How To Sublimate A T-Shirt

Applying a printed sublimation transfer onto white 100% polyester T-shirts yields vibrant, permanent, photo-quality results with zero "hand" or feel on the surface of your garment. In this blog and accompanying video, we're going to show you just how easy it is to sublimate a t-shirt!

Sublimation transfers are similar to light heat transfer paper in the sense that they use the white of the garment as the base layer for the image being transferred. The printed dye sublimation inks are the only portion of that paper that is actually being transferred. Because the image is dyeing the garment and not just sitting on top of it (like screen print, vinyl, and heat transfer paper), the garment will also have excellent wear and washability!

To customize garments (and other items) with sublimation transfers, you’ll need a Sublimation Printing System and a Heat Press. Before printing, however, make sure that the image is mirrored, which is typically done by default through a print management software.

Adjusting your heat-press settings for sublimation will mainly depend on what type of substrate you’ll be pressing. For 100% polyester garments, this is usually around 385°-400°F and 45-60 seconds at medium pressure. When the machine reaches temperature, pre-press your T-shirt to smooth out any wrinkles and eliminate any moisture. We recommend placing a Pressing Pillow in or below your garment to minimize the appearance of any press marks. Next, place the paper facing down on the shirt. Cover it with a sheet of Parchment Paper and be sure the transfer stays in place when doing this. It is now ready to press! Tip: You can use a fabric-safe Adhesive Spray or Heat Tape to secure your transfer in place during the pressing process.

When pressing is complete, carefully remove the parchment paper so as to not shift the transfer. Allow the transfer to cool for a few moments, peel the transfer off your garment, and you’re all done! 

While we used a 100% polyester t-shirt for this example, the same process applies to any 100% polyester garment or textile. Time & temperature settings may vary by artwork and material thickness. If you have any questions about sublimation, please feel free to give us a call at 800-215-0894 or email us at support@heatpressnation.com

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