Funny T-Shirts, Cool Graphic T-Shirts | Chummy Tees
tri-blend t-shirt

T-Shirt Blog»T-Shirt Styles & Materials»What is a tri-blend t-shirt?

What is a tri-blend t shirt?

Simply put, a tri blend shirt is a super comfy t-shirt that is made of a mix of 3 different fibers. It feels very soft and silky on your skin and has a very slight sheen to it when viewed up close. T-shirts made of a triblend fabric are generally higher end and cost more than a standard cotton t-shirt.

This page includes:

What does tri-blend mean?

Tri-blend refers to a type of fabric that is made from a blend of three different fibers. This type of fabric is known for its softness, durability, and breathability, as well as its ability to hold its shape over time. The three fibers that are used to create tri-blend fabric are usually a synthetic fiber, such as polyester or nylon, a natural fiber such as cotton, and a natural or synthetic fiber with moisture-wicking properties, such as rayon or spandex. The combination of these fibers results in a fabric that is comfortable to wear and has a number of desirable properties.

The below table shows what each type of fabric is known for and the properties that they bring to the table in these blended styles:

Fabrics used in tri-blends Fabric Properties
Cotton Soft, breathable, absorbent, & easy to care for. 
Polyester Durable, holds its shape, wrinkle-resistant, and easy to care for.
Spandex Stretchy, and recovers its shape after stretching. 
Rayon Soft, absorbent, and drapes naturally.

What is the difference between cotton and tri-blend t-shirts?

Cotton and tri blend t-shirts are similar in that they are both very popular fabrics for t-shirts to be made of, but they differ in how they fit and feel when worn, as well as how you care for and maintain them. Tri-blend t-shirts may offer a number of advantages over cotton t-shirts, such as increased stretchiness, moisture-wicking properties, and a more comfortable wear.

Tri-blends also tend to have a more modern, athletic fit and be more resistant to shrinking and fading. These benefits come from the use of spandex or rayon, which these fabrics tends to follow your body's contours more naturally unlike cotton which is slightly stiffer and may fold and shape itself in a less appealing way. A similar example to illustrate this would be how a tailored suit fits a person and looks more appealing than a sloppy suit where the extra fabric is folding and shifting in less than idea ways.  Additionally, cotton t-shirts may be more prone to shrinking and fading, while tri-blend t-shirts may be more resistant to these issues.


Do tri-blend shirts shrink?

While it is possible for tri-blend t-shirts to shrink, they are less prone to shrinking in the dryer as they have a lesser amount of cotton in them than a 100% cotton shirt. Of all the common fabrics used in a tri-blend, cotton is the fabric that usually has more ability to shrink. However, the amount of shrinkage will depend on a number of factors, such as the specific blend of fibers that it is made of, how it is washed, and the temperature and duration of the drying process. For example, a tri-blend with a higher cotton content may shrink more than a tri-blend with less. Some manufacturers use pre-shrunk cotton, so it ultimately depends on the brand and the guidance they provide. 

A warning about heat and tri-blend fabric

One overlooked aspect of this type of fabric is just how easy it is to ruin it with an iron, heat press, conveyor dryer, or anything else that will heat up the fabric. Some of the fibers such as polyester, rayon, and spandex can melt or scorch when exposed to high heat, which can ruin the garment or fill your room with incredibly foul smelling smoke.

To avoid damaging your tri-blend clothing, it is a good idea to use a lower heat setting on your iron when pressing tri-blend fabric and follow any specific instructions on the clothing care label. You may also want to test the heat of the iron on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the entire garment. Additionally, it is a good idea to use a pressing cloth or a piece of scrap fabric between the iron and the tri-blend fabric to protect it from the heat. 

tri-blend t-shirt closeup


Our thoughts, opinions, & experience with tri-blends

While we love to wear these super soft tees, printing on them is an entirely different beast. Most of the tees we offer are 100% or 90/10% cotton polyester that are sent through our dryers to cure at very high temperatures. These same temperatures would shrivel up and turn a tri-blend into an unrecognizable burnt object and probably set off our smoke alarms. Therefore, we run tri-blends on separate equipment and use different processes to print on them when we do offer them. These tees are usually our limited runs and sell out quickly when offered.

Our favorite brands are Bella Canvas tri blend shirts, American Apparel, and some custom tri blend shirts that we use for very specific designs. When we are just looking for something to wear, any cotton polyester rayon or cotton rayon combinations are usually extremely comfortable, so it's hard to go wrong.


Want More?


Your Turn

What are your thoughts on tri-blend shirts? Share in a comment below!

Size Chart: