What are the factors determining the quality of a shirt ?
The shirt is on top of the essential clothing list most preferred by men to be worn all-year-round. Shirts are easily combined with other garments such as trousers and jacket, and allow to reach stylishness as well as comfort. Your clothing selection may help you to become more elegant and distinguishable in your social life. The shirt has a very important role in clothing selection. Well then, but do we know which factors to consider when choosing our shirt? Or do we purchase based only on brand name and logo? Of course it is important that a brand gains trust from the consumer through its history. However, it will not be correct to assess the quality of a shirt only based on the image of its brand.
In choosing a shirt, quality, comfort, health and safety are the important topics to consider. Shirt fabric has a vast production chain from the fiber to garment industry, and all phases have a distinct importance. High quality of the finished product can only be assured by achieving the same quality level at all production phases.
Now let’s have a look at what are the factors which add high-quality to a shirt:
- Natural raw materials (cotton, linen, silk)
A the top of the factors determining the quality of a shirt is the raw material used for the yarn composing the shirt fabric. Since cotton is the most commonly used one among the natural raw materials, in this article we will cover cotton exclusively.
With their breathability, 100% cotton fabrics will give you a feeling of comfort. In addition to this, thanks to its hygienic, environmentally friendly, soft and comfortable nature cotton is distinguished as a raw material which first comes to mind when creating a high-quality shirt. Especially in summer times, cotton garments allow evaporation of sweat thanks to their breathability, and also prevent body odor.
Nowadays we frequently see shirts made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon. The primary reason for this is that such fabrics made of synthetic fibers are much cheaper compared to fabrics made of cotton yarn. When you wear a shirt made of such cheap synthetic material, you should be aware that you may not find the level of comfort that you are looking for and that you may face excessive sweating after some time.
It should be noted here as well that, the fact that a shirt is made of 100% cotton does not necessarily mean the shirt will be of good quality. High-quality fabrics are only obtained by weaving thin yarns of which you feel their softness when you touch. In order to produce thin cotton yarn, it is necessary to use the cotton types which have extra-long fibers that create the softest, smoothest fabric. For instance a cotton type called “Giza cotton” which is grown in the humid weather conditions and fertile soils of Nile Valley in Egypt, is prized for its extra-long fibers and is a perfect material for producing very high-quality shirts. Fibers of Giza cotton are longer compared to other cotton species, and this enables production of very thin and durable yarns. Of course, the price of Giza cotton is more than the price of other cotton types.
In its most basic definition, yarn is a long continuous length of often plied strand composed of either natural or man-made fibers or filaments, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, or ropemaking. In other terms, yarn can be described as conversion of cotton into fine thread.
One of the main factors determining the quality of the shirt is the thickness (fineness) and strength of the yarn. The count of a yarn, which is also called as yarn number, is a numerical expression which defines its fineness. English cotton count, which is mostly used in textiles industry, is determined by the number of yarn hanks (each 840 yards long) per pound of yarn, and is notated “Ne”. In this system, the larger the number the finer the yarn and vice versa. As the yarn number increases, the yarn gets thinner. The strength and quality of fabrics made from yarns of higher yarn number increases, along with their cost. Consequently, the statement “100% cotton” on its own does not mean high quality. While the price of a 100% cotton fabric made of yarn of number Ne 30 – Ne 50 is in the order of 1 – 3 Euro, the price of 100% cotton fabric made of yarn of number Ne 120 – Ne 140 reaches 10 – 15 Euro.
Another factor to consider about the yarn is whether it is a single or twisted yarn. A twisted yarn is the result of twisting two yarns together. A two-fold twisted yarn has more tensile strength and more extension than the two single yarns together. Fabrics made of twisted yarns have softer feel and are more durable and resistant. Numbering of single yarns is noted by putting /1 after the yarn number, such as 50/1. For numbering twisted yarns /2 is written after the yarn number, for instance 120/2. In order to produce a twisted yarn the yarn has to be of a specific fineness. For example yarns of number Ne 30 – Ne 50 cannot be made twisted since they are too thick. In order to produce twisted yarn, yarns of number Ne 100 or higher are used generally.
When a fabric will be made from yarns, the designers come into play. By following the fashion and trends, designers create various pattern and color combinations, which are then used for creating the fabrics.
For a 100% cotton shirt, the amount of yarn per centimeter of the fabric determines both the strength of the fabric and the softness. In other words, it shows the quality of the fabric. For example, when we compare fabric with 30 yarns per centimeter and fabric with 50 yarns per centimeter, we can say that the fabric with 50 yarns per centimeter is better both in quality and softness.
Previously we mentioned about the difference of twisted yarn compared to single yarn. When we compare fabric with 50 yarns of number Ne 100/1 per centimeter and fabric with 50 yarns of number Ne 100/2 per centimeter, we can say that the fabric with 50 Ne 100/2 yarns per centimeter is of better quality and is stronger.
On the other hand, we should also mention that considering various factors such as fashion effects and seasonality, high-quality shirts can also be manufactured using single yarns. For example a high shirt designed to be worn in hot summer weather can be sewn by using a fabric woven of single yarn without many threads per centimeter (provided that the yarn is made of high-quality cotton, and necessary care is taken during the fabric weaving and sewing phases).
Without doubt, in addition to the yarn and the fabric, the craftsmanship and the care taken during sewing are also vital in order to obtain a high-quality shirt. The expertise and the Know-How (which specifies critical details such as the number of stitches per centimeter, suitability of used patterns to the physique of people of targeted region) of the shirt producer are determining factors in attaining high-quality.
The quality of materials used during sewing phase is also as important as the quality of the yarn and the fabric. The primary materials are the sewing thread, the shirt buttons and the interlining which will be used at the collar and the cuff.
All the companies producing shirt fabric in the world produce the fabrics with a width of 150 cm and at the length desired by the shirt brand. A shirt is produced by using a fabric piece of 150 cm width and 170 cm length on the average.
In above paragraphs, we tried to cite factors which affect the quality of a shirt. Starting from the raw materials and going to the end product, we can summarize those factors as the cotton type, the number of yarn, the amount of yarn per centimeter of the fabric, and at the end the style and the craftsmanship of the shirt.
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