While 100% cotton is a tried and true option for fabric t-shirt design, other options might better complement different prints or purposes. The best material for t-shirt printing can depend on your needs and budget.
Common Material Options
Almost every print shop has easy access to these standard options. Since popular materials are regularly used and ordered in bulk, they are generally cheaper than other options. Not only are they easy to order, but they are typically hiccup-free to print on for makers.
T-shirt printing companies by far prefer cotton. Cotton is affordable, durable, and easy to use as a printing canvas. You can also look for combed and organic cotton options that are slightly more expensive but softer and less wrinkly.
If you’re working with custom prints or dye sublimation, polyester is likely the go-to for t-shirt materials. It is a synthetic fiber that is easy to print, easy to wash, easy to dry, and easy to wear with little to no wrinkling. Polyester makes it easy to pick up a shirt off the laundry chair and throw it on without worrying about it looking crumpled as you head out the door.
Blend Material Options
Blends take just a little more time and effort to create and, as a result, are more expensive to order. Even bulk orders run a little higher than a standard cotton order. Printing is still approachable, but the fabric is more apt to wrinkle due to the increased softness of the blend.
Softer than regular cotton and not as slinky as polyester, poly-cotton brings you the best of both worlds. While plain cotton t-shirts can shrink over time or become wrinkled, polycotton keeps them soft and shaped to size thanks to added elasticity.
Made famous by several boutique retailers in recent years, the tri-blend t-shirt is on everyone’s list for design printing. Tri-blend combines cotton, rayon, and polyester to bring you the most comfortable shirt you’re likely ever to own. Tri-blend is typically more costly than alternative materials.
A few t-shirt materials are more sustainable than the classic printing options, such as hemp, viscose, bamboo, and recycled materials. While the materials are more eco-friendly, they have not yet made it to mainstream production and might cost you more. However, the good outweighs the cost if you consider the impact on the planet.