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Sublimating shirts for beginners

Sublimating Shirts for Beginners

In this new post we will show you what sublimation printing is and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this amazing technique.

In previous posts we discovered all the secrets of Iron-on-Heat Paper Transfer and Iron-on-Heat Vinyl Transfer (HTV) techniques, which allow us to print amazing custom t-shirts.

But then what is this sublimation thing? Let’s go back to the subject of this article and start by clearing some doubts…

What is sublimation?

Sublimation is a process for transferring inks to different types of fabrics and materials.

From a digitally created design, it is printed on a sheet of sublimation paper with special sublimation inks. The printed sheet is placed on the material chosen for the transfer. Finally, using heat and pressure, the image is permanently fused with the polymers of the transfer materials. 

It may seem a bit complicated, but don’t worry. Sublimation is nothing more than a process for transferring images onto certain types of materials (t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, etc). Heat and pressure cause the inks to melt and the transfer is permanent. This way, no matter how many times you wash or scrub the transferred image, it won’t come off! 

With sublimation printing, you can transfer high quality images directly onto the desired material. Portraits, landscapes, photos and anything you can imagine. The only limit is your imagination and the quality of your printer.

What do I need to start with sublimation?

Getting started with sublimation is much easier than it sounds. To get started, you will need the following:

  • Sublimation-capable color printer 
    You can use a printer designed specifically for sublimation (EPSON brand has a lot of options) or you can convert an existing inkjet printer to support the special sublimation inks.
  • Sublimation inks 
    They come in many different brands and qualities, but you will need only 4 basic colors (Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and Black) that will allow you to achieve full-color photographic prints.
  • Sublimation paper
    There are many types of sublimation paper. Many users recommend the A-SUB brand for its high quality.
  • Heat press
    You will use it to transfer the design. Make sure you get a heat press that is the right size for your designs and transfers.
  • A lint roller
    It only takes a few seconds and will help you to pick up the fiber debris from the fabric, resulting in a much higher quality transfer.
  • Design software
    You can buy professional designs in our store, but if you want to design your own you will need design software such as Adobe Photoshop (undoubtedly the undisputed professional leader), Gimp (a good alternative also free) or maybe CorelDraw (another good option).

And that’s about it! You may eventually want to purchase other accessories, perhaps heat resistant tape or maybe some heat resistant gloves. But these are the minimum requirements to get started. It’s that easy. 

What can you sublimate on?

Sublimation works by bonding the ink to the polymers in the target material. Therefore, anything with a high enough polymer content should be able to be sublimated. 

Polyester, Nylon and Spandex are the ideal materials, but there are many more. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to sublimate on 100% cotton t-shirts. Ideally, if you want your garment to be cooler and more pleasant to the body, it should be at least 65% Polyester and 35% Cotton.

It’s also not possible to sublimate on dark or black garments. The usual is to do it on white or light-colored T-shirts, because the inks are simply not visible on dark backgrounds.

Finally, we want to share with you a video tutorial of our today’s guest Sallie (owner of Simply Sally), where she nicely explains step by step how to print your own t-shirts using the sublimation technique.

Sublimating Shirts 101 Tips & tricks to great results – By Sallie ©Simply Sallie


If you liked our post and enjoyed this video tutorial, don’t keep it to yourself and share it with all your friends, I’m sure they will thank you!

See you soon, Audrey 💥