The Best Quality T-Shirts for Printing: Your Guide to the Top 8 Brands
You may be an artist creating signature designs for your own line of clothing. Perhaps you’re shopping for tees to carry your company brand. Either way, you’ll want the best quality T-shirts for printing.
You want your art and your company logo to stand out. You want durable shirts that will keep vivid colors and last for years — just like you want your clothing design or business to last for years.
Related Read: 5 Marketing Strategies to Boost Your T-Shirt Business
We’ve all gotten a crummy T-shirt at one point in time. It was so thin that we were embarrassed to wear it in public. Or the fabric was so poorly woven, it became a misshapen mess the first time it got washed.
Bad fit, cheap material, unraveling seams — nobody wants to put their design or their name on poor quality.
In order to choose the best quality T-shirts for printing, it helps to have a basic idea of what kinds of materials are available. You’ll find that tees come in a variety of materials and blends, and these have a significant impact on print quality and durability.
100 percent cotton
You’ll find these are one of the most common types of tees for printing designs or promotional logos. A tee of 100 percent cotton provides a lot of comfort along with an affordable price tag. Experts recommend them because they work well with discharge inks, which results in a shirt that remains soft even after printing.
One downside to 100 percent cotton T-shirts that they tend to shrink in the wash. This dilemma is particularly familiar to those who try to brighten up a white tee with a hot water wash and plenty of bleach.
One of the upsides to 100 percent cotton is that it comes in several weights or thicknesses. The basic weight is 5.3 ounces, but you can get it in a thicker, 6.1-ounce weight if you’re looking for the best quality T-shirts for printing.
Another factor on the side of 100 percent cotton is its affordability. It’s the least expensive option for printing, and most buyers like them for their comfort and breathability.
100 percent ringspun cotton
If you’re looking for a more fashionable tee for your designs, try ringspun. These offer a softer finish with a nice drape. Ringspun cotton is a favorite for fashion tees for women because it hugs the body, feels soft, and isn’t bulky. Most higher-end designers use ringspun for graphic tees meant for retail sale.
The most significant downside of using ringspun cotton is the cost. Although you’ll get a more professional looking “designer” tee, it will cost you more. If you’re simply looking for cheap giveaway T-shirts to promote your company or event, you may not like the prices.
Another potential downside is that you may still need to purchase regular T-shirts along with these higher quality models. Many average T-shirt wearers prefer thick cotton tees.
To some, this super-soft, thin fabric may feel too light. So, you may need to get some of each, which increases your cost, too.
The obvious upside to ringspun cotton is that you’ll end up with a professional product. This quality is particularly important if you’re purchasing the best quality T-shirts for printing in order to resell original designs.
And of course, when you provide a high-quality product, you can charge a high-quality price.
Another consideration is making your printed tees attractive to the broadest audience. Most women prefer ringspun cotton, so if you intend to market to ladies, you’ll do much better if you can provide them with a T-shirt they’ll love to wear.
Even if you’re buying shirts for your employees, providing female staff with a T-shirt they enjoy wearing means they’ll wear them both on and off the clock.
Polycotton T-shirts provide a durable canvas for your art or promotional design. They’re an excellent all-purpose tee for printing. Comprised of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent polyester, they’ll stand up to many washes.
One of the 50/50 blend’s downfalls is that you may be limited to certain inks or processes for printing. You’ll need to make sure you do a test print before making or ordering a large batch. Polycotton blend tees may require a thick layer of ink to produce an opaque design.
One of the best arguments for polycotton blend is that these T-shirts are less likely to shrink. If you’re creating shirts for employees, you can expect that they’ll get washed pretty frequently — or at least you hope they will be.
So, if you don’t want to have to replace employee shirts constantly, polycotton blends may be the best quality T-shirts for printing your company shirts.
For the absolute best quality T-shirts for printing, choose a blend of cotton, polyester, and rayon. These are some of the softest, most luxurious T-shirts on the market. Comprised of 50 percent cotton, 25 percent polyester, and 25 percent rayon, you may be limited to which inks work best for a great look.
However, the feel of these shirts is so over-the-top, it might be worth modifying your design and your budget in order to use them.
The top con of using triblend t-shirts is the expense. If you’re simply knocking out some inexpensive shirts for a one-time event or a giveaway, you may not wish to invest a lot of cash. There are other downsides as well.
Triblends may come in limited colors and may not work well for the ink you want to use. Triblends also tend to be more resistant to dyes, which means many have a textured appearance.
If that isn’t a look you’re going for, you may want to look elsewhere.
Triblend T-shirts are simply the best quality T-shirts for printing shirts for resale if you want a fashionable look. Textured tees give a vintage look that customers love. The blend of cotton and polyester provides durability, but the addition of rayon gives it a great drape that shows off curves and muscle. Customers like the soft feel and the sexy look.
How We Determined the Best Quality T-Shirts for Printing
Now that you know more about the types of fabrics and their pros and cons, you probably want to know who makes the T-shirts you need for your designs. To determine which brands provide the best quality T-shirts for printing, we consulted with print experts and clothing manufacturers.
From big manufacturers to distributors to small, regional print shops, we took their recommendations for blends and brands on board.
The Top 8 Best Quality T-Shirts for Printing
By studying the specifications, ratings, and recommendations from expert printers, we’ve curated a list of the top best quality T-shirts for printing. Because different shirts suit different applications best, we’ve presented them in no particular order.
1. Anvil 980 Men’s Tee
This Anvil lightweight tee is a go-to for printers. Made of 100 percent ringspun cotton, the Anvil 980 provides a soft feel. At only 4.2 ounce weight, it’s breathable and light, perfect for athletic wear. Customers also like the semi-fitted cut.
One of the Anvil 980’s best features is the tearaway tag. That means you can easily remove the manufacturer’s label and use your own for custom branding for a designer touch. Print shops recommend this model because of its durable color and resistance to shrinkage.
The lack of side seams also makes it one of the most versatile and best quality T-shirts for printing wrap-around designs. Not to mention that customers appreciate the smoother feel.
You can find it in 59 different colors, so you’ll find the perfect shade to highlight your artwork or logo. It also comes in a wide range of sizes from XS to 4XL so that everyone can find a good fit.
We recommend that you purchase a size up from your usual size, and let your customers know they may run small.
2. Bella + Canvas 3413 Unisex Triblend Short Sleeve Tee
Soft and silky, with a great drape and comfy unisex fit, your customers will love this Bella tee. The light, 3.8-ounce blend of 50 percent polyester, 25 percent ringspun cotton, and 25 percent rayon results in an everyday tee that will carry your design or message in style.
The 3413 tee comes in 49 trendy and classic colors, which means you’ll find the perfect canvas for all of your print designs and transfers.
3. Next Level 3600
Many professionals laud the Next Level 3600 for its soft cotton blend and premium quality. Comprised of 100 percent ringspun combed cotton, the 4.3-ounce jersey material provides a soft feel and a great fit. It also features a tearaway label so you can add your house label to the shirt without risking damage to the collar. Next Level recommends it for discharge or DTG printing.
The baby rib knit collar resists stretching without binding or feeling too tight. And the fitted cut flatters, which makes it great for athletic wear or workout gear. The Next Level website offers this shirt in 31 colors, with sizes ranging from XS to 4XL.
This one is a great buy for muscular or large men.
4. American Apparel 2001
American Apparel has a reputation for quality along with ethical sourcing. While they may prove to be a bit more expensive than other brands, many customers think they’re worth it.
So, the brand name may provide the best quality T-shirts for printing shirts for resale if you leverage their good name. And both you and your clients can appreciate that these are made in the United States and “sweatshop free.”
These 100 percent cotton tees feature a durable crew neckband. American Apparel offers only a few colors on their website, with sizes ranging from XS to 3XL. You’ll find a wider selection of colors on Amazon, though the size selection may be more limited.
5. Gildan 5000
If you’re looking for a loose, boxy fit that’s sure to please a wide range of customers, you may want to consider the Gildan 5000. Made of 100 percent cotton with a 5.3-ounce weight, these T-shirts are preshrunk for more accurate sizing.
The Gildan classic tee features a seamless double-needle collar and taped neck and sleeves for sturdy construction. They also come in 60 colors, so you’re sure to find a color that fits with your brand or makes the perfect canvas for your artwork. You can find them in sizes from small to 5XL
6. Alstyle 1301
For a more impressive graphic tee, the Alstyle 1301 is one of the best quality T-shirts for printing band shirts and streetwear. With a 6-ounce weight and a tubular fit, these tees are also pre-shrunk for a better fit.
They feature a set-in rib collar and shoulder-to-shoulder tape, which makes them more durable for hard wear. Think skater gear and sportswear. They feature a long, boxy cut, which is perfect for big, bold graphics.
You’ll find them in 41 vivid colors, with sizes ranging from small to 3XL for all colors. You can also find them in extended sizes 4XL to 6XL in a small selection of colors.
7. Alternative 1070
If you’re looking for the best quality T-shirts for printing in bright, bold colors that stand up to multiple washings, the Alternative 1070 is your pick. These are 100 percent cotton with a set-in ribbed neckband.
They feature double needle stitching detail, and the designer color range is incredibly durable. Printers appreciate how the Alternative 1070 tee remained bright through several washes and didn’t shrink. In a relatively light 4.1-ounce ringspun cotton, the fit is loose and comfy.
It comes in 21 subdued and stylish colors, and you’ll find them in sizes XS to 3XL.
8. Bella + Canvas 3001
The 3001 is another Bella + Canvas shirt on our list of the best quality T-shirts for printing. Featuring 100 percent combed, ringspun cotton, this 4.2-ounce knit tee features a unisex fit for all your customers. This premium quality tee also has a tearaway tag, so you can brand your work with style. The combed finish provides a broken-in feel when brand new, and shoulder taping gives them durability.
Available in 54 bright, subdued, and even pastel colors, if you’re looking for a versatile tee for a wide range of designs and customers, the 3001 may be your best choice. You’ll also find them in sizes from XS to 4XL.
The somewhat longer length makes them the best fit for tall customers. You might pay a bit more for these high-quality T-shirts.
Choosing the Best Quality Best Quality T-Shirts for Printing
When shopping for high-quality shirts, keep in mind that your best choices may vary. Depending on your target market, the best tees may be a thinner material with a curvy fit for women’s graphic tees. If you’re choosing shirts for bold streetwear, you may want a heavier shirt with a boxy fit. Band tees may require a wide range of sizes. For branded, artistic original designs, choose colorfast tees with tearaway tags.
Whatever your design, you’re sure to find the best quality T-shirts for printing from these manufacturers. Which manufacturers do you recommend for printing? We value your opinions, so please share your experiences below.