Single & Ready to Mingle

With so many blanks and manufacturers to choose from, how do you decide? Different blends and weights, 18 singles, 30 singles, pigment dye. What does it all mean? And no, we're not talking about your relationship status.

We often receive requests for t-shirt quotes and the question that can be hardest to answer is “what kind of t-shirt do want?” And it’s no wonder people often aren’t sure of this. It can be tricky especially when there are so many different measurements of quality and the perceived value may differ from one consumer to the next. For example, heavier weight shirts are often less costly even though one might think the heavier, the more quality it must be. Some measure the quality or perceived value of a shirt by how soft the shirt is and softer shirts tend to be lighter weight. Blank manufacturers typically describe a shirt by its weight while retailers often refer to singles. For example, the Gildan Heavy Cotton 5000 is described as 5.3 oz. per square yard, while most retailers would refer to it as an 18 singles. In the t-shirt world, singles are much like thread count on sheets – the higher the number, the softer the fabric. So a 30 singles t-shirt is going to feel softer, but the garment will weigh less. A 30 singles tee may only weigh 4.5 oz. per square yard.

What about different t-shirt blends? Heathers and tri-blends are two popular buzzwords in the t-shirt industry. If you’ve ever felt a heather shirt or a tri-blend shirt, you’ve probably noticed they feel much softer than a “basic tee” – especially the tri-blends! Heather actually refers to the interwoven mixing of different yarn colors. Typically, heathers tend to mute a color. Often by mixing the colored yarn with grey yarns. Heather colors tend to feel softer because they are usually a mix of 90% cotton/10% polyester or a 50/50 blend. Heathers could be any number of singles – 18 singles, 30 singles, etc. and are offered at various weights. A tri-blend t-shirt sounds a lot like what it actually is – a mix of 3 different fabrics. Tri-blends are typically a blend of cotton, polyester and rayon making them super soft and an incredibly popular choice in today’s market.

We’ve covered a few t-shirt basics, but there is still so much more to consider when trying to choose the right blank. Once you have a good understanding of all the technical terms, the most critical challenge is really to determine what is best for your customer – whether your customer is a mom-and-pop shop, a mass retailer, a family reunion, a fraternity or someone else. Figuring out what is important to the end user is always key. For some it may be price. For others it may be softness. Next time we’ll take a quick look at different dyes and treatments – something which may be important to your end user!

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