What Makes One T-shirt Better Than Another?

We get asked all the time.  What is the difference between this t-shirt and that t-shirt?

The softness and printability of a cotton t-shirt greatly depend on how it’s processed.  There are two primary types of yarn used to make t-shirts:  open end and ring spun.  The difference between the two comes from the yarn-spinning method.

Open-end cotton yarns typically use shorter-length cotton fibers and yield a fabric that has a drier or crisper hand.  Open-end yarns tend to be coarser, more loosely bound and with rougher thread.

Ring-spun yarns have a longer, staple-length fibers that require two steps in the manufacturing process versus one step used for open-end yarn.  This added process increases the labor required, and therefore is one of the factors for the higher price of certain t-shirts over another.  A good example of a ring spun t-shirt would be the Hanes Beefy T.  Ring-spun t-shirts will feel softer when you wear them versus a regular 100% cotton or 50/50 t-shirt that may cost less.

There are two techniques used to process yarn:  carding and combing.  Carding is just like it sounds:  moving card over the yarns.  It doesn’t really align the threads like the combing process.  Think of combing in terms of combing your hair.  The comb is going to sink in and align the strands so you’ll have a smoother, cleaner look as opposed to a card that is just skimming the top of the yarn.  Combing also breaks the fibers apart, adding to the softness of the garment.

The gauge of thickness of the yarn is referred to as “singles”.  The higher the number, the finer the yarn.  So, 30 singles is thinner than 20 singles.  The finer the yarns used, the smoother the surface of the fabric and the softer the touch.

What is a Tri-blend T-shirt?

Fashion forward t-shirts have become very popular over the last year or two with the millennium market place.  A tri-blend tee is one of the softest t-shirts on the market today.  Again, you can expect to pay more for this type of t-shirt versus your standard 100% cotton or 50/50 t-shirt because of the added manufacturing cost associated with the creation of this style of garment.

As you might have guessed from the name “tri-blend,” the blend of the shirt is made of three different fabrics. Tri-blend t-shirts are 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon.  It is this combination of material that makes them so soft.  Just a word of caution when ordering a tri-blend t-shirt runs a little bit smaller or snug to the body with the ability to stretch a little.  100% cotton tee shirts are created with a little bit more of a generous cut to allow for the cotton to shrink over a period of washing and dryings.