Apparel Terms to Help with Heat Transfers

Terms used when ordering apparel can be confusing. A special thank you to team member Andy Curtiss who did some research on what they mean and how it comes into play when applying heat transfers.

Denier– A unit of measurement that indicates how fine the weave of a material.  Specifically, denier references to the weight of a fiber. For example, 1 denier = 1 gram per 9,000 meters of a fiber. So this means that the higher the number, the heavier the weight of the fibers used. A lightweight garment has a lower denier. For example, a woman’s nylons could be 7 denier. But a heavy duty nylon awning could be 1,000 denier.  This does not affect heat printing.

Moisture Wicking – This term refers to some fabrics abilities to absorb sweat from your skin and pull it through to the outside of the garment. This leaves your skin dry and comfortable and allows the sweat to evaporate more quickly. Both nylon and polyester have the capacity to wick moisture as noted above. This term alone has no effect on the adhesion of our product as it is NOT a special coating, but a natural ability of some fibers.

Dri-Fit, Aerocool and Cool Mesh – These are trademarked or brand terms that refer to a type of jersey in which nylon or polyester has been mixed with cotton or another natural fiber. These garments are advertised as not only good at wicking away sweat, but the added natural fibers like cotton make the garment more breathable and comfortable, allowing a person to cool down more quickly. So when dealing with these garments, we will always need to ask: polyester or nylon.

Porthole, Mini, & Micro Mesh – These are all terms that simply refer to the size of the holes and the denier (weight) of the mesh fabric. All three can either refer to polyester mesh or nylon mesh. The largest holes with the heaviest denier are generally the porthole mesh which is used for some football jerseys or mesh laundry bags. In contrast, the micro mesh has tiny holes and smaller denier and it is used for basketball and lacrosse jerseys. Mini mesh is between the other two and can be used in any of the sports previously mentioned as well as soccer. When a customer mentions any of these products we should immediately ask if it’s nylon or polyester and make the appropriate transfer type choices from there – don’t ever assume!

Tricot Mesh – Tricot is a term that refers to a style of knitting or weaving. The tricot style will generally leave one side of a garment smooth and the other side textured. Tricot mesh is this style of weave used in a mesh jersey. These are often times a higher end jersey in the sports world (it is also used in undergarments and sleeping bags). Tricot mesh comes in both polyester and nylon varieties so we need to ask when customers mention it – don’t assume!

Performance Wear – A garment that is worn close to the skin because of its wicking properties. Performance wear is made to be tight, but flexible so it can be worn under a uniform or as a uniform itself in some sports. Some performance wear is worn as a loose fit. These garments can be decorated with any of our products that are appropriate for polyester. However, other performance wear is referred to as compression fit. These garments are worn skin tight and will generally stretch to some degree. For this fit you should use Elasti Prints® or Stretch Litho. You will hear the terms moisture wicking, dri-fit and aerocool occasionally in conjunction with performance wear (see above for their definition).

Sublimation – A high end process of decorating garments that involves dying the garment with a gas process. Garments are polyester and start the process as white or very light grey. After the sublimation process is complete, the garment will show a different color(s) on the outside, but still show the original white or light grey on the inside. The only catch to the process is that it easily suffers from dye migration.


Want even more fabric terms and types?

Download our ebook, The Heat Printer’s Ultimate Guide to Fabric Types, which lists dozens of fabrics and the best heat applied transfer solution for each type.

ebook on fabric types for heat printing



Great post!!

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