How to Sublimate Heat Transfer Vinyl

Sublimation is a fantastic process that allows for boundless creativity. With this how-to, you’ll be adding custom images to your sublimatable HTV in no time!

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Sublimation is a fantastic process that allows for boundless creativity. With sublimation, you can create custom looks that weren’t possible before. It may sound like a complicated process, but never fear! It’s easier than it looks and before you know it, you’ll be a sublimation expert. Check out some projects we’ve completed with sublimation!

Inspiration flowing? Ready to get started? Let’s go!

How to Sublimate Heat Transfer Vinyl

Skill Level: Intermediate

Supplies Needed:

Step 1:  Cut Out Your Material

First, we’re going to start by creating a vector-based cut file by tracing the outside of the image you want sublimated. You can see the trace line around the outside of our guitar in pink. Be sure to make it a little smaller than the image- it’ll help ensure the final product doesn’t have any misaligned spots. 

Next, separate the picture file and the vector file then group up your vector outlines. This will allow you to get the most out of the heat transfer vinyl. 

Remember your test cut- it will help give you the best results! After cutting, weed excess vinyl from around your design. We’ve got our guitars cut out of glitter, now it’s time to print our design!

Step 2: Print Out Your Design

To start the printing process, first reverse your sublimation design. If you don’t reverse it, the design won’t match with the vinyl you’ve already cut! Once it’s reversed, we laid out our design in a way to get the most on the sheet size you’re printing.

When you print, you need to make sure that the print is the same size as the picture you traced. In our case, that meant we unchecked the “Fit picture to frame” box. If you have something similar, make sure to uncheck it or your dimensions will be off.

Now that our design is printed, let’s get to pressing!

Step 3: Pressing Our Design

There’s two different orders in which you can sublimate your vinyl: 

  • Press your vinyl first and then sublimate
  • Sublimate your vinyl then press

For complicated designs (like the floral one you can see in the above gallery), it’s easier to do option 2. If it’s simple, like our little guitar, you can go with option 1.

So let’s start by pressing our GlitterFlex® Ultra guitar! For GlitterFlex® Ultra, set your press to

Temp: 330° F

Time: 7 sec*

*Now please note! We’re pressing for about half the recommended time as we’ll be sublimating on it later. We don’t need the full press right now.

Peel the carrier off your pressed design. Time to sublimate!

Step 4: Sublimate Your Vinyl

When the ink on your sublimation print is dry, cut one of the prints out. Cutting near the edges will help line the print up to the vinyl.

Turn the sublimation print color side down and line it up with the vinyl. Taping down the edges of ThermoTape helps guard against shifting while pressing.

Time to turn up your press! For the most vibrant color, set your press to

Temp: 390° F

Time: 30 sec

Once heated, cover your design with Teflon and press! After your press, remove the sublimation sheet and any ThermoTape then press for an additional 1-2 seconds. Voila! Your have a sublimated design! 

And you’re finished! Sublimation is a fun process- once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to sublimate on everything! 

What CAN you sublimate on, you may be asking? Good question! You can sublimate on the following:

*This product can be printed on directly and are used a little differently. Please see the product pages for more info!

Questions? Comments? Message us over on Facebook and we’re happy to help! If you use this file and you upload pictures, please tag them #lovewhatupress! We always love seeing what you make with our products.

We hope this has been helpful and informative. As always,

what you press! ®

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