T-shirt Talk 101: Breaking Down The Tee
There are an endless number of factors that can differentiate one tee from another. Two seemingly identical tees can be very different types of shirts when you dissect what goes into the construction all the way down to the thread level. How a tee is made has everything to do with the feel, fit, durability and printability. We break down the different elements of a tee you’ll want to pay attention to so you can ensure you’re getting the right shirt for you.
Carded Open End vs. Ringspun
Ring spun cotton is smoother and longer than open end yarn. The term “ring spun” means that the yarn goes through an innovative spinning process that’s designed to thoroughly soften and straighten each fiber. The result? Softer, more refined fibers (aka pieces you want to wear). Want something even softer? Combed and ring-spun cotton, the kind that we print on means that cotton fibers are spun then combed through to remove impurities while ensuring it stays soft to the touch. Fewer impurities mean a smoother surface to print on.
Carded open-end is a cheaper way of turning cotton into yarn. In this method, fibers are bound by a wrapped fiber that runs perpendicular to the bundle, whereas In ring-spun cotton, all of the fibers are aligned in the same direction. Up close you can see that carded open end fiber is bulky, fuzzy and creates an uneven knit.
Side-Seamed vs. Tubular
Side Seams create the tailored structure a tee needs to fit correctly. Although pricier to make, these are the only type of tees you’ll find in a retail store. They also happen to be the only type of tees we print on at Good Clothes Co.
Tubular Tees are cheaper to manufacture because they require less sewing. They are made by cutting “tubes” of fabric, so they’re exactly the same in the front and the back, aside from the neck drop. Because of this, and the fact that our bodies are not tubes, these types of tees tend not to fit right.
Singles and Weight
Single is a term that refers to the diameter of a yarn, determined by number of times you twist the fiber. The higher the single, the finer the yarn and the softer resulting garment. Think of it like you do sheets—a higher thread count means softer the sheets! Most cheap shirts are made from 18 or 20 singles. All of the shirts we print on are 30 singles or higher!
Weight, as you can probably guess, is the weight of per square yard or meter. Lighter fabrics tend to be made from combed and ring-spun cotton and are typically much softer than the heavy weight, open-end alternatives.
Hopefully that helps clear up some of the weird specifications that normally wouldn't make sense!