Sublimation Transfer Application

What are sublimation transfers?

-Sublimation transfers are special sheets of transfer paper that are printed with images using special sublimation inks. The paper holds the ink until it is pressed onto a substrate with a heat press. We use the highest quality inks and transfer paper on the market. When pressed using high heat, the ink converts from a solid to a gas and the image transfers to the (polyester) substrate. Sublimation must be pressed using a heat press (home irons will not work) onto substrates containing at least 50% polyester. We recommend using at least 65% polyester for the best results. When lower polyester counts are used, the image will appear faded/vintage. Sublimation must be applied to white (best) or light colored subtrates. The process of sublimation dyes the material it is being applied to, therefore, it cannot be applied to dark materials. Light colored images look best on white material. If the material that is being sublimated is any color other than white, the color of the material will affect/change the colors of the printed image once it's pressed. Also, sublimation printers do not print with white ink. Any white areas in a sublimation transfer image will take on the color of the material it is being applied to. Because sublimation dyes the fabric/material, it is very durable and has no hand/feel to it, leaving it very comfortable for wearable garments.


Application: The following application instructions are general guidelines for polyester fabric. Time/temperature/pressure can/will vary due to many factors (polyester count, individual heat press machines, environmental, substrate used, etc). For this reason, we include one small sample size of each image ordered for you to test on a scrap piece of material to determine your best time/temperature/pressure settings. We suggest cutting the sample image into 4 sections to give yourself 4 different testing pieces.

  1. Remove lint from garment and pre-press garment to remove any moisture and wrinkles.
  2. Place a sheet of kraft paper in between layers of material to prevent ink bleeding.
  3. Place image printed side down onto garment .
  4. Cover image with kraft paper to prevent ink from bleeding onto heat press.
  5. Press image with a medium pressure at 400 degrees for 50-60 seconds.
  6. Peel paper immediately while hot.

Why didn't my image press right?

-Many factors go into pressing sublimation and getting it correct. As professionals, we practice and test new substrates until getting the correct formula for our equipment. A lot of time/money goes into testing in order to provide the best quality products for our customers. While we can't say for sure what may cause a problem for each individual trying to press one of our images, here are some general troubleshooting guides:

    1. The printed image transfer doesn't appear to have the same colors or be as vibrant as what I viewed/ordered online.
      -Images printed onto sublimation paper will tend to look different (colors) on the transfer paper versus what they appeared to look like on the mockup images on our website. Once pressed, the colors will  become more like the mockup images. Sublimation inks are heat activated. Once heat pressed the ink becomes more vibrant.
    2. The black in the design turned green when pressed.
      -This typically means the design needed to be pressed for a longer amount of time (try adding 5 seconds at a time)
    3. The colors pressed vibrantly in some areas of the image, but other areas were faded.
      -When some areas of the image press fine, but other are faded, this usually means your heat press is heating unevenly across the platen or there may be a pressure issue (one area is getting enough pressure while another area isn't). Pressure issues can be from the press or because there is a thick seam or zipper in the garment, etc.
    4. Their are tiny little (blue) specks on my garment after pressing.
      -This is lint. Always thoroughly lint roll your garment before pressing, even if you can't see lint, it may be there. When lint is heat pressed it typically turns blue and cannot be removed from the garment afterwards.
    5. My garment turned yellow after pressing.
      -This can be from too high a temperature and/or too much time. Try reducing your settings 5 degrees and 5 seconds at a time to find out what setting(s) work best for you.
    6. There appears to be two of the same image after pressing.
      -This is what we call ghosting. When sublimating, it is important that the transfer paper not move (except for peeling it off) during or after the sublimation process. If the paper shifts, it can leave a second (or ghost) image on the substrate. We suggest using special sublimation heat tape to hold down the transfer paper until removal.

**These are just general guidelines and troubleshooting tips. If you need further assistance, please feel free to email us at info.cloverhousedesigns@gmail.com with the subject line HELP. You can also join our Facebook Group for tips and videos. Youtube also has many videos that share helpful tips and tricks for sublimation.