How to Sublimate on 100% Cotton Sweatshirt?

How to Sublimate on 100% Cotton Sweatshirt?

Today we are going to sublimate a 100% cotton sweatshirt. Mostly it is Gildan 100% heavy cotton pre-shrunk. Pre-shrunk t-shirts are good for sublimation printing because when you wash them, they won’t shrink and don’t affect the image.

We can use sublimation printing on 100% cotton sweatshirts that are permanent, washable, dryable, not going to go away. The permanent design is not going to crack or peel if you spread apart the fabric. Keep in mind if you use infusible ink or sublimation ink on a cotton-colored t-shirt(not white), it’s translucent ink. The color of the shirt is going to show through the print.

Tips to Sublimate 100% Cotton Sweatshirt:

Now, let’s get to the point. Previously, we knew that sublimation printing is suitable for a polyester surface. Then, how to achieve that onto a cotton t-shirt? The answer is, you can apply a polyester coating such as a Dyepress Poly-T Plus on 100% cotton and cotton blends. Similarly, we gonna use this solution to sublimate sweatshirts.

Let’s get started:

1. Apply the polyester coating:

The first thing you need to do is take 2 ounces of Poly-T Plus solution into the spray bottle and mix it with 6 ounces of purified water. Next, shake up the solution and mix properly.

Now, let’s get the sweatshirt. Now, if you want a more vibrant print, polyester is better. So, even if you have 40% polyester, it will give you a little more vibrant result. But we are going with a 100% cotton sweatshirt.

  • Firstly, put a towel on the printing surface that absorbs some of the moisture.
  • Then place the sweatshirt onto it. Finally, you have a design(printed transfer) that you put on the shirt.
  • Use a piece of card stock similar in size, which gives you a guide of the image area to spray the corners with the poly spray. We perform this to define the borders that confine our spray area.
  • Then begin spraying the shirts within that area.

It is a little bit harder to tell where it or isn’t wet as it is a white sweatshirt. Just check by touching if the image area is complete with the polyester solution.

2. Use a foam roller:

Use a foam roller to break and push down the moisture in the shirt.

If needed, you can add a little bit more spray to get it pretty saturated but not sopping wet. Again use the roller to push down the solution into the fabric.

3. Apply heat press to let sweatshirt absorb polyester coating:

So, we will press it for 30 seconds at 330F with high pressure using a heat press. Do not heat press directly; use parchment paper. That’s going to dry the polyester solution(poly T-plus), and it also removes any site, and you will probably see a bit of steam coming out of the press. Most importantly, if you have 30 seconds completed, lift the heat press, and we are going to give it a second coat of poly solution.

  • Take the roller and roll it into the shirt.
  • Next, place the parchment paper on the top and lower the upper platen of the heat press for the next 20 seconds at 330F temperature.
  • When the 30 seconds are up with the second press, open the press.
  • The next step is we need the heat press temperature to 385F. Allow it to preheat for five seconds keeping the upper platen raised until it reaches the desired temperature.
  • After preheat, pre-press for 10 seconds to remove any excess moisture.

Now, you are done. You can check your shirt feels stretch and a little bit stiff. It feels totally dry, and that we have achieved a polyester coating on a cotton sweatshirt. This makes it perfect for sublimation printing.

4. Start Sublimating 100% Cotton Sweatshirt:

Next, we gonna sublimate. The heat press temperature is at 385 F, and you are gonna lower it for pre-press for five seconds. There we go.

  • Now, you have the design printed on the transfer paper.
  • Next, put your printed transfer face down right on the top of the sweatshirt, cover the top with parchment paper, and press at 385F for 70 seconds.
  • Remove the parchment paper, and slowly peel off the transfer from one of the corners, allow it cool.
  • And finally, your sublimated 100% cotton sweatshirt is ready.


Written by Davis Brown

Hi! I'm Davis Brown, Head of Editorial Team of HowNest. We are team of researchers, writers and veterans. We publish articles, whitepapers, journals and blogs with full-proof research and proper analysis. We focus on various areas such as eCommerce, industrial operations, corporate management, technologies, and DIY solutions.

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