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How to Make Sublimation Shirts at Home: Tips and Tricks

How to Do Sublimation Shirts?

Sublimation shirts are a popular choice for those looking to create custom designs on their clothing. The process of sublimating T-shirts involves transferring ink from a printed design onto a shirt using heat and pressure.

Look no further! Here is a step-by-step guide to learning how to sublimate a shirt.

What are Sublimation T-shirts?

Sublimation T-shirts are apparel items that offer customization through the incorporation of text or graphics, seamlessly dyed directly into the fabric. By the usage of sublimation ink, you boast more flexibility to cut or print a chosen design, followed by utilizing a heat press to seamlessly infuse the ink into the fabric, so as to lead to a dyed effect. In contrast to alternative T-shirts customization methods, sublimation ensures a design integration that remains indiscernible on the garment's surface. 

Which Materials Needed to Make Sublimation T-shirts?

To officially get into this creative activity, you will have to prepare the items below:

1. Sublimation Paper
2. Sublimation Ink
3. Sublimation Printer for Shirts
4. A Computer
5. Scissors
6. Heat Press
7. Heat-resistant Tape
8. Teflon Sheet
9. Shirts

How to Make Sublimation T-shirts at Home?

Choose the Right Shirt

The first step in making sublimation shirts is selecting the correct type of T-shirt. Typically, it's better to choose polyester shirts to deliver sound results in that they can absorb the sublimation ink better than other materials, especially 100% cotton. As such, the higher the polyester content, the better the results, theoretically.

It's also essential to make sure that the T-shirt is clean and free of any stains or wrinkles so as to demonstrate your ideal work.

Create Your Design

Once you have prepared your T-shirt, you are likely to create your own design accordingly. Draw with graphic design software like Photoshop, or just select one of your favorite pictures as your design, taking into account the size and shape of your shirt.

You may need to note that the design will appear slightly lighter on the T-shirt than on the computer screen. And you are asked to be careful to select the correct mode when actually printing.

Print Your Design

After creating your design, you are allowed to print it onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer. Here, you must use sublimation ink and paper specifically designed for this process. The printer should be set to mirror the image so that it appears correctly, rather than adversely, on the shirt.

how to make sublimation shirts

Prepare Your Heat Press

Next, it's time to prepare your heat press and preheat it. Set the proper temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and apply medium pressure to the substrate. Make sure to preheat the heat press machine for a few minutes before using it. Flatten your shirts for sublimation first for further ironing.

Apply Your Design

Once your heat press is ready, place it on the T-shirt for sublimation and smooth out any wrinkles. Place the sublimation paper with the printed design face down onto the shirt, fix it with heat-resistant tape, and set a piece of Teflon sheet on the top interface. Align the design to where you want it, and ensure your heat press is centered on the design.

how to make sublimation shirts

Apply Heat and Pressure

Use the heat press machine and apply the set temperature and medium pressure for 45–60 seconds. The pressure and heat will help transfer the sublimation ink from the paper onto the shirt. Once the time is up, lift the heat press and remove the paper from the shirt.

how to do sublimation on shirts
how to do sublimation on shirts
how to sublimate a shirt
how to sublimate a shirt
how to sublimate a shirt

Let it Cool

Now, you will see that your design has attached to the surface of your shirts properly. Allow the shirts to cool for 24 hours before the next move. This will give the ink time to set and prevent any smudging or bleeding.

how to make a sublimation shirt

Wash and Wear

After the T-shirt has cooled, it's ready to wash! It's crucial to wash the T-shirt before wearing it. This is meant to remove any excess ink or residue from the sublimation process and ensure a comfortable wearing experience.

In conclusion, sublimating T-shirts is a fun and unique way to add your own personal touch to your wardrobe. With suitable materials and equipment, it's pretty easy to create different kinds of custom and identifiable designs on a shirt. Follow these simple steps, and you'll be enthralled by creating your own sublimation shirts in no time.

how to make a sublimation shirt


1. What material can you sublimate?

Other than standard fabrics like shirts, T-shirts, dresses, trousers, shoes, and bags, there are many answers to "What can you sublimate on?" For instance, you are also allowed to apply the sublimation technique to wooden items, ceramics, metal, glass, and more things featuring a heat-resistant characteristic.

And note that most of the things able to be sublimated also ask for a sublimation coating or a polyester layer. Otherwise, it would be easy to fade, or even worse.

2. What shirts are best for sublimation?

Technically speaking, shirts with less than 30% cotton are fine for sublimation paper and the technique. However, to retain the most vibrant and long-lasting visual effect, you'd better choose a 100% polyester one, which can let the sublimation ink better attach to the fiber inside.

And you must not use a 100% cotton shirt since you don't want to get low-quality sublimation designs for T-shirts and ruin a good one. But suppose that you do prefer the texture while wearing a cotton shirt. It's perfect for getting another material to help you realize T-shirt sublimation: heat transfer vinyl for sublimation.

Heat transfer vinyl for sublimation is designed to form a medium between the sublimation dye and the cotton substrate, and it features a sublimation layer. Therefore, you will be able to turn the sublimation ink and cotton shirt into one without any colors fading away.

3. What's the difference between sublimation and screen printing T-shirts?

The main difference between sublimation T-shirts and screen printing T-shirts is the making process. When using the sublimation process, you have the option to use the sublimation ink to dye the material. In addition, you can cut the design with the infusible ink transfer sheets, print the design with a sublimation printer, and create a customized design. Following the process, a heat press is applied to press it into the fibers. When the materials cool, you are ready to wear what you designed.

In contrast, screen printing is a type of screen printing that uses some specialty ink and dye. You mostly need to do the work manually, unlike the sublimation technique with equipment like a computer, printer, and heat press.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide: Sublimation Printing or Screen Printing?

4. How to wash sublimation shirts?

After you've done your sublimation shirt, you have to wait at least 24 hours to do the laundry, wear it, and even fold it. It should be noted that this waiting time is for allowing the dye to dry completely.

5. How to remove sublimation ink from a shirt?

Actually, there are several methods that can help remove the dye from sublimation on shirts. One of the most common ways is by using bleach; you’d better adopt chlorine-based bleach for the best results. Mix water and bleach together in a spray bottle, and spray and rub the sublimation shirt design with a sponge. Repeat the action until your design gets off.

Or, you can soak your sublimated T-shirts in cold water and soda for around 15 minutes and rub the sublimation shirt design softly. Pour out the colored solution once the time is up, and repeat the process until your design is gone.

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