Among the things I love most about my job is engaging with customers—their input is priceless. Learning from customer feedback provides invaluable insight that supports ongoing efforts to enhance the customer experience. While there are different conversations, one of the most common topics involves fabric. From warm outer layers, breathable tees, and moisture-wicking garments, fabric choice not only impacts how you look but also how you feel.
The fabric of everyday life
We use different clothing styles, colors, and fabrics to express our mood, attitude, and personality. And each fabric type has different properties to fit our needs. Whether it’s to protect from the elements, stay cool during the summer, lounge in next-to-skin softness, or to keep warm in cold temperatures—there’s purpose in the details. All fabrics are not created equal. Which is why it’s essential to learn the different types of fabric Boxercraft has available—not just for outfitting, but also to maximize your custom decorating results. To get the best outcome, you have to make sure you’re buying garments with the right fabric type to complement your customization objectives.
The key is to avoid the “cheap” trap when choosing the right silhouette. A common misconception is that a t-shirt fabric is considered cheap if the material has sheer qualities. Fabric details, such as material properties and weight, are not to be overlooked. Misguided expectations, misconceptions, and skewed perspectives on fabric quality can cause frustration and dissatisfaction.
Boxercraft offers a wide variety of styles, color, and fabrics with over 300 products in its line. Selecting apparel based on fabric type can be difficult. There are countless options available such as cotton, polyester, flannel, tri-blend, slub jersey, and terry loop. We’ve found that it’s best to determine what you like and dislike as a starting point. Decide what makes the most sense for functionality, fit, and your decoration preference before selecting a garment.
It’s all in the details
Fabric properties are a combination of material weight, texture, and cut. Once you determine your ideal garment material, select from available colors that will enhance your custom graphics. Understanding fabric types will help you sift through fabric weight options, which include featherweight, lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight fabrics. The weight of the material is a crucial indicator of what decoration method will work best.
To understand which fabric type is ideal for your needs, we must first learn how fabrics are made and their intended use as a garment. Fabric is crafted from a diversity of raw materials that range from natural sources, animal fur, and man-made synthetics. Different types of material are used to make different types of clothing. Natural fibers such as cotton are made from plants. When it comes to synthetics, the most common blend combines polyester and nylon. Some materials, like leather and wool, are sourced from animal hides and fur. Fabric types used to make clothing can create a sense of comfort, nourish creative expression, and provide functionality to everyday living. Choose the fabric that best represents the look, texture, color, and feel you want.
Stating the facts
According to Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) statistical research, t-shirts top the list in promotional products. In 2018, custom tees accounted for 15 percent of distributor sales in the promotional industry. Custom-designed tees have maintained this distinction for five consecutive years. T-shirts are great for customizing and are easier to sell compared to other garments. Industry leaders quoted in the ASI article shared their perspective as to why tees are popular picks. Summed up, t-shirts are ideal for giveaways, advertising, awareness, and showcasing an individual’s personality and interests. Plus, tees are a cost-effective option, they provide longevity, and customers get more use out of wearing them.
Promotional tees are like walking billboards. Every time the garment is worn, the end-user is reminded of the company and bystanders are introduced to the brand. A thorough understanding of apparel fabrics and their properties will allow you to identify what decoration method will produce optimum results according to the garment’s fabric type. As we’ve learned, tees rank number one in custom apparel. To ensure quality results for your customization, choose a t-shirt based on the fabric type, properties of the material, and the garment’s intended use.
Read on to learn about t-shirt fabrics commonly used in Boxercraft products and recommended decoration methods for each. The fabric guide provided below is a useful tool to help learn about fabric and material properties. The more you know about a garment’s fabrication, the easier it will be to decide what garment to select for your decorating project.
Weight is a factor
Fabric weight is also a factor to consider in the selection process. Typically, t-shirt fabric weights range from featherweight (3.2 oz.), lightweight (4.3 oz.), midweight (5.4 oz.) and heavyweight (6.1 oz.). Most Boxercraft tees come in lightweight and midweight silhouettes. Lighter-weight shirts are ideal for keeping cool during the summer and are a popular pick for fashion tees. Heavyweight tees are thicker and warmer compared to other t-shirt material. So if durability is your objective, a heavyweight tee may be the best option.
The garment’s dye process can also influence decoration techniques and comes with specific pros and cons as well as limitations. A great distressed design on a garment-dyed tee can produce the hottest look in vintage-inspired style. On the other hand, a tee with colorfast properties may be a better option.
Before you create, determine the best decoration style
Consider which decoration method is best suited to complement your graphics. Traditional options include screen printing, heat transfers, and embroidery. For best results, select a garment with compatible fabric for your decoration. Screen printing is an excellent option for smooth fabrics and provides the flexibly to apply detailed artwork for a standout look. Rhinestone heat transfers create a bejeweled look with major bling. Embroidered designs make for a polished look and work well on high-quality, exuberant fabrics. Sherpa has a fluffy texture and high nap that make for a beautiful, embroidered product. With so many options, it can be a challenge to determine what is best. Boxercraft gives you the support you need to help you make the right decision. Suggested decoration options are listed in product descriptions on our website and are also highlighted in our print catalogs.
Take care to maintain
While all clothing experiences normal wear and tear over time, proper care based on the fabric type can help the garment last longer. Most apparel and accessories have detailed care instructions on the tag or imprinted on the product. As a best practice, follow the cleaning and care instructions provided for the garment. Keep in mind that decorated apparel requires additional attention compared to blank apparel. Thus, it’s advisable to know the best care options for each decoration method.
So there you have it. All fabrics are not created equal—and rightfully so. We all want to feel and look good in the clothes we wear, and fabric properties are critical to each garment’s ability to meet our expectations. Fabric type is integral to the customization process—the wrong choice can mean a big disappointment. The key is to know the difference in fabrics and what decoration method is ideal for your chosen garment. Apply the tips presented in this article to determine what fabric type is best for your next custom apparel project. To learn about Boxercraft’s in-house decorating services, visit wholesale.boxercraft.com/services.