How to Sublimate a Shirt

Learning how to sublimate a shirt is one of the most popular ways to quickly and affordably decorate custom apparel. Traditionally it has been used to put photos and graphics on white polyester tees. But now, there is a rise in the popularity of pastel-colored garments and sublimated promotional goods, like mousepads and mugs. 

In this article, we are going to go over the products used and the steps we took to create the vibrant sublimated t-shirt in this video.

Contemplating your apparel decorating options? This article may also help you decide what apparel decorating equipment you should invest in. Later on, we will discuss some key benefits of owning a sublimation printe

Products Used - How to Sublimate a Shirt

Sublimation is an affordable way to start making custom tees. In this project we used our favorite combination of products. However, there are many different product options for sublimation t-shirts.

Best Sublimation Paper | Beaver Tex-Print Sublimation Paper

Beaver Tex-Print is a premium sublimation paper. It was designed specifically for Sawgrass sublimation printers that use Sublijet-R and SubliJet-HD inks. TexPrint-R sublimation paper is engineered for optimum performance in Ricoh and Virtuoso dye sub printers, like the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 used in this video.

Tex-Print Sublimation Paper comes in a variety of different sizes to fit your project’s needs. For this custom tee we used the 11x17, but on Colman and Company you can also find 13 x 19 and mug sized paper.

Vapor Apparel

Vapor apparel’s collection of sublimation shirt blanks is a great choice for custom apparel decorators.

Vapor apparel’s sublimation certified line of blanks was designed specifically for the sublimation process. This means that these shirts can withstand a 400 degree heat press and the color of the fabric will work with a variety of sublimation colors and will produce high quality images or designs.

Key Benefits of Vapor Apparel

From the quality of the fabric to the customer service, Vapor Apparel provides an exceptional product and experience.  

Let’s talk about some of the benefits of offering Vapor Apparel to your customers.


Any clothing item marked as UPF50+ means that this item will provide maximum protection against harmful UV rays. It also improves each time the garment is washed.


These fabrics are made to withstand direct heat and pressure, so you won’t have to worry about colors and decoration fading on the clothing unlike most standard shirts.

Sublimation Certified

Vapor offers a wide range of sublimation certified colors making the decoration process easier. These are the people that really know how to sublimate a shirt


Being both protective and sublimation friendly, customers can feel like they are receiving a high-quality garment for a reasonable price. Vapor also provides time and temperature settings and tips for their customers, setting them up for sublimation success.

The Vapor Apparel line includes: youth, men’s, and women’s sizes and are all available in over 50 styles and colors. 

Best Sublimation Heat Press | Galaxy 15 x 15 Heat press

Vapor Apparel’s collection of sublimation shirt blanks is a great choice for custom apparel decorators.

Vapor Apparel’s sublimation certified line of blanks was designed specifically for the sublimation process. This means that these shirts can withstand a 400 degree heat press and the color of the fabric will work with a variety of sublimation colors and will produce high quality images or designs.

Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000

The Sawgrass Sublimation Printing is the ideal printer for any decoration business that wants to produce amazing quality tees and specialty promotional goods.

The Vistuoso SG1000 fits easily on a desktop and prints on media up to 11"x17"with the standard tray or up to 13"x51" with the optional Bypass Tray.

This versatile printer helps you easily learn how to sublimate a shirt. The printer allows you to create and apply custom graphics to a wide variety of popular items;

Sublimation basically works by dying polyester fabric when heat and pressure are applied. This means that when creating custom tees with the Sawgrass printer you must use light-colored polyester apparel, and hard goods must have a polyester coating. 

But you can find all kinds of sublimation-ready apparel and blank goods here.

Steps | How to Sublimate a Shirt - Vapor Tee

1. Print

Print your photo on a sheet of the Tex-Print Sublimation paper. For this step you will use the Print Manager Software that comes with the Sawgrass SG1000.

2. Prepare your garment

Before shooting a video we always like to lint roll our garment. This will ensure all of the loose fibers and dust has been removed from the surface.

Pre-pressing your garment is also a great habit to develop with sublimation printing. This will give you a nice smooth surface to work with and evaporate any excess moisture in the shirt.

3. Transfer on shirt

Next you will place your printed transfer on your shirt. As a rule of thumb with center chest designs we like to place transfers two to three inches down from the collar. (An easy way to measure this is to use two fingers!)

4. Press

Now you will press your shirt! Vapor Apparel instructs users to press garments at 380 degrees for 60 seconds. But, this can be dependent on what press and fabric you are using. The best practice is to start with a low temperature and work your way up till you are happy with your results.

5. Remove Transfer

When time is up carefully open your press and wait just a couple seconds. To avoid ghosting we recommend placing your finger in the middle of the transfer, lightly holding it in place, while you slowly roll the transfer away and off of the shirt.

6. Shirt Complete

This t-shirt is now complete and is ready to be sold!

Advantages of Sublimation

Compact and mobile

Sublimation printers are lightweight and easy to move around. This makes them perfect for tradeshows, homes businesses and mall kiosks. You can also save space by printing out sublimation transfers ahead of time and simply pressing on site.

No mess

The Sawgrass Virtuoso SG1000 features SubliJet UHD Ink Cartridges. They are small, easy to store and pop right into your printer with no mess. Unlike some of the other messier t-shirt decoration processes, like screen printing or even DTG printing, sublimation printing requires to lose liquid inks or messy pretreat.

Low cost of consumables

Sublimation paper, inks and blanks can all be found for a super affordable price on Colman and Company. Everytime you shop, you earn points that can be redeemed for coupons and free stuff! The Sawgrass sublimation printer’s low cost of consumables leaves room for a huge profit for users.

Easy learning curve

The Print Manager software that comes with the Sawgrass SG1000 is so easy to use, that we were printing shirts hours after opening the box! You can load PNGs and JPGs right into the software and position them onto the transfer paper easily. If you need help with logo design or graphic creation, the folks at ColDesi Graphics can get artwork ready to go for you!

Quick and quiet

Sublimation printers make no more noise than a home printer. This makes it perfect for home offices! The sublimation process just takes a couple easy steps as explained about and makes NO NOISE. You can make custom tees while the babies are sleeping and sell them on Etsy!

Where Do I Start?

Ready to make money with a sublimation printer? The best way to start is to live chat with one of our pros.

They can help you learn the ropes and make sure you get everything you need to get started, from inks and paper to blank shirts and mugs.

Our team has been helping people just like you achieve their dreams of becoming their own boss for 50+ years!

Live chat with us now or just give us a call at 800-891-1094.