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Beginner's handbook

Side-Seamed vs. Tubular T-Shirts: What’s the Difference?

Side-Seamed vs. Tubular T-Shirts: What’s the Difference?
Lilija Karpjaka

By Lilija Karpjaka

7 min read

Embark on a “tale of two tees” in your print-on-demand journey. As a forward-thinking business owner, you’re not just selling t-shirts but curating experiences. And in this story, the protagonists are side-seamed and tubular t-shirts. This choice is more than just a fashion fork in the road; it’s a defining factor in how your brand is perceived and how your shirts drape your customers’ shoulders.

This article delves into the fundamental differences between side-seamed vs. tubular t-shirts. While these variations might seem minor initially, they hold substantial sway over your product’s look and feel.

Tubular t-shirts are known for their traditional, straightforward construction and are often praised for their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. On the other hand, side-seamed t-shirts offer a more tailored fit, aligning closely with contemporary fashion trends.

Understanding these will help to align your products with your brand ethos and customer preferences. Whether you’re aiming for a premium feel or prioritizing affordability, the choice between side-seamed and tubular t-shirts is important. Stay tuned as we explore each style in detail, which will help you make an informed decision for your print-on-demand business.

Side-seamed t-shirts

Best t-shirts for printing

Source: Printful

Side-seamed t-shirts, as the name subtly hints, feature seams running along both sides of the shirt. It’s a detail commonly seen in retail environments and a staple in many wardrobes.

Boasting a variety of styles to suit every taste—from tailored and trendy to loose, boxy, or even athletic cuts, side-seamed t-shirts offer a more defined and structured look compared to their tubular counterparts.

Side-seamed t-shirts are made to fit the body better. They’re often a favored choice, especially for women who often look for shirts that hug the body just right, giving it a flattering contour. This design accentuates the body’s natural lines and provides a sleek look, making it a more suitable choice for different fashion styles.

The intricate process of fabricating side seam tapes nags the price tag upwards. However, in the wholesale apparel industry, weighing the scales of customer preference against cost is essential. The verdict? Shoppers are often on the hunt for trendy, high-quality t-shirts that mirror what they’d typically find in retail settings. They’re willing to invest more for that balanced blend of style and fit that side-seamed t-shirts so effortlessly provide.

In essence, side-seamed t-shirts represent the intersection where fashion meets functionality. They’re a testament to the idea that sometimes, paying a little extra can lead to a lot more satisfaction in terms of style and comfort.

Pros and cons

On the plus side, side-seamed t-shirts are synonymous with quality and fit. They’re the go-to for a refined, fashion-forward look, offering a tailored appearance that appeals to style-conscious customers. These tees are designed to flatter, enhancing the body’s natural lines.

However, every story has its twists. The more intricate construction of side-seamed t-shirts often translates into a higher price point. Additionally, their tailored fit might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those who prefer a more relaxed cut.

Side-seamed t-shirts at Printful

At Printful, nearly all our t-shirts are side-seamed. We work with brands like Bella+Canvas, who use cutting processes like laser-guided automated cutting and hand cutting to create millions of t-shirts with the exact fit. Here’s their video on the difference between tubular and side-fitted shirts.

preview play-button

We offer more side-seamed t-shirts for several reasons.

Tailored fit

Side-seamed t-shirts provide a more tailored, modern fit that aligns with contemporary fashion preferences. They’re designed to contour more naturally to the body, offering a flattering silhouette that appeals to style-conscious consumers.

Quality perception

The construction of side-seamed t-shirts is often associated with higher quality. The attention to detail in the fit and shape of these shirts can elevate the product’s perceived value, which is vital for brands selling premium apparel.

Customization and printing

Side-seamed t-shirts typically offer a smoother surface for printing, especially around the torso. This is crucial for businesses that rely on high-quality print results, as it ensures designs are displayed clearly and effectively.

Diverse market demand

There’s a significant market segment that prefers the fit and style of side-seamed t-shirts. By offering these types of shirts, we cater to a wide range of customers, including those looking for fashionable, well-fitting casual wear or premium branded merchandise.

Tubular t-shirts

Tubular t-shirts are made by taking a tube of fabric, cutting it up, sewing on the sleeves, and neck binding. 

T-shirt logo placement

Source: Printful

Tubular t-shirts are like the unsung heroes of simplicity. Because these tees lack side seams, they offer a uniquely uniform look boasting a more shapeless and relaxed fit. 

Pros and cons

The unstructured nature of tubular tees makes them an ideal choice for those who prioritize ease and freedom of movement in their clothing. Tubular t-shirts are relaxed, which can be particularly comfortable for plus-sized individuals who prefer not to feel restricted by side seams.

The relaxed and unstructured fit of these tees also lends itself well to the laid-back, effortless vibe of streetwear. Their simplicity makes them a versatile canvas for bold graphics, vibrant prints, and statement logos, all staples in street-style fashion.

The generic fit, however, can also be a minus. The boxier shape of these shirts won’t appeal to those preferring a tailored or form-fitting style. Plus, the lack of side seams can lead to less precision in sizing. This one-size approach won’t suit everyone equally, potentially causing fit issues for some wearers.

Sometimes, tubular t-shirts aren’t as durable as side-seamed ones, especially under stress at the sides. The absence of seams can make them more prone to losing shape or stretching out over time. 

Tubular t-shirts at Printful

When you select a t-shirt in our product catalog, you can see the fit in the description. 

Printful product catalog

Right now, we have 2 custom t-shirts that are tubular.  


Bestselling print-on-demand products tubular t-shirt

Unisex Basic Softstyle T-Shirt

Best t-shirts for printing tubular tee

Men’s Classic Tee  

If a relaxed, wide fit is what you’re looking for, these t-shirt models won’t disappoint. The Unisex Basic Softstyle T-Shirt is one of our bestsellers, and both of these shirts have a low price point. 

Making the right choice for your brand

Deciding between side-seamed and tubular t-shirts ultimately hinges on your brand’s identity, target audience, and the specific needs of your market. Both styles have their strengths and limitations, and the best choice depends on how these factors align with your business goals.

Side-seamed t-shirts

If your brand is geared towards a fashion-conscious audience that values fit and style, side-seamed t-shirts are a strong choice. They offer a more tailored, modern silhouette that appeals to consumers seeking quality and trendiness. These are ideal for brands aiming to create a premium feel or those targeting niche markets where style and fit are paramount.

Tubular t-shirts

On the other hand, if your focus is on providing casual, comfortable, and affordable options, tubular t-shirts are an excellent pick. They’re particularly suitable for bulk orders, promotional wear, or for a customer base that prioritizes comfort and ease over a fitted look. Their cost-effectiveness also makes them a wise choice for budget-conscious segments.

Consider your audience

Understanding your audience is key. For a diverse customer base, offering a mix of both styles could be the most effective strategy, allowing customers to choose based on their preferences and needs.

Balance cost and quality

While tubular t-shirts are more affordable, side-seamed t-shirts offer higher perceived value, justifying their higher price point.

In conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The choice between side-seamed and tubular t-shirts should be made with an eye on your brand’s positioning, customer preferences, and the message you want your products to convey. Choose products that match your brand and what your customers want. This will help you meet customer needs and expectations, driving your print-on-demand business toward success.

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By Lilija Karpjaka on Jan. 30, 2024

Lilija Karpjaka

SEO Content Writer

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.