This past fall when I decided that I wanted to sublimate all the things, one of the items that I was most excited about was kitchen towels. I had made some funny kitchen tea towels in the past using heat transfer vinyl, but sublimation was a great way to really branch out into some more colorful designs.
The best part about sublimating kitchen towels? NO WEEDING! Seriously, once everything is designed, you can make each towel in a matter of minutes.
The key to sublimating kitchen towels is that they need to be polyester. In the case of towels, this means to look for microfiber. White towels work the best because the sublimation printer doesn’t print white, so that is the negative space of the design. I like the waffle-weave 16″x24″ microfiber towels because they press nicely, and are a bit larger than the standard 16″ square towels.
Since I am most accustomed to Silhouette Design Studio, I use that to do most of my designing. Any design program that can print can be used to create sublimation designs.
For design size, I find that a dimension of 5″x8″ is the maximum size that fits nicely on the towel when folded. I use an Epson EcoTank printer, you can learn all about using this printer here.
If you are looking to purchase designs rather than make them yourself, there are lots of great options on Etsy. Using search terms of “sublimation designs”, “PNG”, “SVG”, or “Digital Design” along with your desired design is a great way to find files that can be sublimated.
Once the design is imported into your desired program, make sure that the image is reversed before printing. The image gets placed face down onto the towel, so it needs to be a mirror-image to transfer properly.
Two designs can fit onto a single 8.5×11 sheet of paper, but make sure to leave a bit of room for the printer margins. The printed image will look a bit dull, but the colors will really pop once it is done.
The image can then be pressed onto the kitchen towel. No weeding required! I do like to trim around the design a bit in case there are any accidental ink drops on the paper (I find that every once in a while the edges get some excess ink that isn’t visible until printed).
Sublimation printers can be different between brands, so make sure to check with their recommendation, but for the A-sub paper that I use, I press kitchen towels at 375* for 60 seconds using medium pressure.
Sublimation is one time when you do really want a heat press instead of using a household iron. Getting the constant pressure over the entire design for a long time is key for a good transfer.
The design really needs to stay put on the material while it is pressed, Kapton tape is a great solution to help hold the design since it is heat resistant. I don’t always use tape when doing towels because they are so nice and flat; however anything that has raised seams such as onesies or masks I always use tape.
Kitchen towels are great projects for beginning sublimation because they are flat, smooth, and fun. What do you want to put on a kitchen towel? Check out this post for lots of great kitchen towel sayings.