The first thing that is asked when a person learns about sublimation is how to sublimate on cotton shirts. Let’s face it the look and feel of a polyester shirt isn’t the best feeling thing and most are shiny and I hate that.
But for best results, polyester fabrics and poly blend shirts are recommended. As well as light colors.
We all love the vibrant colors of dye sublimation printing. And it is the best way to transfer colorful designs without having to learn screen printing. But why can’t you place a sublimation design on cotton t-shirts?
To answer that question you have to understand how the sublimation process works.
How Does Sublimation Dye Work?
To sublimate means to change form. In the dye sublimation process, you are taking a sublimation ink, and with a heat press and sublimation paper turning it into a gas that then will last the life of your shirt because it locks into the polyester fibers.
The end design is something that it flush with the shirt, It gives the feeling that it is in the fabric. Unlike heat transfer vinyl that is a little bit raised from the shirt.
One drawback of sublimation fabric is that you can’t print on black shirts or any dark shirts for that matter.
The special Ink doesn’t stick to a cotton surface.
Can You Sublimate On Cotton Products?
A good alternative to having to use polyester fabrics is Siser Easysubli, Sublimation On Cotton With Glitter HTV, Sublimation with Glow In The Dark HTV, or regular heat transfer paper.
- Sublimation On Cotton With Glitter HTV
- Glitter HTV is my go-to for sublimation. The transfer is a high quality transfer with all the best thing on earth of glitter. The drawback of this method is that there are people who don’t want to wear glitter as amazing as it is!
- Cotton Transfer Papers or Printable HTV
- This is a special type of paper that you print on with your inkjet printers using regular pigment ink. This is probably the most convenient method to print on cotton but it isn’t the most long-lasting.
- Sublimation with Glow In The Dark HTV
- This is the best alternative to glitter HTV and sublimation transfer paper. The method is basically the same as the glitter method but without all the sparkle.
- Siser Easysubli
- This is the best way to transfer with long lasting colors. With Easysubli you use the Cricut Print then Cut feature with your sublimation printer. Then you will cut it out with your Cricut Machine.
I have used poly blends with good results in the past. It’s a great way to get a vintage look to your sublimation prints. Just know that some of the colors will come out in the first washing. The higher the polyester count the more ink sticks.