T-shirts and hoodies are interesting articles of clothing. They are unique in a number of ways, not the least of which is their feel. Thanks to manufacturer material choices, T-shirts and hoodies tend to be soft to the touch and extremely comfortable to wear. Then again, some T-shirts and hoodies are softer than others. This begs the question of whether or not there is a best material for manufacturing them.
For the record, most T-shirts and hoodies are made from blends. That is to say that the fabrics contain more than one type of fiber. How fibers are blended together influences the overall look and feel of the finished material.
Plurawl is a New York City company that sells T-shirts, hoodies, and artwork designed for the Latino, Latina, and Spanish market. They say that the most common materials for T-shirts and hoodies are:
Cotton has long been the go-to fiber for manufacturing T-shirt and hoodie fabrics. It is plentiful, fairly easy to grow, and economical. It is also easy to work with. As a natural fiber, it can be spun into threads that can subsequently be transformed into exceptionally soft and luxurious fabrics.
In reality, most of your budget T-shirts and hoodies are not made from 100% cotton. Rather, the fabrics are a combination of cotton and some of the other materials listed below. Still, cotton is the predominant fiber even when blends are chosen.
Polyester is a type of fiber that can occur naturally or be made synthetically. In the textiles world, synthetic polyesters are dominant due to their lower cost and higher quality. Synthetic polyesters are made from the byproducts of petroleum processing.
In terms of T-shirts and hoodies, cotton is most frequently mixed with polyester to create a poly-cotton blend. This is the preferred blend because polyester is so resilient. Polyester resists shrinkage and wrinkles. It is also water resistant to some degree. Combining it with cotton creates an exceptionally durable fabric capable of holding up over time.
Jersey is actually a type of fabric rather than a fiber. It is a knitted fabric normally made from cotton and synthetic fibers. More expensive jerseys are made with wool. The telltale sign of a jersey fabric is its ability to stretch. Because it is a knit rather than a weave, genuine jersey stretches a lot easier than cotton and poly-cotton blends.
Rayon is another synthetic fiber used for T-shirts and hoodies. It is generally made from natural materials – like cellulose, for example. Rayon is graded based on the quality, size, and makeup of the fibers in its construction. Some of the highest graded rayon rival silk and linen in terms of softness. In fact, artificial silk is almost always made from rayon.
For T-shirts and hoodies, rayon is often mixed with cotton and/or polyester. A triple blend featuring all three fibers is not unusual. Using rayon alone is not the norm for T-shirts and hoodies.
Poly-Cotton and Jersey
There is no best material for T-shirts and hoodies. Manufacturers make material choices based on budget, target audience, and other factors. In the end, poly-cotton blends and jersey are the two most common T-shirt and hoodie materials. Go check out what you have in your own closet. You will probably see lots of poly-cotton and jersey.
As for your preference, that is up to you. You might prefer the durability and softness of a poly-cotton weave. On the other hand, the looser fit afforded by stretchy jersey might be right up your alley. Whatever works for you is best of all.