Sublimation for Beginners
Updated: Jun 28
What is sublimation?
Sublimation is one method of transferring an image to a substrate with heat. The printer, paper, and ink used to create a sublimation transfer are all specifically manufactured for this process- meaning standard printers, paper and ink cannot be pressed using this method.
What is sublimation used for?
Most people looking into sublimation are trying to make t-shirts and it is a great method for t-shirt making! However, sublimation transfers can be pressed on products ranging from keychains and jewelry to license plates and blankets. Sublimation can really take your business to the next level!
THE PROS OF BEGINNING SUBLIMATION
Sublimation does not fade or crack in the wash.
We work with vinyl, cotton and on occasion screen print transfers. They all fade, crack or peel over time. The last thing you want as a beginner is to make products that do not stand the test of time. You can rest assured that once pressed, sublimated products will remain just as vibrant as the day they were pressed for years to come.
Beginners can press multiple products witho
ut learning multiple techniques.
I started our small business in November of 2019 with nothing but a vinyl cutter and a large dose of determination. I know on a personal level that learner’s fatigue is real. I am not even sure if that is a real term, but it ought to be.
Starting a new business or hobby feels a little like drinking from a firehose.
If you are looking for something versatile that people will love, sublimation is for you. There is one process to learn and then that process is repeated multiple times.
Sublimation is easy to customize.
If you are new to the handmade product world, just trust me and you can skip this part. However, if you have worked with vinyl or screen printing, you know it can be time consuming. Beginning with sublimation takes just as much up-front re
search, but it is not nearly as time consuming as weeding vinyl. Plus, it is more versatile, allowing you to print and press full color transfers.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Sublimation is made for lightly colored polyester. I cannot emphasize this enough. We often have customers message us trying to figure out what went wrong. They have pressed their transfer onto a black cotton shirt.
When the ink is pressed, it becomes apart of the substrate it is pressed on. Other t
-shirt methods lay on top of the garment. This feature makes sublimation durable, but it also means that dark colored substrates over power the color of the ink.
There is good news. Technology is rapidly evolving, making sublimation onto cotton doable. There are now sublimation sprays on the market. By using the spray, it creates a layer that allows the sublimation ink to bind- just like it would to polyester in a t-shirt.
THINK SUBLIMATION IS FOR YOU?
We have yet to speak to someone who regretted adding sublimation to their shop and we have worked with hundreds of crafters and small business owners!
So, what do you need to get started?
Did you know that you can try out sublimation without investing in all of the equipment?
We offer custom sublimation transfers here.
We front the cost of the printer, ink and paper so you don’t have to. All you need to do is press.
How does it work?
After your purchase is complete, you can send your sublimation design to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name in the subject line so we can connect your order to your email address.
We ship your ready-to-press transfer to the address provided when the order was placed.
What do I need to get started?
-substrate (like a t-shirt)
– heat press
– blow out paper
– press pillow
– heat tape (recommended)
Still have questions?
Please visit our FAQ section.
5 of the best kept Cricut secrets:
1. There are alternatives to transfer tape.
Transfer tape can be a sticky business- no pun intended! There are a million different types of transfer tape out there and some of them are simply too sticky. Whether you need a lighter grip or you want to save a few bucks, these alternatives might be for you.
Contact paper: you can buy it from Walmart or the dollar store. I do most of my shopping online and bought this one from amazon. You may have to try a few brands to find the one you like best, but you really can’t beat the price of a roll of dollar store contact paper.
Blue Painter’s Tape (FOR YOUR DECLICATE PROJECTS): I was struggling with the curved surface of an ornament and thought- there must be a better way! There is- tape! I have used blue painter’s tape and regular scotch clear tape with great success. The key is patience. I will do a video with tips and tricks to help those struggling with curved surfaces.
BONUS TIP: you can also use contact paper as stencil vinyl, making contact paper the BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Just be sure to change your pressure settings first. Otherwise, your machine may cut straight through. I’ve added a picture to show you how I cut mine.
2. The best weeding tool ISN’T a weeding tool at all! I call it my “stabby”, but I am pretty sure it is made for quilting or maybe sewing? I’m including a picture for you. If anyone knows what the real name of my “stabby” is, PLEASE EDUCATE ME IN THE COMMENTS. Here is a link to something similar. There are a ton of options, but losing my Cricut weeding tool was the best thing that ever happened to me. Just stab and go! Maybe I should start calling it my “pokey” -that’s a lot less violent. Just poke and go.
3. This secret piggy backs off of secret #2- your stuff doesn’t have to be (and maybe even shouldn’t be) Cricut or Silhouette brand.
We already talked about other options for transfer tape and tools, but your vinyl options are limitless as well!
This one might seem straight forward, but when I first started, my machine came with Cricut vinyl and I thought since it was made for my machine, it was the best for my machine. NOPE! It wasn’t the best for my machine or my pocketbook.
Here are some other options:
651 vinyl– I have ordered from them several times. The shipping is pretty quick (and free on qualifying purchaces) AND they add candy to the box BROWNIE POINTS
Amazon vinyl- I’ve purchased off of amazon in a pinch several times and have yet to be disappointed. Be sure you get vinyl from reputable sellers with tons of reviews and 4.5 stars.
I’ve personally ordered from these (I’ll update this list as I order from different sellers):
4. This “secret” might be obvious to others, but it took me a bit to figure it out. You don’t need to pay for Cricut’s monthly subscription. I think as a beginner it is super helpful, but NOT NECESSARY. Boy, if Cricut reads this blog post, I might be in trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Cricut and I actually do pay for the subscription, but if you are on a budget- do not think that you need it to create awesome stuff.
There are so many free SVG cut files out there! And if you don’t find what you are looking for, you can make your own SVG files! Let me know if you are interested and I will do a tutorial.
Follow me on Pinterest– I have a board for free SVG cut files and I will post one free cut file per month! In fact, you can get your first free svg files below:
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
5. You can download free fonts.
Just be sure to pay attention to the license. Most fonts are listed for personal use only, but there are a whole host of free fonts for commercial use as well!
Here are a few sites to check out:
BONUS TIP: Get a second job to pay for your new hobby!
DOWNLOAD OUR SUBLIMATION QUICK START GUIDE FOR FREE– JUST SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN AND ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.
Frequently asked questions about placing on order for sublimation transfers:
1. How do I place an order?
Add the transfers to your cart and check out.
If you’d like to see more reviews for our products, you can find them at etsy.com/shop/madeperfectinlove.
2. Where do I send my image?
You can send your image to us via email. Our email address is email@example.com
3. How do you re-size my images?
Yes, we crop out any blank space and re-size to the sizes ordered. Please keep in mind that the size ordered is based on the longest side of your image.
4. Can I send multiple different images?
5. Do you have a minimum order quantity?
No, you can order one or 100 transfers.
6. Do you offer wholesale prices?
Yes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if you order qualifies. Please include the images, image titles, sizes and quantities needed.
7. What if I need a size that is not listed?
No problem just message us!
8. What file types do you accept?
We can work with almost any file type. If you have a Silouette Studio file, please email us the file prior to ordering. High quality PNG and SVG files are best.
Frequently asked questions about sublimation:
9. If sublimation does not print white, what will the white in my design look like?
Anywhere you see white in a design, it will show through to the color of your shirt or substrate.
10. Do you do custom design work?
We do! Email us with details and we will get back to you soon. If we cannot do it, w
e probably know someone who can.
11. Where do I find sublimation designs?
We recommend searching Etsy for sublimation PNG files. You can also find quality designs from Creative Market and Design Bundles.
12. What do I need to press my transfer?
substrate (like a t-shirt)
blow out paper
heat tape (recommended)
13. Will an iron work?
No, we do not recommend an iron. The reason is that sublimation is very temperature and pressure sensitive.
14. Will an easy press work?
Also, no. We have had some customers use an easy press on smaller images with success, but we do not recommend it for the same reasons listed above.
15. What are the recommended instructions for pressing?
Please keep in mind that these times and temperatures are a great starting place, but they are only that, recommendations. Sublimation is part science and part art that takes practice to perfect. Do not get discouraged if the first press does not turn out. Ours did not either!
Please see the chart below:
16. Can I press on regular coffee mugs?
No, mugs made for sublimation have a special coat on them that allows the ink to adhere to the surface properly
17. What supplies do I need for pressing cups and mugs?
There are two methods for pressing mugs. The chart above has instructions for pressing mugs in a mug press. For this, you just need a mug press, your transfer, and heat tape.
The second method is to bake the mugs. This method requires a convection oven, mug wraps, heat tape and your transfers. We have used both methods with good results.
Please sure you use a dedicated oven. It is not recommended to eat out of the same oven you sublimate in.
18. Can I press on dark colors?
No. Sublimation is specifically made for lightly colored polyester. Some of our customers sublimate onto white glitter HTV and then apply that to a dark shirt.
19. What materials are good for sublimation?
Lightly colored polyester or approved sublimation blanks are best for sublimating. Do not worry, there are plenty of products to choose from!
20. Will the image crack or wash out?
No, sublimation images are permanent. I have noticed if I wash my coffee mugs on the hottest setting, they fade after 5-10 years but the images are still very much there.