how to sublimate on cotton

How To Sublimate On Cotton – Get Started with Sublimation

Since cotton is one of the most common types of fabric used in apparel production, you should have a strong understanding of how to sublimate on cotton before diving into other types of fabrics. We’ll discuss everything from equipment and materials needed to printing methods and tips for achieving the best results. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced printer user, this post is for you.

How to Sublimate on Cotton: 3 Different Methods

1. Sublimating With Heat Transfer Vinyl

HTV is a great way to decorate T-shirts with vibrant, long-lasting colors. But can it work on cotton, a natural fiber? The answer is yes, with a few modifications. First, apply a synthetic spray coating to the cotton T-shirt. Then, use a Teflon sheet on top of the heat transfer vinyl, and heat press at 311℉ for 15 seconds.

Things You’ll Need

One popular method involves using heat transfer vinyl as your base layer. Simply place a Teflon sheet on top of the vinyl and set your heat press to 311℉.

Some of the materials you’ll need for this process include a Cricut, sublimation paper, HTV, a lint roller, and a cotton shirt. Alternatively, you can also try using a spray coating for sublimation on cotton fabric. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating vibrant and long-lasting sublimated designs on cotton fabrics.

2. Sublimating With Sublimation Spray

Sublimation printing can create long-lasting, permanent designs on cotton. However, for some people sublimating on cotton fabrics can be challenging. To sublimate on cotton, you can also use a sublimation spray to allow the dye to penetrate the fibers. Applying a Desizer on the fabric and protecting it with paper can prevent burn marks when using a heat press. A sublimation transfer is placed on top of the cotton fabric, covered by protective paper, and then applied with heat and pressure.

Things You’ll Need

It’s also possible to sublimate on cotton using sublimation spray, which can replace HTV for sublimating on shirts. To do this, evenly spread sublimation spray on the shirt and preheat at 380° for 10 seconds. This will ensure that the sublimation ink penetrates the cotton fibers and creates a vibrant, long-lasting design.

Before attempting to sublimate on cotton, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You’ll need sublimation ink, a sublimation printer, transfer paper, parchment paper, a heat press, and sublimation spray (if desired). With the right steps and materials, sublimating on cotton can be a fun and creative way to customize your clothing and accessories.

3. Sublimating With EasySubli Paper

Sublimating on cotton can also be done with the help of EasySubli Paper. It not only offers vibrant and bold colors but also ensures that the design stays intact and does not crack or peel over time. EasySubli Paper is suitable for use on any material, so you can create personalized T-shirts, bags, and more. The best part about using EasySubli Paper is that you can even use it on dark-colored shirts.

Things You’ll Need

Sublimating on cotton shirts can be done easily using EasySubli paper. Before sublimating, prep the cotton shirt with regular Heat Transfer Vinyl or sublimation spray. You will also need a printer set up for sublimation, a weeding tool, EasySubli Mask, parchment paper, and a lint roller.

To begin, remove moisture from the shirt with preheating. Then, press the design at 320°F for 15-20 seconds using EasySubli paper. The sublimation dyes will provide bold, colorful graphics for your designs.

What is the Best Temperature For Sublimation On Cotton?

Sublimating on cotton can be a tricky process but with the right temperature, you can achieve excellent results. To sublimate on cotton, set the heat press to 338°F and apply firm pressure for 20-30 seconds. Use a cover sheet to protect the cotton and press the design for an additional 30 seconds to ensure a high-quality finish.

Using a nonstick sheet gives the print a professional glossy finish, whereas using parchment paper gives it a matte finish. Protect the back of the shirt by placing a mat between and over the shirt during the printing process.

For transfer heat press, use sublimation transfer foils for the desired design to transfer onto the cotton. Follow these steps, and you will be able to sublimate on cotton like a pro.

Steps to Sublimate on Cotton: An Easy Guide

1. Preparing The Cotton Fabric

How To Sublimate On Cotton

Sublimating on cotton can be a bit trickier than on other fabrics, but it can be done with the right materials and techniques. First, it’s worth nothing that cotton alone won’t work for sublimation, as it requires polyester content to heat-set the ink. That means you will need to either use a cotton/poly blend fabric or add a polyester layer between the cotton and the sublimation print.

To prepare the cotton fabric for sublimation, start by washing it in cold or hot water without bleach. Once it’s dry, iron the shirt’s image surface from the back of the fabric.

2. Choosing the Right Sublimation Ink

How To Sublimate On Cotton

Choosing the right sublimation ink is also crucial for successful cotton sublimation. Ink that is too thick will not heat-set and will be difficult to remove, while ink that’s too thin won’t adhere to the fabric well. When choosing sublimation ink, it’s also important to consider the printing surface.

Most cotton transfer paper is made of polyester film with a printed adhesive backing. This means that most inks will stick better to this type of paper than to other types of printing surfaces, like vinyl or leather skin (which are both non-adhesive).

3. Choose And Upload Your Design

How To Sublimate On Cotton

Now that you have the necessary supplies, it’s time to choose your design and upload it to your sublimation printer. To do this, open up your desired printing software and select File -> Print Options -> Page Setup. Underneath the General tab, make sure that the All Sublimated Items checkbox is selected . Next, under Custom Paper Types in the list on the left side of the window, scroll down until you see Cotton Transfer Tape and click on it.

4. Cut Your Design

How To Sublimate On Cotton

Now you’ll need to cut your design out onto the transfer paper. To do this, simply place the design on the desired printing surface (either vinyl or cotton fabric) and use a cutting machine or sharp knife to make precise cuts. Once your design is cut out, give it a good shake to spread the sublimation ink evenly over the entire surface.

5. Sublimate Your Design

How To Sublimate On Cotton

Another option is using parchment paper to avoid dust marks and setting the heat press at 385°F for 70 seconds to achieve the desired results. It’s important to cure ink and powder at 375°F for 30 seconds to prevent any smudging on the fabric during the press.

After completing the sublimation process, peel the transfer diagonally after 40 seconds or once it’s cold for a smooth finish. By following these steps and using the right tools, you can achieve a successful and professional-looking sublimation on cotton.

Can You Sublimate On Dark Cotton?

To sublimate on dark cotton fabrics, it’s recommended to use white heat transfer vinyl as a base layer to get the desired effect. It’s important to note that untreated cloth can lead to fading of the design, so it’s advisable to use poly spray on cotton.

Learn the steps of sublimation on dark color shirts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can sublimation Last on cotton?

It depends on the type of paper used, the heat press settings, and the amount of time that is put into the sublimation process. However, most top-quality sublimation paper for cotton can last for 2-3 years. To sublimate on cotton, you will need to use a higher temperature (around 338°F) and a longer press time (40-60 seconds). To improve design quality and achieve a glossy finish, you may also want to use a coating powder and transfer paper.

Can I sublimate on 100% cotton?

Yes, you can sublimate on 100% cotton using special treatments like heat-transfer vinyl or coating the surface with a special material. However, due to the higher cost of these treatments, they’re typically used for polyester rather than cotton.

Is sublimation better on cotton or polyester?

Sublimation is best on polyester, although it can be done on cotton with special treatments. Sublimation images last longer on polyester than other print methods.


The process of sublimating cotton shirts is fairly simple, but you need to use heat transfer vinyl and sublimation ink for it to work. Now that you know how to sublimate on cotton fabric, try it out and see the results yourself.

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