Common terms used for t-shirt and their meanings (must know)

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
January 29, 2024

Different manufacturers across the world use different terms to describe their product. These are terms are not always consistent and it would be great to have a reference guide to give you a better understanding of them.

In line with that, we’ll provide you with the official Green Man T-shirts Guide to help you understand the most common terms used for t-shirts and their intended meanings.

20s, 20/1, 20s Single

This is the unit of measurement used to describe the fineness of cotton thread used. A typical single-spy cotton thread spool comprises of 840 cotton thread yards. If a pound takes around 20 spools, then the thread on these spools is termed as 20s cotton or 20/1.

If 30 spools make up 1 pound, the thread on the spools is termed to as 30s or 30/1 cotton thread.

If it takes 40 spools to make a pound, then we refer to the thread on these spools as 40s or 40/1 cotton.

Note that higher number means finer thread and ultimately finer softer shirts. In other terms, t-shirts made of 30s and 40s are quite softer- and feature better drape- than those made from 20s threads.

Bamboo Fabric

Refers to rayon made from the bamboo cellulose. Despite the fact that rayon is a synthetic material, experts in the industry agree that it’s readily biodegradable. The bamboo fabric is renowned for its extreme softness and producing excellent drape.


This is a fast-growing plant which falls under the category of glass. The plant is readily processed into rayon for making bamboo rayon clothing.

Bleach Wash

A process that involves using bleach to soften as well as distress the look of t-shirt being washed

Boat Neck

An incredibly wide neckline running across the shirt’s collarbone area all the way to the shoulder points. The concept is derived from early sailors t-shirts- where thick neck facilitated fast removal whenever the sailor fell overboard.

Boy beater

A woman’s tank top. Can come in any color.

Brushed Cotton

A method of removing excess fibers and lint from cotton fabric. Brushed cotton normally has a super soft, smooth finish.


The process of utilizing sulfuric acid (or any other strong acid) “burn out” some sections of the fabric knit- usually a cotton/polyester blend. The aim of this process is to provide a see-through, pretty sheer effect.

Cap Sleeves

Refers to the shorter sleeves on the women’s garments.

Carbon Dioxide

A chemical compound comprising two compounds- carbon and oxygen. Usually referred to as greenhouse gas to its connection to global warming, t-shirt manufacturer are now recording the amount of the CO2 emissions produced during their manufacture process.

Carbon Trust

An independent organization that as founded in 2001 in Great Britain to monitor carbon emissions. The organization certifies t-shirt manufacturers as having “no carbon” or “low carbon” footprint. This is in an effort to reduce the amount of carbon emissions.


Fiber cleaning process to eliminate short fibers and eliminate dirt and any other foreign matters present. Carding can be conducted manually or with the help of large machines that use drum rollers.

Cellulose Wash

Another term for enzyme wash. Great for giving the fabric a softer feel and vintage look- depending on how the wash is conducted.

Cheap Cotton T-shirt

All t-shirts made from carded cotton, using the 18/1 thread and usually knotted on 20 gauge machines are referred to as cheap cotton t-shirts. You can easily identify these t-shirts as they are rough, course and have poor drapability.


The process of compacting the spaces between cotton fiber pockets in an effort to reduce shrinking.

Contrasting Stitching

Stitching with a different color than that of the t-shirt to give it a nice design detail.


Natural fiber that enjoy a high popularity in the fabrics industry. The fibers are typically ½ to 2-inches long. The longer the fiber, the finer the cotton fabric.

Crop Top

A t-shirt with short body to it- designed to expose the midriff area.

Crew Neck

Round, close-fitting neckline; it’s the most common neck on tees.

Double Needle Stitch

Refers to the parallel stitching row and is mainly used on bottom/sleeve hems. The durability ensures a more durable, cleaner and finished look.


Used to described how the tee hangs. Fabrics like bamboo rayon offers excellent drape while the coarse fabrics such as burlap offer a little. The higher the drapabiltity of your t-shirt, the nice r it feels to wear.

Egyptian Cotton

Cotton produced in Egypt and popular for its long fiber length. This means that tees produced from such cotton are softer and finer.

Enzyme washed

A wash process that uses special enzymes to deliver a smooth look and soft finish to the fabric. This type of washing is usually less harsh on the fabric unlike the stone washing.

European Cut

A t-shirt style that’s narrower that what you normally find. For instance, full cut shirt for men typically bears a 22 inches chest size. However, the European cut bears around ½-inch narrower- sometimes more.

Fabric Dyed

A fabric dyed before its cut and sewn into a finished garment.

Full Cut

A generous, roomy cut. The tubular style t-shirt designs are considered full-cut.

Garment Dyed

Clothing dyed after being cut and sewn into a finished piece of clothing.

Garment Washed

A process that involves washing finished clothing- usually with added softeners that helps improve the fabric’s look and feel.


The way a given fabric feels in your hands. Fabrics that feel soft and smooth are described as having a good hand.

Henley T-shirt

A pull-over t-shirt that features around 2-3 buttons (sometimes up to 5), and can either be short or long sleeved.

Interlock Knit

A type of knit famed for its excellent drape and softness. This method is applied in very fine garments.


An acronym for Prepared for Dyeing. Sold to t-shirt manufacturers who wish to create customized looks with dyes.

Pigment Dyed

A dye type that results in washed out, distressed look.

Pima Cotton

Cotton developed in the US in the early 1900s to compete with the Egyptian cotton. The cotton features longer fibers and to produce fine men’s/women’s t-shirts.


A method of knitting that involves creating waffle type, fine-textured surfaces. Usually applied in the polo tees.


Another term for the men’s tank top

Yarn Dyed

Yarn that has been dyed before being woven into fabric

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