Sublimation Hoodie - Technicolor

How to Make Sublimation Hoodies: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sublimation hoodies have become a popular choice for individuals and businesses looking for a unique and customizable clothing option. Unlike traditional printing methods, sublimation allows for intricate, all-over designs that are rich in color and detail. With the right technique, you can create hoodies that are not only eye-catching but also durable and resistant to fading.

To start making sublimation hoodies, you need a clear understanding of the sublimation process, which involves turning a specific type of ink into a gas that binds with polyester fibers. Before you begin, choosing a design is crucial. This design can cover the entirety of the hoodie, or it can be more localized, depending on your vision. Once you have a design, prepare for sublimation by ensuring that you have a polyester hoodie and a high-quality sublimation printer ready.

When it comes to producing your sublimation hoodie, the printing process is critical. You’ll need to apply heat and pressure to transfer your design onto the fabric. After the printing, it’s important to inspect the quality of your product and add any finishing touches that will enhance the hoodie’s appearance and feel.

Key Takeaways

  • Sublimation allows for vibrant, detailed designs that adhere well to polyester fabric.
  • A successful sublimation process involves careful preparation and attention to detail.
  • Post-production steps are important for quality assurance and maximizing market appeal.

Understanding Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing allows for vibrant, full-color designs to be transferred onto synthetic materials, providing a durable and high-quality finish for your hoodies.

Basics of Sublimation Process

The sublimation printing process begins with a design printed on a special sublimation paper using sublimation ink. You then use heat to transfer the ink onto your hoodie, which must be made of a synthetic material like polyester. Heat allows the inks to gasify and permeate the fabric fibers, which re-solidifies as it cools, embedding the design into the fabric.

Advantages and Limitations


  • Produces high-resolution prints with brilliant color quality.
  • The print becomes part of the fabric, making it fade-resistant and durable.
  • Allows for all-over printing, so you can cover the entire hoodie with your design.


  • Works best on 100% polyester garments or those with a high polyester content.
  • Not effective on cotton or non-synthetic fabrics due to lack of pores within the fibers to encapsulate the ink.
  • Light-colored fabrics are required since sublimation does not print white ink.

Required Materials for Sublimation

To successful perform sublimation printing, you’ll need:

Designing Your Hoodie

Before embarking on your sublimation hoodie project, it’s essential to focus on the design process. Harnessing the right tools and techniques ensures your vision translates effectively onto the fabric.

Selecting the Right Design Software

Your choice of design software is pivotal in creating high-quality graphics for sublimation. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are industry standards offering extensive features and color management tools. Other options include CorelDRAW and GIMP, which are both versatile and suitable for sublimation projects. Ensure the software you choose can handle the CMYK color mode, as this is necessary for accurate print results.

  • Adobe Photoshop: Advanced raster graphics editor ideal for complex designs.
  • Illustrator: Vector-based software, perfect for scalable designs.

Creating a Compelling Graphic

A compelling graphic should tell a story and resonate with the intended audience. Start by sketching your idea, considering the theme and elements that will appeal to your demographic. Keep your design bold and simple for maximum impact. Once you’re ready to digitize, convert your sketch into a graphic using your chosen software.

For a wide range of images, check out Creative Fabrica for a plethora of images, fonts, and patterns.

  • Themes: Reflect your brand or message.
  • Color Palette: Use vibrant, sublimation-friendly hues.
  • Simplicity & Impact: Aim for clear, visually striking graphics.

Optimizing Design for Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing requires designs to be optimized for vibrant and crisp transfer onto fabric. Ensure your design’s resolution is set to 300 dpi to maintain quality during the enlargement process. Your final graphic should be saved in a format that preserves quality, such as TIFF or PNG.

Key Considerations for Sublimation Optimization:

ResolutionSet to 300 dpi for clarity
Color ModeUse CMYK for accurate color matching
File FormatSave as TIFF or PNG to prevent quality loss during print
  • Always mirror your design before printing, as it will be reversed during the transfer process.
  • Test print your design on a small scale to gauge color accuracy and vibrancy.

Preparing for Sublimation

Before starting the sublimation process on hoodies, you need to ensure that the fabric is properly treated, the design is accurately printed, and the excess material is carefully removed.

Pre-Treatment of Hoodies

To start, select a hoodie made from a high polyester content fabric, as this ensures vibrant and long-lasting prints. Pre-treat the hoodie with a spray or liquid polyester coating, if it’s not already polyester-coated, and allow it to dry completely. This pre-treatment step is crucial for the dye to properly bond with the fabric.

Printing Your Design

Next, print your design onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer with appropriate sublimation inks. Ensure that the printer settings are adjusted for the highest quality and correct paper type. Check that the printed design’s colors are vivid and mirror the final image you want on your hoodie since sublimation prints are a mirror image of the final product.

Centering Image on the Hoodie

After printing, mark on the paper outside the design to center of the with and height of the image. When you determine where you want the image, iron the hoodie to mark the location.

Sublimation Printing Process

Sublimation printing on hoodies requires precise control of heat and pressure to transfer designs. Your accuracy during the heating and pressing stages is vital for high-quality results.

Heat Press Settings

  • Temperature: Set the heat press to 385°F (196°C). This temperature is optimal for the sublimation ink to turn into a gas and bond with the polyester fibers.
  • Pressure: Adjust to a medium pressure setting. Consistent pressure ensures even transfer of the design.
  • Time: Typically, press the hoodie for 45-60 seconds. The exact time may vary depending on the material thickness.

Pressing Technique and Timing

  1. Pre-press: Pre-heat your hoodie for 3-5 seconds to eliminate moisture and wrinkles.
  2. Placement: Position your sublimation paper face down on the desired area of the hoodie.
  3. Pressing:
    • Close the heat press carefully.
    • Press for 45-60 seconds; the duration could be longer for thicker fabric but do not exceed 70 seconds.
  4. Peeling: After pressing, peel the paper off immediately and quickly to avoid ghosting (a shadow effect).

Post-Pressing Handling

  • Cooling: Allow the hoodie to cool down on a clean, flat surface to prevent any smearing of the still-hot ink.
  • Protection: Avoid folding or stacking the sublimated areas until they are completely cool to maintain the design’s integrity.

Finished Product

Remove the transfer paper and enjoy your creation

Frequently Asked Questions

The success of your sublimation projects on hoodies largely comes down to using the right materials and equipment. In this section, answers to common queries will be provided to guide you through the process of creating sublimation hoodies.

What materials are needed to create sublimation hoodies at home?

To create sublimation hoodies at home, you require a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, sublimation paper, a heat press, polyester hoodies, and a design software to craft your designs.

Which type of sweatshirt material works best for sublimation printing?

Polyester material works best for sublimation printing because it can withstand the high temperatures of the heat press and allows the ink to bond effectively, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints.

How do you choose the best hoodies for sublimation in bulk?

When selecting hoodies for sublimation in bulk, prioritize 100% polyester content for the brightest prints. Also, look for suppliers that offer consistent quality, white or light-colored hoodies, and consider the availability of different sizes.

What are the ideal time and temperature settings for sublimating onto hoodies?

The ideal time and temperature settings for sublimating onto hoodies typically range from 380-400°F for about 45-60 seconds. However, these settings may vary slightly based on the garment’s material and the specific heat press being used.

Can sublimation be successfully applied to a Gildan heavy blend hoodie?

Sublimation is most effective on garments with high polyester content. While a Gildan heavy blend hoodie might be a cotton-polyester mix, it will not yield the best sublimation results. The image may appear faded since cotton fibers do not bond with sublimation ink as polyester does.

Where can one find quality sublimation hoodie templates for design alignment?

Quality sublimation hoodie templates can often be found on graphic design websites, printing service sites, or sold by creators on platforms such as Etsy. Creative Fabrica has a number of templates. These templates can significantly assist in achieving proper design alignment and sizing for your projects.

What materials do you need for sublimation printing, and where can you find them?

Some of my favorite sources


Conversion Kits and Ink

Transfer Paper


This post contains affiliate links to help support my crafting habit

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