How to Sublimate On Cotton – Dye Sublimation Printing

Printed outfits with beautiful custom designs, logos, and graphics are so trendy these days. You will see many people wearing shirts that have sublimation prints on them. If you are one of the people who love printed outfits, especially shirts, then you can do it with the help of sublimation printing. Now you are thinking how to sublimate on cotton or can you sublimate on cotton or other fabric? Do not worry we will discuss it in detail. Sublimation printing is a good and cost effective business as well.

how to sublimate on cotton

If you are looking for ideas to start a business, you can choose a sublimation printing business as it is in fashion these days. Cotton is the best fabric to work with out of all the fabrics. It is easy to work with, and sublimation prints come out extremely beautiful and neat on cotton fabric. Let us discuss in detail how to sublimate on cotton using some of the best and convenient techniques.

How to Sublimate On Cotton? Sublimation Cotton

Can You Sublimate on Cotton?

Yes you can do sublimation on cotton. But for cotton, you can not directly print on it. You can adopt different approaches while doing sublimation on cotton. Two such methods are using heat transfer vinyl and sublimation coating spray.

Heat Transfer Vinyl: In this method the design is transferred onto a special vinyl material using sublimation ink. After that heat is applied to the cotton fabric. In this way ink is transfer and bond with the fibers. In this way, you will get the vibrant and durable designs on cotton fabric.

Sublimation Coating Spray: Another approach is to apply a sublimation coating spray onto the cotton fabric. This spray acts as a receptive layer for sublimation ink. After spraying the fabric and allowing it to dry. Then you can use a sublimation printer and heat press to transfer the ink onto the coated cotton fabric, achieving sublimation results.

Both these methods provide a wider range of options for printing vibrant and detailed designs.

Sublimation on cotton shirts is so in demand because of three things; first of all, it is easy to work with, it looks cool, and it feels airy. The majority of people prefer cotton shirts and outfits over any other fabrics for sublimation printing. Why people choose sublimation printing over any different technique of printing is because it lasts longer. This technique involves locking the dye into the fibers of your fabric, which never fades, and cracks.

Moreover, the outcome is beautiful, vibrant, and neat prints. If you have been meaning to sublimate a couple of cotton shirts, you can easily do that in any printing house. Sublimation printing on cotton fabric isn’t as hard as it may sound. Therefore, you can even get your own sublimation printer and other accessories to start printing yourself. Here is the complete process how to sublimate on cotton yourself.

sublimate on cotton

Supplies Required for Sublimation Cotton

  • For cotton sublimation, use sublimation printer because you cannot do sublimation with any other printer.
  • Sublimation ink for cotton.
  • Cotton Fabric, could be a t-shirt, cotton pants, a dress, or a piece of loose fabric.
  • Sublimation paper because you cannot sublimate directly on cotton fabric. If you do, the dye will be printed on the fabric’s surface, which might crack or fade away when you wash it.
  • Transfer paper, for thermal, transferring the final design on the cotton fabric.
  • Heat-resistant tape, which will protect the printing paper and cotton fabric.
  • Heat press which is an essential component in thermal transfer printing to incorporate the dye into the fibers of the fabric.

The Process – Sublimation Coating for Cotton

  • The first and foremost thing is to set your printer to print on cotton fabric and feed the design of your choice to the cutting software to make changes as you want.
  • After all the necessary changes in the design, for instance, resizing, reshaping, or relocating, you have to send it for cutting.
  • Now, you have to dye sublimation paper for cotton with your chosen design; you will need the mirroring technique so that the print is just like you wanted it to be. After that, you are supposed to feed the paper into a cotton sublimation printer.
  • Now, you will send the design to print on the sublimation paper. Once it is printed, you will need to cut the print using any cutter or scissors.
  • After that, set your heat press at 400 degrees F temperature for pressing the design onto the sublimation sheets, also known as transfer paper. Once heated properly, press the heat press for about 40 to 50 seconds on the entire design. Do not place the heat press directly on the paper; instead, cover it with parchment paper.
  • Remove the top layer, and you will find the design that will be printed directly onto cotton fabric using the heat press technique.
  • After that, you are supposed to press the design on the cotton fabric for the final look. For that matter, iron your cotton shirt to remove all the creases for the perfect print.
  • Heat your heat-press at about 300 degrees F, place the design on the shirt and remove the liner. Now place a parchment paper on the design and press the design with the heat press for about 10 to 12 seconds. Now remove the heat press and the end result will stun your mind.
sublimation coating for cotton

Can We Sublimate on 100% Cotton Fabric?

No we can not sublimate on 100% cotton fabric itself. For this purpose, we can apply some special processes on cotton to perform sublimation. We can do this by applying heat transfer vinyl or applying special coating of polyester on cotton to start sublimation process.

Tips for How to sublimate onto cotton?

These are some useful tips for you for sublimation on cotton. You can follow these these tips to get some vibrant and amazing results. You can learn these tips after applying sublimation. But we will save your time by sharing these useful tips.

Tip 1: Adjust the right side of sublimation paper to the sublimation side. Otherwise the design will not transferred completely. And you have to print it again with proper adjustment.

Tip 2: sublimation paper should be dry it should not be moisture. The result image will uneven transfer and color shifting. It will destroy the design.

Tip 3: Before performing sublimation, Iron the fabric to get best result.

Tip 4: It is recommended to use a spray bottle when applying sublimation coating liquid instead of directly pouring it onto the shirt in large quantities.

Tip 5: For the best effects it is necessary that design does not throw an shadows

Tip 6: To get vibrant and sharp results, do not wash the sublimated short before 12 hours. Give some time to the design to merge properly onto the cotton shirt. After this time period you can wash the shirt without any tension.

Tip 7: Always use a butcher paper for the safety of backside of the cotton shirt. if ink leakage occurs, it will not transferred to the backside of shirt. But It is very rare chance, infect it never happen.

Tip 8: There should be a little margin on the sheet.


What is a sublimation paper?

Sublimation paper is an essential component of sublimation printing. It receives the actual design you have selected, which is then heat pressed on the transfer sheet and then heat pressed on the fabric. The advantage of printing on the paper first is that the dye is incorporated into the fabric’s fibers instead of just lying on top of it. This technique prevents the design from cracking and fading away, and it stays there longer than you have imagined.

Can you sublimate on linen?

Many people argue that you cannot sublimate on 100 percent linen; truth be told, you can easily do that on linen. Linen is a bit hard to handle, but it holds the colors firmly, and the print lasts longer than you can imagine. You will have to repeat the process mentioned above for linen fabric to get beautiful designs printed on the linen.

Can you sublimate on modal?

Yes, you can sublimate on modal. However, you may face bonding issues. For that matter, you will need sublimation paper just like you do with cotton fabric. Printing it first on sublimation paper and then thermal transferring the design on the modal will allow the fabric to hold the dye as firmly as possible.

Can you do sublimation on colored shirts?

Many people would want to sublimate their colored shirts; unfortunately, the dyed design will not give the colors as accurate as you wanted them to be. However, there are a few techniques you can make use of for sublimation printing to work. For instance, you can use a sawgrass sublimation printer, a silhouette CAMEO printing and cutting tool, and much other software that will make sublimation on colored fabrics work.

Can you sublimate on 100% cotton?

Yes, you can sublimate on 100% cotton. But you can not directly sublimate on 100% cotton. When you wash the shirt, the design will fade away. For sublimation on 100% cotton use heat transfer vinyl or sublimation coating spray.

Can you use sublimation ink on cotton?

Yes you can use sublimation ink cotton. As sublimation ink is designed specially for sublimation printing. If you want want to sublimation on cotton, you can use sublimation ink.

Final Thoughts

Sublimation printing has been trendy for some time because of the fantastic results this printing technique offers. Many people prefer printing on cotton fabric because of its colorfastness and breathability. Now you get the whole process of how to sublimate on cotton? You must have a sublimation printer, sublimation cotton t-shirts, dye, sublimation printer, and heat press. You can effectively print your own fabrics with sublimation techniques and have beautiful, neat, and long-lasting prints if you have the right supplies.

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