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Resource Center » Does Blended (50/50) vs. (100%) Cotton Really Matter? Which Shrinks Less?

The differences in 100% versus blended cotton when it comes to printing images.

How do you know when to use 100% cotton and 50/50 blended cotton? It depends on the project, the design process, and the expected result. Screen printing results can vary from material to material, so you should know which type would be best for your project before buying them.

100% cotton tends to be a heavier and denser material, and people prefer it because of its incredible softness. Many t-shirt designers caution against using 100% ringspun cotton because of the fuzzy texture; it can give the image a faded or worn appearance after numerous washes. It's important to treat 100% cotton products with care because they can easily over-stretch and lose the original shape.

Plain, non-ringspun 100% cotton t-shirts will have good results if using a four-color printing process. Heavier fabrics tend to provide better results of the image on the t-shirt due to its denser surface. Some t-shirt designers claim to get the best screen printing results using 50/50 cotton. However, if you are using a process known as digital sublimation printing, only polyester will work to get the most clear and vivid images. Because the inks are printed to a high-release paper substrate, the image transfers best to the polyester fabric with applied heat and pressure. 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton blends do not work as well because the inks have more difficulting adhering to cotton fabrics.

Because many consumers prefer 100% cotton t-shirts, the popularity of organic cotton t-shirts and other items has significantly grown. However, heavyweight 50/50 polyester-and-cotton-blend t-shirts are also becoming more popular again due to their affordability and durability. T-shirts made of a blended material tend to be more lightweight, durable, and they wrinkle a lot less.

All in all, though, 100% cotton garments work best for screen printing. They're less susceptible to dye migration (commonly referred to as bleeding) and they're generally easier to work with. Dye migration occurs most often in 50/50 blends, because the ink changes when it's heated during the printing process and fails to retain its original appearance.

There is a way to print your logo on virtually every cotton-blend out there. No matter which type of cotton you prefer, make sure that you understand the pros and cons of each fabric. Contact a professional promotional products distributor or a custom printer if you're not sure which blend would be best for your project! We will point you in the best direction.

Article By Jill Tooley
Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. In addition to managing the QLP blog, Jill also manages the content development team, assists with the company’s social media accounts, and writes like a fiend whenever given the chance. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

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