T-Shirt Vocabulary: Decoding the Descriptions

A t-shirt is a t-shirt, right?  Well, yes and no.  Years ago that was true.  But today there are subtle differences between t-shirts that make them very different.  Different in how they feel, how they look, how they hold up to day-to-day wearing and laundering and how well they embroider with your logo.

Here, we will help define popular terms used in t-shirt descriptions and offer explanations to better clarify the murky technical talk.

From the cotton used, the make-up of the yarn and the density of the knit, these construction details give clues to the characteristics of the shirt.

Material Make-up

Nearly all t-shirts are constructed of two materials, cotton and polyester.  For years, the 100% cotton t-shirt dominated the marketplace for t-shirts.  Cotton is a great material for a t-shirt.  It is a natural fiber, it’s soft, it drapes well on the body and it is durable.

But there are advantages to polyester t-shirts or even cotton/poly blended shirts.  Polyester material is more color-fast so colors won’t fade over time like they will with 100% cotton.  In addition, polyester reduces any shrinkage that may occur.

Ounces                 

In many descriptions, this is usually the first number you read.  It represents the weight of a square yard of the material.  Most popular t-shirt material is a 6.1 oz. material.  But lighter weight materials are becoming very popular in the marketing today.  It is not uncommon to see a 5.5 or even a 5.0 oz. material used to make a t-shirt.

One common mistake customers make is reading too much into this number.  We as Americans have been trained to think a heavier material is a better, longer lasting, higher quality material.  That is not always true.  It represents the weight of the material and little more.

In the case of t-shirts, the measure of ounces can also represent the softness of the material.  In general, the lighter the weight, the softer it is likely to be.

Singles

The term “singles” is essentially a measure of a yarn’s thickness. In this case, the number works conversely to determine the yarn’s “hand” or feel or softness.  In very simple terms, the higher the singles number, the softer the feel of the t-shirt.

Many of the most common t-shirts sold on the market today have 18 singles.  But there are some fashion t-shirts that are 30 singles, which means they are very soft.

It is no longer true that “a t-shirt is just a t-shirt”.  They have grown beyond the rebel days of the 1950’s into a fashion staple today.

Here are some of our favorites, click on the picture for your information.

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