How to Sublimate on Cotton Shirts?

How to Sublimate on Cotton Shirts?

Most crafters are dying to apply the sublimation technique to 100% cotton. I used to be one of them! Sublimation is a reasonably high-tech method to demonstrate vivid and rich color performance. And 100% cotton combines a much more comfortable and skin-friendly feature. Why can't I just put them together?

However, does sublimation work on cotton? Today, we're going to find out the answer and learn how to realize the sublimation on 100 cotton here. Let's start the rock rolling!

Part 1: Can you sublimate on cotton Shirts?

Generally, it is always better to use sublimation on synthetic fiber fabrics, which can embed and absorb sublimation ink more firmly and completely.
Suppose you apply sublimation directly to cotton shirts, the sublimation ink will only adhere to the surface first, and will be removed immediately during machine washing.

But with a little skill, sublimation on 100 cotton shirts can really happen! The salient point of these tricks is to add a sublimation medium between the ink and 100% cotton fabric. You can use Clear HTV Vinyl for Sublimation, spray sublimation coating, or place other PET decorations, like sequins, over the design area.

I will show two examples of applying sublimation prints on 100 cotton shirts.

Part 2: How to Use Sublimation HTV on Cotton Shirts?

First, prepare these items in advance:
1. HTVRONT Sublimation HTV
2. HTVRONT Sublimation Paper
3. Sublimation ink
4. Printer
5. Scissors
6. Cutting Mat
7. A Cutting Machine
8. Weeding Tools
9. A Heat Press machine
10. Teflon Sheet
11. A 100% Cotton T-shirt

1. Print your design

After preparing the materials mentioned above, the first step you need to do is create your design with a picture editing program. Mine here is an image of a rainbow lip via Silhouette Studio! And when editing the whole design, I also extract the contour of my "Rainbow Lip" for the further cutting process.

I print the sublimation paper with its matchable ink. Remember to mirror your design when printing on the sublimation paper for cotton to avoid reversed images.

2.Cut out the design

Then, use the same software to cut the lip's contour on the sublimation HTV. You can see here that I have prepared two kinds of heat transfer vinyl for sublimation on cotton shirts, glossy and matte. This will help the final results perform with diverse visual effects.

And I also fully use the cutting machine's print-then-cut function to trace out the printed image. This is genuinely amazing and quite convenient!

3. Preheat the t-shirt

Now, please take out your 100% cotton shirt and flatten it with a preheated heat press. Here, you need to set the heat press at the temperature of 374-392℉ in advance. When the t-shirt is flat and clean, it would be a breeze to heat transfer the design and vinyl. You can use our HTVRONT Auto Heat Press, which can heat shirts quickly and evenly.

Free Your Hands with HTVRONT Auto Heat Press

  • Heat up to 320℉ /160℃ within 4 mins, saving 2minutes than common type.
  • Upt to 4 fast modes, 2 custom modes and an auto mode for your creativities.
  • Separated ironing board and auto shut-down design for your safety.

4. Apply a heat press

Since the HTV Vinyl will be your sublimation medium, starting the heat pressing process with the sublimation HTV is important. When the heat press has reached its set temperature, place it on the HTV on the shirt for 5 to 15 seconds and cool peel the carrier.

Next, set the printed sublimation paper for cotton on top. The time and temp for sublimation shirts is 374-392℉, 40 to 60 seconds. 

Peel off the carrier and enjoy
Last, just warm peel the carrier, and everything is done! Feel free to enjoy your work!!!

And for the matte one, you only need to repeat the same process. You can check the difference between glossy and matte designs and see which one you like best!


Part 3: How to Sublimation on Cotton Shirts: Sublimate Flip Watermelon

For this project, you will need these materials:
1. HTVRONT Sublimation Ink
2. HTVRONT Sublimation Paper
3. Iron-on Adhesive
4. Flip Sequins
5. Printer
6. Scissors
7. A Heat Press
8. Teflon Sheet
9. Heat-resistant Tape
10. A 100% Cotton T-shirt

1. Print your design

To make such a cute and funny watermelon, you must first print the images with sublimation ink. Since the final result is double-sided for changing the images freely, you will need to print out both the two images you need. Here are my watermelon shell and its fruit.

2. Cut out the design

Use a pair of scissors to cut the flip sequin paper, Iron-on adhesive paper, and the printed sublimation paper for cotton.

3. Preheat the t-shirt

Preheat the heat press to 380-400℉ and iron your cotton shirt first to make sure it's tidy and smooth with no wrinkles.

4. Apply a heat press

Now, press the Iron-on adhesive on the cotton with heat for 10 to 15 seconds. This is for sticking the flip sequins firmly.

Then, apply the heat on the flip sequin paper at the same temperature for 5 to 15 seconds. This sequin is made of PET, which can serve as an alternative sublimation medium.

And the last is to sublimate the watermelon shell and the fruit on the flip sequins. In this part, the sublimation heat press settings for cotton may have a slight difference compared to the former project, which is 380-400℉. 

Place the shell image on one side of the flip sequins and apply the heat press for 40 to 60 seconds. Then, flip the sequin to another side and sublimate the fruit image on it. Repeat the same move.

When everything is finished, warm peel the clear film, and the work is done! You can change the watermelon images into others you like, and it's really funny to flip them in and out!


Part 4: FAQs


1. How long to press sublimation shirt?

Sublimation on cotton usually requires a higher temperature and a longer time for heat pressing. The common time and temp for sublimation shirts is 380-400℉, 40 to 60 seconds.

2. How long does sublimation ink last?

Top-quality sublimation paper for cotton typically can last for two to three years.

3. Will sublimation wash out of cotton?

The sublimation ink on untreated cotton shirts will easily get fall off during the wash. But if you add a medium for sublimation on 100 cotton like HTV, PET, or sublimation coating, the ink can hold on much better.



To sum up, if you apply sublimation directly to a cotton shirt, the sublimation ink will only adhere to the surface first and will be removed immediately when it is machine washed.

Therefore, we need to add sublimation medium between ink and 100% cotton fabric. The most recommended medium is Clear HTV Vinyl for Sublimation, which can absorb sublimation ink well and make the ink stay on 100 cotton shirts permanently, and it is not easy to fade.

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Customer Reviews

Leyana Lloyd

What printers do you use to print your sublimation with?
HTVRONT replied:
HTVRONT’s sublimation is suitable for all models of Inkjet Printers.

<> 于2023年8月3日周四 14:30写道:


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