From factory to field, every fibre of a football shirt promotes the ultimate performance! While they might seem like a small part of the game itself, football shirts are actually an important element in how a player feels on the pitch, and in creating a loyal community among players and fans.

As for the scientific side of things, football shirts are typically light and thin – after all, no one wants to feel weighed down while they are running around on the pitch! Materials used in football shirts typically have a high tensile strength to cope with tackles, and good breathability for comfort. 

Let’s explore how football shirts are made, what materials they are made from, and why it is so important to find the right shirt for the best performance and player experience.

What are football shirts made of?

Before the use of polymers in clothing became more common, football shirts would be manufactured from cotton or woollen materials. Unfortunately, this kind of material could be quite warm and also soak up any sweat produced during activity, therefore the shirts were not particularly comfortable to wear. 

By the 90s, polyester became a staple component of football shirt material, with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) being a commonly used polyester in clothing. Polyester is the perfect material for performance clothing, as its breathable ‘wicking’ qualities mean that sweat can run down the fibres of the shirt and evaporate, while absorbing much less water than cotton fibres. 

While football shirts can be 100% polyester, it’s also possible to alter the properties of polyester by incorporating other fibres to be woven with it. For example, elastane – commonly known as spandex – is often used alongside polyester due to its elastic and stretchy capabilities.

How are football shirts made?

Step by step printing

First, the shirt goes through the printing process where the player’s name and number are positioned carefully, using official guidelines provided by clubs each year. 

Individual letters are placed in order onto the garment, and secured on a transparent label. A hot press is then used to transfer the letters and numbers onto the shirt. Finally, the protective layer on the letters and numbers is removed.

Thermal transfer

The thermal transfer process combines both high temperature and pressure, and results in connecting the shirt fabric and the lettering. To do this, a special type of carrier must be used, such as flex or flock foils.

Flex foil is a polyurethane based material known to be flexible and flat, making it a good contender for transfer onto a football shirt where it should be flexible to go along with the movement of the player wearing the shirt and retain its breathability.

Made from cellulose fibres, flock foil is better suited for transfer of complex shapes as it is much thicker than flex foil with a convex surface.

How to take care of your football shirt

If you already own a football shirt, then we’re sure you’d like it to last as long as possible! Here are some tips on how to take care of it:

  • Use a delicate detergent when washing the shirt
  • Turn it inside out before washing
  • Do not tumble dry or expose to direct heat/sun
  • If the shirt can be ironed, make sure it is turned inside out and place baking paper on top of the shirt
  • Ensure the washing temperature is no more than 40°C 
  • Remember not to wash your shirt within the first few days after printing 

Quality football kit is an essential investment in your club’s success. Now that you know what really goes into it, you can ensure your players continue to perform at their best level by getting your hands on some quality kit.

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