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T-Shirt Fabric 101

T-Shirt Fabric 101

A comprehensive guide to choosing the right t-shirt fabric for your next screen printing project.
variety of cotton t-shirts

Screen printing is a popular method for customizing apparel, and it all starts with choosing the right t-shirt fabric. The options can be overwhelming, with cotton, polyester, CVC, and tri-blend being among the most commonly used materials. Each has its unique characteristics, making the selection process crucial for achieving the best results. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the qualities of these materials, helping you make informed decisions for your next project.

The Classic Cotton T-Shirt:

Cotton t-shirts have been a favorite for decades due to their comfort, breathability, and softness. Screen printing on cotton results in vibrant colors and a smooth finish. Customers who prioritize a natural feel and value eco-friendliness often prefer cotton shirts. Additionally, cotton is a great option for those looking for cost-effective solutions as it is generally more budget-friendly than other materials.

cotton t-shirt fabric



  • Soft and comfortable.
  • Excellent for vibrant colors in screen printing.
  • Breathable and suitable for various weather conditions.


  • Prone to wrinkles.
  • Less moisture-wicking compared to synthetic materials.
  • May shrink slightly after washing.
Popular Cotton Tees to Check Out:

G200 – Gildan – Adult Ultra Cotton T-shirt

3001C – Bella + Canvas – Unisex Jersey T-shirt

The Durable Polyester T-Shirt:

Polyester t-shirts are known for their durability and resistance to stretching and shrinking. Screen printing on polyester offers excellent color fastness and sharp detail. These shirts are ideal for athletic and outdoor activities, as they wick moisture away from the body, keeping the wearer cool and dry. For customers seeking long-lasting, vibrant designs on durable shirts, polyester is an excellent choice.

polyester t-shirt fabric



  • High durability and resistance to wrinkles.
  • Moisture-wicking properties, perfect for sports and active lifestyles.
  • Colorfastness ensures designs remain vibrant after numerous washes.


  • Some people find polyester less comfortable than natural materials.
  • Limited breathability compared to cotton.
Popular Polyester Tees to Check Out:

1305775 – Under Armour – Men’s Locker T-shirt

N3142 – A4 – Men’s Cooling Performance T-Shirt

The Versatile CVC T-Shirt:

CVC t-shirts (Chief Value Cotton) are a blend of cotton and polyester, combining the best qualities of both materials. The blend typically consists of more cotton with a smaller percentage of polyester. This combination enhances the shirt’s softness, durability, and resistance to wrinkles, making it a versatile choice for screen printing. Customers seeking a balance between comfort and performance often opt for CVC t-shirts.

CVC t-shirt fabric blend



  • Soft and comfortable, like traditional cotton shirts.
  • Durable with enhanced wrinkle resistance.
  • Improved colorfastness due to the polyester blend.


  • May not offer the same moisture-wicking properties as 100% polyester shirts.
  • The exact blend ratio can vary, affecting the shirt’s properties.
Popular CVC Tees to Check Out:

3001CVC – Bella + Canvas – Unisex Heather CVC T-Shirt

N6210 – Next Level – Unisex CVC Crewneck T-Shirt

The Luxurious Tri-blend T-Shirt:

Tri-blend t-shirts are a blend of three materials: cotton, polyester, and rayon. This combination results in an incredibly soft and lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully. The screen printing on tri-blend shirts produces a vintage, heathered look, adding a touch of sophistication to any design. Customers who prioritize style and comfort often prefer tri-blend t-shirts, especially for fashion-forward or retail applications.

tri-blend t-shirt fabric



  • Exceptionally soft, lightweight, and comfortable.
  • Vintage, fashionable appearance after screen printing.
  • Drapes well and resists wrinkling.


  • Slightly more expensive than other options due to the use of rayon.
  • May have slightly lower colorfastness compared to polyester blends.
Popular Tri-Blend Tees to Check Out:

3413C – Bella + Canvas – Unisex Tri-Blend T-Shirt

6010 – Next Level – Unisex Tri-Blend T-Shirt

Selecting the right t-shirt fabric is a crucial step in achieving the desired outcome for your screen printing project. Cotton offers unbeatable comfort and breathability, while polyester adds durability and moisture-wicking properties. CVC strikes a balance between the two, and tri-blend presents a luxurious and fashionable option. As a screen printing customer, consider the unique qualities of each material and match them with your specific needs and preferences to create the perfect personalized t-shirts. Happy printing!

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