11 Types of Fabric for Shirts (Best For T-Shirt, Dress Shirt)

You are going to wear the shirt for hours. It is a smart move to buy a shirt made with some of the finest fabrics around. When you go with the best, then you feel good about yourself and you can go to your next appointment or event with lots of confidence.

The higher the thread count, the softer the fabric. Usually, the best fabrics, like poplin, high-quality cotton, twill, flannel, and oxford fabric, to name a few, are the best fabrics with the highest thread counts to use for any shirt.

To learn more about the best fabric for your next shirt, just continue reading our article. It has the information you need to help yourself feel ready to face the world as well as having you look your best.

What Fabric are T-shirts Made Of?

The most common fabric is cotton. Not just any cotton as that material comes in a variety of styles and with a lot of different names. Fortunately, there is no real right answer to what is the best fabric for a t-shirt or any shirt.

That lack of one definitive answer helps you pick a variety of fabrics at the price you want to pay and still be wearing one of the best materials for a t-shirt. Some other t-shirt options are linen, polyester, rayon. modal, jersey, twill, poplin, and even gabardine cotton.

Each fabric has its own unique characteristics with the natural fibers being a little more costly than those t-shirts made from synthetic materials. Basically, it is up to your sense of fashion and preferences which fabric you choose. (list of types of shirts)

How to Choose Fabric for Shirt


There are several factors involved when looking for the best fabric for you. One factor when making your shirt, whether it is a t-shirt or dress shirt, is if it is easy to work with on your sewing machine.

A slippery factor may extend your sewing time as you battle to keep the fabric still. The next factor would be clothing care. Is the material easy to clean or do you have to send it out to the dry cleaners frequently?

Then, you need to decide on the purpose of the shirt. Some fabrics work well in formal situations while others perform better in casual affairs. You certainly do not want to wear a silk shirt to a child’s baseball game.

Durability will be the final factor here. You want a material that lasts.

What Type of Fabric for a T-shirt?

In this specific case, you have lots of fabrics to choose from. It will depend on your preferences and time for cleaning which fabric you choose. Your selection is actually quite large so you may spend most of your time deciding which one is best for you.

To start, you have a wide variety of cotton options to choose from, then there is linen, lycra, polyester, and rayon. All of these are fine fabrics that will have you looking good on a casual date or a walk in the park.

Then if you want a different fashion look, you can go with burnout, slub, pigment-dyed, and rib-knit fabrics. They should provide you with interesting out of the box looks that highlight your personality.

The thing is you have more choices of fabrics than events to attend.

Best Fabric Weight for T-shirts


Again, there is no real right or wrong answer here. You have to judge which weight to use by thinking about the purpose of the shirt and the activities it will be used for. The key terms to figuring out the right weights are grams per meter, (gsm), and ounces per square yard, (oz/yd2).

For lightweight t-shirts, you want 5.3 ounces per square yard for weight or 30 to 150 gsm. For medium weight, the ideal is 5.5 oz/yd2 or 150 to 350 gsm, and finally, for heavier t-shirts, you want 6.7 oz/yd2 or 350+ gsm.

Keep in mind the heavier the fabric, the thicker the fabric will be.

Fabric for T-shirt Printing

For this option, you have about 4 good fabrics to choose from. The first is 100% cotton as the outside is usually smooth and the natural fibers take the screen printing ink very well.

Next is 100% polyester as it holds its shape well and dries very quickly. Third, would be a cotton and polyester 50-50 blend. As this style of fabric is light and cool as well as keeps its shape through many washes.

Finally, a tri-blend with cotton, polyester, and rayon as this fabric blend is ideal for vintage looks. It is also the softest material to wear. Cotton is the cheapest, polyester is next in line and the tri-blend is the third cheapest. Cotton is also the most breathable as well as the easiest to clean

Best Fabric for T-shirt Quilt Backing

The best fabric for backing on a t-shirt quilt will be high-quality cotton. That choice may be a little on the expensive side but you want your quilt to last as well as look good. High-quality cotton will be durable and keep the color aspect to the highest of standards.

Basically, the fabrics you are looking for are the ones with the highest thread count. The lower the count, the cheaper the material, and lower quality. You can use bedsheets as backing but make sure the thread count is 300+.

Fleece is often used but it can be a hot fabric to have on a quilt. It is not expensive so keep in mind the cheap factor and try to avoid it. The more expensive flannel is a good choice and you should be able to find the right color to match your quilt face.

Best T-shirt Fabric for Screen Printing


Cotton is a very versatile fabric and can handle numerous tasks and duties. Screen printing is one of those duties as it is easy to clean, has a smooth face, and holds the ink well.

Next up would be polyester as this material can endure a lot of washing and drying without losing its shape or ruining your print message or image. A third choice would be the poly-cotton blend with a 50 50 even split on fabrics.

Finally, if you want soft fabric next to your body, then go with the poly, cotton, rayon tri-blend. It is a good sturdy material that makes you feel good. Those are the best fabrics to use but you can always try other fabrics to see if they will work for you and your screen printing purpose.

What is The Softest Fabric for T-shirts?

That is going to be a toss-up as polyester can be made to be really soft. The microfiber threads are very soft and can be very durable at the same time. Then you always have cotton. Its many forms are always nice and soft and make sure you do not feel any discomfort as you go about your activities.

The key to having soft material is having the highest thread count. You will pay a little or a lot more for this luxury but it is worth the expense as you should feel comfortable all day long.

Then when people hold you they will feel the same softness and get a good impression of your taste and good judgment.

Best Fabric for Polo T-shirts


If you want to be active when wearing a polo t-shirt, then you should go with the ones made from a jersey knit fabric. This material is soft and made for different physical activities.

Pique is another fabric that is used to make polo shirts and those shirts are durable, breathable, and flexible. You can try double knit polo t-shirts but they are usually of lower quality as the jersey or pique materials are blended with lesser quality fabric.

The double knit style is made for many different reasons besides being cheaper. They can be a bit stronger or create a great design for you. Which material is better will be up to your taste and preferences. Possibly your pocketbook also.

Which Fabric is Best for Formal Shirts?

If you can afford the material then you should be looking at Pima, Swiss, or Egyptian cotton options. They have the quality, the thread count and the styling to make sure you impress those other attendees at those formal occasions.

Next up would be poplin, twill, and flannel with the latter great for those formal events in the winter season. But there are lots of options in this category including, dobby, oxford, broadcloth, chambray, pinpoint, and melange.

Other good choices would be flannel and denim. these many selections would challenge twill and poplin, etc., and make for a great formal shirt. The fabric you choose probably will depend a lot on the snooty factor the other guests maintain when judging people by the clothing fabric they wear.

Best Material Shirt for Hot Weather


The first consideration would be the color, not the fabric. A light color will reflect the heat keeping you cooler no matter which material you have chosen to use. As for fabrics, you are looking at the ones made from natural fibers.

Those would include cotton, silk, and linen. Synthetic materials will not be as breathable as those three items. Then you will want a looser fit to help keep the heat from getting trapped next to your body.

If you really want to stay cool, wear a nice broad brim hat. Keeping the shade on your head and face helps you to think and concentrate better. Make sure any fabric you choose to make a shirt for hot weather is breathable.

Which Fabric is Best for White Shirts?

White is a light color and will reflect the heat away from you if you are wearing a white shirt in the summer. That season would require that the shirt be made from cotton, silk, or linen.

That would include t-shirts. The higher the quality and thread count the better the fit and comfort. Also the better the heat should be reflected away from you. In the cooler seasons, you may want to go with a heavier weight material as that fabric will be thicker and warmer.

Polyester white shirts may be best in those cooler months as they are not as breathable as natural fibers and should keep the heat next to your body better. Try different synthetic options like rayon or microfibers to see if they give you the look as well as the cold protection you need.

Best Fabric for Golf Shirts

The go-to fabric here is as you have already guessed-- cotton. When made from top quality cotton materials you can’t beat a good cotton golf shirt. It has the breathability, the flexibility as well as the looks.

But there are some performance shirts made from polyester microfibers or a [poly cotton blend that will challenge cotton’s supremacy here. These shirts wick away moisture well as well as have the fit and feel you like.

Which of the two are better will be up to your preference and how they feel next to your skin when you are taking your next golf swing. Try one of each to see which one you like best and see for yourself.

Best Material Shirt for Hiking


Cotton, again, is one material that is good for hiking shirts but the drawback is the material can hold onto water and make you uncomfortable if the day gets to be too hot. Make sure the cotton shirt can breathe.

Other good fabrics are polyester, wool, silk, and nylon. The polyester and nylon will flex when you flex then snap back when you return to your normal position. Silk is the best at getting the moisture away from your body and it is quite comfortable.

Then finally, merino wool is good at absorbing moisture as well as getting it away from your body. Only polyester, nylon, and cotton may be the least costly and will fit your budget better. Other than that they are all good fabric choices.

Best Fabric for Gym or Running Shirts

Cotton is said to be good for lower intensity workouts like walking, yoga, weight training, and those other activities where sweating is not at a high level. Polyester fabrics are okay here and may even be suitable for intense workouts where you sweat a lot.

But the champ in this category is nylon. It is flexible, stretches when you need to stretch and mold resistant. One material we have not mentioned so far is bamboo. It is very breathable, natural, and durable.

Another not mentioned earlier is polypropylene, which does a great job of getting the moisture away from your body. Spandex is a good honorable mention and has its place in workout shirt fabrics. The key is to get the best one for you as you may be allergic to some ingredients and not know it.

Best Fabric for a Hawaiian Shirt


During the day you will want to wear Hawaiian shirts made of lightweight natural fabrics. Silks, linens, bamboo, and cotton are the go-to fabrics. You do not want to wear synthetic materials as they are not as breathable as the natural fabrics.

Also, when you wear those natural fabrics try to go with light colors. While Hawaii is not extremely hot, there are the humidity levels to consider and you want to be as sweat-free as possible.

Then when the sun goes down don’t switch to synthetic fabrics, just bring along a sweater or shawl, etc., and cover-up. The weather in Hawaii doesn’t get that cool at night to warrant wearing heavier fabrics.

Where to Find Fabric for Shirts

There is no shortage of sources for fabrics to make good quality shirts and t-shirts. If your budget is not that large, there is always Amazon, Joann’s, Michaels, Walmart, and other national chain stores that try to keep their prices low.

Then a good internet search will turn up other fabric stores that sell top quality materials like the Egyptian or Pima cottons. You may pay more but not as much as you would if you bought them at your local fabric outlets.

Department stores will have a selection and depending on the store name your selection may be large or it may be small. Then your non-chain local fabric outlets will have a good selection for you to choose from.

Some Final Words

Wearing the right shirt made from the right fabric is essential. You do not want to be caught wearing the wrong fabric for the event you have to attend. Too many people judge others based on fabric alone.

Find the right material for your shirts and make the right impression every time.

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