Custom 100% Polyester Performance Shirts: An All-in-one Guide

Carter McCue

6 mins read


  • We discuss the viability of printing custom polyester shirts. We explain methods such as sublimation, DTF, and screen printing for customization.
  • Pros of polyester shirts include moisture management, durability, vibrant printing, quick drying, lightweight comfort, and versatility for various uses.
  • We recommend Sport Tek’s Unisex Moisture Absorbing Tee as an ideal canvas for customization and Awkward Styles as a print-on-demand partner for personalized designs with no minimum order quantities.

Many love performance shirts because of their fabric that lets you get all sweaty while still feeling comfy. Whether you’re an avid athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who values active comfort in their daily wear, 100% polyester performance shirts are definitely a staple in modern activewear. 

And if you’re wondering, no–these shirts don’t have to be boring. If you’re tired of your typical plain colored performance shirts, you can always customize your own. In this blog, we’ll explore these performance shirts, where functionality meets style in a harmonious blend. From their pros and cons to your customization options, you’ll find everything you need to know–whether you’re looking to design your own shirts or sell them online. Let’s get right into it!

Can You Print on a 100% Polyester T-Shirt?

You can definitely print on a 100% polyester t-shirt. While most commonly known shirt printing methods work best for natural fabrics such as DTG (direct-to-garment), there are now a number of options in the market that work great on synthetic fibers. These include sublimation, DTF (direct-to-film), and the good ol’ screen printing. We’ll discuss each of these methods later on and see which one would perfectly match your designs. 

The Pros and Cons of Custom Polyester Shirts

Before we get into the printing methods, let’s have a quick check if printing on 100% polyester is for you. Here are some of the pros and cons.

The Cons

Let’s start with the cons. Here are some of the considerations to keep in mind when it comes to printing on 100% polyester t-shirts:

Lack of Breathability

While polyester is known for its moisture-wicking properties, it may not offer the same level of breathability as natural fabrics like cotton. This could be a concern for those engaged in high-intensity activities. 

Heat Sensitivity

Polyester is more heat-sensitive than other fabrics. Excessive heat can damage the fabric’s texture, leading to poor print quality. This is something to take into account, especially if you plan on doing the printing yourself.

Limited Color Vibrancy

Getting vibrant colors on polyester can be tougher because dye-sublimation relies on fabric’s ink absorption. You might have to adjust your designs or opt for certain printing techniques to ensure the best color outcome on your polyester.

Potential for Sublimation Bleed

Dye-sublimation printing involves transferring ink from paper to fabric using heat. If not done correctly, there’s a risk of ink bleeding, which can lead to fuzzy or blurry designs.

Care Instructions

Polyester garments often come with specific care instructions to maintain their appearance and longevity. For instance, it’s recommended to wash 100% polyester performance shirts in cold water to prevent excessive heat from affecting the fabric’s texture or causing potential shrinking. Additionally, avoiding the use of harsh detergents and fabric softeners can help preserve the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric. To preserve custom designs and fabric function, use low heat or air dry when laundering polyester shirts. Following these care guidelines helps ensure the longevity of the custom designs and also keeps the fabric’s functionality intact, allowing you to enjoy your personalized polyester shirts for many active days to come.

Environmental Considerations

Polyester is a synthetic material made from petrochemicals, making it less environmentally friendly than natural fibers. However, advancements in recycling and sustainable practices are improving this aspect. Nonetheless, it may still be a concern, especially for those with strong eco-conscious values. If sustainability is a priority for you, consider seeking out brands that prioritize recycled polyester or offer eco-friendly alternatives such as using post-consumer recycled materials.

The Pros

Now, enough of the potential downsides – let’s dive into the benefits that custom polyester shirts bring to the table. These advantages not only make them a popular choice but also highlight why they have become a staple in the world of activewear and beyond.

Moisture Management

Polyester’s innate moisture-wicking properties are a game-changer for anyone engaged in physical activities. The fabric effectively pulls sweat away from your skin, allowing it to evaporate quickly. This feature keeps you feeling dry and comfortable, enhancing your overall performance and preventing discomfort.


Polyester is renowned for its durability. These shirts can withstand the rigors of frequent use and intense workouts without showing signs of wear and tear. This durability ensures that your custom designs remain vibrant and intact even after multiple washes.

Vibrant Printing

Modern printing technologies have bridged the gap between polyester’s unique properties and high-quality design. Sublimation and direct-to-film (DTF) printing allow for intricate, detailed, and vibrant designs to be transferred seamlessly onto polyester fabric, resulting in apparel that is as stylish as it is functional. When executed properly, sublimation enhances customization, adding another dimension to the possibilities for your 100% polyester performance shirts. 

Quick Drying

The fast-drying nature of polyester fabric is a significant advantage, particularly for those who engage in activities that lead to lots of sweating. After a workout or a wet-weather adventure, your shirt will dry rapidly, preventing prolonged discomfort and minimizing the risk of catching a chill.

Lightweight Comfort

Polyester is known for its lightweight feel, making it comfortable for extended periods of wear. This characteristic is especially valuable during strenuous activities, ensuring you don’t feel weighed down by heavy clothing.

Variety of Uses

These shirts are versatile – they’re not limited to workouts. Whether you’re attending an outdoor event, participating in a charity run, or promoting your business at a trade show, custom polyester performance shirts serve as functional attire that also promotes your unique style or brand. This is why this type of shirt is a popular choice among businesses or organizations who want to promote their brand or advocacies through events such as marathons. By customizing polyester performance shirts with your logo, tagline, or specific design, you effortlessly transform them into walking billboards that attract attention and reinforce your brand identity.

How Do You Print Custom Polyester Shirts?

Now, let’s get into the printing process. Here are three of the most ideal methods you can utilize for your 100% polyester performance shirts:

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a process where heat and pressure are used to transfer dye onto the polyester fabric. The dye converts into a gas and penetrates the fabric’s fibers, resulting in a print that becomes an integral part of the shirt. This method offers exceptional color vibrancy and durability, making it a popular choice for intricate designs and photographic prints. Sublimation also allows for all-over prints, meaning you can cover the entire shirt with your design, creating a stunning visual impact.

Direct-to-Film (DTF) Printing

DTF is similar to sublimation, using heat and pressure to transfer designs with some process differences. In DTF printing, a special ink is printed onto a heat-sensitive adhesive film. This film is then placed on the fabric, and heat is applied, causing the ink to adhere to the fabric’s fibers. The result is a print that integrates seamlessly with the fabric, offering vivid colors and excellent durability.

Screen Printing

While traditionally associated with cotton fabrics, screen printing has evolved to become a viable option for polyester shirts as well. This method involves creating a stencil (screen) for each color in the design and then using it to apply ink directly onto the fabric. With advancements in ink formulations, screen printing on polyester now offers impressive color saturation and durability. It’s especially suitable for larger batches and designs with fewer colors.

Polyester T-Shirts You Can Customize Today

There are dozens of performance wear options if you’re looking for a good canvas for the designs you have in mind. But if you want a shirt that’s made with 100% polyester fabric, Sport Tek’s Unisex Moisture Absorbing Tee is your best bet. Infused with Posicharge technology, this shirt is made extra comfy and breathable–perfect for any activity that involves sweating! It also has set-in sleeves that flatter the arms and provide ease of movement. It’s available in more than a dozen of colors for your creative designs!

Ready to Customize Your Own 100% Polyester Performance Shirts?

Whether it’s for an activewear business you’re building or just for your own workout routines, you can never go wrong with 100% polyester performance shirts. And if you need a print on demand partner that can do the heavy lifting for you, look no further than Awkward Styles! We’ll make sure that your designs are printed exactly the way you’ve envisioned them and that your orders are fulfilled with extra care and attention to detail. All that’s left for you to do now is to start designing and make your visions come to life!

For more print on demand and ecommerce tips and tricks, check out our blog!

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