Best Materials For T Shirts - What's A T-Shirt Made Of?
The humble T-shirt may be one of the most basic items, but it's actually quite a complex garment when it comes down to it. There's a huge number of different variants, from the fit to the design, and we've already looked at different types of printing, but what about taking it back to the basics, what is a T Shirt made of?
The answer is not so simple. T Shirts, like most clothing, can be made up of different textiles and materials, and it all depends on many factors, including cost, style, type of finish and quality. As you'll already know, T-shirts started out in the 1900s as an undergarment, but now they're on display, wearing them as regular clothing, for both plain tees as well as designer T-shirts for fashion. Let's look at some of the materials which T-shirts are made from.
The most widely used and popular material is cotton, but not all cotton is created equally. First off we'll start talking about 100% cotton shirts. They're breathable, soft and durable, so they should last you quite a while. It's the material of choice for most, and is a natural product.
There are different types of cotton, from PIMA cotton which is from Peru to Egyptian cotton. Both of these cotton variants are super soft, probably the softest cotton you will come across, it's usually used in high end fashion garments, where you'll find the price points starting at over £50 depending on the brand.
The count in cotton will also tell you how soft it is. Some people often believe that the weight determines the quality of a T-shirt, this is actually false and not true. You can have lightweight, mid-weight and heavyweight T-shirts, and the light one could be of better quality. A common good quality T-shirt will be 30s, although if you're buying a Tee this is usually not documented, and you'll need to feel the cotton to see how it feels. Usually if brands are using higher end more expensive cotton, they will tell you about it as this will aid their marketing against other inferior brands.
Cotton With Stretch
A very popular material to use is cotton with some stretch. This is the garment being made mostly of cotton, with a small mix of elastane, spandex or similar products added to it. This gives it some stretch, which creates a better fitting T-shirt. This is a great combination if you're looking for a more fitted feel for a top, rather than a loose or standard fit.
There's plenty of different variations of the cotton fibres too. PIMA, as mentioned before is regarded as ELS, or Extra Long Staple. This means that the fibres are longer than the standard would be, and are spun to create a superior yarn which is very smooth and luxurious.
Other fibres commonly used are Ringspun, Jersey, and Combed, all of which are really nice, soft styles of cotton finishes.
Organic cotton is being used more frequently, and is, as the name suggests organic. It's more ethical and grown with minimal fertilizers and pesticides. Since the raw element of the cotton is more expensive, more care is usually taken with things such as the cut and fit, and so organic T-shirts are usually always good quality, but that does come at a cost.
Poly Cotton is what's commonly called a polyester and cotton mix. The mixture of these two products can come in different proportions. It could be a 50/50 shirt, where the cotton is 50% cotton and 50% polyester, or 80/20, with 80% cotton and 20% polyester. The polyester and cotton mix shirts are usually used when you require an even softer finish to the shirt, if you want a cheaper option, or if you want to add some definition or an unnatural colour into the shirt which cannot be dyed, such as a heather colour, like heather grey.
Polyester is a man made product, rather than the natural product which cotton is. It has a somewhat bad reputation in comparison to cotton, but it can be used for a number of things, and it can work well. If you want an all over print with sublimation, Polyester would be the choice, as it's a better product for this printing process. It is also incredibly soft, and cheaper to get a softer finish. The downsides are that it's not natural, not as breathable as cotton and it's not as durable as cotton. Polyester is commonly used in things such as football shirts and sportswear, it's a great choice for active clothing as it's better for getting rid of sweat.
Modal is a silky smooth style of fabric, and it's usually used for under garments, loungewear or underwear. There are some brands which use modal within their T-shirts, just as they use elastane for stretch, model could be used as an alternative to give the cotton more of a silky feel to it.
Linen is usually found in shirts and jackets for the summer. It's made from the flax plant, and wrinkles quite easily, which is why it's not commonly used in T-shirts. It is however used by some brands, and is good for light, summer garments, but as mentioned it's very prone to wrinkling and is very fine, so only suitable for the warmer, summer weather.
Whatever you're choice of material for T-shirt, we hope this guide has shown you the different options and gives you an insight into what is the best material for T-shirts.
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