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How to Choose the Right Shirt

We get a lot of inquiries about Jerzees vs. Hanes vs. Gildan regarding the difference in feel and quality of shirts. After selling and screen printing thousands of shirts we can honestly say that we do not see a significant difference in quality between the major brands that we use, namely Jerzees, Gildan and Hanes.  Our own selection of brand is usually based on color availability and of course price. In addition, the weight, feel and material of the shirt may have an impact on selection.

If you’re giving away t-shirts at an event you may not care what kind of shirt you select in which case you will go with the least expensive choice.  But if you are concerned with the “feel” of the shirt you will need to select between the type of material and the weight of the material.

Most t-shirts are listed as 50/50 or 100% Cotton.   Years ago the cotton was always the softest and preferable material for those wanting that quality, but advances with materials often makes these shirts indistinguishable from one another.  Most cotton t-shirts are pre-shrunk, but after multiple cycles through the washing and drying process a very small amount of shrinkage may be noticeable.  50/50 t-shirts for the most part are a bit more wrinkle free than cotton, so they may be ideal for sports teams where the t-shirt may be sitting in the bottom of a gym bag for extended times. Our own personal preference is for the 50/50 shirt.  It seems to hold a screen printed image longer and stays true to size.

Most likely the t-shirts that you wear everyday are in the 5.3 ounce to 5.6 ounce range, such as the Jerzees DryPower or the Gildan Heavy Cotton.  Shirts in the 6 ounce range, such as the Gildan Ultra Cotton, can feel heavy during the summer months but are very comfortable during the cooler periods.   Shirts in the 4 ounce range can be worn by themselves or comfortably layered with other clothing.  Sweatshirts in the 8 ounce range are great for cool evenings, but look for 9+ ounces if you plan to wear it during a Midwest winter. Also keep in mind that a white t-shirt will feel lighter than a color t-shirt of the same material weight due to the dye.  A 6.1 ounce white t-shirt may feel just right to someone while the same weight in a color shirt may feel heavy.

If you are a decorator of garments there are other material factors to take into account.  The poly fibers in a 50/50 shirt will tend to become shiny when exposed to the heat required for hot peel transfers.   This will be most noticeable on black and red shirts when the temperature of your heat press is around 330 to 375 degrees.  Most of the shiny-ness will fade, but some may be apparent after several washings.  Also dye migration from polyester could be an issue when screen printing on 50/50 shirts, particularly red.  The major brands use quality dyes but the use of low bleed inks on any shirts with polyester is still recommended.  Cooling the shirt quickly after flashing or after running through a conveyor dryer will also minimize bleed.

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