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Blog / Beginner's handbook / The Top 5 Softest T-Shirts for Your Perfect Tee

Beginner's handbook

The Top 5 Softest T-Shirts for Your Perfect Custom Tee

The Top 5 Softest T-Shirts for Your Perfect Custom Tee
Dace Gribuste

By Dace Gribuste

11 min read

In your quest for the ideal tee, it’s only a matter of time before you start wondering about the best soft t-shirt options available. While style and color may grab your attention at first, it’s the unmatched comfort and extraordinary softness that elevate a shirt to a cherished wardrobe staple.

But for those who value luxurious comfort, there’s a challenge: which brand, style, or material blend makes for the coziest t-shirt? And how can you tell which online shop t-shirt is the softest without even being able to feel it for yourself?

Don’t worry—we’ve got the answers. In this post, we’ll explore the world of short sleeve comfort and make finding the most comfortable shirts completely effortless, whether you want to sell or wear them. 

With expertise and attention to detail, we’ve curated a collection of the top 5 super soft t-shirts that define comfort. Get ready to discover your new favorite soft shirts!

What’s t-shirt softness?

Think about your favorite tee. What do you look for in it? Most likely, you seek a t-shirt that moves with your body, fits well, and feels gentle against your skin. In other words, you want a soft shirt. But have you ever wondered what t-shirt softness actually is?

The Textile Institute defines fabric handle (softness) as the subjective assessment we make based on touch. How soft t-shirts feel will depend on the person, but researchers have been working on ways to measure and describe it. In prominent research, softness is defined as the opposite of stiffness or firmness, determined through tests involving bending length or thickness.

There are also two recognized systems for evaluating softness. The first system considers softness to be a combination of smoothness, suppleness, and a soft feeling (‘NUMERI’). In the second (‘FUKURAMI’), softness relates to a sense of volume, richness, and well-defined impressions.

So, when we talk about the softness of a shirt, we’re referring to how it feels against the skin and the tactile experience, which depends on the chosen material.

The softest t-shirt materials

When it comes to the best t-shirts, the softer, the better. No one wants itchy or rough clothes rubbing against their skin. While you’re likely familiar with common t-shirt fabrics like cotton or polyester, there’s more to their story. Each material possesses unique details and variants that play a vital role in understanding the final garment.

What type of shirts are the softest?

Here are the top fabric options that stand out for their super soft feel:

  1. 100% cotton
    Pure cotton is derived from natural cellulose fibers found in cotton plants. These fibers are spun into yarn and woven into a material for your favorite t-shirt.

  1. Tri-blend
    Tri-blend shirts combine three materials—cotton, polyester, and rayon—in a balanced ratio of 50%, 25%, and 25%, respectively.

The choice between them may come down to aesthetics for some, depending on what t-shirt design ideas you prefer. But let’s explore the special qualities of each material to make sure you find the softest option.

100% cotton

Cotton remains the ultimate choice for super soft t-shirts. We love these shirts because they feel gentle on the skin, use natural fibers, breathe well, and don’t break the bank. But when your tee is made from 100% cotton, what does that actually mean? Here are the most common kinds of cotton you’re likely to come across:

  • Regular: Basic cotton, often found in everyday clothes.

  • Pre-shrunk: Cotton fabric that’s treated to prevent excessive shrinking.

  • Combed: Cotton fibers that are combed to remove dirt and debris.

  • Ring-spun: Cotton fibers, twisted and spun for a smooth, soft texture.

  • Organic: Cotton that’s grown naturally without synthetic chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides.

Characteristics of a cotton t-shirt

  • Naturally soft: The innate fluffiness and softness of cotton originate from nature itself, although technology and specialized techniques can further boost its softness.

  • Light and breathable: Cotton fibers have a hollow structure, allowing air to flow through them effortlessly. This is why, when you wear traditional cotton tees, your skin can breathe.

  • Moisture-absorbing: Cotton tees can soak up moisture naturally and won’t make you sweat like moisture-wicking synthetic garments do.

  • Hypoallergenic: Compared to other types of fabrics, cotton t-shirts are less likely to trigger allergic reactions when you wear them.

  • Durable: Cotton is strong and tough, so you can trust that your t-shirt will last a long time.

Why are some 100% cotton t-shirts softer than others?

Not all 100% cotton shirts are made alike, even if their composition looks the same on the tag. The exact type, thread count, weave, and weight of the material all play a massive role in the feel of the final garment. Another important factor is, of course, the quality of the manufacturing.

Here’s what you can keep in mind when choosing your perfect tee.

  1. Type: Different types of cotton, such as Supima, Egyptian, or Pima cotton, have longer fibers, making them softer and more durable.

  2. Thread count: A higher thread count indicates that more threads are woven into each square inch of the garment, so t-shirts with a higher thread count will be softer and smoother.

  3. Weave: The way the cotton fibers are woven together can affect the texture of the shirt. For example, jersey garments tend to be softer than twill weave items like denim.

  4. Weight: Lighter-weight garments generally feel softer and more breathable compared to heavyweight options.

  5. Quality: The quality of manufacturing processes, including spinning, weaving, and finishing, can impact the overall softness and feel of the garment.

Tri-blend

You might be familiar with the term “tri-blend shirt,” or maybe it’s new to you. Either way, if you want the coziest t-shirts, it’s worth exploring garments made from this blended fabric because it’s a game-changer in the t-shirt industry.

The mix of cotton, polyester, and rayon makes for an incredibly soft fabric that feels smooth on the skin and works well for the dyeing process. These t-shirts offer a premium blend of comfort, durability, and breathability, establishing themselves as a prime choice among the best tees for printing.

Rayon is the least common material in this mix. Originally developed as a silk substitute, rayon offers a more silky feel and texture. It’s made of cellulose fibers and absorbs moisture well.

Tri-blends are actually relatively new in the world of t-shirt trends. The fabric emerged in the mid-2000s and gained popularity among those who appreciate soft and lightweight t-shirts.

Characteristics of a tri-blend t-shirt

  • Wrinkle-resistant. These t-shirts don’t wrinkle easily and keep their shape well.

  • Moisture-absorbing. They combine the moisture-absorbing properties of rayon with the strength and durability of cotton and polyester.

  • Lightweight and airy. Blended shirts are ideal for those seeking a light and breezy feel.

  • Naturally heathered. This shirt material already comes with a heathered, vintage look. It can depend on the printing technique, design, and colors used.

  • Semi-flowy. While not as flowy as silk or viscose, tri-blends offer superior drape and movement compared to cotton or polyester due to the rayon component.

  • Comfortable and stretchy. The combination of rayon and polyester imparts a gentle stretch and enhanced softness.

Learn more: Unveiling the Mystery: What is a Tri-Blend T-Shirt

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Top 5 softest t-shirts

Now comes the big question: which custom t-shirts are actually the softest? With so many fantastic alternatives, it might be tough to pick the best quality t-shirts for printing. If you’re getting a gift or starting your own shop, you can’t just go through every t-shirt from every brand.

To help you, the team at Printful examined more than a dozen of our top short sleeve shirts to measure their softness. We tested the fabric to evaluate its finish and feel, ranking it on a scale from extra rough to extra soft.

Here are our top 5 picks for the absolute softest t-shirt:

Unisex Garment-Dyed Heavyweight T-Shirt | Comfort Colors 1717

Introducing the ultimate champion: a t-shirt from the brand Comfort Colors, made from 100% ring-spun cotton. This special material makes for incredibly soft and comfortable shirts, ideal for t-shirt printing.

softest t-shirt made from 100% ring-spun cotton

Source: Printful

We rate this custom t-shirt as extra soft on the softness scale. Our customers have also noticed and appreciated its softness.

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Printful reviews

This t-shirt is right for those who like a relaxed fit that lets them move freely. It’s also tough and won’t wear out easily.

The fabric weight is 6 oz./yd.2 (206.8 g/m2), which puts it in the heavyweight category. With its thick but breathable material, this shirt has a structured look that brings a street-style edge into everyday wear.

To top it all off, this t-shirt comes in 15 stunning colors, giving you plenty of options for customization with embroidery or direct-to-garment printing.

Below, you can get a glimpse of how one of our coziest t-shirts comes to life with DTG technology. Notice how vibrant the colors appear on the 100% cotton fabric, whether it’s a light or dark shade. It’s characteristic of this fabric to showcase boldness in both color options, so use this model to get your perfect white t-shirt.

Men’s Premium Cotton T-Shirt

This premium t-shirt is a worthy contender for second place. It’s an original Printful product, crafted in-house for top-notch quality. Sourced from Latvia, the shirt comes in the most timeless colors: black and white. 

printful premium cotton t-shirt

Source: Printful

The cotton used in this t-shirt features extra-long staple fibers, making it durable, ultra-soft, and one of the best tees for printing. Our softness scale rates it as very soft, and our customers agree.

“The fabric is so nice. It’s that soft, stretchy fabric but still super durable and hefty.”

premium cotton t-shirt review

Source: Printful reviews

premium cotton t-shirt review

Source: Printful reviews

With a flattering form-fitting shape, this t-shirt offers both comfort and a sleek appearance without any constricting feel. The fabric is designed to be elastic and stretchy, allowing for effortless movement.

This t-shirt also excels at retaining its vibrant colors, outperforming regular cotton even after many washes. This means you can confidently express your creativity through embroidery or DTG printing without compromising on quality. 

Unisex Staple T-Shirt | Bella + Canvas 3001

Prepare to be smitten with our Unisex Staple T-shirt from the brand Bella + Canvas, which is an absolute favorite among our customers! This t-shirt provides a gentle and lightweight feel with the perfect amount of stretch to offer comfort and a flattering fit.

red cotton t-shirt

Source: Printful

But that’s not all—the customization options are a real game-changer. You can choose from a whopping 51 colors and a wide range of sizes, from XS to 5XL. With a tear-away tag, you can easily add your custom inside label. And with a standard length and regular fit, this soft and versatile everyday tee is suitable for both men and women.

What’s more, you can feel good about your choice, as this brand manufactures shirts in a 100% lawful, ethical, and safe manner, ensuring the well-being of workers and the planet.

bella canvas product origins

Source: Printful

Pay attention to this important detail, though: the t-shirt fabric composition varies across different colors, featuring a combination of Airlume combed cotton, combed and ring-spun cotton, and polyester in different ratios.

Unisex Tri-Blend T-Shirt | Bella + Canvas 3413

Another Bella + Canvas entry—the brand’s tees really stand out among our best t-shirts. This versatile unisex tee is made of a special fabric blend. Crafted from 50% polyester, 25% combed ring-spun cotton, and 25% rayon, our Unisex Tri-Blend T-shirt is one of the most comfortable, stretchy, and soft shirts available. And our customers agree!

t-shirt review

Source: Printful reviews

When you choose to print on this fabric, it adds a distinctive vintage touch to your design. Check out some customer reviews to see how the tri-blend look can bring a special finish to your tee, making it look like a true retro find.

Unisex Organic Cotton T-Shirt | Stanley/Stella STTU755

This top-notch t-shirt is crafted from 100% organic ring-spun cotton, making it an excellent choice for environmentally-conscious shoppers. Organic cotton not only contributes to the softness of the shirt but also enhances its overall wear comfort. 

model wearing organic cotton t-shirt

Source: Printful

Our customers rave about the soft feel of the organic cotton, the sharpness of the prints, and the exceptional quality of the embroidery.

When it comes to design options for the Unisex Organic Cotton T-shirt, you have the flexibility to bring them to life through either DTG printing or embroidery. Pick from 12 captivating colors in sizes ranging from S to 2XL.

The material used for this product has been certified by prestigious standards, including GRS (Global Recycled Standard), OCS (Organic Content Standard), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and OEKO-TEX Standard 100. Additionally, it holds a PETA-approved vegan certification. 

To learn more about these eco-friendly product certifications, take a look at our FAQ article!

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Comparing all the t-shirts

So, who takes the crown among the best t-shirts for printing? It’s simple: the shirt that works best for you or your shop.

Cotton is the classic choice for the softest tees. It’s not irritating and allows for vibrant prints on any color shirt. If you’re starting a print-on-demand t-shirt line, choose combed or ring-spun cotton for guaranteed satisfaction.

If you’ve envisioned a t-shirt that has both elasticity and softness, look no further than tri-blend tees. You can take this choice in any direction—create a casual vibe with neutral colors and an athletic fit, or craft a vintage charm with more form-fitting options and retro designs.

So, whichever option you choose, you’ll find the best t-shirts for yourself or your shop in Printful’s product catalog!

Let us know what you picked in the comments.

Frequently asked questions

What is soft t-shirt fabric called?

Soft tees are usually made from cotton and tri-blend varieties, such as combed cotton. Tri-blend t-shirts, which combine cotton, polyester, and rayon, can also be soft due to the inclusion of rayon, known for its silk-like feel, enhancing the overall softness of the garment.

What are the benefits of choosing organic cotton shirts?

Organically grown cotton is created without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. As a result, it tends to be softer and gentler on the skin. If a garment is labeled as organic, you can also check for certification that proves an ethical and responsible supply chain.

Are there any eco-friendly options for soft t-shirts?

If you want your t-shirt choice to be environmentally conscious, look for organic certifications or recycled material blends when choosing your shirt model.

author

By Dace Gribuste on May 7, 2024

Dace Gribuste

Guest author

Dace is a freelance writer at Printful, with a background in content marketing and social media management. During her spare time, she indulges in reading and seizes every opportunity to backpack across Europe.

Dace is a freelance writer at Printful, with a background in content marketing and social media management. During her spare time, she indulges in reading and seizes every opportunity to backpack across Europe.