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If you are wanting to learn how to sublimate a shirt. You are in the right place.

Well, the short simple answer to sublimation a shirt is to print out the design and press it onto a polyester blend shirt.

But we know that it is a little more complex than that. You can check out the video to watch the full process or grab the step-by-step instructions below.

Press Play To Watch The Video And Learn How To Make A Sublimation Shirt

The printing process is fairly simple, sublimation is a high-quality printing method that will give you results that last the life of the garment.

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Sublimation ink almost embeds itself into polyester fiber and other synthetic materials to leave you with the most amazingly vibrant designs you will ever see.

Finished white shirt with sublimation design on the press.


To make a sublimation t-shirt, you will need a few supplies.


Step #1

The first thing you need to do is preheat your heat press to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.

Preheat your heat press to 380 degrees.

Step #2

While your heat press is warming up, you can get your sublimation design printed. First, load your sublimation paper into your printer.

The front view of the Epson ET 8550 on a white shelf with clear bins underneath.

Step #3

Then, open your image/design in photoshop or whatever design software you use.

Open the design or image you want to use in Photoshop on your computer.

Step #4

Next, flip the image so that it is mirrored. If you’re using Adobe Photoshop to do that, go to edit>transform>flip horizontally. You will see the image flip on your preview screen.

In the edit dropdown menu, mirror the image so that it prints on the design the right way.

Step #5

Now go to file and the print option in the dropdown menu. But don’t print right away! First, you need to double-check your settings.

Go to print in the file drop down menu.

Step #6

In the print preview window, check that you have the correct printer selected, check your paper size, and make sure it is set for Photoshop to choose the color. Also, make sure that you have the correct printer profile selected for the ink you’re using. Once everything looks good in the settings, you can hit print.

In the print preview screen on your computer, check the printer settings.

Step #7

Once your design is printed, you should adjust the pressure on your press. For sublimation, you only need light to medium pressure.

Adjust the pressure on your heat press before you set up your shirt.

Step #8

Next, place the shirt on the heat press, you are going to give it a quick press to remove any moisture and wrinkles.

Place the blank shirt on your heat press.

Step #9

Using a lint roller, get rid of any lint.

lint roll the sublimation shirt to remove all lint.

Step #10

Place your printed image onto the shirt and tape it down using heat-resistant tape. This will ensure the design doesn’t move.

Placing a sublimation print face down on a shirt

Step #11

Place a Teflon sheet down if you would like to protect your press. for 45 seconds, and that’s it!

Remove the print paper from heat press machine to see your final design.

And just like that, you have your very first sublimation shirt! I hope that wasn’t too hard.

When learning how to sublimate a shirt, you might find it takes a few tries to get it right. That is okay. Just keep practicing until you get it right.


When learning how to sublimate a shirt, you want to make sure you are choosing a high-quality polyester count shirt, as well as opting for something that is light colored. 

​The lower polyester count shirts will yield a result that is more vintage-looking.

I love cotton shirts for their soft feel, but they don’t work for sublimation because they are a natural fiber and sublimation doesn’t work with natural fibers.

This is because when you sublimate polyester fabrics, the fibers allow the sublimation ink to penetrate them. This means you get a bright and beautiful result from your design. It even looks like the design was sewn right into the shirt and wasn’t just pressed on.

However, polyester t-shirts are not always the softest material. I like to use a poly blend shirt for my t-shirt sublimation crafts. These are much softer than 100% polyester shirts but will still last a long time.

Rugrat sublimation design on white shirt in craft room.

What Kinds Of Limitations Do I Have With Sublimation Printing?

There are a lot of different shirts that you can use as blanks. They come in different styles and colors, and it can be hard to decide which one to start with. In this blog post, I shared some of my favorite t-shirt blanks.

With sublimation, the ink is combined with the fibers on a molecular level. This gives you a much more permanent transfer, resulting in high-quality custom t-shirts.

Sublimation printing makes it easier to make more unique designs, you aren’t bound by the limitations of layers and though screen printing is way different, sublimation is right up there with it!

There are a couple of drawbacks to the printing process:

  • limited to light colors
  • need polyester fabrics, poly blend shirts, and materials, or specifically sublimation blanks
  • sublimation will NOT work with an iron, you need high heat to do sublimation dye transfers

    But there are also lots of reasons to use sublimation:
  •  sublimation design will literally outlast the life of your materials and that’s a really long time!
  • the process is simple when you get the hang of things, you just print your design and press it to a light colored shirt
  • you can use both intricate and vibrant designs that you can’t achieve using vinyl

One of the main reasons that people are deterred from the sublimation process is that they have a hard time with the printer settings and sometimes ghosting and they are scared off by the idea that you can’t use dark shirts or cotton.

And when people think polyester fibers they think the shiny slick stuff. But there are lots of polyester content materials that feel like cotton t-shirts! The best way to overcome those things is to follow the directions of your own printer.

Different printers will have different settings. 

Is Sublimation An Alternative To Screenprinting?

Sublimation transfers are an amazing alternative to using a cutting machine and even screen printing. The print quality is amazing with sublimation, as long as your settings are right you will always have vibrant colors! 

If you are looking for the best sublimation printer you can check out the guide I made, there are a few different printers for you to check out there.

Here are a few more sublimation posts and tutorials you might enjoy!

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