Welcome to the last article of the 3-part Beginners Sublimation series! If you missed the first two you can check them out here and here. But today I will teach you how to sublimate onto a 100% polyester t-shirt. This one will be pretty quick since the other two posts taught the behind-the-scenes stuff about what supplies you'll need and then setting up your printer profile.

As mentioned in Part 2, I am a huge fan of Design Bundles. Ok, maybe I'm biased because I work for them, but I was a customer before I was a designer and I am even more convinced now that Design Bundles is the absolute BEST place that you can find high-quality SVGs, sublimation files, and so much more. They love their designers just as much as they love their customers, y'all. Seriously. 

Anywho, I digress. They have FREE designs (and even MORE free designs when you sign up for Plus) and today I will show you how to press one of those free designs onto a shirt. I used this free sunflower design. It's so cute! I'm going to press it onto a little toddler shirt for my itty bitty boo, Gracie. 

You will note that you will need a polyester shirt. That is really the only down side to sublimation -- you have to use garments that are at least 50% polyester AND that are light in color (no black or navy, unfortunately), but to get the BEST results in sublimation, it really needs to be 100% polyester and it needs to be white. (Read on to find out how you can sublimation on ANY material of ANY color!)

You will need the following items for today's tutorial:

  • Free sublimation design, found here
  • A-sub sublimation paper, found here
  • Adhesive spray, any kind will do. I used this one
  • Heat press + towel or pressing mat to protect your surface
  • 100% polyester shirt
  • Butcher paper, found here

Once you have your design picked out and printed (click here for instructions on setting up your printer and print settings for sublimation), you're ready to go! Note: make sure you size down your design to fit the shirt you are using so that it will fit. Just measure! And then when you print, make sure "Fit to Page" is NOT checked.

I like to cut my design down so that I don't have a lot of excess paper to mess with. You will notice that it is BACKWARDS in the pic below. That is EXACTLY what we want. Backwards = good. If you can read your design, you did it wrong and you will need to go back and re-print it with "Mirror Image" checked. 

Prep your shirt by ironing out any wrinkles. Then you will want to cut a piece of butcher paper that will fit inside the shirt. We do this step to prevent the design from bleeding onto the back of the shirt. #notagoodlook

Next, you will want to spray your design with the adhesive spray, just lightly and then line it up on your shirt where you want it to go. The spray is there to prevent movement, which will cause ghosting and we don't want ghosting. You might see some people using tape. I personally do not use tape because of tape marks. Feel free to experiment, though! I have had great results using adhesive spray. 

Place your design face down where you want it and cover your design with another piece of butcher paper. Make sure this piece is at least the same size as your press so that it protects your shirt. I use my Cricut Easy Press to press my designs. 385° for about 40-45 seconds should be plenty and should not cause any scorching issues. You don't need to apply any pressure, either. Just lay it on top, hit the timer and you're all set. That's it!

Look how pretty! And the shirt turned out great, too! ;)  It turned out SO vibrant -- I just LOVE sublimation so much. That's my little cutie, Gracie, by the way. :) She's my wild child. Olivia is my 9 year old and she wants a shirt, too - so we will have to pick something different and get that going for her! 

So, that's a wrap for the sublimation series! I really hope you enjoyed it and I hope I at least helped one single lost soul out there become a sublimation pro! 

Click the image to download the cheat sheet for part 3! 


And in case you missed it, I did a video tutorial on how to sublimate on Glitter HTV so that you can apply that to ANY type of material, not just polyester -- which also means ANY COLOR! Sublimating onto HTV has really opened the door for SO MANY possibilities, it's pretty amazing. Check out the video here -- or watch it below! 



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