how to sublimate a shirt

How to Sublimate a Shirt | Everything You Need to Know

The Dye Sublimation printing method is a process of sublimation that applies designs to fabric using heat and pressure. It’s a great way to create custom clothing, and it’s surprisingly easy to do. This article will discuss sublimation and how to use it to your advantage when personalizing your clothing. Let’s get started on how to sublimate a shirt.

What is Sublimation?

Sublimation is a technique for transferring colors to various fabrics and materials. It may appear complicated, but it is not. Sublimation is a method that involves using heat presses and pressure to transfer ink at the molecular level, resulting in a permanent transfer. The transfer will remain intact no matter how often you wash, scrub, or immerse the object you sublimated. Isn’t it incredible? Let’s learn which materials you would need for the sublimation process.

Sublimation Material:

  1. A shirt.
  2. For a heating source, use a heat press.
  3. Dye Sublimation Printer or Copier.
  4. Sublimation Ink for the printer.
  5. Heat resistant, safe material to put your design on; use freezer paper.
  6. Iron-on transfer paper can also be used, but freezer paper is recommended instead.
  7. A cutting board or something to cut on, a self-healing mat would be ideal.
  8. An oven.
  9. A baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

How to Sublimate a Shirt: Step-by-Step Guide

how to sublimate a shirt

1. Prepare your Sublimation Printer

Print out the images you want to use in full color and 100% size. If you use an inkjet printer for shirts, I would suggest card stock paper because your images will need to be thick enough for the inks to transfer and bond with the fabric over time and through multiple washes.

Cut out your images no larger than 4 inches by 8 inches. The smaller the image is, the more detail the printer will pick up, but it’s best to err on the side of caution with the sublimation sheet because you don’t want your design to smudge or look distorted.

Once everything is printed out and cut, set the ink aside. You’ll need that later to avoid ruining your printer.

2. Prepare your Shirt for Sublimation

You need to make sure you wash and dry your shirt before proceeding. I know it’s common sense but doesn’t skip this step. It will affect the print outcome if you don’t do this. Trim off all tags and extra pieces of fabric from your shirt.

Iron your shirt open and flat to remove any wrinkles before you begin. That won’t affect the outcome of your print, but it will irritate you if you don’t do it right away.

3. Prepare Your Shirt for Sublimation Printer

Now that everything is cut out, arranged on a cutting board, and prepped on your shirt, it’s time to print. Place your ink face down on your cutting board.

Then place the freezer paper face down over the inks you want to use. The ink should be able to transfer onto the back of the freezer paper when heated.

Pick up your printed design and place it where you want it on your shirt. Make sure to leave an inch of fabric around the edges.

Place parchment paper over your design and carefully iron it down, following the instructions for your sublimation paper or copier. Machine is usually set for 320 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% pressure. You can also use your oven if you have a setting that allows for it.

4. Transfer Ink onto Shirt

Once the freezer paper has been adhered to the shirt, you’ll need to attach your ink onto the fabric so that when you iron on your design, it transfers from the freezer paper and onto the shirt. Follow the heating instructions on your specific printer or copier. Set the machine for 320 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% pressure. You can also use your oven if you have a setting that allows for it.

It’s important to be precise when transferring your image because even though the ink transfers onto the fabric, it will not stay on the freezer paper (unless you made your design there too).

5. Remove the Transfer from Shirt

Remove any freezer paper that’s stuck to it. Press down on it with a firm hand for about 15 seconds and then check to see if anything transferred. If it did, put parchment paper over your image and iron again until you’re satisfied with the result.

If something did not transfer, don’t worry; just put the parchment paper back over your printed image and iron again.

Let your shirt cool down when you’re done ironing, or it will stick to the parchment paper when it’s hot.

What Products can be Sublimated?

What types of products should you use to sublimate onto? This is a common question that does not have a clear answer. There are many factors to consider when deciding what product to sublimate onto, such as the amount of details required, the size of the product, and how durable it needs to be. In addition, some materials react better to certain types of ink than others.

Do I need 100 Percentage of Polyester to sublimate a T-shirt?

Yes, you need 100% polyester material to sublimate custom T-shirts. If you do not use 100% polyester or shirts that are a polyester blend, there can be problems with the ink absorbing into the shirt and causing damage to its surface. Some fabrics have a coating or other type of treatment on them that can prevent the ink from absorbing. The best thing to do is use 100% polyester when looking for a fabric to sublimate on.

You can use blended fabrics but may require some testing before using them because the materials used in these fabrics could affect your final product.

What are Best Sublimation Design Software?

The answer for this question is dependent on your individual requirements. Most individuals use Photoshop, however, you might not be interested in Adobe Suite’s monthly subscription fee. There are several options, the most known of which is GIMP.

Finally, you’ll need software that lets you alter the color profiles of your prints while also allowing you to create as you want.


What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to sublimate a shirt?

A mistake that people make is trying to wear the shirt too soon after it has been sublimated. This is because the fabric will be stiff and difficult to move in, leading to discomfort and even rashes. Instead, wait at least two weeks before trying to wear the shirt so the fabric has had time to relax and conform to your body. Finally, wash the shirt before you wear it to remove any residual sweat or fabric dye.

Do you think it’s easier to sublimate a shirt that has a logo on it?

There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on the person. Some people may find it easier to sublimate a shirt that has a logo on it than others. Ultimately, it comes down to how comfortable the person is with the process and how much of a hassle they feel it is. If the person feels like they are taking too much time or are uncomfortable with the process, it may be easier for them to buy a new shirt instead.

How long does it take to sublimate a shirt, and what is the process like?

It can take up to two days to sublimate a shirt, and the process typically involves immersing the shirt in a chamber that is heated to a specific temperature. This temperature is high enough to sublimate the water content from the shirt but not high enough to cause damage or discoloration.

Once the shirt has been sublimated, it will be dry, stiff, and transparent. Keeping the shirt in a cool, dry place is important to preserve its quality.


Sublimation is a method of printing on fabrics, like t-shirts. It’s done with a special type of ink and transfers paper to withstand the high temperatures needed for sublimation. We’ve outlined every step to help you make your T-shirt design using sublimation in detail.

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