How to Choose the Best T-Shirt Material for Your Design
T-Shirt Trends
min read

How to Choose the Best T-Shirt Material for Your Design

From cotton, poly, and blends—everything you need to know to pick the best t-shirt fabric for you!

Everything you need to know from cotton, poly, and blends to pick the best t-shirt fabric for you.

It's hard enough perfecting your custom t-shirt design, it may even feel a bit daunting at first.

Say that you've finally got it all the design details squared away, now what? 

You still have to decide on which fabric shirt to print it on.

In this guide, we're here to break things down to the point where you'll be able to identify the fabric makeup of a shirt in your sleep. Maybe you’ll even end up sleeping in your cozy custom tees- we won’t judge. We actually vibe with that pretty hard.

Read along and catch up to speed on everything you need to know regarding choosing the right fabric for your custom t-shirt and how different blends can impact the look of your final product. 

100% Cotton

Cotton t-shirts have a lot going for them. They're usually the most cost-effective option, and they show ink colors off well. 

Cotton t-shirts, however, aren’t always the softest option. However, there's no need for your tee to be uncomfortable. 

There is a noticeable difference between one t-shirt company and the next. The Next Level Apparel 3600 has it all. If you're looking for an economical option, it's hard to compete with.

100% cotton t-shirts have been around forever, so we assume you already know how they feel. You probably already own a few.

Poly-Cotton Blends

Next up that's worth mentioning are the ever-so-popular poly-cotton blends. Polyester is produced through a chemical process. It is often more heat, water, wrinkle, and tear-resistant as opposed to 100% cotton t-shirts. 

Polyester also gives a t-shirt more stretch, which feels pretty nice. Though a plastic-based fabric might not sound like the most comfortable thing in the world, it's a highly versatile material, and we can vouch for comfiness. 

If you have yet to try on a t-shirt with polyester (it's surprising how many t-shirts have some polyester in them), it might be time to see how durable and comfortable they are. If you're looking for a recommendation, check out the Next Level 6210

They might cost slightly more than your average cotton T-shirt, but they’re totally worth it if you're going for softness.


Hence the name tri-blends are a blend of three materials: cotton, polyester, and rayon. Rayon is the real magic here. It's a manufactured material, but it's not considered synthetic because it's made with organic material, notably wood pulp. 

Through different manufacturing techniques, rayon can feel like silk, wool, linen, or cotton. Amazingly, you can do so much with some wood!

If you don't own a tri-blend t-shirt, we recommend discovering how comfortable one of these shirts can be. The Next Level 6010 truly takes things to the next level

It's hard to find a product anywhere that gets 4.9/5 stars. Tri-blends are generally the more expensive of the three options we've suggested.

But they’re well worth the price if you have yet to try a tri-blend tee- trust us on that. 

For a deeper look into tri-blends, how prints look on them, and more tri-blend shirt recommendations, check out our post, What Exactly Is A Tri-Blend?

Alternative T-shirt Material Options

You now know ~almost~ all of the info you’d need regarding t-shirts we offer.

If you want something a little out of the ordinary, there are several more options on the market. 

Because these options are more limited than the first three, they often come at a higher cost. But they also offer some unique benefits, especially if you're heading somewhere cold or need something to keep you cool during a tough workout.


Bamboo is becoming a more popular fabric for t-shirts because of its anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking qualities. These t-shirts are a good choice for a workout or run. They can decrease the temperature and make a hot summer day easier to bear.


Viscose is a type of rayon, so it's produced from wood pulp. It has some of the same qualities as rayon, but it's also similar to bamboo in being great for a workout because of its natural moisture-wicking qualities. We offer women's tank tops from Bella+Canvas made of poly-viscose blends if you want to try on a viscose shirt.


Hemp has been around for a long time, but hemp apparel hype is just beginning to take off –– and for good reason. Not only is hemp remarkably comfortable to wear, but it's also actively saving the planet by absorbing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. We recommend checking out this t-shirt from Royal Apparel if you want to try a hemp t-shirt.

For more on the history of hemp and why it makes such a darn good t-shirt, check out Meet Hemp: the World's Most Sustainable T-Shirt Fabric ♻️

Screenprinting Results

Another thing to know about cotton, cotton/poly, and tri-blend fabrics is that they all print differently. Assuming you want to throw a custom design on your shirt, the material's print results are something to consider. 

Have we sparked some cozy inspo?

Getting that perfect blend of design, color, feel, and price can be challenging- but you can always go right with custom tees from Real Thread. 

If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to help you find a soft, stylish shirt you'll never want to take off.

Our team would love to help guide your selection process based on the result you're hoping to achieve.

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