Choosing the Right Fabrics for Apparel Manufacturing: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Right Fabrics for Apparel Manufacturing: A Comprehensive Guide

Garment selection is one of the most important aspects of achieving retail-level prints with your DTG printer.  In this article we will discuss the various types of fabrics used and what to look for when adding blank garments to your catalog.

Ring-Spun & Combed Cotton; You should familiarize yourself with this type of fabric as it produces the best print quality, but why?  Ring-Spun cotton provides a super soft and smooth print surface, this is accomplished by putting the raw materials through a variety of processes to create a denser, tighter weave bolt of fabric for garments to be made from.  Then there’s Carded-Cotton, this cheaper fabric is much more common in the screenprint segment as the quality of the garment doesn’t have the same impact on the finished product. 


As you can see from the image above (provided by Bella+Canvas), the Ring-Spun cotton has much less fuzz than the budget-minded Carded-Cotton.  For commercial printers that are just now getting into the textile market, the easiest way to think about the differences in fabrics is how coated vs uncoated paper affects print quality.  Carded = Uncoated | Ring-Spun = Coated 

New garments are being released all the time so how do you know which to add to your catalog?  The first thing to determine is the fabric makeup.   

  • Is it Ring-Spun? Yes, good!  

  • Next what is the “singles count”?  30/1 (or 30 Singles) refers to the yarn count. This is the unit of measurement that defines the fineness of the thread. The higher the number, the finer the thread, and thus a finer, softer fabric is created. The higher the singles count the better the weave and generally will produce a better-finished product.  Blank garment manufacturers are proud of their singles count and will want it displayed along with the other specs for the item.  If it’s a lower-quality garment, don’t expect to find a singles count.

  • Fabric Weight: I prefer a shirt with a weight of at least 4.5oz., garments that have a high singles count and are made with ring-spun cotton but have a weight of 3.0oz don’t have enough fibers for the DTG pretreatment or inks to properly bond.  If you can hold up the shirt and see right through it where does the ink bond?  Keep in mind that heavier isn’t always better.  It’s the combination that makes for a good blank garment.

  • Customer supplied or requested blanks can cause your shop a tremendous headache.  If you haven’t properly tested and built out the process(es) for a specific blank, DON’T offer it!  When was the last time you took your own potatoes to the restaurant for fries to be cooked?  You MUST control the menu (catalog) of the items that your shop has dialed in and can produce high-quality prints on over and over again.  Trying to offer everything will lead you to failure.  The most successful shops offer a small selection of colors and styles for their customers to choose from.  In most cases, less is more!


Black, White, Navy, Royal, and Athletic Heather colors outsell all other colors combined.  It’s crucial that your shop has built the proper recipe for these big sellers before adding new colors/styles to your catalog. 

 Just because the blank garment ticks all the boxes above don’t mean it’s a guarantee that the print quality will be perfect.  Testing is required to determine if it meets your print shop’s expectations.  I recommend doing random audits on your blanks and the workflow processes your shop developed to make sure nothing changes from dye lot to dye lot or even country of origin.  Remember, not all cotton (even from the same manufacturer) is the same and it’s your job to build the best garment catalog for your shop.   

Here’s a link to our Garment Guide that outlines Millcraft’s favorite blank garment brands and styles, it’s a great place to start when building your catalog.

Connect with an Expert for further guidance on apparel garments and your apparel equipment needs. 

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