Garment Terminology

Heat printing has come a long way, even if you just look at the last 10 years or so. There are a lot more new products, new technology, new options for what you can press on. But if the Heat Printing community has grown and evolved, the garment community has just as much, if not even more so! Today there are types of shirts and jerseys that were either uncommon or unheard of about 10 years ago. When you browse a wholesaler’s catalog for plain t-shirts it can leave you wondering, “What is all this, and what happened to just plain t-shirts?” Then again, that can also be the same thing you say when you’re new to this industry!

What do all those extra words mean anyway? Ripstop, denier, moisture wicking, micro mesh… there’s so much to know! Let’s break some of it down:

Denier [duh-neer] – Denier is a unit of measurement that specifically measure the weight of the fiber of a garment. 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. So when it comes to garment decoration, this is an unimportant indicator that doesn’t affect us.

Moisture Wicking – This term refers to a 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 from the surface of the garment. Some fabrics have a tendency to wick moisture more than others (bamboo for example). Some companies have gone so far as to come with their own special combination of fibers and weaves to encourage moisture wicking and given them a special name (ie: Dri-Fit®, Aerocool, Cool Mesh). In the end, this feature, regardless of brand name, doesn’t affect adhesion of Transfer Express products.

Elasti Prints on performance wear

Our Elasti Print screen printed transfers work well on performance wear that isn’t compression.

Performance Wear – A polyester blend garment that is worn close to the skin because of its wicking properties. There are two types of performance wear. There is a more loose fitting performance wear which is used for jerseys in some sports. While loose, it’s still worn up against the skin to assist in the wicking process. Then there’s “compression wear”. This type of performance wear is more than tight – it actually pulls in against your skin in a very tight fashion. This style of garment not only wicks moisture, but it is said to increase blood circulation and keep an athlete warm. Both types can be easily decorated, but require different types of transfers. Regular performance wear can be decorated with our Elasti Prints® transfers.

PVC Coating – PVC is the abbreviation for Polyvinyl chloride, a plastic polymer. PVC is actually a very generic term that is used when talking about many different kinds of plastic used in everything from ceiling tiles to water pipes. In our industry PVC is usually used to make a garment waterproof. These coatings are generally found on different kinds of outerwear and high end backpacks. Because there are many varieties of PVC coatings today it always best to test the fabric before starting a project with it to ensure adhesion. We suggest using screen printed Goof Proof® transfers.

Ripstop close up shot

This close up shot of nylon Ripstop shows us a strongly woven fabric used in the making of hot air balloons!

Ripstop – Not so much a type of fabric as it is a special feature for fabric, Ripstop is a weaving strategy that makes a fabric VERY hard to rip and tear. Ripstop material can be made out of polyester, nylon, or even polyethylene. This means that the word “ripstop” itself doesn’t affect us as decorators.

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 is 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. As decorators this means that we shouldn’t be concerned about the porthole, micro, or mini part… but we should be concerned whether it’s polyester or nylon. Polyester meshes can be decorated with any Transfer Express product.

porthole mesh

This is an example of polyester porthole mesh. Mini mesh would have smaller holes, and then micro mesh even smaller.

If you ever stumble across a garment you’re not familiar with or a feature that you know don’t understand, we encourage you to contact our Dealer Services team! We’ll help guide you through what transfer type will work best for your project!



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