Picking the Right Fabric for Your Shirt Order


If you’re about to decide on your clothing strategy and want to brush up on the basics of fabric selection then you’re in the right place. Fabric selection can make the difference between a T-shirt favorite and one that never gets worn. The key is knowing your event or audience and fabric suits them.

Fabric Types

100% Cotton (Long Fiber) – Heavy Cotton shirts are a great choice for most projects in the sense that they’re durable, economical and will hold up even decades later if cared for correctly. The downside to them is that they can be down-right hot to work in during the summer heat and, while they’re not “scratchy”, they’re the closest to unrefined cotton you can buy. Most shirts sold are Long fiber because they’re the most economical option out there.

100% Cotton (Short Fiber) – Short fiber cotton, or ringspun cotton, is a softer, cooler fabric. Despite being 100% cotton the tighter thread density means the fabric will feel better on the skin in heat. Think of high thread count sheets – the more threads, the better it feels. Ringspun cotton is a higher value product and many high-end fashion brands use shirts made of ringspun cotton. They can be a great option for merchandise, as potential customers will notice the difference in feel.

50-50% Cotton/Polyester Blend – A recent addition to the fabric lineup and often labeled “Dry-blend” or “Dry-fit” by clothing manufacturers, a 50-50 blend is a great shirt if you need a cooler shirt without breaking the bank. It won’t match the moisture-wicking properties of a 100% polyester shirt but can be a great choice when ordering 100’s of shirts for a sporting event or run to keep participants cool when money is tight.

100% Polyester – Polyester shirts are the standard for intense outdoor work or activity. If you’ve ever had the chance to do a workout in a polyester shirt you’ll know the difference is very real. Employees, event attendees or customers will appreciate the feel of the fabric and these, unlike the 50-50 Cotton/Polyester blend, are true moisture-wicking shirts.

Tri-blend – A tri-blend is typically Cotton, Polyester and Rayon and these blends can run in different blend percentages for different feels. The primary difference with a triblend compared to a Cotton/Polyester blend is that the rayon will give the shirt a silky feel that some people can’t do without once they’ve experienced it. Tri-blends are not cheap however, and a decision to use a tri-blend is primarily a fashion/personal choice.

Ultimately, the right choice of fabric is really based on what you’re trying to achieve and your budget. Don’t think that the more expensive product is always better – sometimes ordering more of the economical choice will get you price breaks on your print volume that really make the choice a no-brainer in terms of value per dollar.


Let the use dictate the fabric! If you’re thinking economy – go with a heavy cotton. If you’re thinking fashion, athletic, specific use – upgrade according!