What is the difference between 100% Cotton, 50/50, Triblend, 100% Polyester

100% Cotton fabric has several benefits in the custom apparel industry.  T-Shirts made with 100% Cotton are typically less expensive, and have a greater selection of styles, sizes, and colors available.  Most of the typical screen printing inks are best suited for cotton fabrics.  However, over the last several years, trends have definitely been dominated by Poly-Cotton (50/50), Triblend, and 100% Polyester.  Why?

Poly-Cotton, or 50/50 as it is also known, is made up of 50% Cotton and 50% Polyester.  You really do get the best of both worlds between the two fabrics.  You get the cotton feel in the fabric while adding in some of the beneficial performance properties of the polyester such as being a more light-weight, flexible but strong fabric, resistant to shrinking and stretching, and wrinkling compared to 100% Cotton.  50/50 t-shirt also tend to hold their color better compared to 100% Cotton.  There are 50/50 shirts in basic styles like Gildan or Hanes that feel very similar to a Cotton t-shirt, and there are more fashion forward styles like American Apparel and Bella+Canvas that have a super soft feel and are really lightweight.  They are very comfortable to wear.  There is a potential risk when printing on a 50/50 t-shirt for a phenomenon called dye migration.  This happens when you print a light print color, such as white, over a dark shirt color.  The dyes in the shirt can slowly leech into the print and tint it.  We use special inks that block that process, to keep prints as bright as possible, and there are several new styles of t-shirt available that have special bleed-resistant fabrics such as Sport-Tek’s Posicharge® technology.  This is not an issue with lighter shirt colors that get a darker color print.

Triblends have been one of our fastest growing areas in the last few years.  The fabric makeup does vary depending on the brand, but brands like American Apparel and Bella+Canvas have a 50% Polyester/25% Cotton/25% Rayon blend.  Some have a slightly higher Cotton ratio compared to the Rayon.  Either way, it is a truly unique fabric.  Most Triblends will naturally have a heathered color look, though they are making some solid colors now.  This has made them very popular for the vintage look trend.  The material is very soft with some stretch, and is great for performance wear.  These t-shirts also benefit from the special dye migration blocking inks when printing lighter print colors on darker shirt colors.  I think, however, these fabrics are best with a darker ink color as they are typically a lighter layer of ink and you maintain the best features of the fabric itself.

100% Polyester t-shirts are made for performance.  They are lightweight, quick drying, resistant to shrinking and wrinkling, flexible, and hold up well after washing.  You’ll know 100% by it’s feel.  It typically has a shiny, silky texture.  100% polyester is commonly used for sports jerseys, warm-up shorts, and fitness apparel, but is definitely making it’s way into mainstream apparel.  Special care needs to be taken as these 100% polyester materials are the most at risk for dye migration.

So what is the best fabric for you and your project?  It depends.  We work with each of our customers to make sure that the t-shirt style, artwork and shirt/print colors are all compatible so that the end product is as good as it can be.  Sometimes even a simple change can make all the difference.  We think the details are important, and we’ll work with you to make sure every detail of the job is perfect!

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What’s better: Screen Print or Digital?

We get this question a lot and it’s a totally valid question. Since digital direct-to-garment has been rising in popularity over the last several years, you’re starting to see it more and more along with the screen print option and it is useful to know the differences between the two.

Screen Print

Screen printing is what many would consider the traditional way of customizing t-shirts. Ink is applied to a shirt, through a screen and then heat cured. With an automatic screen press you can print hundreds per hour making it a very efficient process for larger quantities. There is quite a bit of what we call “set up” involved in the process before you can actually print the t-shirts, that is why you will see a better price for a larger quantity.

Screen prints are very durable and often outlive the life of the garment if properly cared for. You get very solid, and vibrant colors from screen print, so it’s really great for designs that contain solid areas of color.

Digital Print

Digital direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a somewhat new process. Similar to how an inkjet printer prints on paper, the DTG printer applies a mix of CMYK inks specially formulated for cotton apparel onto the t-shirt making it possible to print in full color. There are many different types of DTG printers out there and as many different levels of quality and speed, but for the most part, you are still printing one t-shirt at a time, so it’s slower compared to traditional screen printing. Because of this, and some additional factors like the higher cost of the inks, you will see that digitally printed t-shirts are typically more expensive compared to screen printed t-shirts. However without the initial setup required, you can get fewer at a time.

Digital prints may be considered slightly less durable compared to a screen print in terms of the vibrancy of the print, and its tendency to fade with multiple washings. However, we have found that with proper care, you won’t get serious degradation of the print by any means.


Screen printing and Digital DTG printing are very different. More often than not, what you need at the time will dictate which process is better. If you need a lot of t-shirts with a 1-color print, you will almost always go with a screen print. If you only need a few t-shirts, or if you need a photographic or very colorful image printed, DTG would be the way to go. If you’re still unsure, you can always email or call and ask us which is the best way to go and we’re more than happy to help!

Product Spotlight: Gildan 2000

Product Spotlight:  Gildan 2000 Ultra Cotton

In our first of the Product Spotlight series, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Gildan 2000 Ultra Cotton Short Sleeve T-Shirt.

The Gildan 2000 is one of the most popular t-shirts in the custom screen printing industry.  There are many reasons why customers have chosen this particular garment over and over again.  Let’s look at a few of the reasons why the Gildan 2000 might be the right t-shirt for you.


The Gildan 2000 is a great value.  At 6.1oz the t-shirt has a nice heavy feel to it and pricing is comparable or cheaper than other t-shirts at the same weight.  As an example, on our site, a White t-shirt with a 1-color print on one side is only $4.45ea for sizes S-XL on a quantity of 100 pieces.


This brand has been very consistent for us in the 15 years we’ve been using them.  The quality of the stitching, the collar shape, and color consistency between lots and between the styles and really good.

Corporate Responsibility

Gildan is very vocal about what they describe as a “commitment to maintaining a leadership position in its corporate citizenship practices”.  When you need value in addition to those types of attributes, Gildan could be a great choice.  If you’d like to read more about this, here is a link to their page on Genuine Stewardship

Colors and Sizes

In addition to the value and quality of the company and its products, they have a lot of depth and breadth to choose from.  In the Gildan 2000, there are 60 colors in sizes ranging from Youth XS to Adult 5XL.  

A T-shirt for Everyone

In addition to the Unisex style, we carry the Gildan 2000 in a full array of styles including Ladies’, Youth, and Tall sizes.  Because of the wide range of colors and sizes, this t-shirt has been popular with schools, family reunions, run/walk events, and company t-shirts along with various other groups.
Check out the Gildan 2000 on our website!  Give us a call today and we’d be happy to discuss the various options today!