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Heat Pressed Patches Done Easy With Sublimation

Embroidery is one of many popular methods to customize fabric apparel like jackets and hats. To produce the most custom designs through embroidery however, this will involve acquiring a sewing machine and gathering the necessary threads. The door then opens up to create patches based on user designs, or to go further, apply them directly on the apparel itself. But what if you’re unable to prepare for embroidery through such means? Sublimation patches are indeed ready to fill this void, offered in many standard and unique shapes and capable of holding vibrant transfers with a white polyester front surface.

All it takes to customizing these patches is to prepare your designs within their bounds, then applying them onto the patches themselves, which typically have a heat-activated adhesive on their back sides. To show how this all works, we’ll be customizing a regular cotton hat with sublimation patches from start to finish. Of course, we’ll first need to measure the width and height of the patches to determine how big each design will be. Once settled, simply create or scale your designs down to the sizes of the patches, which you can fit multiples of on at least an 8-and-a-half by 11 inch document.

If templates are available for your patches, we recommend taking advantage of them in speeding up the design prep process. But once your designs are ready, you may print them through your sublimation paper. Sawgrass users can use the following settings in sending the designs to Sawgrass Print Manager: Substrate to Polyester, Paper to the loaded paper’s profile, leave Mirror checked, and change the Color Mode to Photographic or Vivid depending on the overall level of color saturation. With these settings in, go ahead and click Print. Now that the transfer’s been printed, it’s ready to customize our sublimation patches.

Turn on your heat press and set it to 60 seconds at 385 degrees Fahrenheit with medium pressure. Once the heat press is at temperature, cover the lower platen with a sheet of parchment paper, then place your transfer on top facing up. Now you may add your patches, with their front sides facing to the printed designs, then attaching them in place with heat tape. With all the patches ready, flip them with the paper side up, cover them with another parchment paper sheet and press. After 60 seconds, open your machine and allow the items to cool for at least 20 seconds. Afterwards, quickly peel each patch off the transfer and they’ll now display your colorful designs thanks to sublimation. Remove any protective film on a patch’s back side to open up its adhesive, then it's ready to be pressed onto another fabric.

Moving onto our cap press with the hat mounted, we’ll set it to 35 seconds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit with medium-firm pressure. Sublimation patch settings will vary for different brands, though this second press is generally low temperature. Simply place it to the center of your hat facing up, cover it with parchment paper, and press. After 40 seconds, open the machine and your custom sublimation patch has also customized your hat to a new level. With your best designs applied, hats are one of many great items to customize with sublimation patches, looking just as colorful as any embroidered patch. And as these are sublimation blanks, you’ll easily be able to bring any fine or photographic details to your patches that are essentially impossible to pull off with standard patches. To learn more about sublimation and cap presses, you can check out our YouTube channel, or visit us at HeatPressNation.com.

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