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Are you sublimation geeks day-dreaming of flawless, brightly printed sweatshirts? Discover the art of sublimation on sweatshirts, a technique that embeds your favorite graphics directly into the fabric for an unparalleled finish. This no-fluff article unveils key steps to achieve long-lasting, professional-grade results, ensuring your designs stand out and withstand the test of time. Your day dreaming is almost over as we help you convert those dreams to reality!

Key Takeaways

  • Sublimation lets you create vibrant, full-color designs that feel soft on sweatshirts, thanks to special dyes that become part of the fabric. Don’t forget to explore the best sublimation printer for shirts too.
  • Polyester sweatshirts are the best match for sublimation printing, offering vivid colors and a durable, comfortable end product. For those wondering about using black shirt blanks for sublimation, you can check out my separate article.
  • Getting into sublimation printing requires a workspace with the right gear like a heat press, sublimation printer, and protective equipment for safety and quality results.

Exploring the Basics of Sublimation on Sweatshirts

A colorful design sublimated on a sweatshirt

Sublimation on sweatshirts and sublimation shirts is a transformative process that gives you the freedom to bring your design dreams to life. It all starts with special sublimation dyes, applied onto transfer paper. When these dyes are subjected to heat, they turn into vapor and dye the fabric by becoming part of its fibers, creating a vibrant and lasting print. Can you imagine your favorite design becoming an integral part of your perfect comfy sweatshirt or hoodie? That’s the magic of sublimation printing, and it’s how sublimation works!

You might wonder why choose sublimation instead of traditional heat transfer methods. The answer lies in the unique capabilities of sublimation. It enables the creation of high-quality gradients and full-color designs that are nearly undetectable to touch. This means your custom sublimation hoodies will not only look great, but they’ll feel great too, maintaining the soft and comfy feel of the fabric. So, with sublimation, you’re not just printing on your sweatshirt–you’re making your design a part of it! We also cover reviews of brands for sublimation hoodies and sweatshirts separately.

The Perfect Match: Polyester Sweatshirts and Sublimation Ink

Polyester sweatshirt with sublimation ink design

To achieve maximum vibrancy with sublimation printing, the right companion for your sublimation ink is crucial – and that’s where polyester sweatshirts come into play. Why polyester? Polyester sweatshirts, especially those with a high polyester content, are ideal for achieving vibrant and long-lasting colors. This means your awesome design will not only look stunning but will also withstand the test of time.

Apart from giving you vibrant colors, polyester fabric is preferred due to its durability, resistance to shrinking and wrinkling, and moisture-wicking properties. These qualities contribute to the longevity and comfort of the sublimated polyester hoodie. So, now you know why your sublimation printer and polyester sweatshirts are a match made in heaven!

Setting Up Your Workspace: Essential Equipment for Sublimation Printing

Eager to begin your sublimation journey? The first step involves setting up your workspace. You’ll need a sublimation printer and a heat press machine that can reach at least 350°F (175°C). The heat press is a crucial part of the sublimation process, allowing the sublimation ink to turn into vapor and penetrate the fabric. If you are wondering what sublimation printer to use, our article on the best Sawgrass sublimation printers has got you covered.

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But the equipment is just the beginning. To ensure a smooth printing process, you’ll also need sublimation paper and heat-resistant tape. The paper is where you’ll print your design before transferring it to the sweatshirt, while the tape will secure the printed transfer in place during pressing, preventing any movement that could distort your design.

Safety is also a priority. Always use white butcher paper to protect surfaces from ink transfer, as well as heat-resistant gloves and mats for safe handling and cooling of hot items. With your workspace ready, you’re all set to embark on your sublimation adventure!

Step-by-Step Guide to Sublimating Your First Sweatshirt

A plain white sublimation sweatshirt blank

Having covered the basics and arranged our workspace, it’s time to dive into the process! The following sections will guide you through the step-by-step procedure of sublimating your inaugral sweatshirt. From preparing your printed image to mastering the heat press technique and applying the finishing touches, we’ll guide you through each step to ensure you achieve a vibrant and long-lasting design.

Preparing Your Printed Image

Starting off, we need to prepare your image for sublimation. You’ll want to ensure your designs are high-resolution for sharp and detailed prints. Using design software like Adobe Illustrator or Canva, create your design ensuring a resolution of 300 DPI. Remember, the quality of your printed image will directly impact the final print on your sweatshirt.[1]

Color accuracy is crucial too. To get the colors just right, employ color-management software and print color charts onto sublimation paper. These charts, when sublimated onto a substrate, will help you choose the right colors for your final product. And don’t rush this step–taking the time to perfect your design will pay off in the vibrant result on your sublimation hoodie!

The Heat Press Technique

After your image is prepped, it’s the perfect moment to familiarize yourself with your heat press. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Set your heat press to the recommended temperature of approximately 385°F.
  2. Place the sweatshirt on the heat press.
  3. Press the sweatshirt for the precise duration of 40-60 seconds to ensure the design adheres properly.

Before you add the design, pre-press the garment for 20 seconds to remove moisture and minimize fabric shrinkage. This step prepares your sweatshirt for receiving the design. And don’t forget to utilize foam or felt inserts. These are larger than the print yet smaller than the transfer paper and help prevent pressing lines around the design.

With these techniques, you’ll be a pro at the heat press in no time!

Finishing Touches for a Long Lasting Design

After transferring your image, the next step is to add the final touches to your sublimated sweatshirt. Allow your sweatshirt to cool completely after pressing before handling it. This step ensures the design remains vibrant and prevents damage to the print and fabric.

Peeling the transfer paper off your sweatshirt is a delicate process. Be sure to do this carefully by starting at one corner and moving smoothly to the opposite corner to maintain the integrity of the design. And remember, the devil is in the details! For instance, you can use an EasyPress Mini to erase press marks left from sublimation.

With these finishing touches, your design will not only look great but also last longer!

Personalized Apparel: Customizing Different Areas of Your Sweatshirt

Custom silver design on a sweatshirt

The potential for personalization with sublimation printing is boundless. From the pocket to the sleeves, and even the hood–every part of your sublimated hoodie can be a canvas for your creativity. With sublimation sweatshirt blanks, you have the perfect starting point for your unique designs.

Picture a unique design flowing seamlessly across the pocket of your own hoodies. Or perhaps, an eye-catching pattern adorning the sleeves. Each area requires specific attention to detail for vibrant results. For instance, for hoodie pockets, ensure that designs are well-aligned within the seams; for larger pockets, piece together multiple prints to maintain a continuous design.

Likewise, when customizing hoodie sleeves, use pressing pillows to raise the transfer area and carefully select the placement of the design. With these tips, you’ll be creating personalized apparel in no time![2]

Caring for Your Sublimated Sweatshirt

Sublimation sweatshirt next to bottles of detergent

Similar to other clothing items, maintaining the quality and vibrancy of your sublimated sweatshirt demands appropriate care. For instance, it’s essential to allow the sublimation ink to set for at least 24 hours before washing the sweatshirt for the first time.

When it’s time to wash your dark shirts and sweatshirts, turn them inside out before washing to protect the design from the agitation of the washing machine and direct contact with detergent. And remember, never use bleach on sublimated sweatshirts as it can damage the ink, causing the design to fade or become discolored.

By following these care tips, your sublimated sweatshirt will maintain its vibrant look and comfy feel for years to come, making it perfect for everyday wear!

Troubleshooting Common Sublimation Challenges

Despite the fun and rewards of sublimation printing, you might face a few hurdles on your journey. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! If you’re facing issues like ghosting or gassing out during sublimation, securing the transfer paper to the substrate with heat-resistant tape or repositionable spray adhesive can help.

And what about sublimation on darker fabrics or 100% cotton? While these can be tricky, using dark transfer papers or specialized coatings can augment the ink-fabric bonding, leading to better results. By understanding these common challenges and their solutions, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate your sublimation journey confidently.

Expanding Your Sublimation Projects: Beyond Sweatshirts

Sublimation printing extends beyond just sweatshirts. Indeed, it’s a flexible technique that can be utilized on various materials that can absorb the ink during the heat transfer process. Some examples of materials that can be used for sublimation printing include:

  • Felt
  • Polymer-coated hardboard
  • Ribbon
  • Acrylic
  • Vinyl
  • Faux leather

The possibilities are endless!

Take faux leather, for instance. This material receives the ink effectively and can be fashioned into a diverse array of products, including stylish notebooks and purses. So, why limit your creativity to just hoodies and sweatshirts? With sublimation printing, you can expand your creative horizons and discover new possibilities!

Cost Analysis: Investing in Sublimation Printing for Sweatshirts

A sign on highway reads ‘Cost Analysis”

Initiating a sublimation printing business, or even a DIY project, demands a certain level of investment. From equipment to ongoing costs such as sublimation blanks, labor, and electricity for large heat presses, you need to consider various factors.

But don’t let this deter you. With the right pricing strategies, sublimation printing can be a profitable venture. For instance, wholesale pricing could involve doubling or tripling the production costs, while for retail, the production cost could be multiplied by 4X to 6X. Remember, the scale of production has a direct impact on profitability, so it’s important to strategize effectively for success.


Through this journey, we’ve explored the fascinating world of sublimation printing on sweatshirts–from understanding the basics, setting up your workspace, mastering the printing process, personalizing your sweatshirt, to caring for your final product. We also looked at common challenges and how to overcome them, as well as the versatility of sublimation printing and the potential costs involved. Sublimation printing is an exciting realm of endless creative possibilities. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your sublimation printer, a comfy sweatshirt, and start creating!

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature do you sublimate sweatshirts?

When sublimating sweatshirts, the recommended temperature is around 400°F. Keep an eye on the heat – it’s all about getting the temperature just right!

How long do I sublimate on a hoodie?

To sublimate on a hoodie, use a sublimation printer to print the design in mirror, secure it on the hoodie with heat tape, then press with a silicone sheet for 60-70 seconds at 195°C. This will ensure the design is properly transferred onto the hoodie.

What type of sweatshirt is best for sublimation?

Polyester sweatshirts are the best choice for sublimation printing because they have a smooth surface that allows for optimal ink transfer. While cotton sweatshirts can also be used, the results are generally less impressive than with polyester.

Why is polyester preferred for sublimation printing?

Polyester is preferred for sublimation printing because it has a synergistic relationship with sublimation ink, resulting in vibrant, long-lasting colors and it also has durable, resistant, and moisture-wicking properties. So, it’s a great choice for creating high-quality prints.

What equipment is needed for sublimation printing?

To do sublimation printing, you’ll need a sublimation printer, a heat press that can reach 350°F, sublimation paper, and heat-resistant tape. Get ready to dive into sublimation printing!


  1. How do I change mouse sensitivity (DPI)? – Microsoft Support. (n.d.). https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/how-do-i-change-mouse-sensitivity-dpi-11c0e36c-e348-526b-fdde-80c5d41f606f
  2. Durocher, Y. (2021, November 10). How AI and mass customization could change the fashion industry. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2021/11/10/how-ai-and-mass-customization-could-change-the-fashion-industry/?sh=a846ca50b9e9
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