Fabrics 101

Flummoxed by fabrics? If you don’t know your fibre from your weave, then this article is for you! 

Cotton vs. Polyester 

It’s the age old question –“which is better – cotton or polyester?” They both have their advantages. 

Cotton, being a natural fibre, is quite popular by eco-friendly standards, particularly if designated organic. It breathes very well, retains colour admirably, and feels good to the skin.Many uniform buyers however, prefer polyester. It is a durable synthetic fibre that retains its colour better than cotton and keeps its shape without requiring any fussy maintenance. It doesn’t stretch or shrink. 

When in doubt however, choose a blend. When you combine cotton and polyester, the result is a soft hand with long-lasting colour, easy care and breathability.

Perfect Your Performance IQ 

When you buy activewear, you’ll encounter performance claims for fabrics. Many are based on inherent qualities of the fibre. For example, bamboo fibres are naturally anti-bacterial. Whichever the situation, the main thing you need to understand is exactly what level of performance to expect. Here are some comparisons to steer you: 

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant 

Waterproof garments are impervious (completely resistant) to penetration by water, whereas performance fabrications claiming water resistance may not keep the wearer entirely dry. Typically, a waterproof garment has been treated with a sealing agent or rubber/plastic coating and seam-sealed to ensure impenetrability. Note – once you embroider a waterproof garment, you lose its true ‘waterproof’ qualities. 

Windproof vs. Wind-Resistant 

Windproof garments are non-permeable to wind, whereas wind-resistant garments simply mean that the garment resists the penetration of air. 

Fire/Flame-Retardant vs. Fire/Flame-Resistant 

A retardant garment will not catch fire easily, whereas a resistant garment is not only slow to catch fire but also slow to burn. 

Thermal Insulation vs. Thermal Regulation 

Thermal insulation ensures the person wearing the garment will retain body heat in cold conditions. Thermal-regulated garments keep the body dry and cool in extreme heat or comfortably snug in frigid cold. Anti-

Bacterial vs. Bacteriostat 

A fabric that is ‘bacteriostat’ slows the growth of bacteria. Similarly anti-bacterial or anti-microbial fabrics resist and/or inhibit the growth of micro organisms. 

Source: ASI Advantages Magazine, December 2008 


When it comes to sizing garments in Australia, unfortunately there is no national standard. But when it comes to getting the best and most comfortable fitting shirt, it’s easy. 

Go and grab your ‘old favourite’ shirt and lay it down on the bed (or any other flat surface) in front of you. Measure a point that is about 2.5cm beneath the point where the sleeves are sewn to the body and then measure across from seam to seam. 

Each of our different suppliers provides their sizing charts individually, and your EmbroidMe Branding Consultant can help you identify which size is right for you based on your measurements.