The quest for the perfect t-shirt fabric

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As summer approaches, I knew I needed a new batch of t-shirts.  I’m forever on the quest to find the perfect fabric for those slouchy tees I love so much.  I grabbed six different knit substrates from the site and got to work!

I debated on which pattern to use for this comparison and settled on the Love Notions Classic Tee.  It is full of options, comes in sizes XS-XXXL, and is an affordable $5.  I also really love the Hey June Union St. Tee or the free (with code from their FB group) Greenstyle Green Tee for a similar fitting top.

For these tees, I sewed up a size small for all of them.  I used the crewneck and v-necklines and used the short sleeves for all but the bamboo version in which I used the elbow sleeves.

I use my twin needle for hemming and find that Soft ‘n Stretch hem tape adds just enough stability to make stitching them up so easy!  It softens when washed leaving you with crisp, professional looking hems.  These pics are all taken pre-wash so you might notice a bit of stiffness still.

Athletic Single Brushed Poly

This stuff is so soft and dreamy.  It’s a bit more structured than some of the other fabrics but still has a fairly nice drape.  It glides over my body easily and doesn’t cling.  It’s classified as midweight on the site which makes it a great weight for anything from tees to leggings.

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I styled it for the gym but could easily see me wearing it with jeans for an everyday look.  The polyester content makes me hesitant to wear it on those sweltering hot days but it is perfect for these pleasant spring days we’re having.

Organic Cotton/Bamboo

I was so excited to try this fabric out.  Audrey used it for her darling baby capsule so I knew if it was soft enough for her little one that I would definitely approve too!  I love the cream and grey stripes- it feels very neutral and pairs great with everything.  It’s classified as lightweight but has more stability than the rayon spandex, modal, and slubbed jersey.  The only downfall for me is that the recovery isn’t the greatest since it is lacking spandex.  While wearing it I felt like it ‘grew’ throughout the day, totally fine for this slouchy tee but something to keep in mind.

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I love this tee styled so many ways.  It looks great with colored jeans and I wore it under overalls for another comfy look.  The elbow sleeves are perfect for rolling.  This fabric is super breathable and will be great as the weather warms up.  I look forward to wearing this all summer long!

Micro Rib Knit

This was definitely the thickest feeling of the bunch.  It’s a poly/cotton blend with structure and stability.  It’s incredibly soft but feels a little too heavyweight for this relaxed fitting pattern.  It would work fantastic for a slim fit tank or tee.  The soft mint color is so pretty and is perfect for spring.

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I think this tee will be great for our lazy summer days.  It has a sporty feel to it.  It’s taking all my will power not to add a little vinyl to the front of it.  My closet is seriously lacking solid tees so I’ll try to hold out!

Tie Dye Rayon Jersey

This exact fabric is out of stock but I linked to a similar fabric in a different colorway.

I admit I used to be very anti-rayon spandex.  It’s so soft and drapey and can highlight all those things you’d rather not be showing off.  I think I might just change my tune.  This print is great at camouflaging all those bumps and lumps and this fabric is absolutely divine against the skin.  It’s lightweight and so stretchy and flows over my body.  I love this tie-dye print.  It feels part music festival and part classic mom-wear.

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I honestly want to live in this tee all summer long.  I think the print will be great at hiding the fact that I’m a sweaty mess at those long hot soccer games in the sun.  I will definitely grab more rayon spandex for tees in the future.

Slubbed Rayon Lycra Jersey

I was hesitant to order this fabric but it quickly became one of my favorites.  The print is classic and the blues are so pretty!  It’s lightweight but a bit more structured than the rayon spandex.   It’s not as stretchy as the other fabrics so it holds it’s shape nicely.  It’s a tad sheer but not enough to warrant wearing another layer under it.

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This print just screamed to be worn with white jeans.  I’m dreaming of wandering the shores of Greece but until then I’ll just dress the part.  I like that this can feel dressier and I can see myself wearing this out for date nights and girls nights out.

Modal Jersey

This modal stripe is easily my favorite fabric ever.  I have it in ALL the colorways.  I’m such a sucker for stripes and add in the fact that it’s quite possibly the softest fabric on the planet and I’m head over heels!  It’s very similar to the rayon-spandex as far as drape, weight, and stretch but it holds up so well in the wash.  I have a tee in this fabric from last summer that has been worn and washed a ton and it still looks brand new.  My one caveat with this fabric is that it does wrinkle very easily.  I ironed and steamed these tees to death as I sewed them up and immediately hung them up while waiting to do pictures.  This is the only one that got wrinkles while hanging.  I always make sure to pull my modal tees right out of the dryer and hang them up right away to help alleviate the wrinkles as much as possible.  They do tend to fall out as you wear it throughout the day or I spray a little Wrinkle Releaser to speed the process up.

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This was the tee that I reached for and wore first.  It just works so well with the silhouette of the pattern.  It’s relaxed and easy to wear.  I paired it with some rayon challis harem pants for a look that’s pulled together but feels like secret pajamas.

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So is my quest over? Did I find THE perfect fabric blend?  Well, I’d say I found that there’s really not ONE fabric that’s right for every person, occasion, or pattern.  I think this pattern works best sewn up in a lightweight fabric with plenty of drape making most of these fabrics great candidates.  I highly suggest giving modal a try if it’s new to you.  If you’re a looking for lots of drape and stretch then rayon spandex would be great.  A little more structure? Brushed polyester or the slubbed rayon lycra would be ideal.  I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these options and I hope you have fun shopping away!

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5 thoughts on “The quest for the perfect t-shirt fabric”

  1. You did such a great job making your shirts. They look store bought. I like the way you matched the stripes. You also styled each t-shirt so well. I may have to try using my twin needle. I love the results. Thank you for sharing.

  2. How sheer was the modal jersey stripe? Do you think it would be too heavy for south Texas summers?

    1. The modal stripe feels like the lightest weight of the fabrics I sewed up and I think it’d be a great choice for you. It’s a tad sheer but not bad when against the body. I reached for my modal stripe tee last year on our hottest days- it was perfect!

  3. Thanks for this thorough comparison! Now I wish I would have saved some of that bamboo fabric for a tee for me…good thing I have some of that modal stripe fabric too!!

  4. Great idea, even greater execution! Every one is beautiful and unique.. Looking for soft n stretch hem tape, but cant find by that exact name. Help?!?

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