The Right Canvas
One of the biggest factors to consider when picking a garment to print on is the fabric blend. The blend makes a huge difference in how the shirt responds to ink, as well as the feel and durability of the garment. Fabric blends can also limit our ability to use certain inks or techniques.
100% cotton garments are our favorites to deal with. They are the most consistent and give us the best print outcomes. Ink on a cotton shirt will not migrate and the dyes of the shirt are much less likely to affect the print.
50% cotton/50% polyester blends are also very common. 50/50's cause at lot of trouble during printing because polyester is a troublemaker. The first issue polyester causes is burning. Poly burns much faster than cotton, so we have to spend considerable time dialing in our flash and dryer settings to properly cure the ink without burning the garment. The biggest problem it causes however, is migration. Check out Dye Migration for a detailed explanation, but just know the main culprit is polyester and it can cause issues with an otherwise great print.
Tri-blends are usually 50% Polyester / 25% Cotton / 25% Rayon. This blend makes for very soft and comfortable shirts, but the reduced cotton makes the prints even less predictable. Tri-blends can still suffer from migration and burning issues, but they do have some other uses. Tri-blends are usually used for vintage or faded designs and they are perfect for this. The texture and the blend gives it a great vintage feel, especially when used with thin waterbase or distressed designs.
There are many other fabric blends available. There are viscose tees, modal, spandex, and countless combinations. The more soft and stretchy fabrics like spandex cause us issues because they have trouble sticking to our pallets which can cause damages with multi-color prints. These blanks can also have unpredictable migration issues. The biggest issue is that we don't know as much about new and unusual fabrics. We have enough experience with tri-blends that we know how to deal with all of their issues, but the less we have worked with a blend, the less we know about what issues to expect and how to deal with them.