It is one of the most stretchable fabrics, making it an attractive option for athletic wear as it offers more room for movement. It is a very strong and durable material that also offers moisture-wicking properties.
- It can be stretched in all directions easily.
- It has moisture-wicking abilities.
- Very comfortable and is generally preferred for making yoga pants.
- It is highly durable.
- It sticks to your body and is sensitive to heat.
- It is a synthetic material, and therefore not the best for the environment.
- Can feel constricting as it hugs the body.
8. BambooEvery wardrobe requires a garment that is made out of bamboo material. It is an earth-friendly material that makes an excellent choice for all kinds of clothing, such as t-shirts, dresses, and sweatshirts.
Not only is natural bamboo fiber antibacterial, but the fabric is also known to help bring down the body temperature, making it an excellent choice for runners. It is also odor-free, and its softness is comparable to silk.
- It has odor repelling properties, so you feel fresh for a long time.
- It is a hypoallergenic fabric that is suitable for all skin types.
- Helps absorb moisture.
- An excellent option for cooler days to keep you warm and cozy.
- It is highly breathable.
- Not suitable to be worn in high temperatures.
- It can shrink very quickly.
- Quite expensive when compared to cotton and rayon.
How To Choose A Fabric For A T-Shirt
Depending on how you will be using the t-shirt, there are various factors you will have to consider when choosing the fabric for your t-shirt. The weight of the material, breathability, how soft and durable the material is are all characteristics of the fabric that can impact your comfort.
You can determine the weight of the fabric by measuring the thickness of the threads used to make the fabric. For a t-shirt, it is always preferable to go with something lightweight. Whether you’re wearing your t-shirt to the gym or in hot weather, lightweight fabric like cotton may be better suited.
Heavier fabrics should be kept for colder days or events that have to be attended during the night. Another importance of considering the weight of the material is that it helps you determine whether your t-shirt will stand prolonged wear. Between two t-shirts of similar fabric, the one that has the higher GSM (grams per square meter) fabric weight will always be a better choice.
In terms of breathability, fabrics made out of natural fibers are considered the best option. A fabric that has a good breathability factor can help with better circulation of air around the body. Natural fibers are better absorbents of moisture, thus allowing excellent air circulation and a high breathability factor.
During hot and humid conditions, for example, wearing a light cotton t-shirt allows air and moisture to pass through it, making us feel comfortable and relaxed. Cotton and linen are generally the most commonly picked fabrics for their breathability.
Comfort is a priority for many of us when it comes to fashion. This characteristic of a garment is crucial in determining how comfortable it will be. Different people can perceive softness differently as it depends on how the fabric feels against their skin.
Typically, different types of cotton such as combed cotton, Pima cotton, and organic cotton or bamboo and linen are excellent choices if you want a soft fabric. Besides a 100% cotton fabric, a tri-blend fabric is also a popular pick for a soft t-shirt. A tri-blend fabric is made out of a blend of three different materials, the most common being polyester, cotton, and rayon.
A t-shirt may undergo a lot of wear and tear over the years. This includes the impact of external elements and multiple washing and drying sessions, which may at some point hamper the t-shirt’s shape and make it look shabby and old.
This is why investing in a T-shirt that can retain its shape is crucial. Typically, fabric that is made from long-staple fibers tends to be of superior quality. If you want value for your money, tightly woven cotton and linen t-shirts should be your go-to options.
What Is the Most Durable T-Shirt Material?
While natural fibers like cotton and bamboo are high-quality, sustainable fabrics, polyester is the most durable material. Polyester is a synthetic material that is created to withstand extensive wear and tear for prolonged periods. It is more robust and engineered to be more flexible and go through multiple washes without losing its shape.
Generally, the polyester fabric used to manufacture t-shirts also resists wrinkles and can be worn without ironing. Performance t-shirts are popularly made out of polyester to ensure that the body remains dry even under scorching sunlight.
Another option you can go for when you are looking for durable alternatives to polyester is tri-blend t-shirts. These t-shirts are made from a blend of cotton, polyester, and rayon. Cotton and polyester blend t-shirts, preferably with a higher polyester content, are also pretty durable in the long run.
What Is The Best T-Shirt Material for Summer?
Cotton is, undoubtedly, the best t-shirt material for summers. Apart from t-shirts, cotton is also a popular choice for different garments because of how comfortable and light it feels on the skin.
The high breathability and lightweight property of cotton are what makes it the perfect choice in summer. A cotton t-shirt allows for proper air circulation, soaks up sweat and moisture, and allows the body to cool down.
However, as with any fabric, there are a few downsides to wearing cotton. If you tend to sweat profusely, there is a high probability that your cotton T-shirt will get wet, cling to your skin, and feel heavy and uncomfortable.
What Is the Highest Quality T-Shirt Material?
How good or bad the quality of a t-shirt’s material mainly depends on what you require out of the t-shirt.
The quality of the t-shirt is determined by how long and strong its fibers are, how the material feels upon wearing, whether the colors sit on it well, if it is suitable for specific weather conditions, how long it can last, etc.
If you are looking to wear something light and breezy as an everyday option, nothing comes close to the comfort and convenience of cotton. Cotton is a natural and organic fabric, so you can be assured of the quality when choosing 100% organic cotton t-shirts.
On the other hand, if you have skin sensitivities, fabrics like linen and bamboo make excellent choices.
Best Fabric for T-Shirt Printing
T-shirt printing has been a popular choice for several years now. You can create customized t-shirts with your company’s logo for your employees or gift a printed t-shirt to a friend with their favorite artwork or characters on it.
To choose the right t-shirt fabric for printing, you have to look for material on which the colors do not fade soon and durable for a long time.
A poly-cotton blend t-shirt is often the most commonly chosen fabric for printing. The softness and breathability of cotton coupled with the durability and wrinkle-resistant characteristics of polyester make for a great T-shirt that can be printed on without having to worry about the colors fading.
T-shirts may be the simplest, most basic pieces of clothing, but their quality still matters. We hope that this guide was helpful to you in identifying some of the best fabrics for t-shirts.
Make sure you choose a comfortable material, fits well and is the most appropriate option for your needs. And whichever fabric you choose, it goes without saying that taking proper care of your t-shirts by following the care instructions is important for keeping them in good condition and extending their lifespan.