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Guide to Fabric: How to Choose the Right Fabric for Clothing

When you're shopping for new clothes determining the proper fabric type is just as important as choosing the right size and color. With so many different kinds of fabric available it can be hard to know what's best for your needs. That's why we made this comprehensive guide to the most popular fabrics used to make clothing and accessories. Click on a button below to jump to that fabric type, then click into each fabric type to see products made from that kind of material!

Fabric Material Button

Fabric Features

Common Fabrics for Clothing

There are dozens of different fabrics and blended fabrics that are commonly used to make custom apparel and accessories. Each kind of fabric comes with different advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of before you make a decision. Read along for an overview of each fabric type.

Cotton

Cotton is a plant-based natural fiber that has been the go-to choice for clothing for thousands of years. There are a few reasons that cotton is the most popular fabric for apparel. Cotton is cheap, strong, and easy to clean. Plus, cotton is extremely versatile and can be transformed into many other fabric classifications like ringspun cotton, cotton duck, cotton canvas, terry cloth, denim, and flannel.

Cotton Fabric Close Up Image

Cotton Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Cotton Fabric

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Low Maintenance
  • Easy to Decorate
  • Machine-Washable

Disadvantages of Cotton Fabric

  • Does not dry quickly
  • Prone to shrinking

Examples of Cotton Products

Nike White Black Core Cotton TeeLacoste Men's Green Short Sleeve Classic Pique PoloAlternative Apparel Men's Washed Denim Washed Terry Challenger Hoodie

Products Shown: Nike Core Cotton Tee | Lacoste Cotton Pique Polo | Alternative Apparel Washed Terry Challenger Hoodie

Polyester

Polyester might look simple, but it's actually somewhat of a chemistry project! Polyester is a man-made synthetic fiber that's made from a chemical reaction involving air, water, and petroleum. That combination produces an artificial fiber that becomes polyester! Polyester is also thermoplastic, so it can be melted down and reformed shapes, like thread. That thermoplasticity is what makes polyester so stretchy. I bet you didn't come here expecting a science lesson!

Polyester Fabric Close-Up

Polyester Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Polyester Fabric

  • Flexible
  • Quick-Drying
  • Moisture-Wicking
  • Wrinkle-Resistant
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Machine-Washable

Disadvantages of Polyester Fabric

  • Can stick to sweaty skin
  • Sensitive to high temperatures
  • Not as breathable as cotton
  • Usually not sustainable

Is Polyester Sustainable?

The way that polyester is normally made is not sustainable or good for environment because the process requires the use of fossil fuels.. However, there are ways that polyester can be extremely sustainable too! It's not the cheapest way to make polyester, but you can actually create it from recycled materials like plastic water bottles. When polyester is made this way it's not only eco-friendly, it also prevents plastic from reaching landfills and oceans! Here's how it works:

Recycled Polyester Production Process

Examples of Polyester Products

Under Armour Corporate Men's Midnight Navy Performance PoloZusa Men's Charcoal Influencer Quarter Zipadidas Men's Dark Grey Heathered Creator Short Sleeve Tee

Products Shown: Under Armour Performance Polo | Zusa Influencer Quarter Zip | Adidas Creator Short Sleeve Tee

Wool

So if cotton comes from plants and polyester comes from science then where does wool come from? Most people know that wool can come from sheep, but wool can also be made from the coat of goats (known as cashmere), alpacas, lamas, camels, musk oxen (qiviut), and even rabbits (angora wool)! To create wool these living animals coats are sheared, cleaned, scoured, and spun into yarn. That wool yarn can then be weaved into clothing garments, blankets, and more.

Wool Close-Up Image

Wool Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Wool Fabric

  • Warm and Insulating
  • Wrinkle-Resistant
  • Moisture-Wicking
  • Odor-Resistant

Disadvantages of Wool Fabric

  • Prone to shrinking
  • Can feel scratchy on skin
  • Requires special care/ dry cleaning

Examples of of Wool Products

Richardson Heather Grey Street Melton Wool Strapback CapField & Co. Blue Plaid Sherpa BlanketElevate Men's Heather Grey Bromley Knit V-Neck

Products Shown: Richardson Wool Strapback Cap | Field & Co. Wool Sherpa Blanket | Elevate Bromley Knit V-Neck

Fleece

Fleece isn't as much of it's own fabric type as it is a classification of the other fabric types that we've addressed at this point. There's cotton fleece, polyester fleece, wool fleece, and other lesser used varieties of fleece. All types of fleeces have a few things in common though; they're soft, fuzzy, warm, and insulating. That's what makes fleece the ideal material for sweaters, sweater vests, jackets, and sweatshirts. Fleece also breathes well and wicks moisture very well for an insulating material, so it's great as outerwear too!

Fleece Fabric Up Close

Fleece Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Fleece Fabric

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Water Repellent 
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Warm and Insulating

Disadvantages of Fleece Fabric

  • More difficult to clean
  • Can retain odors
  • Pilling can be an issue

Examples of Fleece Products

Green Patagonia Better Sweater VestZusa Women's Oatmeal Chilly Fleece Quarter ZipCustom Under Armour Rival Fleece Hoodie for Men

Products Shown: Patagonia Better Sweater Vest | Zusa Chilly Fleece Quarter Zip | Under Armour Rival Fleece Hoodie

Sherpa and Shearling

Technically speaking, sherpa and shearling are two entirely different fabrics. Shearling is a form of wool sheared from a lamb that has only had one shearing, while sherpa is actually a blended fabric made from polyester, acrylic, or cotton. Sherpa fabric gets its name from its similarity to the wooled clothing worn by the Sherpa people of Nepal, but it is often called "faux shearling" for its similarity to shearling fabric. For this reason we've combined them into the same fabric category.

Sherpa Fabric Close Up

Shearling and Sherpa Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Sherpa Fabric

  • Soft
  • Warm and Insulating
  • Moisture-Wicking
  • Machine-Washable

Disadvantages of Sherpa Fabric

  • Gets dirty easily

Examples of Shearling and Sherpa Products

Patagonia Men's El Cap Khaki Retro Pile Fleece JacketStormtech Men's Granite Yeti Shearling Lined HoodyCarhartt Women's Carhartt Brown Full Swing Quick Duck Sherpa-Lined Flame-Resistant Jacket

Products Shown: Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece Jacket | Stormtech Yeti Shearling Lined Hoody | Carhartt Quick Duck Sherpa-Lined Jacket

Spandex / Lycra / Elastane

Did you know that spandex got its name because it's an anagram for the word "expands"? You learn something new everyday. It makes sense though, the primary benefit of spandex as a fabric is it's unparalleled elasticity. Also known as elastane or lycra, spandex is the stretchiest, most flexible fabric around. So much so that a little goes a long way. You usually won't see apparel fabric that's made from more than 15% spandex, even in compression apparel and yoga pants. That's because spandex-heavy fabrics don't let your skin breathe very well.

Spandex Close-Up

Spandex Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Spandex Fabric

  • Stretchy and flexible (4-way stretch)
  • Moisture-Wicking
  • Durable
  • Comfortable

Disadvantages of Spandex Fabric

  • Doesn't let your skin breathe
  • Sensitive to heat

Examples of Spandex Products

Zusa Men's Charcoal Breezy TeePeter Millar Men's Cottage Blue Solid Stretch Mesh PoloTravisMathew Top Shelf Vintage Indigo Cap

Products Shown: Zusa Breezy Tee | Peter Millar Stretch Mesh Polo | TravisMathew Top Shelf Vintage Cap

Leather

Aside from wool, leather is the only type of clothing material that comes from mammals. Leather can be made from the hides of many animals including cows, pigs, sheep, goats, alligators, and more. Cow hides are by far the most popular animal hide used to create real leather. To create leather, hides are stripped of hair and flesh, dried, salted, tanned, dyed, and finished with a finishing spray. This process may sound inhumane, but the animal hides are a byproduct of the meat and dairy industries that would otherwise be wasted if not turned into leather. It is extremely rare for cows to be killed only for their hides.

Leather Close-Up

Leather is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Leather

  • Tough
  • Durable
  • Timelessly Stylish

Disadvantages of Leather

  • Can get stretch marks
  • Not breathable
  • Can be expensive

Examples of Leather Products

Moleskine Black Leather Ruled Large NotebookStormtech Men's Black Classic Leather JacketField & Co. Charcoal Campster Passport Wallet

Products Shown: Moleskine Leather Ruled Large Notebook | Stormtech Classic Leather Jacket | Field & Co. Campster Passport Wallet

Silk

Here's another fabric that comes from nature, although not in the way that you might expect. Silk is a natural protein fiber that is produced by silkworms. Silkworms are actually larvae if silk moths and silk is what they use to make their cocoons. Sounds pretty gross, right? Despite its unpleasant origins, silk is one of the most luxurious and desirable fabrics around. That's because silk is one of the smoothest and softest fabrics on the planet.

Silk Close-Up

Silk Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Silk Fabric

  • Soft and Smooth
  • Comfortable
  • Strong

Disadvantages of Silk Fabric

  • Expensive
  • Stains easily
  • Requires special care/ dry cleaning

Examples of Silk Products

Peter Millar Men's Navy Crown Comfort Cashmere-Silk Quarter ZipPeter Millar Men's Cottage Blue Crown Soft Gingham ShirtTommy Bahama Men's Fuschia Digital Palms Shirt

Products Shown: Peter Millar Comfort Cashmere-Silk Quarter Zip | Peter Millar Soft Gingham Shirt | Tommy Bahama Fresco Tropics Shirt

Cashmere

If you noticed that we teased the origins of cashmere earlier in the wool section, congratulations, you've been paying close attention! Cashmere is a form of wool that comes specifically from the coat of cashmere goats. Cashmere goats are a rather regal looking breed of goats whose origins trace back to the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Save that one for trivia night. Like wool, cashmere is formed by shearing the coats of the animals and spinning them into yarn that's used to create clothing.

Cashmere Close-Up

Cashmere Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Cashmere Fabric

  • Soft
  • Warm and Insulating
  • Lightweight and Breathable
  • Wrinkle-Resistant
  • Elegant

Disadvantages of Cashmere Fabric

  • Not very durable
  • Piling can be an issue
  • Requires special care/ dry cleaning

Examples of Cashmere Products

Weatherproof Women's Charcoal Heather Cotton Cashmere CardiganPeter Millar Men's Navy Cashmere Quarter Zip

Products Shown: Weatherproof Cotton Cashmere Cardigan Sweater | Peter Millar Cashmere Quarter Zip

Linen

Linen fabric clothing is known for being especially lightweight and breathable, making it the perfect fabric for hot summer days. Like cotton, linen fabric is made from plants. In the case of linen, its fibers from the flax plant called "Linum Usitatissimum" that are spun, combed, and woven into sheets.

Linen Fabric Closeup Image

Linen Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Linen Fabric

  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Low Maintenance
  • Machine-Washable

Disadvantages of Linen Fabric

  • Wrinkles easily
  • Prone to shrinking

Examples of Linen Products

Tommy Bahama Men's Blue Yonder Sea Glass Breezer Long Sleeve Shirt Paramount Apparel Chambray Linen HatTommy Bahama Men's White Sea Glass Breezer Short Sleeve Shirt

Products Shown: Tommy Bahama L/S Breezer Shirt | Paramount Apparel Chambray Linen Hat | Tommy Bahama S/S Breezer Shirt

French Terry / Terry Cloth

French terry, or terry cloth, is a form of cotton fabric that's popular for loungewear and towels. The way that french terry fabric is made causes one side of the fabric to be smooth and soft while the other side features loops and soft piles of yarn. The soft piles are super comfy on your skin, so that side of the fabric is almost always on the inside of the garment. Those piles are also very absorbent, so they're great for towels too.

French Terry Close-Up

French Terry Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of French Terry Cloth

  • Comfortable
  • Highly Absorbent
  • Flexible
  • Midweight

Disadvantages of French Terry Cloth

  • Prone to fraying
  • Too thick for warmer climates

Examples of French Terry Products

New Era Men's Graphite French Terry CrewChampion Women's Carmine Red Heather Originals French Terry Boat Neck SweatshirtChampion Women's Black Originals French Terry Jogger

Products Shown: New Era French Terry Crew | Champion Originals French Terry Boat Neck Sweatshirt | Champion French Terry Jogger

Nylon

Here's another synthetic fabric with an interesting history. Up until World War II, Nylon was only used for toothbrush bristles. Then the US military started using nylon for parachutes and it instantly became one of the most popular fabrics in America. The reasons that nylon was a great material for parachutes are the same reasons that nylon works well for raincoats, jackets, backpacks, and duffel bags too - ripstop nylon is extremely tough, durable, and water resistant.

Nylon Waterproof Fabric Close-Up

Nylon Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Nylon Fabric

  • Waterproof
  • Wind-Resistant
  • Versatile
  • UV Protective
  • Doesn't shrink
  • Tough and durable

Disadvantages of Nylon Fabric

  • Not very breathable
  • Can be difficult to clean

Examples of Nylon Products

Eddie Bauer Men's Grey Steel Packable Wind JacketThe North Face TNF Black Fall Line BackpackPatagonia Women's Navy Blue Torrentshell Jacket

Products Shown: Eddie Bauer Packable Wind Jacket | The North Face Fall Line Backpack | Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket

Hemp

Yes, hemp is made from cannabis plants. No, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant that's harvested and spun into yarn. Hemp is actually one of the first plants that were ever spun into fiber for yarn more than 10,000 years ago. Hemp plants are also among the fastest growing plants, making them a great source for fabric. However, the perception that hemp is marijuana has prevented it from becoming a more popular fabric for apparel.

Hemp

Hemp Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Hemp Fabric

  • Sustainable
  • Strong
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Breathable
  • UV Resistant

Disadvantages of Hemp Fabric

  • Wrinkles easily
  • Can be scratchy

Examples of Hemp Products

Econscious Olive 6.8 oz Hemp Market TotePatagonia Women's White Lightweight A/C Buttondown ShirtPatagonia Ink Black Tin Shed Hat

Products Shown: Econscious Hemp Market Tote | Patagonia Lightweight A/C Buttondown Shirt | Patagonia Tin Shed Hat

Quilted Fabric

Quilted fabric is more of a technique than a fabric type, but it still comes with its own set of pros and cons. Quilting is done by sewing two layers of fabric, usually cotton or blended fabric, together to create a thick and padded material. In between the two layers of fabric there is usually an insulating material like wool or cotton. The material is sewn in a cross-hatch style pattern to prevent the insulating material from sinking to the bottom of the garment.

Quilted Fabric Close Up

Quilted Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Quilted Fabric

  • Warm and insulating
  • Comfy
  • Packable

Disadvantages of Quilted Fabric

  • Can retain moisture longer
  • Not the among the most durable fabrics

Examples of Quilted Fabric Products

Patagonia Women's Sage Khaki Organic Cotton Quilt CrewThe North Face Men's Black Thermoball Trekker Vest

Products Shown: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket | Patagonia Organic Cotton Quilt Crew | The North Face Thermoball Trekker Vest

Sueded Fabric

Not to be confused with suede, which is a form of soft leather with a napped finish, sueded fabric is usually made from cotton or silk. The fabric is then brushed or sanded to give it a smoother finish, similar to suede. Brushed sueded fabric is softer to the touch than unbrushed fabric, making it especially ideal for shirts that make direct contact with the skin.

Sueded Fabric Close-Up

Sueded Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Sueded Fabric

  • Soft and smooth
  • Comfortable
  • Durable

Disadvantages of Sueded Fabric

  • Easier to damage

Examples of Sueded Fabric Products

Champion Men's Blue Jazz Heather Originals Sueded Fleece CrewNew Era Men's True Navy Heather Sueded Cotton Crew TeeDevon & Jones Men's Grey Heather Sueded Cotton Jersey Mock Turtleneck

Products Shown: Champion Originals Sueded Fleece Crew | New Era Sueded Cotton Crew Tee | Devon & Jones Sueded Mock Turtleneck

Denim

Did you know that denim is made from 100% cotton? It doesn't seem possible that your blue jeans and t-shirts could come from the same plant, but that's the case! Denim is made by a specific method of twill weaving that creates a diagonal twill line. This method of weaving is what makes denim feel stronger and sturdier than traditional cotton garments.

Denim Close Up

Denim Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Denim Fabric

  • Tough and durable
  • Does not shrink

Disadvantages of Denim Fabric

  • Warm and insulating
  • Stretches out over time
  • More difficult to decorate

Examples of Denim Products

Carhartt Men's Denim Blue Chambray Fort Solid Long Sleeve ShirtCarhartt Men's Stonewash Relaxed Fit Tapered Leg JeanPort Authority Men's Denim Blue Denim Jacket

Products Shown: Carhartt Denim Fort Solid Shirt | Carhartt Stonewash Relaxed Fit Jeans | Port Authority Blue Denim Jacket

Flannel

Flannel is another form of cotton, but unlike denim, flannel is a soft woven fabric. Flannel is also often brushed for added softness. This level of softness makes flannel an especially comfortable material, making it ideal for shirts, jacket linings, and blankets. Flannel is also made from wool on some occasions, although it tends to be a little scratchier in that case.

Flannel Fabric Close-Up

Flannel Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Flannel Fabric

  • Soft and comfy
  • Warm and insulating
  • Breathable

Disadvantages of Flannel Fabric

  • Piling can be an issue
  • Prone to shrinking

Examples of Flannel Products

Custom Port Authority Men's Grey and Black Plaid Flannel ShirtPatagonia Men's Navy Blue Long Sleeve Fjord Flannel ShirtBurnside Men's Red/Black Buffalo Yarn-Dyed Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt

Products Shown: Port Authority Plaid Flannel Shirt | Patagonia Fjord Flannel Shirt | Burnside Yarn-Dyed Flannel Shirt

Cotton Canvas

Canvas is an extremely strong and durable form of cotton that was originally created for use in boat sails and tents. To create canvas an extremely compact and firm weave of cotton is performed. The term canvas is usually reserved for accessories like totes and hats. Cotton duck is another form of canvas, which typically refers to clothing applications for canvas.

Cotton Canvas Fabric Close-Up

Cotton Canvas Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Advantages of Canvas Fabric

  • Tough and durable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • UV Protective

Disadvantages of Canvas Fabric

  • Expensive
  • Can be scratchy on skin
  • Not very breathable

Examples of Canvas Products

Drake Waterfowl Men's Khaki Canvas Scout PantCustom Embroidered Logo Canvas Tote BagPort Authority Canvas/Canvas Outback Hat

Products Shown: Drake Waterfowl Khaki Canvas Scout Pants | Gemline Seaside Tote | Port Authority Canvas Outback Hat

Ringspun Cotton

You might not know the difference between standard cotton and ringspun cotton by just looking at it. The difference is that ringspun cotton is made from yard that is spun differently to create longer strands that are softer and more durable than those of regular cotton. You can think of ringspun cotton as "super cotton" if you'd like. This kind of quality obviously comes at a premium though.

Ringspun Cotton Close-Up

Ringspun Cotton Fabric is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Ringspun Cotton Fabric

  • More durable than cotton
  • Softer than cotton

Disadvantages of Ringspun Cotton Fabric

  • More expensive than cotton
  • Prone to snarling

Examples of Ringspun Cotton Products

 Nike Men's Anthracite Core Cotton Long Sleeve TeeChampion Men's Chalk White and Black Premium Fashion Baseball T-ShirtChampion Men's Charcoal Heather Originals Triblend Hooded Pullover

Products Shown: Nike Core Cotton Long Sleeve Tee | Champion Premium Fashion Baseball T-Shirt | Champion Originals Tri-Blend Hoodie

Cotton Duck Fabric

Similar to cotton canvas, cotton duck is made using an extremely compact weave of cotton. In fact, cotton duck is woven even more tightly than cotton canvas. A tighter weave means added strength and durability. That's what makes cotton duck so ideal for work jackets and industrial workwear.

Cotton Duck Fabric Close-Up

Cotton Duck is Commonly Used For...

Benefits of Cotton Duck Fabric

  • Tough and durable
  • Resistant to snagging and tearing
  • Windproof
  • UV Protective
  • Loosens up and gets more comfortable with use

Disadvantages of Cotton Duck Fabric

  • Fades in sunlight
  • Prone to shrinkage

Examples of Cotton Duck Products

Carhartt Men's Brown Thermal Lined Duck Active JacketCustom Black Carhartt Duck VestRichardson Buck and Max5 Duck Cloth Front with Camo Back Cap

Products Shown: Carhartt Thermal Lined Duck Active Jacket | Carhartt Duck VestRichardson Duck Cloth Camo Hat

Blended Fabric

When you read the tags on your clothing it is pretty rare to find just one type of fabric. Sure, you'll come across your fair share of 100% cotton and 100% polyester garments, but most clothing is made from blended fabric. For example, the t-shirt that you see below is made from 95% recycled polyester and 5% spandex. This blend was chosen because this shirt is designed for workouts. The polyester fabric makes the shirt moisture-wicking, while the added spandex makes it more flexible. All fabrics come with advantages and disadvantages and blending them can produce an even better product.

Zusa Blended Fabric Performance T-Shirt

Fabric Properties & Characteristics

Knowing the names of each fabric type is great, but this isn't a vocabulary test. What's really important to know is what each fabric type does. How does it perform? What is its purpose? Every fabric and material in your clothes is there for a reason. Here are a few of the most sought after fabric features.

Sustainable Fabric

Fabrics and materials are deemed eco-friendly and sustainable for a few different reasons. One way that a product can be considered sustainable is if it's made from recycled materials like recycled cotton or polyester made from recycled plastic water bottles. Another way that fabric can be considered sustainable is if it's made from plants that don't require much water or pesticides. Both hemp and flax plants (used to make linen fabric) can be grown using minimal resources.

Sustainable Apparel and Gifts

What are the most sustainable fabrics?

Moisture-Wicking Fabric

Moisture-wicking fabric use built-in miniscule capillaries to extract moisture from the surface of your skin and transport it to the exterior of the fabric for easy wicking and quicker evaporation. Sweat-wicking fabric is perfect for activewear, sports team uniforms, and any other clothing that you work out in. Because no one wants to exercise in a shirt that's drenched in sweat!

Moisture-Wicking Fabric on Performance Apparel

What are the best moisture-wicking fabrics?

UV Protective Fabric

Technically speaking, anything that gets between your skin and the sun is protecting you from harmful UV rays. Well, aside from magnifying glasses. However, some fabric features to contribute to high UPF protection. For example, dyed fabrics, especially dark colors, increase UPF protection. Dense, tightly woven fabrics also do a better job blocking out the sun's harmful rays than looser fabric. Cotton, linen, and hemp are the least useful in blocking UV rays.

UV Protective Apparel

What are the best fabrics for UV protection?

Stretchy Fabric

Do you ever feel like your clothing is restricting your movements? That's the worst. Luckily flexible fabrics that stretch as you move are becoming more popular every year. One of the main reasons that polyester and spandex are added to blended fabrics are for a little added stretch. The two main classifications of stretchy fabric are 2-way stretch and 4-way stretch fabrics. 4-way stretch fabric is the best type for fitness apparel because it can extend in both directions and return to its original shape without permanently stretching out. Jersey knit fabrics get their stretchiness due to the simple fact that they're knitted rather than woven.

Stretchy Fabric for Athletic Apparel

What are the most flexible fabrics?

Water Resistant Fabric

Water resistance means that a fabric is resistant to water molecules penetrating its surface, therefore the fabric doesn't get wet. Water resistant (hydrophobic) fabrics can either be inherently water resistant or can be treated to become water repellant. Fabrics like nylon and micro sueded polyester can be woven tightly enough so that water has a difficult time penetrating it. Fabrics can also be treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. The DWR coating is typically fluoropolymer based. DWR treatments can wear off over time and should be reapplied for your garment to retain it's water resistance.

Water Resistant Fabric for Rain Jackets

What are the most water resistant fabrics?

Wrinkle Resistant Fabric

There are a few factors that can increase a fabric's resistance to wrinkling, namely the weave, weight, and and composition of the fabric. Denser and more complex weaves, like the weaves seen in thicker dress shirts, tend to be more wrinkle-resistant than simpler and more lightweight weaves. Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and spandex are extremely wrinkle-resistant, while natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and hemp wrinkle easily. One natural fabric that does stay wrinkle free is wool, especially merino wool.

Wrinkle Resistant Fabric

What are the most wrinkle-resistant fabrics?

Flame Resistant Fabric

Wool is widely considered the most flame resistant natural fabric. Tightly woven cotton like cotton duck and cotton twill is also effective as flame resistant fabric. There are some fabrics that are technically flame resistant, as in they won't burn, but are still not safe to wear around heat sources because they will melt. These include synthetic fabrics like acrylic, polyester, and nylon. Extensive research should always be done before ordering FRC. Check out our safety apparel guide for more information.

Custom Flame Resistant Apparel

What are the most fire-resistant fabrics?

  • Wool
  • Cotton Duck

High Visibility Fabric

The term hi-vis really applies more to colors than fabric types. Hi-vis fabrics are typically fluorescent yellow, green, or orange. On the other hand, fabrics CAN have reflective qualities. Sometimes thin layers of metals like aluminized mylar are even added to increase the reflectivity of the material.

High Visibility Fabric

What are the best hi-vis fabrics?

How to Decorate Different Fabric Types

Ever since humans started weaving fabrics into clothing they've been looking for ways to make their garments unique. There's no better way to differentiate your apparel from the rest than by adding your corporate logo or custom design. Luckily, that's what we're all about here at Merchology. Our in-house team of fabric decoration experts can add your logo to a wide range of fabrics using over 10 customization techniques. Let's take a look at which popular decoration methods work best for each fabric type.

Screen Printing

Silk screen printing is one of the oldest decoration methods around. Screen printing is performed by applying ink to fabric through a mesh screen. Everyone in the screen printing industry will tell you that silkscreen printing works the best on cotton fabric by far. You can screen print on polyester, but it does require special inks and additives.

Silk Screen Printing is a suitable decoration method for...

Screen Printing is Commonly Used to Decorate...

Embroidery

Embroidered designs are made by applying layers of thread to fabric with an embroidery machine. Custom embroidery can be performed on just about any fabric that a needle can pass through. One thing to remember with embroidery is that it does put tiny holes in the fabric, so it can compromise the water resistance of waterproof clothing.

Embroidery is a suitable decoration method for...

Embroidery is Commonly Used to Decorate...

Heat Transfer

Also known as thermal printing, heat transfer takes a pre-printed image and applies it to your fabric. As the name suggests, your image is applied through heat in the heat transfer printing process. That means heat transfer is not suitable for flammable fabrics, like silk, and synthetic fabrics that can melt like polyester and spandex. Heat transfer can be performed on polyester, but should be done on a lower heat setting.

Heat Transfer is a suitable decoration method for...

Heat Transfer Printing is Commonly Used to Decorate...

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a newer decoration method that is used to achieve a higher level of detail and a larger variety of colors than screen printing. It's also easier to set up and cheaper for smaller order sizes. The downside? DTG printing can ONLY be done on 100% cotton materials.

Digital Printing is a suitable decoration method for...

Digital Printing is Commonly Used to Decorate...

    Dye Sublimation

    Dye sublimation is a form of heat transfer in which dye-sub graphics are digitally printed and then heated to transfer your image to your product on a molecular level. A good way to remember what fabric are okay for dye sublimation? Think man-made fabric only. Remember, dye sublimation inks do not work on cotton!

    Dye Sublimation is a suitable decoration method for...

    Dye Sublimation is Commonly Used to Decorate...

    Debossing

    Debossing is essentially an advanced form of heated stamping. Debossing is achieved by laser engraving a metal plate with your logo or design, heating it up, and pressing it into the surface of your product. A debossed logo or design has nice dimensional depth and will never flake off or fade away, making it the most durable decoration method.

    Custom Debossed Logo on a Notebook

    Debossing is a suitable decoration method for...

    Debossing is Commonly Used to Decorate...

    Next Steps

    Congratulations, you've made it through the most long-winded fabric guide on the internet! Now that you've touched on all of the popular fabric types used in clothing, read up on fabric features, and learned about the decoration methods best suited for each fabric type it's time to start shopping! Be sure to check out our other apparel and gift buying guides for more information that you can use to impress your friends.

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