Common Types of T-Shirt Materials

Common Types of T-Shirt Materials

In case you are wondering what type of T-shirt materials are commonly used in the industry and the difference between them, and which one would be best to suit your life are not alone.

There are three type of T-shirt fabrics used in the industry; They are cotton, polyester, and blends.

picture of a polyester fabric

Cotton – Cotton fabric are made out of fabric that is made from the seed pod of the cotton plant and spun into yarn or thread to make the fabric.  This is the most popular fabric when the T-shirt first came into the scene over 100 years ago.  The reason cotton is so popular is because cotton is all natural and inexpensive.  Cotton shirts are soft, cool, natural and breathable.  The material doesn’t feel clingy on the skin and is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t irritate those with sensitive skin. In terms of durability, cotton shirts are fairly resilient, but not as good as other materials. In terms of using cotton shirts for printing, they are probably the most versatile and produces great print quality shirts with any printing methods. One printing method that is the most used with cotton shirts is the Direct to Garment (DTG) printing. A method that prints right on the shirt.  It is mainly used for print on demand shirts.

In regards to the disadvantages of the cotton fabric for T-shirts, they are more likely to shrink and more prone to stains and not as durable as other materials.

PolyesterPolyester is a fabric made of synthetic material.  They tend to be lighter, softer, more

Cotton Flower used in Cotton T-shirts

durable, and more absorbent. They are more resistant to shrinkage, stains, stretching, stretching and fading. For those that wear T-shirts for working out, polyester shirts would be a good choice since they tend to dry faster than other materials.

One shortfall of the polyester fabric is that they tend to cling to the skin more than cotton.  Since polyester is a synthetic material, it may also irritate those that have sensitive skin.  In regards to print quality when used with different printing methods, polyester fabric tend to bleed and have more printing limitations.

Blends The third type of fabric are the blends. There are three main types of blended fabrics used in T-shirts.  They are; 50/50, CVC and Tri-Blend. 

  • 50/50 – This is a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend. T-shirts made of blended materials enjoy the advantages of both cotton and polyester shirts. They are lighter, more durable than cotton shirts.  They also don’t wash as well as other fabric.
  • CVC – Acronym for Chief Value Cotton - This is a blend that is made of mostly cotton material with a blend of polyester and rayon. Rayon is a natural material made from the cellulose fibers from wood, or other agricultural products. This material is very comfortable, but more durable than cotton shirts.
  • Tri-Blend – is a fabric that is made by combining cotton, polyester and rayon. Rayon is a material that are commonly use in tri-blend shirts. They are made from the cellulose of natural products like wood, and other agricultural materials. Tri-Blend fabrics are softer, more durable, moisture absorbent.  However, Tri-Blend T-shirts tend to be more expensive than cotton, polyester and 50/50 blends. As well, they tend to have more printing limitations than cotton shirts. Tri-blends are commonly used in athletic and active apparels One thing to note when buying tri-blend shirts, is that they are usually sold as fitted shirts.  That means, that they fit more snug to the body.  So, if you normally take a large when buying T-shirts, you will have to order 1 size larger.  So in this case you will have to order an extra-large.  Tri blend produce great results when used in DTG printing method and are ideal when used for active or athletic wear.


I hope you have a better understanding of the most common types T-shirt materials available in the market.  In summary, Cotton is great for everyday use and great for its versatility with different type of printing methods. Polyester is lighter, and is not as prone to shrinking compared to cotton.  The blended shirts are great if you are looking for something lighter, durable, shrink and wrinkle proof.  Please follow Water Dragon Tees (, for more shirt related blogs and check out our collections of unique printed T-shirts.

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