We know, there are a set of rules and some beliefs in dye-sublimation. If you aren’t new to this, you may be aware of the fact that the substrate must be polyester/polymer-coated and white. Whether it is tile, aluminum, or wood; it needs to be white. Now, this sounds like boundaries for enthusiasts, hobbyists, and print shops that may have a large product line that is not white. So, there must be an alternative way that achieves an elegant print although the shirt is not white. Exactly, I am here to tell you all the easy tips and tricks to sublimate on colored shirts so that you can get started today.
Can you sublimate colored shirts? Yes, you can sublimate on colored shirts. But, there will be varying results in terms of contrast and vibrancy of the printed image. The colors on the white shirt come out to be super vibrant. Whereas the dark shirt had the least contrast and the blue shirt looks slightly different than the white. So, we conclude that the darker the garment the less vibrant the printed image will be.
Well, then it seems to be compromising to perform sublimation on colored shirts. So, here comes the challenge. I did a couple of experiments on a colored t-shirt such as pressing with different images, adjusting time, temperature & pressure of the heat press, wash test, and so on. The major difficulty I faced is to achieve a perfect color reproduction on a non-white substrate. And of course, sublimation does not have white ink so you cannot print a white background and achieve the same print quality as the white shirt. After performing various tests, I could achieve vibrant print on a colored shirt. You can see the results below:
Steps to Perform Sublimation On Colored Shirts
People followed my procedure and they had success with sublimating to things that are not white. As the trick was tested and proved to be working for many, including me; I am sharing the procedure with you to perform sublimation on colored shirts. Even if your shirt is not 100% polyester or a 65% polyester and 25% cotton, this trick is going to work for you. Please go through the following steps below:
Step 1: Your design should be darker than the garment
This is the key trick. As I performed a couple of experiments with designs, I found that the light-colored designs were good on white shirts but it wasn’t on the colored. So, I considered preparing artwork that was significantly darker than the fabric.
Flat or tonal solid colors work well. Any white areas on the image will not be transferred onto the fabric and appear the same color as the garment. For achieving high-quality images with a professional print finish, you may use Sublijet HD ink. If your ink is working well, no need to change. You may get it if you are buying a new sublimation ink.
Step 2: Heat up your Heat Press
Once you have printed your design onto sublimation paper, warm up your heat press. Keep the temperature to 190 degrees Celsius to press with the light to medium pressure.
Step 3: Place your shirt and pre-press
Place your shirt into the heat press with the printable surface facing upwards. Smoothen the surface with a lint roller for any extruding fibers or creases. Then pre-press the garment for a few seconds. Remember to put a Teflon sheet above.
Step 4: Lay your design
Lay your design over the top of the t-shirt, print side face down. Fix it with heat-resistant tape and lay the Teflon sheet over the top.
Step 5: Press the design
Press under light to medium pressure with the set temperature(in step-2) for 50 seconds. When the pressing time is up, lift the heat press, remove the teflon sheet and peel back the sublimation paper smoothly and quickly.
Note: The print will be slightly wet when taking the paper off the garment. So, remove it carefully without smudging the paper against the fabric. This will lead to ghosting effect in sublimation that will ruin your print.
Step 6: Allow it to cool
Remove the garment from the heat press and allow it to cool. And there you get the sublimation image on colored shirts.
Didn’t you find how easy it is to sublimate colored shirts? No matter any color i.e. blue, green, pink, yellow, white, violet, black, etc, following the above steps and tricks makes it too easy to print.