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Which T-Shirt Fabric Should You Choose for Your Design?

Updated: Jan 19

Your choices are many, from cotton or polyester to various blends - what you need to know to make the best choice for your t-shirts.

You’ve worked hard to design your custom t-shirts, and now that you’ve finalized them all you’re faced with having to choose which fabric to use. This may seem overwhelming since you don’t even know what a tri-blend is. But this guide will explain the differences in detail, so that you can quickly determine which one would be the best.

Keep reading if you want to learn the basics before selecting the fabric you’ll use for your custom t-shirts. It’s important that you know how the various blends will affect the look and feel when the t-shirt is actually being worn.

Let’s get started!

100% Cotton

100% cotton can be a great choice for t-shirts. Aside from cotton being a very affordable option, colors come out very vivid when printed on cotton. There is no other t-shirt fabric that will show off colors as well as 100% cotton.

However, if you are looking for supreme softness, you won’t find that with 100% cotton. Even so, 100% cotton t-shirts do not have to be uncomfortable. But there is a difference in feel between a 100% cotton t-shirt and one made of a tri-blend.

It goes without saying that not all cotton t-shirts look or feel the same. You can notice the difference between t-shirt companies. For example, this one from Next Level can’t be beat, and if you are seeking a cost-effective option this one is very affordable and is one of the softest.

All cotton t-shirts have existed forever, so you are very likely familiar with how they look and feel. In fact, you probably have some you’ve been wearing for years. So, we may as well start discussing cotton/polyester blends.

Selecting T-Shirt Fabrics

Cotton/Polyester T-shirt Blends

If you’re looking for a slightly softer t-shirt than one made of 100% cotton, then you may want to consider a cotton/polyester blend. Polyester is a synthetic fiber, which means that it’s made from a chemical process. Most polyester fabrics are more heat- and water-resistant than 100% cotton, as well as being more tear- and wrinkle-resistant. Also, polyester makes a t-shirt slightly stretchy, which makes it feel, and even fit a little better than an all-cotton t-shirt.

Polyesters are widely used to manufacture a lot of items we use in our daily lives, like containers, tarps, and toys. They’re also found in wood finishes, like the ones used on boats, pianos, and violins. Even though plastic doesn’t seem like it would make a very comfortable fabric, it’s an extremely versatile fabric that is widely being used.

If you’ve never worn a t-shirt with polyester, you’re probably in the minority because so many t-shirts are made with at least some polyester. You might be surprised by how comfortable and durable a cotton/polyester blend can be. So, if you want to try one we recommend American Apparel as they carry one of our most popular cotton/polyester blends, and so does Next Level 6210. You will find that they’re priced a little higher than an all-cotton t-shirt. But if you want softness, the extra cost will seem like nothing.


You can tell by the name that tri-blends are made of a combination of three different fibers: along with cotton and polyester, you have rayon. And rayon brings something magical. Even though rayon is manufactured, it is not classified as synthetic because it is made of wood pulp, which is organic. Through a variety of manufacturing processes, rayon can feel like cotton, linen, silk, or wool. It’s quite interesting that so much can be done with a little bit of wood!

If you haven’t already tried a tri-blend t-shirt, it’s time you found out how comfortable they can be. We recommend that you try this Next Level t-shirt because it definitely lives up to the label! You rarely come across anything with 4.9 stars. Although they may be the most expensive option, these tri-blend t-shirts are certainly worth every penny because they’re so incredibly comfortable!

For a more detailed examination of tri-blends including how prints appear on them, plus some additional recommendations, see our guide T-Shirt Navigator.

Other Fabric Options for T-Shirts

We’ve told you practically everything there is to know about the t-shirt fabrics we offer. But if you’re looking for something a little more unusual we have several more options to discuss. Because these other options are in limited supply compared to the first three we’ve discussed, they will cost a bit more. On the other hand, they do offer a few benefits that other fabrics don’t, like something to keep you warm in cold weather or cool when you’re playing sports.


Bamboo is starting to be used more as a t-shirt fabric because of its moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial properties. A t-shirt made of bamboo fabric is perfect for a trip to the gym or when you’re going jogging on a hot summer day and want to feel a little cooler.


Viscose is made of wood pulp, which means that it’s a type of rayon with some of the same features. However it’s somewhat like bamboo because it too has moisture-wicking properties, making it an excellent fabric for playing sports and heavy workouts.


Hemp has existed for ages, but its use in apparel has just started taking off – and not a minute too soon! It’s been discovered that hemp makes for an incredibly comfortable fabric and if that’s not enough, it’s also saving Mother Earth because it has the ability to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

One more important thing to mention about all-cotton, cotton/polyester, and tri-blend materials is that none of them print the same. Therefore, if you plan on printing a design on your t-shirts, the results you’ll get must be considered. We aren’t going to discuss this here, but we are available to help you select the best fabric for your designs based on the results you’d like to see.

Contact Us

We are confident that you will be happy no matter which of our t-shirts you choose. We understand how hard it is to achieve the perfect combination of design, print colors, feel, fit, and price. However, we have every confidence that you can achieve your goal. Please contact us with any comments or questions. We are here to help you find exactly what you want.


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