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What Is a Ribbed T Shirt?

When it comes to shirts, there’s nothing more comfortable than a ribbed t-shirt. They are super stretchy and allow full freedom of movement. But, what are they made from? What is a ribbed t-shirt?

A ribbed t-shirt is made from a knitted fabric known as a rib knit. The fabric has rows of vertical ridges and dips, creating a raised texture. Ribbed t-shirts are close-fitting with a flexible stretch. Moving with the body, they are both comfortable and flattering to wear.

In this article, we’ll look at what a ribbed t-shirt is. Read on to learn more about the fabric used to make ribbed t-shirts and what makes them so relaxing to wear.

What Is a Ribbed T Shirt

What Is a Ribbed T-Shirt?

Ribbed t-shirts are casual garments made from a rib knit fabric. A rib knit has a distinctive pattern of raised lines and dips running vertically along the material, parallel to the selvage. It’s the raised lines that are called ribs.

Ribbing has been around for generations. It’s actually a knitting technique. Yarn is knitted in an alternating knit-purl pattern to create a stable fabric that stretches along the width.

This stretch can be used in clothing to great advantage. Ribbing doesn’t stretch along the length of the material. It’s rigid and offers stability to a garment. Yet, the stretch along the width of the fabric allows you to get in and out of clothing without the need for buttons on your cuffs or necklines. Think bomber jackets and sweatshirts. They both have stretchy ribbing on their waistbands, collars, and cuffs.

There’s more to ribbing than collars and cuffs, though, which is where the t-shirt comes in. A rib knit fabric can be used to create a whole garment. The two-sided appeal of being stable yet stretchy makes it an ideal material for the casual comfy fit of t-shirts.

When a t-shirt is made from a rib knit fabric, it takes on the vertical rib patterning of the material. This is why the resulting garment is known as a ribbed t-shirt.

Why Are Ribbed T-Shirts So Comfortable?

Veatzaer Men Solid Ribbed Stretch V-Neck Short Sleeve Sport Slim Knit Workout Muscle T Shirts Light GreenOne of the great things about ribbed t-shirts is their comfort factor. They are so comfortable down to the ribbing in the knit fabric.

Ribbed fabric is naturally stretchy. Even more so than other knit fabrics like Jersey. This extra stretchy nature of the material allows the t-shirt to move with your body. It doesn’t matter if it’s your arms you want to move or your whole torso. The freedom to do so is made possible by the rib effect in the knitted textile.

With impressive flexibility that enhances rather than restricts you as you go about your day-to-day activities, it’s no wonder ribbed t-shirts are a wardrobe staple. Better still, once you’ve finished wearing the garment, its amazing power of recovery will take it back to its original size.

Take collars and cuffs, for example. If your garment has ribbed cuffs, they will stretch to allow your hands enough room to get in. Then they will spring back, creating a fitted look. But that’s not all. Close-fitting cuffs also keep you warm as they will prevent cold air from wafting up your sleeves.

The fantastic recovery of ribbed fabric plays a large part in the comfort of a ribbed t-shirt. Being a super-flexible textile, the ribbing on the t-shirt will allow so much give; you’ll think your t-shirt is a second skin.

This is the reason ribbed t-shirts are normally designed to be close-fitting. You can get away with wearing a snug t-shirt because of the ribbing. They look good too! The ribbing expands as you wear the t-shirt and enhances your body’s silhouette. Looking great in your tee will make you feel relaxed and cozy.

Undershirts: Why Are They Made From Ribbed Fabric?

Ribbed collar shirt

From time to time, most of us will wear a t-shirt as an undershirt, especially if it’s a sleeveless one and made from a ribbed knit. When it’s chilly outside, it’s nice to have a snug-fitting, flexible undergarment to keep us warm.

A ribbed knit undershirt can be one of the most comfortable garments you can wear next to your skin. Rib knit fabrics are breathable, which means they can regulate your temperature. Wear your ribbed t-shirt on its own, and you’ll be cool in warm weather. Put it on as an undershirt, and it will help trap warm air close to your skin, keeping you warm when the weather is cool.

When you wear your ribbed tank top as an undershirt, you create a comfortable barrier between your skin and synthetic outer layers. Shirts or blouses made out of polyester or nylon can cause discomfort due to their cold, plastic feel. They can also cause chafing, particularly under the arms. A ribbed t-shirt will prevent the build-up of friction and protect your skin from damage.

Ribbed t-shirts will have full flexibility, so even if you wear them as nightwear, you’ll remain comfortable. Unlike a pajama top made from woven cotton, your t-shirt will move with you and not tie you in knots as you sleep.

Once you’ve purchased a ribbed undershirt, you’re likely to own it for a very long time. Not only are ribbed t-shirts and tank tops always in fashion and on-trend, but they are also long-lasting due to the flexibility of the fabric.

As undergarments tend to get washed more often than outer layers, the increased flexibility of the ribbing makes the garment more durable and less likely to tear or wear out.

How Is Ribbed Fabric Made?

How Is Ribbed Fabric Made

Ribbed fabric is a knitted textile with a pattern of raised vertical rows followed by flat sections or valleys. This pattern is created by alternating the two main stitches in knitting. These stitches are the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

Knit and purl stitches can be combined in several different arrangements to create various rib patterns. These patterns are classified by numbers. A popular version is a 1×1 knit rib. This means that the rib is made up of one knit stitch, followed by one purl stitch. Or more colloquially known as knit one, purl one.

There are other variations and each one will alter the size of the ridges and the flat areas in between. For example, you can have a 2×2 rib which is knit two, purl two. Or a 3×2 rib. In this case, it’s knit three, purl two. In all instances, the number of knit stitches in the rib is always listed first.

Different knit to purl stitch ratios will alter the size of the resulting rib pattern. For example, a 1×1 rib will produce a tight rib knit. The closeness of the raised areas and flat sections may make noticing the rib pattern difficult, especially from a distance.

For ribs containing larger numbers of knit stitches, like the 3×2 rib, for instance, the raised sections will be larger and more pronounced. This will result in a softer rib pattern.

What Else Is Ribbed Fabric Used For?

Ribbed shirt

Ribbed fabric is used for a whole range of clothing and other items. As a versatile and stretchy material, you’ll find different ribbing styles in all kinds of everyday items.

Cuffs, Collars, and Waistbands

As we’ve seen earlier in the article, cuffs, collars, and waistbands have always been popular areas for ribbed fabrics. The material allows enough give for easy access into a garment.

A ribbed effect insert in a waistband can also add a hint of style, as well as extra flexibility. Take bomber jackets, for instance. They rock the ribbed cuffs, neckline, and small ribbed side sections of the waistband.

Designed to keep fighter pilots warm in a plane’s cockpit, the ribbed cuffs and neckline keep out the chill. Ribbed side sections allow greater mobility at the waist when the wearer is sitting down.

Soft and Stretchy Socks

It’s not just your upper body that can feel great wearing a ribbed fabric. Your feet will also feel super comfy in a pair of socks made from a soft rib knit.

Not only can they have ribbing at the ankle to allow room for your foot to get into the sock, but they can also be made from a soft ribbed fabric. The ribbing provides extra flexibility and the freedom to give your toes wiggle.

Warm and Cozy Blankets

When it’s chilly outside, it’s nice to be able to snuggle up in a warm, chunky blanket. Ribbed fabric makes some of the chunkiest blankets you can get. The ribbing creates pockets where the air can be trapped, creating an insulating layer between you and the cold.

Ribbed Fabric vs Ribbing

There are two types of ribbing or ribbed fabrics. Although the terms can be used interchangeably, they each have different roles in our wardrobes. So let’s take a look at what they are and what they are used for.

Rib Knits

A rib knit is a flat knitted fabric. This is the ribbed material used for making t-shirts and other clothing. Although it can be used for cuffs and waistbands for a softer, lighter feel, it’s more commonly reserved for the production of entire garments.

Usually constructed from cotton fibers or cotton blends, rib knit fabric can also be found in rayon and linen. In some instances, you’ll also find a synthetic version in polyester.


Ribbing is normally made from 100% cotton fiber. Usually, this type of rib knit is sold in a tubular shape. That means it’s a continual circle rather than being flat. The added advantage of being a fabric sold all in one circular piece, it avoids the need for seams in neckbands, cuffs, and waistbands.

This type can be used to make a whole garment, but it does tend to be a little stiffer than a rib-knit. You’ll also have to cut it to form a flat fabric which could end up requiring your garment to have more seamlines.

Ribbed Fabric for T-Shirts by the Yard

Jade Rib Knit Fabric Ribbing Fabric Sleeves Collar Jade Stretch Rib Fabric Ribbed Hacci Fabric by The Yard- 1 YardYou can buy ribbed fabric for t-shirts by the yard from many fabric stores and online retailers. It comes in several weights, widths, and colors. Finding the right one for your project should be easy to do.

The cost per yard can vary and is dependent on your location, the outlet you are buying from, and the quality of the fabric. Going for a solid color or a print can also make a difference. As a ballpark figure, you’ll find prices can range from around $7 per yard to $16.

Some of the places you’ll find rib knit fabric online include, eBay, and Etsy. If you are looking for bricks and mortar outlets, try Joanns, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels.

When you are looking at a rib-knit fabric, you’ll notice the stretch goes across the width of the material. You’ll see the ribs and dips flex outwards if you pull the fabric widthways. It will return to its original shape and size as you release the material.

It’s important to remember to have the width of the ribbed fabric going across the width of your body when you sew with a ribbed knit. There is little to no stretch in a ribbed fabric along its length.

The great thing about a ribbed fabric, it has a built-in feature to help you work out which way to use it. As the ribs run parallel to the selvage or fabric edge, they run along the length, which means they follow the straight grain. Simply make sure the straight grain marking on your pattern follows the direction of the ribs.


Ribbed t-shirts are a comfortable and versatile staple for any wardrobe. They look great on men, women, and children. Better still, they are durable, long-lasting, and always in fashion.

Let me know in the comments if you liked the article. Do you have a ribbed t-shirt in your wardrobe? Has this write-up encouraged you to make them your next go-to fashion accessory?