Sublimation On Cotton: Tips & Tricks for you!

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If you have been associated with sublimation printing, there is a good chance that you may have heard that you cannot perform sublimation on cotton material. However, those days are now in the past as cotton has entered the list of materials you can sublimate on. This has become possible thanks to a few new tricks and items that have been introduced in the market.

In this article, we will be talking about three different ways that you can use to sublimate on cotton-based fabric. Each has a unique item that does the trick. So let’s begin.

Sublimation On Cotton:

Method#1 – Transfer Paper:

The first method that we will discuss is perhaps the most straightforward method and maybe the one with the best results. This method includes the use of a special kind of paper for sublimation. This paper is known as transfer paper. Using this paper, you can quickly sublimate on 100% cotton fabric.


The first thing you will look to do is to adjust your image size. Edit and adjust the size of your chosen image so that it fits the transfer paper properly and can be sublimated in the right way.

  Now choose your transfer paper. You can use Forever Subli-Light transfer paper as they have fantastic high-quality transfer paper. Put the paper in your sublimation printer and print the image on it.

Now the process is pretty similar to the standard method. You need to attach the paper to the fabric with heat tape. It is better to press the t-shirt before attaching it so that the t-shirt is completely flat. Keep the print side facing towards the shirt.

Place the t-shirt on the press. Place a butcher paper or parchment paper in-between the t-shirt, which will prevent the ink from transferring to the backside of the t-shirt. You also place a mat along with butcher paper. Place another such protective sheet above the shirt and paper.

Set the temperature to around 350-380 Fahrenheit and set the timer to about 1-2 minutes. Keep the pressure strong for the transfer to be excellent.

Once the press is complete, remove the sheets and the t-shirt. Be careful as everything will be hot. Remove the tape and the print paper, and you will have your sublimated image on a piece of cotton fabric.

Material Needed:

Special Cotton | Heat Transfer paper | Sublimation Printer | Sublimation Ink | Heat press or Easy Press | Heat Tape | Butcher or Parchment paper

Method#2 – Sublimation Spray Solution:

Our second trick for sublimation on cotton fabric is using a special spray that makes the surface have a polyester covering. This sublimation spray solution is like a sublimation hack. The fabric becomes polyester-based and can absorb the ink.


The first step you may want to do is press your t-shirt to have a proper flat and clean shirt.

Now you need your special sublimation spray. Spray the required area of the t-shirt. For this, do check before spraying how much you need. There is no need to spray the whole t-shirt. The shirt should feel a little damp. All you can use is a mat in-between the t-shirt so that the spray does not spread to the backside.

Let the spray dry out on the t-shirt. Now adjust your image size using your edit software. You can do this easier by spraying according to the size of the paper. Mark the area before spraying the shirt using tape and then spray the specific area.

Once you have printed the image, please attach it to the sprayed area using heat tape. Place the t-shirt on the heat press. Place a mat and butcher paper in-between the t-shirt and the above the t-shirt.

Press at a temperature of 350 Fahrenheit for around 90-120 seconds.

Remove the t-shirt carefully and take the taped print paper off. You will have your sublimated cotton t-shirt.

Materials Needed:

Sublimation printer | Sublimation Paper & Ink | Sublimation spray solution | Heat transfer | Heat tape | Butcher paper or parchment paper or Teflon sheets

Method#3 – Heat Transfer Vinyl:

The third and last method we will be discussing is the heat transfer vinyl method. In this trick, you use a special heat transfer or HTV vinyl. You press it onto the cotton fabric and then sublimate on the specific area. Vinyl is a polyurethane or polyester material.


The first step would be to get yourself an HTV vinyl. Now open it and press it on the cotton t-shirt. Do press the shirt once before pressing the vinyl so that there are no lines on the shirt. Also, use butcher paper in-between to be extra careful.

After the press is done, remove the back sheet of the vinyl, which will leave the actual vinyl surface on the t-shirt.

Now adjust the size of the image with your software. Keep in mind the vinyl area when adjusting the size of the image. A bigger image than the vinyl area will get outside of the presented polyester surface.

Print the image and attach it to the vinyl surface with heat tape. Place them on the heat press with a mat and butcher paper in-between the t-shirt to prevent the ink from reaching the back of the shirt. Also, place one on the top of the shirt.

Press the t-shirt with temperature 360-380 Fahrenheit and the timer of 90-120 seconds. Keep the pressure high. Once the press is done, remove everything carefully, protecting yourself from the heat. You will get your sublimated t-shirt.

Materials Needed:

Heat Transfer Vinyl | Sublimation Printer | Sublimation Ink & Paper | Heat press or easy press | Heat Tape | Butcher paper

Best Websites For Online Purchase:

Material and equipment mentioned with each method are readily available in the market. What is essential is to visit websites that sell genuine items from verified sellers. You can also get great deals on these websites.


Amazon always tops the list when it comes to eCommerce and online marketplace and for all the right reasons. Great variety and a proper seller and buyer system with an excellent shipping policy.


Etsy is another great website of such sublimation material and equipment. You can buy all the equipment on Etsy too.


Since its inception, HeatPressNation has kept on growing as printing and especially a sublimation printing online website and store. They are highly specialized in sublimation printing and stuff.


Pretty similar to Amazon in terms of variety, options, and customer-friendly policies. Great website for the purchase of genuine material.


Another sublimation store with almost all types of equipment is needed for sublimation. Even the materials and blank you are looking to sublimate on are available.

Coastal Business:

Great online market and website for genuine equipment and material.


Up until a few times ago, sublimation on cotton fabric was not possible. However, with new tricks and hacks, you can now sublimate on 100% cotton fabric using a few different methods.

There are a few different methods for sublimation on cotton. Most equipment and tools are the same for each method. However, the main item that makes the transfer possible is different for each method.

Yes, you can. In general, you cannot sublimate on cotton material, but if you have created a polyester surface on the cotton fabric through a trick, you can sublimate on the t-shirt with a heat press.

Sublimating directly on dark-colored fabrics such as black is possible. However, using certain glitter vinyl and Silhouette CAMEO, you can sublimate a visible print on the surface.

It is always best to sublimate on light-colored surfaces. For the best expression of colors, it is best to sublimate on white color. So a white HTV vinyl is definitely a great choice for sublimation.

The main difference between the two is that in heat transfer, the ink makes a separate layer on top of the surface that you can feel. On the other hand, the ink fuses with the material surface, making it durable when you sublimate.


Sublimation is evolving very quickly, and the surfaces that can be sublimated are decreasing at a fast rate. Cotton has also become part of such materials that can be sublimated, and this has opened doors to even more accessible ways of sublimation. For people running a fabric-based sublimation business or looking to start one, these new tricks and methods of cotton sublimation have increased their field of work.

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