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Fabric Types Explained

Ever ordered some clothing online and it not be at all what you expected? We’ve all been there. Online shopping is amazing, but the one huge downfall is that you can’t feel the material! We know how crucial this is for personalised clothing too. The last thing you want is to order 200 printed tees just to find out they feel all wrong… But not to worry, we are here to help. Keep reading to learn all about the different fabric types and what works best for you

What Is Regular Cotton?

Cotton is the go-to clothing fabric, which is naturally grown from cotton plants. It is a soft touch fabric, with good breathability. Now get your manufacturing hat on for this bit……Standard fluffy cotton is ‘carded’ so that impurities are taken out and straightens the fibres out. The carded cotton fibres are spun into a yarn by twisting the fibres together. The yarn is then woven together to create the fabric using a warp and weft technique which basically creates a grid-like structure, which gives the fabric its strength. The fabric cloth is then taken away to be bleached, dyed and created into yourt-shirtorhoodie. Phew!

What is Cotton Best For?

Cotton items are good for everything! In t-shirts, regular cotton is good for items on a budget or more promotional wear. Stuff you might enjoy wearing at the time for an event but might become your future gym t-shirt. That kind of thing. However, for things like polo shirts, 100% cotton is a sign of quality and usually cost more.

What is Ringspun Cotton?

Some clever people found out that there are ways of getting cotton even softer using the very same cotton fibres. Ringspun cotton is where the yarn is twisted and thinned even more than standard cotton. The general rule of thumb is that to make softer cotton, you spin it for longer. This creates a more durable fabric, which is even softer to touch. It even creates a better printing surface due to the tighter weave. When comparing ringspun and regular cotton, you can notice regular cotton is a little ‘scratchier' to touch. This is because the weave of the yarn isn't as tight and strong as the ringspun cotton. The only catch is, ringspun cotton is typically more expensive than regular cotton to account for this extra processing.

What is Ringspun Cotton Best For?

Ringspun is seen as a more retail style and used in t-shirts which are perceived as higher quality. This makes it the ideal fabric for clothing brands or merch to sell at events. The surface is perfect for screen printing too so it’s a great choice for large quantities of printed merch.

What is Combed Cotton?

Another level up is a cotton regularly used for bed linen, so for clothing you know it’s going to be soft right?! Combed cotton is the same spinning and weaving process, however, fine combs are run through the cotton during ‘carding’ before it is made into a yarn. This removes the impurities and shorter fibres to make it only the cleanest, purest cotton that is used in the spinning process. By only using the highest quality, longer fibres, it means the yarn is much tighter and less prone to fraying of the fibres (Remember what we said about the scratchier feel of regular cotton). This makes the combed cotton even softer and more premium. The extra process of combing the cotton adds extra cost to this type of fabric.

What is Combed Cotton Best For?

People with their own fashion brands like to use this type of fabric in their t-shirts, and a lot of our marketing and tech customers love to go for these for their more casual staff uniforms. Gigantic companies like Apple and Google are regularly turning to t-shirts like this to kit out their teams, and if it’s good enough for them…

What is Peached Cotton?

This is like the little secret one not many know about. Come close, this one is a wow fabric…. This super-soft cotton is produced as standard, but there is a special finishing process applied to the fabric, where it is firstly treated with a chemical compound and left to dry. Once dry, the fabric is then effectively sanded by rollers which brush against the cotton causing the softer fibre ends to come out of the material to create a ‘fuzz’ on the surface of the material. What is created is a material, which is so soft, you literally want to rub it against your face. A true high end, retail finish, regularly used by brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Jack Wills etc.

What Is Peached Cotton Best For?

Peached fabric is amazing for premium kids clothing as it is so soft against the skin. We see a lot of our kids clothing brand owners turn to this one. It’s also perfect for a high quality casual uniform. 

What is Polyester?

Science hat on now everyone; Polyester is a man-made material derived from coal, air, water and ‘ethylene’ from petroleum. It was discovered around the late 1930s by some seriously clever individuals. ‘Poly’ stands for ‘many’, and ‘ester’ is an organic chemical compound’, which is how the polymer is produced. Easy. Once the polyester fibres are produced, the process to create the fabric is very similar to the spinning and weaving of cotton. Polyester is the smooth, slightly shiny material you would find in most of your sportswear.

What is Polyester Best For?

Nowadays polyester is perfect for workwear and sportswear. This is because it is light to wear and easy to wash and look after. It has flourished in sportswear as it has become much more breathable with small holes in the fabric and moisture wicking properties, which keep the body cool and dry.

What is Poly/Cotton?

Instead of exclusively using cotton fibres, polyester fibres are used in the weaving process to create a blend of polyester and cotton. Get it? Poly/Cotton? The blends are typically 65% cotton 35% polyester or 50%/50%. You become an industry pro when you remember your blend percentages. Honestly, people are so impressed! The use of a blend is to achieve a ‘best of both’, where you have the quality and soft feel of cotton, with the durability and cost-effectiveness of polyester. What a genius idea! Blends are often seen on polo shirts and hoodies, with a few t-shirts using the blend to make them lighter to wear.

What is Poly/Cotton Best For?

Workwear, workwear and workwear…..Polo shirts, work shirts and blouses. Basically, items which need to make the user appear smarter, but give them an everyday practicality like easy wash and care.

What is Tri-Blend?

Tri-blends are typically made from 50% polyester, 25% cotton and 25% rayon. This gives a mottled effect to the shirt, so colour takes on a distressed style too. The introduction of the ‘tri’ ingredient, rayon, gives it a lightweight feel that makes the t-shirt drape on the body. In an era where fit is very important, this creates a beautiful looking t-shirt. Rayon is another man-made fibre made from cellulose, which, as you’ll no doubt be aware comes from wood pulp. Yeah, who would have thought that?! It often imitates fabrics like silk, wool and linen, and is known for being breathable and soft.

What is Tri-Blend Best For?

Runs of cool designer printed tees, and customers who are looking for something very retail and well fitting. Screen printing on these looks top class as does embroidery.

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