posted by Ahijoy on November 23, 2022
Sublimation On Heat Transfer Vinyl
There are multiple ways of transferring exquisite prints on fabrics. Some crafters prefer using just heat transfer vinyl for this, others go for sublimation. Interestingly, there is a third process in which you can use both to glam up your preferred fabric. This is what we will focus on. Let’s see how we can sublimate using heat transfer vinyl
What Is Sublimation?
Sublimation is the process through which a solid turns into gas directly without it transforming into a liquid first. For crafters, this means that the special dyes they will use to print a design on the sublimation paper will be transferred onto a fabric using heat. These dyes will infuse with the fibers of the fabric giving long lasting results. It is best to use light colored fabric for sublimation.
Sublimation opens a whole new world of creativity for both DIYers and professional crafters. For this process however, you will have to invest in certain items that are specific to it. You will need a sublimation printer which stores the special dyes and the sublimation paper. This process cannot be carried out with a normal printer or paper.
Sublimation works best with polyester. That is the go to fabric for excellent results as it holds ink in a perfect manner. The design can be transferred onto cotton as well but for that you will need heat transfer vinyl along with all the other tools of sublimation. With HTV, you can even sublimate on a dark colored fabric.
Following is a complete guide on how to do sublimation using heat transfer vinyl and what things would be required for the technique.
Tools Needed For Sublimation Using HTV
First, let’s see what items are required:
- A premium quality heat transfer vinyl. White glitter HTV is the most popular choice for this but you can use any light colored one as well.
- The material you will transfer the design on. This can be any fabric, even cotton since we are using HTV.
- Sublimation printer plus the special ink.
- Sublimation paper.
- Your chosen design.
- Heat press machine.
- Butcher paper.
Step 1: Select The Image
You cannot sublimate an image until you have it with you, therefore the first thing you need to do is to select your preferred design. You can choose from a wide variety of options. It might be your child's favorite character, a witty saying, a family photograph, or even a logo. If you are a newbie, you can pick an easy design first for practice like any regular shape such as a square or a circle.
Duplicate the design on the software and mirror them. One of it will be for printing on the sublimation paper and the other for cutting the vinyl. The design for printing will be in full color as you want it and slightly larger than the one for vinyl so that no white spaces are left on the vinyl after sublimation.
Step 2: Print The Image On The Sublimation Paper
Print the colorful image on the sublimation paper. You will use a sublimation printer since it has the special ink that is required for the process. Normal ink is not recommended for sublimation. Don’t forget to flip your image just like you mirror it while doing normal HTV printing. Once the mirrored design is printed, set it aside. If you see that the colors have not come out so bright, don’t worry. They get brighter with the application of heat.
Step 3: Cut The Vinyl
Now it is time to cut the vinyl. In order to get the cut file, we will trace the outline of the image. Many software programs come with a ‘Trace’ feature; for example Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator the trace panel in Silhouette Studio, and Cricut’s Design Space can make your image transparent so only the outline can be seen.
After you have the outline of your image, cut it on your electronic cutting machine. Just to remind you, this copy of the design is slightly smaller than the one printed. This is done so that no blank space is left on the HTV after sublimation. Additionally, it will also give you some leeway when lining the vinyl and the print.
Step 4: Press HTV On Your Fabric
Before you sublimate on HTV, you will press it on your fabric, which can be a shirt, a bag, any scarf and so on. First press the fabric to remove creases from it. Preheat your heat press machine according to the settings required for the vinyl used. Weed off the extra vinyl to bring forth your design then place it at the desired spot on your fabric.
Place butcher paper on top of it and apply heat using the machine. When you feel that the project has tightly gripped the material and it is not going to move an inch from where it is positioned, remove the carrier. Now it's time for sublimation!
Step 5: Sublimation Finally!
The moment has arrived and it's time for sublimation! Take that image which you printed. Cut around the borders of the paper to make it easier to line up with the vinyl design. Flip the paper and place it over the pressed HTV design, aligning both together carefully. Tape the edges using Thermotape which ensures that the printer sublimation paper over the vinyl design does not move when being pressed for the transfer.
Increase the temperature to 400°F for sublimation. Cover your image with butcher paper and press over it for 60 seconds applying moderate pressure. Once you are done pressing, remove the sublimation sheet and the Thermotape. There it is, present in all its glory, the sublimated design on your fabric! We are certain that it will turn out beautifully.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have come to the conclusion that sublimation on HTV is not that difficult and we can easily do it by using the right temperature and tools. For best results glitter HTV is preferred by many crafters. So wait no more and get that sublimation going.