Custom Ink’s Guide to The Most Popular T-shirt Fabrics
When picking out the best custom apparel for your group, there are a lot of options! To celebrate National Textiles Day, we put together this guide to help you learn more about the fantastic fabrics we offer, which activities and types of weather they’re best used for, and some of our favorite custom t-shirts, jackets, and athletic wear!
The OG: 100% Cotton
First up, a tried and true classic: 100% cotton. This is one of our most popular and frequently used fabrics—and for good reason. Custom 100% cotton t-shirts are soft, high-quality, versatile, and long-lasting.
Custom shirts made of 100% cotton feel soft and comfortable while maintaining some sturdiness so you can wear them again and again. Plus, the more you wear them, the more they have that comfy worn-in feel that we all love.
Even better, clothing made of 100% cotton is less likely to cause skin irritation than other fabrics, making it an excellent choice when you’re selecting custom shirts for a group of people.
We love the Hanes Authentic Crewneck Short Sleeve T-shirt and the Fruit of the Loom 100% Cotton T-shirt for their huge selections of colors and range of sizes, so they’re perfect for club activities, family reunions, school events, conferences, and so much more!
When ordering for a whole group, 100% cotton custom t-shirts are a safe bet when you’re not sure about which styles will be the best fit.
What About Ringspun Cotton?
Ringspun cotton is also (usually) 100% cotton, but the process it goes through makes the fabric even more soft and comfortable to the touch. By continuously spinning and straightening the fibers, the cotton becomes thinner but much softer.
If you’re wanting even softer t-shirts, look for styles made of cotton that’s been ringspun and combed, as the combing process further removes any other remnants that might keep the cotton from being as soft. Think of a shirt that’s soft enough to sleep in, and that’s combed ringspun cotton.
Although it should be said, ringspun cotton all by itself is still delightful to touch and feel. Either way, these are the perfect t-shirts for warm outdoor activities, like barbecues, picnics, field days, sports activities, hikes, beach days, cruises, and more!
A couple of our favorite ringspun cotton t-shirts are the Alternative Apparel Go-To Jersey T-shirt and the Next Level Jersey T-shirt. They’re both lightweight, breathable, and excellent choices for groups because of the ranges of colors and sizes!
Cotton canvas is made from just what you think: 100% cotton. This type of cotton is made to be durable and sturdy, which is why it’s commonly used for items like tote bags.
Canvas fabric can be made to be more or less thick and is referred to as being mid or lightweight. Even the lightweight cotton canvas options are extremely durable, though, and last for years.
Our cotton canvas tote bags are excellent as promotional items, giveaways, and gifts. Show some teacher appreciation with tote bags as part of gift packages. Keep tote bags at the office for new clients. Sell tote bags as book bags at your bookstore. The possibilities are endless!
We love the Medium Midweight 100% Cotton Canvas Tote Bag.
The Double Agent: Cotton/Polyester
Cotton-and-polyester blend shirts are another popular pick among our offerings because of the versatility and comfort it provides. Easily wear these custom tees to a kickball game or a cookout.
These two fabrics blend together beautifully. Cotton adds softness and breathability, while polyester allows for stretch and moisture-wicking capabilities. Some styles are made using a 60% cotton and 40% polyester blend, while others are 50/50.
Most shirts that contain a higher percentage of cotton will be softer to the touch (especially if it’s ringspun) and a little thicker. A higher percentage of polyester increases the shirt’s ability to wick away sweat and decreases the chance of wrinkling and shrinking. While the difference may not seem big, it can be felt!
Cotton and polyester blends are perfect for warm-weather activities that might get you a little sweaty. Going on a summer camping trip? Cotton/poly blend. Organizing a company softball game? Cotton/poly blend. Walking around Disneyland in the summer sun? Cotton/poly blend.
Two of our favorite cotton and polyester blend shirts are the New Era Heritage Blend T-shirt and the Nike Dri-FIT Performance Blend Shirt. They’re both perfect for casual outings and warm activities.
The Trifecta: Tri-Blend (Cotton/Polyester/Rayon)
Custom tri-blend t-shirts are like that person who seems to have it all: we want to wear them, and other t-shirts want to be them. (At least, we think another t-shirt would want to.) This combination of fabrics truly has an I-never-want-to-take-this-off level of softness and breathability.
Thanks to the genius blend of 50% polyester, 25% ringspun cotton, and 25% rayon, tri-blend t-shirts are some of the softest you can get. They immediately have that lived-in level of comfortability, but they get even softer with every wash. Tri-blend fabric is also stretchier and silkier than 100% cotton t-shirts.
Yet another excellent choice for warm-weather activities, tri-blend shirts have a lightweight feel that is matched only by other athletic wear. However, since these custom tees tend to be on the thinner side, we wouldn’t recommend them for especially athletic events.
They are, however, amazing for any other event where you want to feel casual and comfortable. A couple of our favorites are the Bella + Canvas Tri-Blend T-shirt and the Hanes Perfect-T Tri-Blend Short-Sleeve T-shirt.
The Jack of All Trades: Polyester
If it hasn’t been established already, polyester is an incredibly versatile fabric. It can be used in so many ways that you might be surprised to know that it’s used in styles that look vastly different, like leisure suits and fleece jackets.
One of the best uses for polyester is athletic wear because of its moisture-wicking capabilities. It dries quickly, retains its shape, and is lightweight yet durable. A lot of activewear is made of 100% polyester, so you can expect it to have that silky and lightweight feeling that lets you move freely during any activity.
If you’re wanting athletic wear for your group that is sure to wick away sweat during your soccer game or fun run, check out the Oakley Team Issue Hydrolix Performance Shirt and the Adidas 3-Stripes Performance Polo.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) Clothing
Save some sunscreen next time you and your group are out in the sun and invest in UPF clothing instead. Clothing with a UPF label will protect your skin from harsh UVA and UVB rays and is usually made from polyester. By weaving the fabric even more intricately, fewer rays are able to penetrate through clothing. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clothing with a label of UPF 50 can block up to 98% of UV rays.
We offer many different styles of custom UPF shirts that can be used next time you’re soaking up some rays (but not too many)! Ensure nobody gets a sunburn with the Paragon Islander UPF 50 Performance Shirt.
It may come as a surprise that while polyester is great for athletic wear and blocking the sun, it’s also great for staying warm! Fleece jackets and sweatshirts are made of polyester too. This can vary depending on the company, but most fleece is made of some type of polyester, with some companies applying their own spin.
Fleece provides a soft and durable layer that’s excellent for chilly days and cold nights. Fleece jackets are particularly great for any group. They make excellent employee appreciation gifts and can easily fit in with any work uniform. They would be perfect for people who work outside, especially in early spring and throughout fall.
We love the Columbia Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece Jacket and The North Face Skyline Full Zip Fleece Jacket.
Yet another sign of polyester’s versatility, most windbreakers are made of this flexible fabric. Similar to fleece jackets, windbreakers use polyester to protect you from the elements.
The wind won’t be giving you a chill with a jacket made of polyester. This fabric makes windbreakers light and breathable while keeping you warm and dry. Remember those moisture-wicking properties we talked about? They perform even better on a rainy day.
Windbreakers are great for outdoor events when you need to carry on—rain or shine.
A couple of favorites are the Charles River Pack-N-Go Hooded Packable Anorak and The North Face Waterproof Windbreaker Jacket.
The Next Generation: Recycled Fabrics
Recycled fabrics are becoming more and more common in the t-shirt market, and we love it! Which materials recycled fabric is made from vary depending on the company.
Some examples are
- Recycled cotton
- Post-consumer recycled polyester
- Recycled bottles/plastics
Many t-shirts may also be made with a combination of recycled and non-recycled fabrics. However, despite those other materials not being recycled, they may still qualify as eco-friendly fabric due to sustainable growing practices or USDA organic certification.
Recycled fabrics have the same touch and feel you would expect from their non-recycled counterparts. Whether they’re made from 100% cotton, a cotton/polyester blend, or tri-blend, you can rest assured that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for sustainability.
Recycled tees are great for any other time you would choose similar non-recycled tees, and we offer many options for both. They would be even more perfect for Earth Day or Arbor Day events. But any time of year is great for helping the environment.
We have a lot of recycled tees to choose from, but a couple of our favorites are the District Re-Tee T-shirt and the Allmade Women’s Tri-Blend V-neck T-shirt.
At Custom Ink, we’re passionate about finding the perfect custom apparel for your group, and we love sharing our knowledge of all the fantastic offerings we have—even down to the fabrics! What will your next custom t-shirts be made of?