There are tons of different t-shirts brands out there, so don’t feel bad when you have no idea where to start when ordering yours. Hopefully this guide can help you out. Here are our four best t-shirts for screen printing:
This is probably the most common style of tees out there. When in doubt, go with a 100% cotton shirt. These shirts are affordable, produce great printing quality and work great with discharge inks — one part of our top-secret ink recipe, which produces a super-soft print that we have won multiple awards for. But 100% cotton is also known to shrink a little bit in the wash. Our most common 100% cotton options include:
Basic weight is 5.3 oz., but you can also request the heavier 6.1 oz. in these brands, which costs a bit more.
When you buy a t-shirt at a non-specialty store, you are probably buying one of these 100% cotton options.
Why you might choose 100% cotton tees:
- If you are on a tight budget — you should go with a basic 100% cotton shirt. It’s the cheapest option.
- If your audience is Joe the Plumber — the average t-shirt wearer usually likes this shirt.
- If your shirts are to be worn for any type of physical activity — you defintely want to have a thicker shirt, so opt for the 6.1 oz. weight.
100% Ringspun Cotton
This is our second most popular shirt and a heavy favorite for clothing companies. When it comes to quality, this is the route you want to go. Ringspun tees are thinner and softer than normal 100% cotton basics, and often called “fashion tees.” These provide you with great printing quality, and they can be printed with our discharge inks. Ringspun cotton shirts include:
- American Apparel (most popular in this category; organic options available)
- Alternative (organic and recycled-content options available)
- Anvil Fashion Tees (organic options available)
- Next Level
If you are buying a tee in a store that is a bit “higher end,” you are probably buying one of these shirts.
Why you might choose ringspun cotton tees:
- If your audience is more discriminating than Joe the Plumber — if you can spend even a little bit more, I would recommend going with an affordable ringspun brand like Tultex or the Anvil Fashion Tee.
- If you are a band — bands are almost always on tight budgets, but I always think bands should at least upgrade to the ringspun as they can be only 50-75 cents more than basic shirts if you print through Threadbird. You get a nicer shirt without killing your bank account.
- If you are a clothing company — definitely go with the American Apparel 2001/2102 or the Alternative Apparel AA05, as this has become a standard in the industry. Clothing companies, your goal should be to print on one of these two brands. If you can’t do it off the bat, at least use the Tultex/Anvil Fashion Tee as you build up some cashflow.
50/50 Poly/Cotton Blend
These are nice shirts, usually a little softer than 100% cotton, and they don’t shrink as much. They are 50% cotton and 50% polyester. The only problem with them is that we can’t print on them with our special soft inks. Threadbird Printing uses a discharge underbase on all shirts except 50/50 tees. The best printing alternative for 50/50 tees is waterbase inks, which also produce a soft print, but which cost a bit more. If you don’t want to pay extra for waterbase, know your inks will be thicker. You can get 50/50 blend tees from:
- Gildan (5.6 oz.)
- Fruit of the Loom
- Anvil (organic options available)
- American Apparel (this one is extremely nice)
When we printed our first set of Threadbird logo tees, we decided we wanted to go all out. We wanted a shirt that made people go “wow” when they first touched it — and they do. We went with theTriblend American Apparel tee, and this shirt feels amazing. They are 50% cotton, 25% polyester and 25% rayon, and they are probably one of the softest shirts you will ever feel. Due to its makeup though, these shirts almost always come in a heather. Also, you can’t use discharge on these shirts, so we used waterbase inks to still get a super-soft feel. But be warned, these are pretty expensive, and the most expensive out of my four options listed here.
And of course, you can request virtually any other t-shirt blank available. We have wholesale accounts set up with most blank tee companies known to man, and if you ask us about something new, we’ll probably be able to make something work if you just ask nicely.
So which option is right for you? It really comes down to cost, who your audience is and what you are going for. These options are not necessarily listed in order of price, and pricing can vary quite a bit per style and per brand. For pricing options, view our price chart at Threadbird Pricing, or email me for a custom quote.
As for me, my personal choice is Alternative. It’s what I am wearing right now and what I can probably be found wearing 75% of the time that I am wearing a t-shirt. If not, then I’m wearing American Apparel. But at the end of the day, I do feel like American Apparel 2001 is the best all-around shirt for getting the results you really want.
Any questions or thoughts? Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.