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A guide to different t-shirt materials

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Among the many initial decisions you’ll have to make while setting up your merch such as your designs and printing techniques, choosing the right fabric for the given design and technique is also very crucial since the printing technique chosen may vary with the chosen fabric. Hence, it is important to understand and establish the cohesion among the designs, the types of fabrics and the printing techniques. 

Cotton

Cotton, made from cotton plants, is the most widely used in the textiles industry because of its versatility. It is also the most widely used fabric in tshirt printing for its various deliverables.  Cotton is a very strong and affordable fabric to work with which delivers the highest quality results in terms of colors and designs. It is soft, breathable, lightweight and comfortable; all which make it ideal for daily use. It is a very durable fabric reducing the possibilities of accidental rips or tears. Just like most natural materials, there is a possibility of the fabric shrinking when subjected to high temperatures. However, this can be controlled following simple washing instructions such as washing a cotton shirt with cold water and by avoiding the excessive usage of detergents to protect the wear and tear of the fabric.

Being the king of fabrics, it is only fair to put this fabric to its best use with one of the best and exponentially growing printing techniques. Direct to Garment is only compatible with cotton based t-shirts or t-shirts with a high percentage of cotton. The more cotton a t-shirt has, the more realistic and vibrant the result would be. When complemented with the king of fabrics, cotton, the color output of DTG is very high as it is able to produce full color photographic prints. Other printing techniques that work great on cotton also include Embroidery printing and Heat Transfers. 

 

Polyester

Polyester is a man-made manufactured fabric integrating petroleum-based products. Invented in 1941, it is a relatively new player in the market. It is now becoming an increasingly attractive fabric in the apparel industry and t-shirt printing industry. Polyester is a strong, wrinkle-resistant and lightweight fabric that feels slightly silkier than cotton. It is a light and thin fabric which may cling onto the skin for a while before getting comfortable as it is a stretchy fabric. It resists a lot of wearing and washing without shrinking, tearing, wrinkling or fading. Moreover, it is also a less absorbent material which means it is more difficult to stain a polyester fabric. The care instructions for polyester includes machine-washing polyester garments with warm water with an all-purpose detergent followed by tumble-drying at low temperature setting. 

Being such a flexible fabric, Polyester works best with dyes such as Sublimation dye wherein the more polyester in the garment, the more vibrant the result would be. Other printing techniques available for polyester include  Heat Transfer and Screen Printing. 

 

Cotton-Polyester Blend

Combining the best of both worlds, this can be your go-to choice if you’re confused between the two powerful fabrics. As the name implies, a cotton-polyester blend is a fabric which contains a blend of both cotton and polyester. This therefore means that the strengths of both the fabrics are combined together like a dynamic power-duo. It will provide a soft, breathable finish as a product of the cotton ratio in the fabric as well as will provide for a strong, wrinkle-free and shrink-resistant product; that is expected from the polyester in the blend. 

This blend is best printed via Heat Transfer or Screen Printing while Sublimation and DTG is dependent on the quantity of cotton/poly available and the color of the fabric.

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