When choosing a shirt, deciding on the right material to screen print on can be just as important as creating a design. At Rivet Press we have always believed that t-shirts should feel just as good as they look. That’s why we take the extra time to explain the pros and cons of each fabric, so that you can find the right balance of comfort, fit and washability for your screen printing project.
Material: a soft natural fiber found in most t-shirts
Cotton is definitely the most common material to find in a t-shirt. It has a nice mix of softness, affordability, and breathability for casual wear. Cotton also has different kinds, like combed cotton and organic cotton. One of the biggest downsides to cotton is that it shrinks after the first warm wash.
Material: slightly rougher than cotton and made from flax plant
Linen isn’t quite as common a material for t-shirts, and can more commonly be found in jackets and light outer layers. This fabric tends to wrinkle easily. Linen is a very lightweight material and tends to dry quickly, so it’s a good choice for summertime clothing.
Material: a man-made synthetic fiber
Polyester is the go-to choice for many looking for sports apparel. This material is quick-drying, breathable, doesn’t wrinkle easily, and holds it’s shape well when washed. Though it’s a good choice for athletic wear, polyester isn’t usually as comfortable as cotton or linen materials.
Material: man-made material from a blend of cotton, trees and woody plants
This fabric was first made as a cheaper version of silk and has a very smooth feel to it. Like polyester, rayon is a good material for athletic and outdoor wear because of its lightweight feel. One of the downsides to rayon is that it doesn’t tend to last well over time and can become wrinkled with repeated wears.
Material: usually a 50/50 mix of polyester and cotton, but can vary at 65/35 ratio too
Poly/Cotton combines the best qualities of polyester and cotton into a breathable yet soft shirt. This type of fabric has proven to be a crowd favorite with our customers since it's super soft but can often be cheaper than 100% cotton. Poly/Cotton blends also tend to hold their shape well compared to other fabrics.
Material: a blend of three fabrics, most typically cotton, polyester and rayon
The tri-blend is exactly what you might guess: a hybrid of three different fabrics weaved together. The advantage of a hybrid is that it can adopt some of the best qualities of the other fabrics, like the lightweight feel of rayon but the softness of cotton. We’ve found that tri-blends can offer a really nice balance between style, comfort and durability in t-shirts.
When it comes to your screen printing project, you should choose the material that best suits the person who will be wearing it. There is no “one fabric to rule them all” -- just the best fabric for your shirt.