Sublimated Shirts: Advice for Doing it Right
Sublimation shirts are excellent for a variety of reasons. Clothing designers can use more space on the shirt, which gives them greater freedom in their graphics. The sublimation process also makes the design part of the shirt, which makes it more comfortable to wear.

All of these benefits come at a cost: making a good shirt with this method can be trickier than you may expect. Anyone interested in creating and selling their own designs may want some practice. To help with that, here is some advice for getting your sublimation shirts just right.

What's Needed for Sublimation?

- Sublimation printer and ink
- Sublimation blank shirt – Lighter colors work better because the inks would not show well on dark fabric.
- Sublimation paper
- Heat press

Prepping Tips

- Make sure the garment is lint and dust-free when you're prepping for sublimation design transfer. This is especially important on polyester because it will pick up any residue on the heat press.
- Use protective paper on the top and bottom of a substrate. While it is being pressed will protect your heat plate, bottom pad, and substrate.

Light Shirts are Easier

Any background color can go great with a sublimation shirt, depending on the design. With that said, designers who lack prior experience with the technique may want to start with lighter colors, particularly white. It is easier to tell how the colors you plan to use in your graphics will look over such hues than over darker shades. Single-sided prints will show usually the bare garment color on the non-printed side.

Additionally, attempts at all-around designs may be foiled by the appearance of white streaks. They are especially likely to crop up where the sleeves meet the rest of the shirt. If the background is white from the start, these flaws have a better chance of blending with the rest. Sublimation printing is awesome, but not completely perfect every time. Expect imperfections around seams and folds because the material thickness differs there.

Plain White Shirt

Practice Makes A Perfect Press

To infuse the ink with the shirt’s fabric, you will need heat and pressure. The most common means of accomplishing this is by pressing a clothing iron on the transfer paper. Transfer paper should have recommended pressing times and temperatures. 

Common temperature and pressure used by designers is medium pressure at 385 degrees for 35 seconds. Remember that not all heat presses are calibrated the same so please test your printing before using for production.

Remember to apply even pressure because uneven pressure produces uneven results. Customers expect all-around designs to have consistent quality all around the shirt. Test different amounts of pressure on different shirts, or different areas of the same shirt. 

Once you find the amount that creates your preferred appearance, practices applying that same amount of pressure. You may need to expend a few shirts, but once you can produce the same result consistently, you will have little trouble with customer dissatisfaction.

Clothing Iron

Avoiding Pushing Too Hard

If you try out the advice from the previous section, you should be careful about just how much pressure you apply. The combination of that pressure and the iron’s heat can produce unwanted effects on paper substrates. Too much heat and pressure risks scorching not only the shirt but also the substrate, which means starting from square one and wasting materials.

When finding the ideal amount of pressure for your shirt, just be cautious about using too much pressure. Maybe the design will not be as vivid as you would like. However, that may be preferable than a high risk of completely ruining the ink and the image.

Use High-Quality Wholesale Sublimation Shirts

The first and arguably most vital step to making good sublimation shirts is to acquire high-quality shirts that are compatible with the process. You can find a diverse selection of these shirts at Wholesale Blank Clothes. We offer many sizes and many colors at great prices, which makes the process of customizing and selling these shirts even easier to do right.