How To Press Sublimation Shirts?

How To Press Sublimation Shirts?

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When it comes to creating vibrant and long-lasting designs on shirts, sublimation printing is the way to go. With its ability to infuse ink directly into the fabric, sublimation shirts offer a level of durability and color vibrancy that is hard to match. But how exactly do you press sublimation shirts to achieve the best results? Let's dive into the process and discover the key steps to ensure a successful outcome.

To press sublimation shirts, you'll need a heat press machine, sublimation transfer paper, and a blank polyester shirt. One crucial aspect is to set the temperature and time correctly on your heat press machine, as these variables can greatly impact the quality of the final product. Additionally, make sure to use high-quality sublimation transfer paper and position it properly on the shirt. This will ensure that the design transfers evenly and accurately onto the fabric, resulting in a vibrant and professional-looking sublimation shirt.



How To Press Sublimation Shirts?

Understanding Sublimation Printing on Shirts

Sublimation printing is a popular method used to transfer designs onto shirts, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints. Unlike traditional screen printing, sublimation involves the use of heat and special dyes that transform directly from a solid to a gas, without passing through a liquid state. This process allows the inks to penetrate the shirt's fabric fibers, resulting in vibrant and permanent designs.

To achieve the best results when pressing sublimation shirts, it is important to follow specific techniques and use suitable equipment. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of how to press sublimation shirts, ensuring you achieve professional results each time.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Apparel

The first step in pressing sublimation shirts is selecting the right apparel. For successful sublimation, it is crucial to choose 100% polyester or polyester-coated garments. These fabrics have the ability to absorb and retain the sublimation ink, resulting in vibrant and durable prints.

Avoid using apparel with high cotton content, as cotton fibers resist the sublimation process and won't yield optimal results. Additionally, ensure that the shirts are clean and free from any dirt, lint, or wrinkles before proceeding to the pressing process.

Furthermore, consider the type of shirt you want to press. Different shirt styles, such as t-shirts, polo shirts, or hoodies, may require slight variations in pressing techniques due to differences in fabric weight and thickness.

Step 1.1: Checking Fabric Composition

Before attempting to press a shirt, it is essential to thoroughly check the fabric composition. Most garments will have a tag or label indicating the fabric content. Ensure that it is at least 80-90% polyester for optimal sublimation results. Polyester blends or polyester-coated fabrics are also suitable for sublimation.

Garments with a high cotton content or other natural fibers are not ideal for sublimation printing. The inks used in sublimation cannot penetrate these fibers effectively, resulting in less vibrant and shorter-lasting prints. Therefore, always verify the fabric composition to ensure a successful sublimation process.

In some cases, shirts with a moderate amount of polyester can be used if the manufacturer claims they are suitable for sublimation. However, it is always recommended to perform a test press before proceeding with a larger batch to ensure the desired outcome.

Step 1.2: Preparing the Shirt

Once you have chosen the appropriate apparel, it is crucial to prepare the shirt before pressing. Start by washing and drying the shirt to remove any dirt, dust, or chemicals that may interfere with the sublimation process. Use a mild detergent and avoid fabric softeners, which can create a barrier that prevents the ink from properly adhering to the fabric.

After washing, ensure the shirt is completely dry and free from wrinkles. Wrinkles can interfere with the transfer process and result in an uneven print. Consider using an iron or a garment steamer to remove any stubborn wrinkles before proceeding.

Once the shirt is clean and wrinkle-free, it is ready for the pressing process.

Step 2: Preparing the Design

Before pressing the sublimation shirt, it is essential to have the design ready. The design can be created using various graphic design software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Remember, your design should be a mirror image of how you want it to appear on the shirt.

Once the design is ready, print it using a sublimation printer and sublimation ink on special sublimation paper. The sublimation ink is specifically formulated to convert from a solid to a gas when exposed to heat, allowing it to penetrate the fabric's fibers.

Ensure that the sublimation printer is properly calibrated and the ink is of good quality. Poor calibration or low-quality ink can result in blurry or dull prints.

Step 2.1: Mirror Imaging the Design

When preparing the design for sublimation, it is crucial to mirror or flip the image horizontally. This is because when the design is transferred onto the shirt, it will be reversed. By mirroring the image before printing, you ensure that the final print appears exactly how you intended it to be.

Most graphic design software has a built-in option to mirror or flip the image. Simply select this option before printing to create a mirror image of your design.

Ensure that the mirroring is done correctly, as any text or graphics that should read from left to right will appear reversed if the image is not flipped.

Step 2.2: Cutting the Design

After printing the design, carefully cut around the edges to remove any excess white space or unwanted borders. This will allow for a clean and seamless transfer onto the shirt.

Be cautious not to cut into the design itself or damage any important elements. Take your time and use sharp scissors or a paper cutter for precise cuts.

Once the design is properly cut, it is ready to be transferred onto the sublimation shirt.

Step 3: Heat Pressing the Sublimation Shirt

The heat pressing process is the key step in sublimation printing. It involves using a heat press machine to transfer the sublimation ink from the paper onto the shirt. Follow these steps to ensure a successful heat press:

  • Preheat the heat press machine to the recommended temperature for sublimation, typically around 375°F (190°C).
  • Adjust the pressure of the heat press machine according to the fabric thickness and type of shirt.
  • Place a Teflon sheet or parchment paper on the heat press to protect the shirt from direct heat and prevent ink bleed onto the upper platen.
  • Position the shirt on the heat press, ensuring it is smooth and without any wrinkles.
  • Place the printed design face-down on the shirt, aligning it with the desired position.
  • Cover the design and shirt with another Teflon sheet or parchment paper to create a sandwich-like effect.
  • Close the heat press, applying the recommended pressure and time specified by the sublimation paper manufacturer or equipment instructions.
  • Once the pressing time is complete, carefully open the heat press and lift the upper platen.
  • Remove the Teflon sheet or parchment paper and peel the sublimation paper from the shirt while it is still hot.
  • Allow the shirt to cool completely before handling or wearing.

Step 3.1: Being Mindful of Temperature and Pressure

Temperature and pressure are critical factors in the sublimation heat press process. It is important to adhere to the recommended temperature and pressure settings for sublimation, as high temperatures can result in scorching or burning the fabric, while low temperatures may not activate the sublimation ink effectively.

Similarly, adjusting the pressure of the heat press machine is essential to ensure proper ink transfer. Too much pressure can cause the ink to bleed or distort, while insufficient pressure may result in incomplete transfers.

Refer to the equipment manufacturer's guidelines and the sublimation paper instructions for recommended temperature and pressure settings. Make any necessary adjustments based on your specific equipment and fabric thickness.

Step 4: Post-Pressing Care

Once the sublimation shirt has been heat pressed, it is important to follow proper care instructions to maintain the longevity of the print. Consider the following post-pressing care tips:

  • Allow the shirt to cool completely before handling or folding to prevent any potential damage to the print.
  • Wash the shirt inside out in cold water with like colors, using a mild detergent. Avoid bleach or any harsh chemical detergents.
  • Avoid tumble-drying the shirt or exposing it to high heat as it can fade the sublimation print. Instead, hang or lay flat to air dry.
  • Avoid ironing directly on the sublimated area, even if the shirt requires ironing. Use a pressing cloth or iron on the reverse side of the print.
  • Store the shirt flat or folded neatly to prevent any creases or damage to the print.

Following these care instructions will help maintain the quality and vibrancy of the sublimation print, ensuring it lasts for a long time.


How To Press Sublimation Shirts?

How to Press Sublimation Shirts

Pressing sublimation shirts is an important step in the sublimation process to ensure crisp and vibrant designs with a long-lasting print. Here is a professional guide on how to press sublimation shirts:

Step 1: Prepare Your Equipment

Before pressing the sublimation shirt, ensure that you have all the necessary equipment ready. This includes a heat press machine, sublimation paper, heat-resistant tape, and a protective sheet.

Step 2: Set Up the Heat Press Machine

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to set up the heat press machine. Adjust the temperature, pressure, and time settings according to the sublimation paper and fabric you are using.

Step 3: Prepare the Sublimation Shirt

Lay the sublimation shirt flat on the heat press machine. Ensure that there are no wrinkles or folds on the fabric, as they can affect the transfer of the design.

Step 4: Position and Tape the Sublimation Paper

Place the sublimation paper with the printed design facing down onto the shirt. Use heat-resistant tape to secure the paper in place, ensuring it doesn't shift during the transfer process.

Step 5: Press the Sublimation Shirt

Close the heat press
### Key Takeaways for "How To Press Sublimation Shirts?"

1. Use a Heat Press Machine

Invest in a quality heat press machine for best results.

2. Set the Correct Temperature

Adjust the heat press to the recommended temperature for sublimation printing.

3. Prep the Shirt

Ensure the sublimation shirt is clean and wrinkle-free before pressing.

4. Place Transfer Paper Correctly

Position the sublimation transfer paper on the shirt with the design facing down.

5. Apply Pressure and Time

Press the heat press down firmly and follow the recommended pressing time.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about how to press sublimation shirts:

1. What is the best temperature for pressing sublimation shirts?

The ideal temperature for pressing sublimation shirts is around 400°F (205°C). This temperature ensures that the sublimation ink on the shirt is properly activated and transfers onto the fabric. It is important to use a heat press machine with accurate temperature control to avoid overheating or underheating the shirt.

Additionally, it is recommended to use a non-stick Teflon sheet or a silicone sheet on top of the sublimation paper and shirt during the pressing process. This helps protect the shirt from scorching and prevents the sublimation ink from sticking to the heat press platen.

2. How long should I press the sublimation shirt?

The pressing time for sublimation shirts varies depending on the heat press machine and the specific sublimation paper and ink being used. As a general rule, it is recommended to press the shirt for around 45-60 seconds. This duration allows enough time for the ink to fully transfer onto the fabric without causing any discoloration or damage.

However, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions provided with the sublimation paper and ink for precise pressing time recommendations. Factors such as the type of fabric and the design complexity can also affect the pressing time, so it's essential to experiment and adjust accordingly while maintaining the recommended temperature.

3. Can I press sublimation shirts with a regular iron?

While it is technically possible to press sublimation shirts with a regular iron, it is not recommended. The heat distribution and pressure control of a heat press machine are far superior to that of a regular iron. Using a heat press ensures consistent and even application of heat and pressure, which is crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting sublimation transfers.

Additionally, most regular irons do not reach the high temperatures required for sublimation. Even if the iron reaches the necessary temperature, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the pressing process.

4. Do I need to pre-press sublimation shirts before transferring the design?

Pre-pressing sublimation shirts before transferring the design is highly recommended. Pre-pressing helps remove any moisture or wrinkles from the fabric, ensuring a smooth and even surface for the sublimation transfer. It also helps minimize the risk of the ink bleeding or transfer inconsistencies.

To pre-press the shirt, place it on the heat press machine at the recommended temperature for a few seconds without any sublimation paper or design. Gently press down to remove any moisture or wrinkles, and then proceed with the actual sublimation transfer process.

5. How should I care for sublimation shirts after pressing?

To ensure the longevity of sublimation shirts, it is crucial to follow proper care instructions. Here are some tips:

  • Wash the shirt inside out with cold water to prevent color fading.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach that can damage the sublimation print.
  • Avoid ironing directly on the sublimation design; use a pressing cloth if needed.
  • Avoid drying the shirt in direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure can fade the colors over time.

By following these care instructions, you can preserve the vibrancy and quality of the sublimation print on the shirt for an extended period.



In conclusion, pressing sublimation shirts requires careful attention to detail and following specific steps to ensure the best results. It is important to start by prepping the shirt, ensuring it is clean and wrinkle-free. Then, set the heat press machine to the appropriate temperature and time for the type of fabric being used.

Next, place the sublimation transfer paper with the design on top of the shirt and position it correctly. Apply even pressure and heat using the heat press machine. After the pressing is complete, let the shirt cool down before removing the transfer paper. Finally, inspect the shirt for any imperfections and make any necessary adjustments. By following these steps, you can achieve professional-looking sublimation shirts that will last.