Sublimation On Dark Cotton: The Step-by-Step Guide [2022]

Sublimation On Dark Cotton
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Have you ever done sublimation on dark cotton shirts before? Dark cotton fabric is one of the favorite choices for sublimation.

White cotton and dark cotton are two different sublimation blanks. It’s very easy to do sublimation on white cotton, but dark cotton is the opposite.

There are many who want to sublimate on dark cotton shirts, but when they try to sublimate them, they get a bit disappointed.

Because it doesn’t look as bright and polished as it does over the white fabric, and it becomes more daunting when you are new in this field.

So you might be thinking about how to sublimate on dark cotton shirts.

It’s very easy. Below I have outlined four simple and easy steps to sublimate on dark cotton.

Just read and implement all the steps. And I can ensure that you’ll be amazed by seeing how beautiful it will be at the end.

Ready to get started? Let’s get started.

Sublimation Printing: What It Is & How It Works

Before getting into the step-by-step guide to do sublimation on dark cotton shirts, let’s briefly discuss sublimation printing.

If you don’t want to read about sublimation printing, click here and jump directly to the step-by-step guide.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a printing process that puts the print on various blanks by using heat.

It’s a most well-liked and widely used printing technique. Its results are very bright, vibrant, eye-catching, and durable.

Plus, it’s very cost-effective and affordable for a beginner.

How Sublimation Printing Works

The working process of sublimation printing is very straightforward.

Firstly the image is printed on the sublimation paper with sublimation ink, and then it’s transferred onto the blank using a Heat press, Cricut press, Tumbler press, etc.

However, some steps of the process are different for different sublimation blanks.

Like sublimation on nylon is slightly different from sublimation on faux leather.

Sublimation on Dark Cotton Shirts | Step-by-step Guide

Let’s dive into our step-by-step guide to sublimate on dark cotton shirts.

There are just four steps; make sure to follow them correctly.

Required Things

To sublimate on dark cotton shirts, you must have the following things available.

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1- Sublimation Printer

Firstly, you will need a sublimation printer for printing on sublimation paper.

Sublimation printers are printers filled with sublimation inks. Don’t use regular inkjet printers for sublimation; they are incompatible for this purpose.

However, you can convert your inkjet printer into a sublimation printer.

To do this, check out how to convert a printer into a sublimation printer.

Alternatively, if you’re searching for a new sublimation printer, have a look at these top sublimation printers.

And for sublimation inks, I recommend INKXPRO inks.

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2- Sublimation Paper 

Secondly, you’ll require a sublimation paper on which the sublimation printer will print the image.

There are many different sublimation papers available on the market.

Although my recommendation would be 120g sublimation paper.

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3- Polyester Cloth Piece

Thirdly, you’ll need a polyester cloth piece. Not a big cloth, just a tiny piece like eight by ten inches.

Try to use 75 percent above polyester cloth piece. And the purpose of the cloth will be discussed later.

polyester cloth piece
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4- Heat n Bond

Then you’ll need heat n bond, and just like the polyester cloth piece, its purpose will be discussed later.

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5- Heat Tapes

After that, you’ll need heat tapes to fix the image with the blank and to prevent any movement during sublimation.

Movement during sublimation ruins the entire process, so always use heat tapes to avoid them.

Movement is the enemy of sublimation.

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6- Heat Press

Lastly, you’ll need a Heat or Cricut press to transfer the image to the dark cotton fabric.

Don’t forget the butcher papers; they are part of the heat press.

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Step #1 The Image Printing Process

Now you have all the required things in hand, let’s head toward the image printing process. Follow the steps below.

#1 Create the image or download it from the web. Ensure to use light and bright colors as you’re sublimating on a dark surface.

Dark colors won’t show up on the dark surface.

#2 Turn the sublimation printer on and print a trial image on the regular paper to check that your printer is up for the job.

#3 Then, put the sublimation paper inside the printer.

#4 After all, mirror the image and then print. Remember to check all the print properties correctly.

And that’s all for this step.

image printed on sublimation paper
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Step #2 [Sublimation Part-1]

Now you have your image printed. Let’s move on to the sublimation process.

We will transfer the image onto the polyester fabric piece in this step. Follow the steps outlined below.

#1 Take the polyester cloth and the printed image.

#2 Align the image over the polyester piece and fix it with heat tapes.

image fixed with heat tapes
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#3 Turn on the Heat or Cricut press and set its temperature to 400 degrees.

temperature 400 degrees vector
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#4 Then put the polyester and image in the heat press and place butcher paper over it.

sublimation arrangement
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#5 After all, press the polyester for 40 seconds using medium pressure.

sublimated polyester
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Step #3 [Sublimation Part-2]

#1 After pressing, take the heat n bond and place the sublimated polyester over the non-glossy side of the heat n bond (image facing up).

polyester over heat n bond
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#2 Turn on the heat press once again, and inside it, place the butcher paper first, then the joint polyester and heat n bond, and one more butcher paper over the top.

sublimation arrangements
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#3 Press it for only 5 seconds. And that’s all.

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Step #4 [Sublimation Part-3]

Now it’s time for the final sublimation step. Once again, follow the instructions written below.

#1 Take the sublimated polyester and cut around the design with the scissors.

cutting design
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#2 Remove the back sticker layer.

removing sticker layer
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#3 Then, take the dark cotton shirt and the design to the heat press.

#4 In the heat press, place the shirt, align the design over it, and then place the butcher paper over the top.

sublimation arrangement2
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#5 Press the design for 10 seconds using the same temperature and pressure, i.e., 400 degrees and medium pressure.

And after that, you will have your product. Congrats!

sublimation result on dark cotton
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Tips To Make Sublimation Brighter

Let’s discuss some tips to make the sublimation outcome brighter.

I already discussed them above, but I wrote them again to make them more noticeable.

They are little tips, but they can make your results brighter than before.

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  • Try to use high-quality materials. I am talking about the sublimation paper, inks, and the sublimation blank. These ensure bright and vibrant prints.
  • Use high-resolution images. Try to use vector graphics as they produce the best results.
  • Try to experiment with the different color settings. Sometimes changing a little contrast and brightness changes the image completely.
  • Use the best printer setting for the printer. You can search on the web for the best settings for your printer.
  • Use optimal temperature and pressure for sublimation. Don’t go too high or too low. And try to experiment with multiple temperatures.
  • In the end, Practice! Practice! And Practice.

Video Guide

Frequently Asked Questions About The Process

  • Why sublimate on black instead of white?

    You should sublimate on black because black color can show many colors with excellent contrast and vibrancy, which white color cannot. Well, white color can show almost all colors with incredible brightness, but some colors like yellow look great on black.

  • What is the best color to sublimate on dark cotton?

    Yellow and White are one of the best colors to sublimate on dark cotton. These colors look very bright and vibrant over dark surfaces, mainly black.

  • Why choose sublimation to print on dark cotton?

    There are many methods to print on dark cotton fabric, like screen printing and DTG printing, but they are expensive. The initial setup of screen printing can cost you thousands of dollars. But sublimation printing is very cheap and can give super bright and vibrant results at a meager cost.

Final Words

Phew! You have learned simple and easy steps to do sublimation on dark cotton.

Now you can go ahead and create stunning designs and patterns on dark cotton. Just keep in mind all the above steps, and you will be done.

This process takes time, but the result you get at the end would be amazing. You will definitely gonna love it.

As I said above, try to experiment with different temperatures and color combinations to get more impressive and eye-catching results.

If you still face challenges while sublimating on dark cotton, ask in the comments below. I’ll respond to them as soon as I can.

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About Shoaib Saqib

Hello there! It's Shoaib, the creator of PrinterTip. I am a printing expert and have worked in the printing business for more than five years. I have completed tens of thousands of printing tasks and have an extensive understanding of secrets. And I love writing about printing, mostly Sublimation Printing.

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