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Choosing the Perfect Material for Your Team’s Uniform
What’s the best material for sports clothes?
Many an athlete has pondered the same question over the past few decades. Not just from a performance viewpoint, but a longevity one as well.
Playing a sport requires a person to run, jump, kick, or hit a ball. The clothing athletes wear must be able to stand up to intensive wear and tear and at the same time provide enough comfort and flexibility such that injuries don’t occur.
We’re going to look at several different types of fabrics and materials which can help you make a more informed decision when it comes time to choose the perfect material for your team’s uniform.
History of Athletic Apparel
Back in the times of the Greeks, athletes and people who exercised did so in the nude.
The problem with jumping, running, and moving about in the nude is that certain body parts are left unprotected (get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking about bare feet here). As such, injuries tended to occur and athletic performance was limited at best.
As the centuries went by, athletes and those who exercised wore little more than a loose-fitting piece of cotton clothing that wouldn’t hamper their physical activities. The clothing offered very little in protection.
In the 1900’s science took a huge step forward and the textile/garment industry started using high tech materials in their clothing. The superior materials enabled athletes to push themselves harder and longer without risk of injuring themselves as their predecessors did.
Cotton has been around since the time of the Egyptians (and probably longer). It offers many advantages. It’s relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and loose fitting enough that it won’t hamper the physical activities of any given sport.
Cotton can be an ideal material choice for baseball, softball, and even kickball teams. It can be used for full contact sports such as football, but keep in mind that most cotton shirts run a bit loose and a loose-fitting shirt will offer a gripping point when someone wants to tackle you.
The downside to cotton is that it can shrink if not taken care of properly. All it takes is one super-heated drying cycle too many, and that cool looking sports shirt will be transformed into something a 10-year-old kid couldn’t fit into.
Moisture Wicking Polyester
This type of fabric is best for those who are serious about their sports. The material helps allow sweat to wick away from the skin for more efficient evaporation. This, in turn, allows the athlete not to overheat while exerting themselves physically. Runners and anyone who plays high-intensity sports can really benefit from moisture-wicking polyester.
The polyester-cotton blend combines the benefits of cotton with the benefits of polyester. This unique combination of materials makes shirts more comfortable and breathable, and due to the polyester fabric, there is less chance of shrinkage.
These types of shirts are great for bowlers, tennis players, and any sport that requires the participant to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing. The downside is that because there is a cotton blend, the shirt could shrink a bit if not laundered properly.
This man-made material is built to last. It’s incredibly durable and the fabric of choice for teams that require heavy-duty garments. Double-knit polyester is in high demand for such rugged contact sports as lacrosse and rugby teams. It’s durable, yet light enough not to cause athletes to feel constricted.
What Fabrics are Best for What Printing Process?
When ordering your team shirts from One Hour Tees, you’ll need to specify which printing process you’d like. Whether you’re looking at Direct to Garment printing vs. screen printing, or heat transfers and embroidery, we’ve got options.
There are three basic printing processes: direct to garment (DTG), silk screen, heat transfers, and embroidery.
Direct to garment – The inks used in DTG printing are water-based. Natural fabrics such as cotton tend to accept the inks the best (because they naturally absorb water).
Polyblends tend to fare better than 100% pure polyester because they have some cotton in them. Pure polyester is man-made and doesn’t accept water based inks as well as cotton or other natural fibers and fabrics.
When it comes to DTG printing, cotton is your best bet.
Silk Screen – Silk screening consists of transferring ink from a silk screen to a piece of fabric. Cotton tends to perform best as it quickly absorbs the ink. Man-made fibers such as polyester don’t absorb ink as well as cotton or a blend would.
Heat Transfers – Heat transfers use heat to transfer a pre-printed image from a special kind of paper to the fabric. Most transfers are made out of a plastic-like material, and this makes them ideal for synthetic fibers such as polyester or poly-blends.
Embroidery – Natural fabrics that have a tight weave tend to work best for embroidery. Cotton, linen, wool, and silk are ideal materials to have something embroidered upon. Synthetic materials such as polyester will work, but the embroidery needle can cause perforated threads that will fray after a period of time.
One Hour Nationwide T-shirt Printing
If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this blog post, feel free to send us an email or give us a call at (773) 687-0520. One of our friendly t-shirt experts will help you select the best material for your team jersey!