The recent advancements in sublimation technology now allow you to print on cotton reliably without the fear of cloudy prints. In this guide, we will explore how you can sublimate on cotton along with the best sublimation paper for cotton.
Sublimation is the rapidly growing fabric printing process that involves transferring printed designs onto the surface of a material through a heat press. Sublimation works best on fabric consisting of more than 70 percent polyester and white in color as it yields the best color reproduction.
Why Sublimation on Cotton is difficult?
The reason why polyester is most recommended for sublimation has to do with the absorption properties of the fabric. Polyester is a synthetic fabric and thus has predictable properties that make it an ideal choice for sublimation printing whereas cotton is a natural fabric that does not perform well for sublimation. The cotton strands absorb the ink unpredictably making the final print appear cloudy and most detail is lost in the heat transfer step.
How to Sublimate on Cotton Fabric?
All the recent advancements in sublimation technology and techniques have allowed us to sublimate on natural fabrics as well such as cotton which used to be near impossible to sublimate properly. The sublimation process for cotton fabrics is only a little different from the usual process involving polyester but if you are familiar with sublimation then you will be able to follow this guide and produce great quality sublimation prints on any cotton fabric as well.
There are two ways you can sublimate on cotton, first involves sandwiching a vinyl layer in between the sublimation paper containing the print and the cotton fabric surface and the other one involves transferring the print on a sublimation fabric before printing it onto the surface of the cotton fabric.
There are pros and cons to both these methods so you will have to choose which one you want to go with. If you decide to place a vinyl sheet in between the sublimation sheet then the transfer process will be done in a few steps but the downside is that you will feel the rigid vinyl sheet on your fabric and it might not be something you are looking for in the final product. Using a sublimation fabric eliminates this inconvenience but it is a more involved process and there is more chance of error.
Best Sublimation Paper for Cotton
Here is a list of some of the best sublimation papers you can buy in order to sublimate on cotton fabric, take a look.
A-SUB Sublimation Paper
A-SUB is one of the highly rated sublimation papers with over twelve thousand positive reviews on Amazon. One ream of A-SUB Sublimation Paper comes with 110 sheets of 8.5 x 11-inch letter-sized paper that can be cut into any desired length. The paper has over 98% color transfer rate making it an easy choice that is compatible with all inkjet printers converted into sublimation printers.
Hiipoo Sublimation Paper
Hiipoo makes one of the highly rated sublimation papers that can be used with any sublimation ink and is optimized for E Sawgrass inkjet printers. The Hiipoo Sublimation Paper comes in 8.5 x 11 inches and can be used to transfer prints onto a variety of surfaces including but not limited to, Mugs, T-shirts, ceramic, and other sublimation blanks. The paper has over 98 percent color transferability so you do not lose the brightness or the details while transferring the prints.
HTVRONT Clear HTV Vinyl
Amazon recommends HTVRONT Clear HTV Vinyl as the best choice for sublimation on cotton fabric. HTVRONT Clear HTV Vinyl comes in 12 inches by 5 feet roll that can be cut into any desired length. This clear vinyl can be used to sublimate designs on cotton surfaces as well as on dark-colored fabric without worrying about cloudy prints or poor color reproduction.
Also Check – Best Sublimation Papers that works on every fabric.
Here is the step-by-step process of sublimating clothing articles that consist of more than 30 percent cotton. It is not a whole lot different than the usual sublimation process, take a look.
- Print your design on a sublimation sheet using a sublimation printer and software.
- Cut out the design using scissors or feed the printed sublimation sheet into an automatic cutter and upload the design which will automatically cut the sublimation sheet.
- Place the fabric and remove any wrinkles that might be present on the surface of the fabric.
- Place the fabric in the heat press and press down for 2-3 seconds. This will remove any wrinkles that might be present on the fabric and help create a smooth transfer surface.
- Preheat the heat press to approximately 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
- Place the sublimation sheet face down on the surface of the fabric and fix it in place using heat-resistant tape.
- Set the timer to 50 seconds.
- Place the fabric and sublimation sheet taped onto the fabric into the heat press with the design on top.
- Make sure to layer the design with parchment paper or a Teflon sheet in order to keep the fabric from receiving too much heat.
- Press the heat press and remove after approximately fifty seconds.
- Release the heat press when the timer goes off.
- Take out the fabric along with the taped sublimation sheet. Be careful while handling the fabric and design as they will be extremely hot after the heat press.
- Remove the parchment paper and the sublimation sheet used to transfer the design from the surface of the fabric to reveal the resulting print.
What printers can we use to sublimate on cotton?
You can use any sublimation printer to sublimate cotton. Any printer that has been designed for sublimation purposes, can easily do sublimation on cotton using suitable sublimation paper. If you don’t have a sublimation printer, then you can check the best sublimation printers available in the market.
Can you use sublimation paper on cotton?
Yes, sublimation used to be possible only on fabric consisting of over 70 percent polyester and white in color but with the advancement in sublimation technology and technique, you can now sublimate on cotton fabric as well.
What GSM is recommended for sublimation on cotton?
The recommended GSM is between 110-120 for sublimating cotton fabric. This is because 120 GSM is right around the sweet spot of paper thickness where the paper isn’t so thick that it does not retain ink on its surface and at the same time not so thin that it becomes easily damp as soon as the ink is applied to it.
Can you use a regular printer for sublimation on cotton?
Yes, you can use a regular ink tank printer to sublimate on cotton fabric. The ink tank printer has to be repurposed into a sublimation printer first and used with special sublimation ink along with dedicated sublimation software. You can convert your hp inkjet printers and your Epson printers into sublimation printers.
Convert Epson Printers into Sublimation Printers
Convert HP Printers into Sublimation Printers