How to Sublimate a Shirt

How to Sublimate a Shirt – A Comprehensive Guide of 2023

Sublimation printing has gained immense popularity in the world of custom apparel. It offers vibrant and long-lasting designs that can transform a plain shirt into a unique and personalized masterpiece. Sublimation involves transferring ink onto a specially coated material through a combination of heat and pressure. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed guide on how to sublimate a shirt, including the time required for the process and instructions on using a heat press.

How to Sublimate a Shirt

If you are wondering How to sublimate a Shirt then here are the steps below to do this. A detailed guide that can help you to successfully sublimate a t-Shirt but with the help of the best sublimation printer for t-shirts.

Gather the necessary supplies:

Sublimation printer: Specialized printers that use sublimation ink. Choose the best sublimation printer

Sublimation paper: Heat-resistant paper coated with a special sublimation coating.

Sublimation ink: Special ink that turns into a gas when exposed to heat and bonds with polyester fibers. Choose the best sublimation ink.

Heat press machine: A device used to apply heat and pressure to transfer the design onto the shirt.

Polyester shirt: Sublimation works best on polyester or polyester-blend fabrics, as they have a higher affinity for the ink.

Design and print your artwork:

Design Software: Use design software to create or select the artwork you want to sublimate onto the shirt.

Print Design: Print the design using a sublimation printer and sublimation ink on sublimation paper.

Mirror Image: Make sure to mirror the image horizontally before printing so that it appears correctly when transferred onto the shirt.

Prepare the shirt:

Pre-press the shirt using a heat press for a few seconds to remove any wrinkles or moisture.

Place a sheet of Teflon or parchment paper inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back.

How to Sublimate a Shirt with a Heat Press

    • Set the heat press to the recommended temperature and time specified by the sublimation paper and ink manufacturer.
    • Position the printed sublimation paper with the design facing down on the shirt.
    • Place another sheet of Teflon or parchment paper on top to protect the heat press and the shirt.
    • Close the heat press and apply the recommended pressure.
    • Wait for the specified time, allowing the heat and pressure to sublimate the ink onto the shirt.
    • Once the time is up, open the heat press, and carefully remove the sublimation paper.
    • Allow the shirt to cool before handling it.

How Long to Sublimate a Shirt

The amount of time it takes to sublimate a shirt will vary depending on the size of the shirt and the heat press that you are using. In general, you will need to sublimate a shirt for 60 seconds. However, you may need to adjust the time up or down depending on the results that you are getting.

FAQs of How to Sublimate a Shirt

Can I use sublimation on cotton shirts?

Sublimation works best on polyester or polyester-blend fabrics as they have a higher affinity for the ink. Cotton does not work well with sublimation due to its natural fibers. Moreover, the detailed guide on how sublimation works on the cotton shirt is here.

How long does it take to sublimate a shirt?

The time required to sublimate a shirt varies depending on the heat press machine and the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, it ranges from 45 to 60 seconds.

Can I wash sublimated shirts?

Yes, sublimated shirts can be washed like regular clothing. However, to maintain the longevity of the design, it is recommended to use mild detergents and avoid harsh washing conditions.

What materials can I sublimate?

You can sublimate a variety of materials, including shirts, mugs, coasters, phone cases, and more. However, it is important to use materials that are made of 100% polyester or a blend that contains at least 65% polyester.

What is the difference between sublimation and heat transfer?

Sublimation vs heat transfer? Both are two different processes that are used to transfer images or designs onto materials. Sublimation uses heat and pressure to transfer the ink from a sublimation transfer sheet onto the material, while heat transfer uses heat to transfer the ink from a heat transfer vinyl sheet onto the material.

What are the benefits of sublimation?

There are many benefits to sublimation, including:

  • High-quality results
  • Permanent images
  • Wide range of materials that can be sublimated
  • Easy to do


Sublimating a shirt allows you to unleash your creativity and create stunning custom designs. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can achieve vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints on polyester or polyester-blend shirts. Remember to gather the necessary supplies, print your design using a sublimation printer, and transfer the image onto the shirt using a heat press. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll master the art of sublimating shirts and bring your creative visions to life.

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