This post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
“Why can’t I wear white after Labor Day?”
That commercial always makes me laugh. I’m not sure why because I’m really not that fashion savvy. I do, however, love screen printing on white t-shirts year round. Did you see my Memorial Day weekend post?
One reason I love screen printing on white is because I can use so many different ink colors. With dark shirts, you are limited to lighter ink, but with white shirts the options are endless.
While the color options increase, there is a different issue you need to keep in mind when screen printing white shirts – especially if you are making them for customers.
When you are screen printing on white shirts, picking the best quality for your project is key. Some white shirts are very thin and almost completely see-through. This could cause some customers, especially women, to not buy your shirt.
How do you know which white t-shirt is best for your screen printing project?
Let’s take a quick look at the scientific stuff. I promise this will be brief and I won’t talk about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but having a basic understanding of this can help you pick the right shirt in the future.
Have you ever noticed “4.5 oz.” in a t-shirt description and wondered what that means? That number tells you weight. Not the weight of the whole shirt, but the weight of one square yard of the fabric used to make the shirt.
Shirts with a higher number are thicker, more durable, and warmer. Shirts with a lower number are softer and cooler.
The weight helps you figure out the durability and comfort of a t-shirt. It can also tell you a little bit about the possible transparency of that white t-shirt. The lower the weight, the more likely a white shirt could be transparent.
To make this more concrete for you, I recently did a little experiment with some of my favorite shirt brands.
For this project, I used these unisex shirts:
4-5 oz. shirts (soft style)
- 64000 Gildan Softstyle T-Shirt
- PC330 Port & Company Tri-Blend Tee
- NL6010 Next Level Tri-Blend Tee
- AL2004 Allmade Tri-Blend Tee
- DM130 District Perfect Tri Tee
- 5000 Gildan T-Shirt
- AL2100 Allmade Organic Cotton Tee
- BC3001 Bella+Canvas Jersey Tee
6.1 oz. shirts (heavy cotton)
- 5180 Hanes Beefy-T
- PC61 Port & Company Essential Tee
- 2000 Gildan Ultra Cotton T-Shirt
- 1717 Comfort Colors Heavyweight Ring Spun Tee
100% polyester (sublimation blanks)
I put each of these shirts on a mannequin with a black bra to do a little testing.
Here is what I discovered:
4-5 oz. White T-shirt Blanks (soft style)
In this category, I compared 8 brands/styles:
Pictured: 1: 64000 Gildan Softstyle T-Shirt | 2: PC330 Port & Company Tri-Blend Tee | 3: NL6010 Next Level Unisex Tri-Blend Tee | 4: AL2004 Allmade Unisex Tri-Blend Tee | 5: DM130 District Perfect Tri Tee | 6: 5000 Gildan T-Shirt | 7: AL2100 Allmade Organic Cotton Tee | 8: BC3001 Bella+Canvas Jersey Tee
As you can see in the photos, most of these shirts look pretty thin. The 5000 Gildan T-Shirt (#6 in the photo), is probably the least see-through – rightfully so. This shirt is a 5.3 oz stacked up against the 4.2-4.5 oz shirts.
There are some pretty comfy and soft fit tees in this group. My favorites would be the Bella+Canvas Jersey Tee and Allmade Unisex Tri-Blend Tee. These are a great choice for layering (when you can hide your bra lines) or for a lightweight option for tie-dye.
6.1 oz. White T-shirt Blanks (heavy cotton)
This next set of 4 white shirts all weigh in at 6.1 oz. This heavier weight makes a big difference in the transparency of the shirt. While none of them disguise the black bra completely, they do make it less obvious.
I really like all of these shirts about the same. Deciding which one of these to use might come down to price point and profit margin for your specific project. The Port & Company Essential Tee and 2000 Gildan Ultra Cotton T-Shirt are typically around $3.50/shirt. This is a good price point, especially if you are doing a large order.
The 1717 Comfort Colors is a premium blank at just over $7/shirt. It is one of my favorite blanks and I have used these for my family projects on several occasions. I like that these come in youth sizes, which are perfect when you are trying to match tees in a range of sizes. These are great shirts. You just want to be sure to calculate your final product price accordingly.
100% Polyester Sublimation Blank White T-shirts
While I love working with sublimation, one of the limiting factors is that it works best on high count polyester shirts. Personally, I don’t love wearing the typical polyester dri-fit style shirts. I like more of the traditional feel t-shirt – which is why I love these 2 blanks:
These 2 polyester shirts are my go-to blanks for sublimation because they feel like a cotton shirt. In fact, I would say they are just a bit softer than my favorite Bella + Canvas tees.
These both perform really well with sublimation because they are 100% polyester. You’ll get brighter colors and better washability compared to cotton/poly blends. You can’t go wrong with either of these shirts for your next sublimation project. The only downside is that these were the most transparent shirts I tested.
After reading all of this, you might still be wondering how to pick the best type of white t-shirt for your screen printing project.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer.
There is no right or wrong shirt. It all comes down to what project you are doing, what feel you prefer in your shirts, and your budget.
If your top priority is a soft shirt and you’re willing to have it be a little transparent, the 64000 Gildan Softstyle T-Shirt and BC3001 Bella+Canvas Unisex Jersey Tee are my top picks for the softest feeling shirts.
If you are looking for a shirt that is a little more heavy duty and less see-through, the 6.1 oz weight Hanes Beefy-T, Port & Company Essential Tee, Gildan Ultra Cotton T-Shirt or Comfort Colors Heavyweight Ring Spun Tee styles are for you.
Keep in mind this article was about helping you pick the best white t-shirts for your unique project. All 14 of these high quality, blank white t-shirts are great for screen printing but don’t forget that each brand and style mentioned also comes in a variety of colors which are less likely to have an issue with transparency and are great for screen printing too.
Sorry I couldn’t give you just one top pick today but I will leave you with this. I love a soft fit shirt in the 4oz range. These are my favorite shirts to wear so they are the ones I screen print on the most. But when it comes to white, I go for the heavier 6.1 oz shirts.
Hope that helps.
I would love to hear what you think. Drop me a line in the comments.