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How To Sublimate On Dark Shirts

Dark shirts are all the rage right now. They showcase simplicity and mystery which a lot of millennials and later generations find attractive. As with most clothing items, sublimation is also quite popular with dark shirts. However, with dark shirts, it is slightly harder to sublimate them. In this article, we will discuss all the things you need to know before you sublimate your dark shirts. 

Things to keep in mind while sublimating dark shirts

Sublimation is an efficient way of getting designs printed onto clothing items and decor. With dark shirts, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you perform sublimation on them. Here they are:

1. Using a polyester-based fabric

Polyester and polyester-based blends (65% polyester minimum) are the best fabric if you are looking for sublimation. When heated, their fabric opens up allowing ink to enter into them for the printing of designs. 

2. Using the right sublimation ink and paper

Choosing the right sublimation ink and paper plays a huge role. With dark shirts, you need to use ink and paper that is specially fabricated to be used on dark fabric. These inks and paper are slightly more expensive than standard sublimation inks and paper.

3. Heat precautions

While being fun in nature, sublimation can be quite dangerous. It deals with roughly 400°F of temperature which can be fatal if you come in contact. Make sure you are using all the right precautions such as heat-resistant gloves, masks, etc. 

4. Test the process

We always recommend testing your sublimations on placeholder material before applying your designs to your desired material. If you are a first-time user, this just goes without saying but you should do this even if you are an experienced user. 

Apparatus Required To Sublimate Dark Shirts

1. Sublimation printer

Sublimation printers are inkjet printers that are designed for dye sublimation printing. As for size, you should choose according to the designs you want to print. If you are going to need small-form printouts, an A4 printer is all you need. 

2. Sublimation ink (for dark shirts)

Dark fabric sublimation ink is different as compared to conventional ink. It is compatible and illuminates on dark fabric. 

3. Sublimation paper (for dark shirts) 

The sublimation paper you get needs to be compatible with the sublimation you get for your dark fabric. So you do need to choose the sublimation paper that is suitable with dark fabric

4. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV)

Heat transfer tape vinyl (HTV) is a synthetic fiber that is easily accessible and widely used to sublimate fabric like cotton that does not conventionally suit sublimation. It can also be used to sublimate dark shirts.

5.  Heat press

A heat press generates heat during sublimation allowing ink to be transferred to your object. 

6. Teflon sheet

A Teflon sheet is kept between your fabric and the heat press for proper heat and ink transfer. 

How to perform dark shirt sublimation?

Sublimating dark shirts is not as straightforward as doing the same on lighter shades. It requires slightly different apparatus and settings to do so. Here is how to do it: 

  • Step 1: Depending on your fabric size and color, choose a graphic that will go well. 
  • Step 2: Use a sublimation printer with sublimation ink to print out your graphic directly onto the HTV sheet. 
  • Step 3: Cut out all excess fabric. 
  • Step 4: Align the vinyl onto your dark shirt. Use a squeegee for proper alignment. 
  • Step 5: Place a Teflon sheet on top of the vinyl for proper sublimation. 
  • Step 6: Place your heat press and set the temperature to about 380℉ (20 degrees lower than the usual sublimation).
  • Step 7: Stop the heat press after 30 seconds of application. Now remove the arrangement and let it cool.


Dark shirt sublimation is quite popular due to the popularity of dark fabric in current fashion. It also highlights your clothing immensely. However, sublimating dark fabric can be tricky as you need a certain type of ink and paper and other extra apparatus that would usually not be required during conventional sublimation. We discussed everything you need to know about dark shirt sublimation in the article above. 

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