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A Fast Guide to The Common T-Shirt Fabric Differences
It may be a simple closet staple, but when it comes to t-shirts, there are many choices to be made, not only when it comes to styles but also when it comes to fabric. From cotton and polyester to linen and rayon, there are many different t-shirt fabrics available on the market. Which is the best? Which is the softest? Which is most likely to last the longest?
Here is our easy, fast guide to the common t-shirt fabric differences.
Cotton is the most commonly used t-shirt fabric. It lends itself well to t-shirts because it is one of the softest materials around but also offers good breathability, making it perfect for a garment that is worn so close to the skin. This means a cotton t-shirt is great for warmer weather as it can help to keep you cool.
Cotton is a natural material, but there can be many different varieties of cotton. For example, combed cotton is combed before it is made into yarn, which then results in a tightly woven, soft and comfortable t-shirt, while organic cotton is grown without harsh chemicals, leading to a softer end product.
This You Are Strong Enough T-Shirt is made from ring spun cotton. This type of cotton is produced by continuously spinning cotton plant fibers together to form a smoother, finer rope, which results in a stronger, more durable cotton fabric. The vast variety of cotton types can also lead to variations in price, quality and longevity, although the most basic cotton t-shirts tend to be fairly inexpensive.
Polyester is another common choice for t-shirts. It is a synthetic material that has low absorbency, which allows it to dry very quickly. It is also breathable, making it a popular choice for athletic t-shirts. It is also easier to wash than cotton because of the fact that it dries quickly and is far less likely to wrinkle or shrink. Polyester’s lack of absorbency means it is also slightly more resistant to stains. Strong fibers mean a polyester t-shirt is likely to be long-lasting and durable. However, it is not considered as comfortable against the skin as cotton and is usually reserved for sports or activewear.
Different fabrics can be blended together to create a "best of both worlds" solution. Polyester and cotton are a popular blend used for t-shirts, such as this Rock Eagle Graphic T-Shirt. Usually used in a 50:50 ratio, poly-cotton blends combine durability with comfort. A poly-cotton blend is usually more comfortable than pure polyester thanks to the cotton, but it washes better and is less likely to shrink than pure cotton thanks to the polyester. It is often a more pocketbook-friendly option than pure cotton.
Rayon is another synthetic fiber often used in t-shirts. It is made from natural sources of regenerated cellulose, such as wood and plants. It is soft and comfortable, highly absorbent, lightweight, inexpensive and drapes quite well. However, it is not the most durable of fabrics. It can stretch easily and is more likely to wrinkle over time. It is more comfortable than a 100% polyester t-shirt, however, making it good for outdoor or activewear, but it is not as resilient as polyester.
Tri-blend T-shirts use a mixture of three fabrics, usually cotton, rayon and polyester. Like a 50/50 blend, it tries to capitalize on the best aspects of each fabric. However, getting the blend right can be a complicated process. Ideally, you want to take the softness of cotton, durability of polyester and the lightweight nature of rayon. The percentages of each fabric type can vary, too. This Boyfriend Fit Adventure Tee uses 50% cotton, 25% rayon and 25% polyester.
Known for wrinkling easily and for having a slightly rougher texture, linen is not as widely used as its fellow natural fiber cotton. It is often used for summer clothes to be worn in hot climates due to its extremely lightweight nature and good breathability. Linen tends to be more expensive than cotton due to the longer harvesting process it requires.
When deciding on the type of t-shirt you want to buy, pay close attention to the label to see what fabric or mix of fabric it contains. Don’t forget to factor in what you want to use that t-shirt for, whether it is sports, a vacation or as a base layer under shirts. Consider the function of your t-shirt and choose your fabric wisely.