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Softest T Shirts for Printing: Best Soft Shirts For Your Printing Project

It’s official! The T-shirt has shed the “humble” or “throwaway” tag. Now, they are considered casual chic with fancy or cheek decorations that you can even wear a high-quality custom tee to a fancy yacht party and not feel out of place.

For those who like to make custom shirts, we made a list of high-end t-shirts that won’t pill, or shrink and at the same time soft and comfortable to wear all day. That way, the final products will last for years to come aside from looking great.

Creating the best product will help you be part of this boom. I can talk about the reasons why until the end of this article. So, before I get ahead of myself, let’s start by looking at what makes the softest t-shirts for printing.

What Are the Soft Shirts Made Of?

The softness of a t-shirt comes down to one of the basic building blocks – The fabric or blend of fabrics. The problem is the market is flooded with both organic and synthetic variants. So, it becomes hard to settle, especially when you don’t have the time to feel the fabric while shopping.

I learned the hard way that you can never go wrong with cotton, polyester, and a few blended fabric.

Here are a few examples and personal reasons why I insist on these fabrics:

Regular Cotton

Cotton is a natural fabric produced when soft plant fibers are spun into a soft yarn then woven into a fabric. It comes highly recommended for DTG printing as it retains its softness even after printing. I also like using it for the same reasons in sublimation and screen printing projects.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it’s affordable and retains its luster even after a few washes. I’ve also come to realize it’s softer and way more durable than ring-spun and combed cotton. 


  1. Organic, chemical-free, hence eco-friendly
  2. Comes in various weights
  3. Excellent for bleaching, dyeing, and other production processes
  4. Produces Durable and high-quality t-shirts


  1. Shrinks in hot water wash
  2. Lower moisture wicking abilities


Polyester is a synthetic fiber that costs less and performs better than cotton in some respects. For one, polyester produces wrinkle-free apparel. It’s also flexible and has more resistant to shrinkage. Another enhancement it offers to cotton is that it dries quickly with some moisture-wicking properties.

This makes it ideal for use in cold climates: where you want to evacuate as much moisture and sweat as possible. That’s why it’s commonly used for athletic wear. The primary issue you may have with polyester is its lower resistance to heat and high dye migration.

That’s why I only use elasti prints when doing heat press projects.


  1. Excellent moisture-wicking properties
  2. Wrinkle-free and high shrinkage resistance
  3. Flexible yet durable
  4. Low pilling factor


  1. Less breathable
  2. Tenancy to stick to sweaty skin

Ringspun Cotton

Ringspun cotton is an upgrade from regular cotton. After spinning cotton fibers, the manufacturers take some time to comb the yarn for impurities and remove any less-than-perfect strands. So, knitting it produces ultra-soft and durable fabrics.

That’s why I use ringspun cotton tees for my most discerning and fashion-conscious clients or t-shirt lines. The softer fabric makes for a lovely drape for unisex garments. But, my female clients are happier with ringspun cotton because it’s soft to the touch and compliments their features in a comfortable hug.

Small wonder that all the high-end designers prefer ringspun cotton. The Bella canvas 3001 is a prime example on this list!


  1. Softer than regular cotton
  2. Outlasts standard cotton
  3. Produces high-quality graphic tees
  4. Ideal for women’s apparel


Costs more than cotton

  1. Snarling is a significant concern

Combed Cotton

Combed cotton’s production process entails more than standard cotton. In this process, the cotton fibers are combed and brushed repeatedly. This creates straighter and uniform fibers across the grain of the resulting fabric as no yarn protrudes. So, more cotton fiber gets discarded, hence the higher price point.

In my experience, Combed cotton is perfect for producing the highest-quality t-shirts. I can layer on the heat transfers, dyes, or inks with reckless abandon. It’s definitely the best fabric if you want to leave a lasting mark on the premium t-shirt industry.


  1. More sweat-absorbent
  2. Ideal for heat transfer vinyl
  3. Come in a wide array of colors
  4. Soft and ultra-comfortable


  1. Prone to skewing
  2. May shrink without proper care

Airlume Cotton

The Airlume production process combines ring spinning and combing while taking things up a notch. I won’t go into the details, but it helps to think of it as an enhanced combing process. Here, even more impure cotton strands get sorted out, leaving longer fibers.

The result is a warm yet lighter t-shirt with slightly better moisture-wicking properties. My customers and clients also prefer airlume cotton t-shirts because they are airy enough to sleep in!


  1. Ideal for business-casual outings
  2. Offers better wind and moisture resistance
  3. Airy fabric
  4. Ideal for high heat-press printing


  1. Comes at a premium price
  2. Not ideal for novices


The most common tri-blends consist of rayon, cotton, and polyester. So, even come with anti-microbial and moisture microfibers. The resultant fabric is comfier, airier, softer, and stretchier. We’ve touched on the properties of cotton and polyester but not rayon. Well, the addition of rayon is what makes such tee softer to the touch.


  1. Have a textured or vintage appeal
  2. Drapes excellently on both muscles and curves
  3. Softest feel
  4. Ideal for premium dress-up tees


  1. Come in limited colors
  2. Unsuitable for one-time Ad campaigns or events 

 “Why do I need to know all these fabric facts?” is probably what you’re asking after reading all this. Well, I find that knowing the merits and demerits of various fabrics saves me loads of frustration. It also helps me narrow down what fabrics to use for particular client types.

Now that you’re empowered with this knowledge, it’s time to look at what t-shirts are available in the market. So, without further ado (or fuss), here are some of the softest t-shirts for printing.

Top 6 Best Soft T Shirts for Printing

Knowing the materials used in constructing a t-shirt is merely the first step. I’ve come to appreciate that even if two garments are made of the same fibers –There can be manufacturer specifications that enhance the quality.  

Such enhancements include the fusion of microfibers that add moisture-wicking abilities and anti-microbial properties. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s look at some of the softest t-shirts for printing that I prefer using in my projects:

Bella Canvas 3001

Bella + Canvas 3001U Unisex Made in the USA Jersey Short-Sleeve T-Shirt


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey
  •  Fabric composition: 100% ringspun and combed cotton
  • Construction: Side seemed
  • Fit: unisex
  • Color(S): 21
  • Available sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL
  • Weight: 4.2 oz.
  • Collar: cross-stitched crew neck

Let’s kick off the list with my personal favorite, the Bella canvas 3001. I find it easy to work direct to garment (DTG) printing or even layer heat press graphics. It also keeps my custom tee customers coming back for more because it gets more comfortable with every wash –Just like your favorite pair of denim!

You won’t get the most vibrant color choices that straddle the rainbow. But, you can still do a lot with the 21 colors available, which remain vibrant even after several washes. Bella takes their material sourcing seriously. By this, I mean you also get tri-blend options.

For instance, they have the Black Heather tri-blend with a fabric blend that includes: 15% rayon, 15% polyester, airlume combed, and ring-spun cotton. It was love at first sight when I tried this out on my models. Who could blame me? The unisex design and excellent drape can make anyone look and feel like a supper-star.

Hanes Beefy Tee

Hanes Men's Short Sleeve Beefy-t


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey, pocket & long sleeve
  • Fabric composition: 60% cotton, 40% polyester
  • Construction: Double-needle stitched sleeves and bottom hem
  • Fit: small to 2X-large
  • Color(S): 40
  • Available sizes: small to X-large
  • Weight: 6.1 oz.
  • Collar: lay-flat

The Hanes Beefy Tee is my favorite heavy yet soft t-shirt. My customers like it for its warmth, classic touch, and modern cuts –few companies make tees like this anymore! This 100% comes pre-shrunk, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it in with a few washes.

It’s the heaviest t-shirt on my list. It can withstand a beating. This means you can apply multiple DTG procedures without violating its integrity. The classic look, feel and fit works to my advantage, especially when a client wants a vintage look to their garment.

But that’s not to say that this is an old faddy-daddy product. You can get the Hanes Beefy Tee in 40 exciting and modern colors.

Hanes also has a short sleeve tee with a pocket and a long-sleeved shirt to compliment anyone’s style. It is a t-shirt for all seasons.

Next Level 3600

Next Level Men's Premium Fitted Short-Sleeve Crew 3600-White-L


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey
  • Fabric composition:  100 percent ringspun combed cotton
  • Construction: bottom hemmed and side seemed
  • Fit: X-small to 4 X-large
  • Color(S): 22
  • Available sizes:
  • Weight:  4.3 oz.
  • Collar: crew neck

The Next Level 3600 is thus far my favorite ultra-soft t-shirt for printing. That’s why I prefer using it for custom print jobs for women and kids –even the guys enjoy it. Aside from the soft feel, it also has a snuggly drape to it, a factor that makes it look excellent on any body type.   

Are you looking to take soft tees to the next level? Then, I highly recommend trying out their fitted sueded t-shirt. This product features 60% combed cotton and 40% poly suede fabric. That’s why this tee is buttery smooth to the touch, and velvety soft against the skin. I haven’t used it much on athletic apparel.

But I currently depend on this brand to make warmup tees for some sporting clubs. Sizing isn’t an issue, and stocks run high on Amazon and other ecommerce stores. Sure, the premium cost may be an issue for some of your clients. However, it’s worth it, especially if you want to make it big in the high-end custom t-shirt business.  

Core 365 Chromasoft Fusion

Core 365 Adult Fusion ChromaSoft Performance T-Shirt


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey
  • Fabric composition: 100% polyester
  • Construction: Double-needle sleeve and bottom hems
  • Fit: For him, her, and kids (separate products)
  • Color(S): 19
  • Available sizes: X-small to 6 X-Large
  • Weight: 4.5 oz.
  • Collar: crew neck

My list would be incomplete if it did not include some athletic apparel. It helps to think of the Core 365 Chromasoft Fusion as more than a mere t-shirt. –It’s a piece of performance wear that can propel your business to new heights!

At first glance, I thought this tee was too good to be true. How can a 100% polyester t-shirt that weighs 4.5 oz. promise to be soft and cool? Well, after some research, I found the answer, Chromasoft technologies. This is a patented process that merges cationic dyes with premium polyester. The result? You get a performance fabric that’s as soft as Airlume cotton –At a fraction of the cost.

What’s more? It features anti-microbial and moisture-wicking abilities. That’s why I insist on using it for clients with extremely sensitive skin. And with sizes running from small to 6 extra-large, your graphic t-shirts can drape over any body type. I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention that the brand features a separate line for Him, Her, and the kids as well!

Gildan Softstyle 64000 unisex

Gildan Softstyle T-Shirt. 64000


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey
  • Fabric composition: 100% ringspun cotton
  • Construction: Semi-fitted
  • Fit: unisex
  • Color(S): 50
  • Available sizes: X-small to 3X-large
  • Weight: 4.4 oz.
  • Collar: Taped neck

Last but not least on our list today, we have the Gildan Softstyle 64000 unisex t-shirt. This beauty is made of 100% ringspun Australian cotton and comes in 50 exciting color variants. So, it comes as an easy choice if you want to challenge the big boys in the custom t-shirt printing business. As a pre-shrunk and semi-fitted tee, it conforms to the body and comes in a wide range of sizes.

The ring-spun cotton makes it resistant to wrinkling and the vagaries of DTG printing processes. Classic/Vintage marks include a tapered neck and shoulders. But they’ve added a modern feel with various colors, rolled-up sleeve sequins, and double seam hemming to all sides. 

I find it surprisingly easy to work my direct-to-garment printing technologies for an ultra-soft tee. The high stitch density ensures dyes and inks don’t run through –and vinyl doesn’t burn through the entire fabric.

As for stocks and supplies? Well, there’s no need to worry as Gildan manufacturing can produce, pack and deliver their tees to you in merely 24 hours.

American Apparel 2001W


  • Type: short-sleeved jersey
  • Fabric composition: 10% polyester, 90 ringspun cotton
  • Construction: bottom hems with a 1-inch double-needle sleeve
  • Fit: small to 3X-large
  • Color(S): 31
  • Available sizes:
  • Weight: 4.3 oz.
  • Collar: durable rib neckband

The American Apparel brand presence seems to have grown since its acquisition by Gildan. And this is apparent in the quality of the American Apparel 2001W soft t-shirt. It comes in 31 colors that span from heather Grey to edgy neon shade – So there’s no doubt you’ll find something fit for your project.

When I started this business, I didn’t bother with other brands as most US print shops use it as the standard. That’s because it comes in various weights, sizes, and fabric blends. I’ve used their standard 100% cotton tee. But you can order for a poly blend or even tri-blends (if you have the budget for it!)  

Another reason I prefer using American apparel t-shirts is their brand consistency. Even companies like Vans, Threadless, Teespring, and notable musical acts like Van Helen use it. You probably even inherited a Van Halen Tee from your Dad –So, any custom t-shirt you print can be an heirloom!

Things to Look When Buying a Soft Shirt for Printing

We’ve looked at some of the softest t-shirts for printing and what they are made of in our journey thus far. However, there are still a few things that can help you make an educated purchase.

Here are other things to look at when buying a soft t-shirt for printing:

Fabric Blends

To recap, fabrics (especially performance variants) are the result of combining two or more fiber types. Such a mix uses the properties of those yarns to create a more robust fabric. How do you know what fabrics are in a tri-blend? Well, here’s an example:

  • Cotton, polyester, and spandex (60/25/15)

Such a t-shirt attributes its softness to cotton, its durability to polyester, and its form-fitting nature to spandex. In my experience, DTG printing on tri-blends creates a vintage feel –The fabrics still show no matter how much ink you layer on. 

Therefore, it pays to do a little research before springing for a bulk order of t-shirts. (Trust me, I learned the hard way!)


In the past, before I got into this business, people had a very pedestrian approach to a t-shirt’s weight that went something like:

Heavy t-shirts are the best quality, and light t-shirts are cheap knock-offs.”

Well, that’s not the case anymore. I’ve seen loads of light t-shirts that work better than heavy tee in my day. “Wait a minute that sounds counter intuitive. What brings this difference” I hear you say.

Think of it this way. Uggs can keep you warm and toasty in the snow, and flip-flops will work for a hot beach. So, it’s a matter of analyzing your market’s needs and supplying a tee with the right weight.   

There is no shortcut. You need to understand your client’s needs and offer a detailed explanation of when and how to use your custom tees.


I’ll admit it, gauging a tee’s transparency was a sticky point for me in my foundling days. Transparency is closely tied to the weight of a t-shirt. From our list here, it’s easy to surmise that the Bella Canvas 3001 is sheerer than the Hanes Beefy tee. This comes done to the fabric. After all one, the first one is a tri-blend, while the latter features a bulky ringspun cotton fabric.


When shopping for a tee, I place the fit and quality above all else. But, you can’t forget about the price. Other things to consider are the availability of stocks, delivery, and return policies. As much as the customer is always right, please don’t sacrifice your profit margins for the sake of customer satisfaction.

So there you have it, everything you need to get the softest t-shirt for printing. But, in the end, your choice of a t-shirt depends on your brand and customer/client demands. I’ve done my best to educate you on all I know about this subject. So, I challenge you to go out there and learn even more. (Yes! There may be gaps in my information.)

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Last update on 2022-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclaimer

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