A new day, a new blog post! Here as promised, is an insight into the materials used in shirts. Hopefully this will educate you so when you next go to buy your shirt from the high-street mass chain, you won’t be walking out with some overpriced tea-towel, and instead with a well-made shirt.
When you’re going to get a shirt, make sure it’s made of 100% natural fibres! None of this polyester rubbish, the only reason polyester is included in shirts is to reduce the price significantly, as plastic is cheaper than buying high quality natural fabrics. They may tell you it’s to increase the ‘stretchiness’ of the shirt… Why do you need your shirt to be flexible? If it’s tight enough to stretch… you’ve bought the wrong side!
Anyway, back to the material, so the vast majority of shirts by far, are made with Cotton, Sea Island Cotton and Egyptian cotton are considered the best raw cotton material to use as they have the longest fibres, this make them significantly better when making them into yarns.
Right so you know the fabric to get, I’ll cover more detail on Egyptian cotton itself in a later blog as there’s way too much detail to go into in one post!
No, I don’t mean toilet paper or tissues! Once the cotton has been spun into yarn it is regularly used straight away, in that case the fabric cloth would be classed as ‘single-ply’. In order to prevent pilling, and increase the quality of a shirt, two yarns are spun together to form a single one. Subsequently, a lot of these yarn are woven in 2 directions, one horizontally and one vertically. Tailors tend to use the phrase warp and weft, and this is where it begins to get a little confusing so try to keep up!
If the weft yarn is at 90° to the warp, it is known as ‘on the grain’. If there is one warp yarn and one weft yarn, the weave is balanced. If the ratios are different from 1/1 the fabric is unbalance, the most well know unbalanced fabric is probably a Broadcloth which has 144 warp yarns by 76 weft yarns, that’s almost a ratio of 2/1.
Ok so how to make a 2-ply, if you use a double-spun yarn for both the warp and the weft, you’ve successfully got yourself a 2-ply fabric! A 2x2, because the two double spun yarns have been used in both directions!
Iron Free Shirts
It’s all lies. The best thing to do when you go into a shop and begin looking at a rack of no-iron/iron free shirts, trying to choose which one to buy, is to go home and sit in front of a mirror and contemplate your life’s decisions.
For a start, if you have accidentally bought yourself a no-iron shirt, you’ve got home and you’ve lost the receipt on the way home and can’t return it, just try ironing it. It won’t work. They aren’t iron-free, however they are apparently easier to iron than a normal shirt, but this comes at a price.
So iron-free cotton has been treated with chemicals, these chemicals cause some serious damage to the shirt and let’s put it this way, you won’t be wearing it for long. Call it 20 times through the laundry and you’ll easily be able to rip the shirt. This damage causes an itchy texture that looks more shiny.
At the end of the day, an ‘iron-free’ shirt is just about the lowest quality shirt you can get!
A quality shirt will be made of cotton that has previously been washed, basically this is to shrink the fabric, you may still experience a small amount of shrinkage when you wash your shirt but this is to lower the percentage significantly. I suppose another issue could be the stitching on the shirt becoming loose as it wouldn’t shrink to the same extent as the cotton.
And there you have it, some more information to store when well… walking round stores!
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