What is Triblend Fabric?

June 2, 2022
Nicole Rollender
A man sitting in a diner wearing a charcoal gray heathered t-shirt, gazing directly into the camera.

Super soft. Vintage look and feel. Worn-in and well-loved. Triblend fabrics are a popular choice for t-shirts that look and feel great. Their soft, lived-in look makes triblend the go-to fabric for many apparel brands, especially since they’re a wonderful canvas for retro-looking prints. Learn everything you need to know about this lightweight, comfortable fabric.

What's a Triblend T-Shirt?

A triblend tee is one of the most comfortable types of t-shirts. That’s why it’s a great option for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to create their own apparel line. A triblend t-shirt is just one of the many types of t-shirts you can find at an online retailer like Threadsy.

Triblends are a soft, long-lasting fabric generally made from 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon. Different apparel brands will vary the fabric types and percentages. Tees made from triblends are considered a premium product so they’ll cost more than basic carded open-end cotton t-shirts. These t-shirts have a much longer life than cheaper t-shirts, and hold their shape through many wears and washes.

If you’re starting your own t-shirt business, it makes sense to choose quality tees to start. When customers or influencers try on your decorated triblend t-shirt or tank top, they’ll instantly love the soft vintage look and feel of the tees. This helps you build a loyal customer base faster than if you used lower-quality t-shirts that don’t look and feel as great. Let’s dive in so you can learn everything you need to know about triblend t-shirts and what makes them unique.

2 women in gray triblend t-shirts. The woman on the left is holding a camera up to her face. The woman on the right wears a hat and is looking at the woman holding the camera.2 women in gray triblend t-shirts. The woman on the left is holding a camera up to her face. The woman on the right wears a hat and is looking at the woman holding the camera.

What is Triblend Fabric?

Triblend fabric is typically a specific mix of 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon. This results in a blend that’s softer and stretchier than using cotton alone. That’s why people often call triblend tees the favorite t-shirts they own.

Let’s break down the three fabrics in a triblend fabrication:

  • Polyester: This synthetic fabric gives triblend its durability and long-lasting qualities. Polyester is also moisture-wicking, keeping you cool and dry. Since a triblend is made of 50% polyester, the fabric can be both lightweight and durable.
  • Cotton: The cotton in a triblend adds to the fabric’s comfort and durability. Softer, higher-quality ring-spun cotton lends a higher-end feel to the shirt. Plus, it provides for a smooth print surface, resulting in a more consistent design.
  • Rayon: Here’s where the real magic happens in a triblend t-shirt. Rayon first came on the scene as a silk substitute, which is why it has a sumptuously soft, light feel from its cellulose fibers base. Rayon is moisture-absorbent, so it’s often included in athletic wear. If you made a t-shirt from rayon alone, it would be too light and thin. However, when you pair it with polyester and cotton, you get the nearly perfect triblend fabrication. Adding rayon into the triblend mix gives this tee a flattering drape so it looks like the shirt was made just for your body.

Triblend vs. Cotton

People often ask the difference between a triblend and a cotton t-shirt. You now know that a triblend incorporates 25% cotton into its fabrication, so how different is it from a 100% cotton t-shirt? Both have their advantages. Don’t forget—triblends come with all the pros of cotton!

A triblend t-shirt, made from polyester, cotton, and rayon, is soft and comfortable, with a vintage look and feel. Due to its fabric blend, a triblend is durable, lightweight, moisture wicking, wrinkle resistant and quick drying. The rayon lends a wonderful draping effect to the t-shirt. When you print on a triblend shirt, you’ll get a naturally heathered retro graphic.

A 100% cotton t-shirt is soft, durable, moisture absorbent, and comfortable. A triblend t-shirt shares all of those qualities. However, a 100% cotton t-shirt isn’t as soft and stretchy as a triblend t-shirt. If you’re looking for a heavier-weight t-shirt feel, a cotton t-shirt will win out over a triblend. When you print on a cotton t-shirt, you get more vivid artwork.

Here’s an at-a-glance view of the pros and cons of triblend and cotton t-shirts:

 

Triblend

Cotton

Pros

  • Soft, silky, lightweight feel
  • Drapes on the body
  • Maximum breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Doesn’t shrink or wrinkle
  • Quick-drying
  • Reduced pilling
  • Prints look heathered and retro
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Moisture absorbent
  • Hypoallergenic since it’s a natural fiber
  • Prints look vivid on cotton

Cons

  • Can cling in hot weather
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Not as lightweight
  • Can shrink in the washer or dryer, or come out wrinkled
  • Can pill
  • Takes longer to dry

 Do Triblend T-Shirts Shrink?

We’ve all had the experience of 100% cotton t-shirts shrinking in a hot water wash or hot dryer. It’s not the most pleasant experience, especially if you’ve just washed (and shrunk) a tee from the latest concert you attended. The good news is that triblend t-shirts typically don’t shrink as much as a 100% cotton tee. While you might experience a tiny bit of shrinkage, it won’t affect the fit much, especially when compared to a 100% cotton t-shirt.

The Best Triblend T-Shirts

Here are a few t-shirts we love for amazing comfort and wonderful screen-printed designs:

  1. Unisex Triblend T-Shirt
    6010
    |
    Next Level Apparel
    Unisex Triblend T-Shirt
    XS-3XL
    $9.78
  2. Unisex Triblend T-Shirt
    3413C
    |
    Bella + Canvas
    Unisex Triblend T-Shirt
    XS-2XL
    $8.00
  3. Unisex Triblend Short-Sleeve Track T-Shirt
    TR401
    |
    American Apparel
    Unisex Triblend Short-Sleeve Track T-Shirt
    XS-2XL
    Save 20% at checkout with code LASTCHANCE20
    $12.86

 Are Triblends Good for Printing Designs?

The triblend fabric surface looks heathered, due to the way the polyester, cotton, and rayon react to the fabric dye. Triblend tees don’t have the same solid look the way a 100% cotton t-shirt does, and result in a surface for vintage-style prints and faded, heathered designs. Synthetic polyester absorbs the dye differently from cotton and rayon, which come from cellulose fibers. That’s why where triblend gets its textured heather look.

Pro Tip: The rayon in a triblend can melt or burn under high heat. Plus, since a triblend is stretchy, the printed design could look distorted. To counteract these issues, screen printers will often use water-based inks on triblend t-shirts.

If you screen print with water-based and discharge ink, the ink will remove the dye in the cotton portion of the blend and replace it with the ink color. With a triblend, you’ll still see natural heathering in the shirt under the design.

Shop Threadsy for High-Quality Wholesale Triblend T-Shirts

Threadsy is a great online destination for buying high-quality triblend t-shirts at wholesale prices whether you have a wholesale license or not. If you’ve been shopping for blank t-shirts from a big box retailer, it’s time to stop. Threadsy offers generous discounts for customers who purchase t-shirts in larger quantities. Our bulk discount program starts at $110, and the savings of up to 15% automatically appear in your cart when you bundle your items. You’ll also enjoy free shipping on orders $50 or higher, with always-fast delivery. 

Plus, unlike other retailers that tack on fees for everything from orders that don’t meet a certain purchase threshold, to packing your order to processing returns, Threadsy doesn’t do that. There’s no minimum order, returns are free for 30 days, and we’ll never charge you extra money to pack your order. So what are you waiting for? Start shopping for triblend t-shirts and saving today, whether you’re a hobbyist or a business owner.

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