Tall Undershirts & Fabric Weight

January 10, 2014 | By | Reply More

Question from a reader wondering about the different weights of Stafford Undershirts:


JCPenney Midweight V-Neck Undershirt


I recently switched from LT Stafford Premium to M Fruit of the Loom due to some weight loss.

I have found that the Stafford are so heavyweight that they don’t exactly cling to the torso, but FOTL was more conforming. However, FOTL was also so short that they wouldn’t stay tucked in.

Due to management changes at Penneys, tall disappeared, but I am happy to say they are back. Not only that, but they come in three styles and even Medium Tall, which some of your readers have asked you about.

The styles are blended, mid-weight, and premium heavyweight. I am curious how the last two differ from each other.


Tall Undershirts & Fabric Weight

heya todd,

good to hear from you buddy and thanks for your question!

if you were not aware, there are a growing number of companies making longer undershirts. i keep a running list here:


as for the difference between the mid-weight and the premium heavyweight, here’s a baseline for fabric weights*:

ex-light: 2 – 4 oz.
light: 4 – 6 oz.
medium: 6 – 8 oz
med. heavy: 8 – 10 oz.
heavy: 10 – 12 oz
ex-heavy: 12 – 14oz

* i’m not sure if that information is based on ‘per square meter’ or ‘per square yard’, but the differences btw weight levels should be proportionately the same.

weight also is dependent on the yarn size and the thread count of the fabric being used, so it’ll never be easy to determine how one medium or heavy-weight shirt compares to another.

hope that helps some. let me know if you decide to try out any specific undershirts and what you think of them too!

What Determines Fabric Weight?

Todd’s question got me thinking about all the things that make up fabric weight. I wanted to learn more, so figured it would be fun to enlist the help from a true fabric expert, so I emailed Qiuyong, from Kam Hing International. Qiuyong is a regular reader and commenter here on the site and Kam Hing is Hong Kong-based spinner, knitter, and yarn &  fabric dyer.

Here was my question to Qiuyong:

What properties determine fabric weight? Or differently asked, how does a 4-6oz fabric differ in weight from a 6-8oz? Is it simply “thread count”? Is the same yarn used, just more densely knitted? If you want to have a heavier t-shirt that’s 100% cotton, but want it stretchy, how would that be accomplished?

Qiuyong’s Answer:

for knitting fabric, we usually using fabric weight in g/m2 . fabric weight is a very important factor for fabric specification. it can affect the hand feel our look and tension, especially in garment cost.

the main factor to determine fabric weight are materials and yarn count and stitch length and finishing treatment

4-6 oz transfer is equal to 113g/m2 -170g/m2. 6-8oz is equal to 170g/m2 – 227g/m2. for these 2 fabric weight that should use different yarn count.

let us say, for single knit jersey using [Yarn Count] 40s/1 , 32s/1 ,26s/1, 20s/1 can achieve fabric weight 113g/m2 -170g/m2 , but for fabric weight 170g/m2 – 227g/m2. should using 20s/1 , 16s/1.

of course. if we using the same yarn count for the same fabric, and adjust stitch length, the fabric weight should be more different. such as 20s/1 single jersey, we have 160g/m2 – 190g/m2

different weight by changing the stitch length.

for stretch issue, if you are using the same yarn count and longer stitch length, the fabric should be more loose and lighter weight and better stretch elongation property.

but if you using the same yarn count and shorter stitch length . the fabric should be more tight and heavier weight and better stretch recovery and better appearance of fabric surface.

another weight to have good stretch is to fix spandex into the fabric.

[Follow-up Email from Q]

one more thing, as I wrote that the material and yarn spin method is also a important factor to affect fabric stretch (tension).

such as, same yarn count and same stitch length and same material (like cotton) , using the high twist yarn is much better than normal spin yarn in stretch (tension).

[I asked for some clarification on what “stitch length” was and how higher-twist yarn would stretch more]

Because the high twist yarn can make fabric shrink more. so the fabric stretch is better.

stitch length is as same as we call “loop length”, it is the yarn length within 100 needles.

all above we talk about is knitting fabric not woven.  Stitch length is similar to yarn consumption.


After reading Qiuyong’s response about a dozen times, everything fell into place for me.

But even with our new found knowledge, the challenge really is how we might be able to distinguish between undershirt weights BEFORE buying them.

I think the simple answer is that we really can’t. But at least we’re more informed now (: 

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Tug is the world's undershirt expert. He is also one of the most knowledgeable individuals on sweat management solutions, men's shapewear, grooming, and new fabric technologies. Got a question? Visit Tug's contact page and hit him up.

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