Choosing the Best Fabric Type for the Weather and Activity

many t-shirt choices

There are many options to choose from for a simple t-shirt.

When looking for blank t-shirts for your custom printed apparel, there are so many different options of T-shirts to choose from, whether it is a certain material, blends, or weights.

As a custom t-shirt business, it is good to know the differences in the materials used for the various apparel options so you can make educated decisions on which fabrics to use when.

Knowing t-shirt fabrics, along with the pros and cons of each, will help make you an expert for when your customers ask for your opinion on which type of t-shirt to choose. You are also able to offer advice to customers who may already have a certain type of t-shirt in mind when they come to you, but it is not really the best choice based on their activities.

Think about when you need to hire a contractor, plumber, or any other specialty type of skill for a job.

You may have no idea about anything in these areas of work, so you want to hire someone who knows what they are doing because you are relying completely on this person and putting your trust in their knowledge to complete the job the best way possible.

The same is true for apparel decoration.

When you can offer your expertise to customers, it will give them a better experience overall with the end product and keep them coming back to you with future orders.

[Related Content: 7 Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back for More]

Even at times when they don’t know exactly what they need, they know that they can trust you with their order.

The key to choosing a t-shirt, is knowing what type of activity your customer will be using the apparel for and in what type of weather. Is it a baseball shirt, which will be worn outdoors in the summer heat or a company uniform shirt that will be worn inside in an air conditioned store?

Asking your customers the right questions will help you find out the information you need.


custom printed baseball jerseys

Pick an appropriate t-shirt fabric for the activity being worn for along with the weather.

There are a couple of factors for determining the best fabric type to choose: breathability (airflow) and absorption.

Each type of fabric varies depending on the weight of a material and how it is woven. Generally speaking, lighter t-shirts with a looser weave will allow more airflow and will be cooler.

On the other hand, a heavier weight of fabric that is tightly woven will be a better insulator in cooler weather. Because it restricts airflow, it will keep body heat in.

Based on these factors, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a few common t-shirt materials.

Before we do, however, keep this in mind. The body’s natural cooling system is to sweat. As the sweat sits on your body, it has a cooling effect. It also keeps you cooler as the sweat then evaporates, which removes some of the body heat with it. Different materials can have an effect on this process.

Let’s see how.

Cotton is a natural fiber. It allows more air flow for a higher breathability. Since cotton is more breathable, it tends to be cooler by letting your body heat escape through the fabric.

Cotton also has high absorption. This will absorb sweat and allow evaporation.

However, in very hot and humid weather, and for someone who is exerting a high level of energy, this can cause a person to sweat a lot. Cotton does not dry very quickly, so in this scenario, evaporation is not occurring as fast, which keeps body heat in longer.

The shirt then becomes wet and can cause the shirt to stick to their skin. This can be uncomfortable and cause skin irritation.

When a shirt becomes too wet, it will take longer for sweat to evaporate and actually retains more heat. This is especially true for heavier cotton shirts. A lighter cotton shirt will allow evaporation to occur more quickly and will be better for these types of conditions or activities.

Keep in mind that since cotton absorbs moisture, it is very visible when someone is sweating in a cotton shirt. Since it absorbs sweat, it can also become stinky! Cotton, though, is very easy to launder and pretty durable to stand up to multiple washings.

Polyester is a material made up of synthetic fibers.

Generally, polyester will repel any sort of water/moisture/sweat. Because of this, if polyester does get wet, it is pretty quick to dry.

However, this type of material is not very breathable and can trap moisture and heat beneath clothing. Since it does not breathe well, it acts as an insulation by keeping warm air and body heat in.

Therefore, polyester is not very good for hot weather, but can be good for cooler weather. For this reason, polyester is used for many outer wear jackets, coats, warm-ups, pants, and gloves for conditions and activities where someone would like to stay warmer.

Rayon is made from natural materials but through various processes, is considered more of a synthetic fiber.

Rayon tends to be lighter and is very breathable. Combined with absorbing moisture well, makes this type of fabric good for keeping someone cooler in warmer weather.

The downside to rayon is that it is not very durable, which will have limited wear overtime.

Triblend t-shirts are usually made from cotton, polyester, and rayon, which give this type of t-shirt a lighter and softer feel.

Moisture Wicking Polyester
You may be asking, “You said polyester isn’t good for warm weather, but what about performance wear apparel? Isn’t that made from polyester?”

That’s a great question.

Performance wear is usually made from 100% polyester or a similar blend. These types of performance shirts are actually manufactured with added nano-particle technology that the normal polyester shirts do not contain.

These properties actually “wick” moisture, which is the process of pulling sweat from your skin and pushing it to the surface of the shirt. The little pores of the fabric spread the moisture out for very quick evaporation from the outer surface of the apparel, keeping the person dry and cool.

This type of manufactured material is very breathable and is perfect for sports. It keeps athletes cool in warm weather, and warm in colder weather.

moisture wicking shirt

Performance wear has become very popular for athletes. Take care in the decoration process – Elasti Prints® screen printed transfers work best.

Other Factors
Clothing that has a looser fit will allow more air flow. This will keep someone cooler in warmer weather.

Knowing how certain t-shirts and other apparel brands fit is good to know, whether they run on the larger side or the smaller side. By knowing this information, you can recommend to customers on either going up a size or not.

Colors also matter. Lighter colors will reflect light while darker colors will absorb more sunlight. Absorbing sunlight means more heat. Keep this in mind during hotter months and outdoor activities.

[Related Content: Choose T-Shirts During Summer Months Wisely]

The way that the apparel is decorated will also contribute to the breathability of the garment. Decorating materials such as ink and/or vinyl can inhibit the breathablility of the fabric, especially if it is a large design or with lots of coverage.

[Related Content: How to Decorate Clothing for Warm Weather]

As the weather gets hotter in the “dog days of summer”, it is good to know which fabric types work best for different weather conditions and activities.

This will help customers enjoy their custom shirts to the highest extent possible and want to come back to you with future orders because of your apparel knowledge and advice.

Transfer Express performance wear

Performance wear comes in a variety of styles.