5 Most Common Fabrics to Make T-shirts

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When we are developing a custom t-shirt, there are many things that we need to take considerations into, such as color, design, style, price, etc. And the most important thing we need to consider is the fabric. The fabric used to make a t-shirt directly affects the price, the application of the print method, and how the t-shirt looks and feels.

There are various options when choosing the material to make a t-shirt, like cotton, the most common choice, polyester, rayon, poly/cotton blended, tri-blended, etc.


Cotton is a natural fiber that comes from the seedpod of the cotton plant. It is one of the most popular fabrics to make t-shirts because it is natural, breathable, comfortable, and absorbent. There are many different types of cotton fabric.

The 5 Different Types of Cotton Material

Carded Cotton-Carded is used as a step in the Spinning process of the yarn. Carded cotton yarn is poorer because of the presence of more short fibers. And carded cotton is a more cost-effective option and is used for economical t-shirts, like promotional t-shirts. 

Ring-Spun Cotton– Ringspun cotton is made with a very fine, high-quality cotton yarn that is spun many times. It is noticeably softer, smoother, and more durable when compared to carded cotton. It lasts longer and typically does not wear out after many years of use. And it is skin friendly. Ringspun will be a great option when we are looking for a durable and comfortable fabric. It’s perfect for everyday wear. 

Combed and Ring-Spun Cotton– The yarn used for combed and ring-spun cotton is much smoother and softer than ring-spun cotton because the innovative spinning process makes sure every single fiber is softened and straightened to create a more compact knit. The fibers are combed to remove any impurities or imperfect strands. Thus it is extremely soft, smooth, and more consistent. Combed and ring-spun cotton is usually used in more modern-fitting styled t-shirts.  So it will definitely be a good choice if we are looking for a more fitted style of cotton t-shirt.

Organic Cotton– Organic cotton is a more sustainable solution for making a t-shirt since it is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Organic cotton is naturally cozy and absorbent, making it the best choice for an eco-friendly T-shirt. Although it’s more expensive, many customers tend to choose an organic cotton T-shirt to contribute to the positive climate and sustainable development of the globe and they are willing to pay a little more.

Pima Cotton-Pima cotton is an ultra-soft fabric that incorporates long cotton fibers. Most types of cotton use relatively short fibers measuring up to 1.1 inches long, while Pima cotton is considered to use extra-long staple (ELS) cotton fibers measuring between 1.4 to 2 inches in length. Pima fabric is made from a specific type of cotton plant called Gossypium barbadense in tropical areas. Pima cotton has a reputation for producing a smooth fabric that’s soft to the touch, wrinkle-resistant, and ultra-durable and it is commonly used to make luxury clothing and towels.


Polyester is a synthetic material made of plastic fibers which have been spun and treated to create a durable yet soft yarn. It is mostly used to make athletic t-shirts and sports t-shirts because it is wrinkle-resistant and extremely durable. Polyester fabric becomes the most popular synthetic fabric in the textile industry due to its characteristics of being moisture-wicking and easy to care for.  Here is the link to our customizable v-neck t-shirts made from polyester.

Recycled polyester

Recycled polyester also called RPET, is made from recycled plastic bottles. There are 2 ways to recycle polyester: For mechanical recycling, plastic is melted and pulled through spinnerets to make yarn. This process can only be done a few times before the fiber loses its quality. Chemical recycling converts a plastic product back to its original monomers and reforms them into yarn. This process is more sustainable as the material retains the original quality and can be recycled more often but it is more expensive. It’s gaining popularity because recycled polyester reduces our dependency on fossil fuels, requires less energy, and generates fewer CO2 emissions.


Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber, made from natural sources of regenerated cellulose, such as wood and related agricultural products. There are three main types of rayon: viscose rayon,  modal, and lyocell. Viscose is a semi-synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp that is used as a silk substitute, as it has a similar drape and smooth feel to the luxury material. Modal fabric is a semi-synthetic fabric made from beech tree pulp that is used primarily for clothing, such as underwear and pajamas, and household items, like bed sheets and towels. Lyocell is similar to modal in that it is made with beech trees, however, the production process uses fewer harsh chemicals, making it more environmentally friendly. Rayon is a commonly seen fabric in the fashion industry because it feels soft and drapey, has a luxurious appearance, and is very absorbent. 

The Best Fabric Blends for T-Shirts

So far, we’ve explored the materials of cotton, polyester, and rayon separately. But as we can notice on the tags on most of the t-shirts, the majority of them are made of a blend of two or three different compositions of materials. These common blends fall into one of a few categories that have all been becoming more popular as trends move to softer and more modern t-shirt styles.

  • Cotton / Spandex Blend. More elastic and wrinkle-resistant than cotton alone.
  • Rayon / Polyester Blend. Softer and more comfortable than polyester alone.
  • Cotton / Polyester / Spandex Blend. Stretchy, comfortable, and doesn’t wrinkle easily.
  • Polyester / Viscose Blend. Soft and shrinkage-free. 

Different blended fabric types have their advantages and disadvantages, so it truly comes down to personal preference. But as a store owner, you need to think about the fabric and products you choose, because it reflects your brand. 

The Most Common Blend Ratios

  • 50% Polyester / 50% Cotton Blend

A 50 percent cotton/50 percent polyester t-shirt combines the softness and breathability of cotton with the wrinkle resistance, durability, and moisture-wicking properties of polyester. 

  • 65% polyester / 35% cotton

This is especially useful because 100% cotton fabrics may wear out or tear. Adding polyester to the blend helps to increase the durability of the fabric.

  • 90% Cotton / 10% Polyester Blend

A blend that’s commonly used for t-shirts. It is soft, comfortable, and breathable but easy to shrink. For t-shirts made out of this blend, we should take care to avoid shrinkage.

There are also 75% polyester / 25% cotton, 65% cotton / 35% polyester, and so on.

These blends offer the best of both worlds and are popular due to their affordability and the healthy balance they strike between breathability, durability, and comfort.


50% polyester, 25% combed ringspun cotton, and 25% rayon, a typical triple fabric blend with incredible softness, great drape, stretch, and recovery, is often used to make comfortable, affordable, and stylish t-shirts.

A few more details we need to cover about fabrics

Fabric Weight

Fabric weight is the weight of the fabric used to make the t-shirt and is measured either as ounces per square yard or as grams per square meter. Fabric weight determines how thick or thin our t-shirt is. It affects a t-shirt’s look and hand feel.

T-shirts made from lightweight less than 4.5 oz per square yard are supposed to be very drapey and soft, yet easy to see-through.

T-shirts made from medium-weight fabric ranging from 4.5-5.0 oz per square yard are supposed to offer better protection from the wind and keep you warmer.

T-shirts made from a heavy-weight fabric of more than 6.0 oz per square yard might feel coarse – it depends on the fabric. They’re durable and perfect for workwear and are best suited for cooler weather.

Yarn count

Yarn count is closely related to fabric weight. It defines the fineness of the thread. It is written in several ways as 30/1, 30s, or 30 Singles which mean the same thing. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the finer the yarn. The fabric is softer, smoother, and lighter. If the yarn count is low, the fabric is generally weightier and thicker.

In Conclusion

There are various fabric options when making a custom t-shirt. We hope the above points cover the basic information from the perspective of a manufacturer of t-shirts and should have cleared up some confusion and given you some guidance on your options. 

You just have to balance these facts about t-shirt fabrics with your budget and know that there aren’t any bad options, just different depending on different occasions. 

Let us know what questions you might still have, and if you still need some help, just contact us.


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