Sublimation has been around for quite awhile; however, it has recently started picking up popularity in the crafting world. I’ve had my Silhouette Cameo for years, but a couple months ago I decided to look into sublimation and see what fun new things I could create.
While many colorful designs could be achieved with printable vinyl, there is always the feeling of the design sitting on top of the shirt, or a background color in areas where the image isn’t cut out perfectly.
While sublimation printed designs don’t necessarily use a Silhouette Cameo or Cricut machine, it is something that can be incorporated into a larger project. I also use Silhouette Studio to do all of my designs because it is the program with which I’m most familiar. Simply change the page size to 8.5×11, and you can easily lay out the print. Since this isn’t utilizing print & cut, make sure to turn off the registration marks.
Standard inkjet printers utilize cartridges and require an actual conversion kit to use sublimation ink with the printer. The EcoTank is nice because you simply have to fill it with sublimation ink.
I did discover that filling the tanks is a bit difficult. The EcoTank bottles come with special caps to only allow ink to go into the hole of the tank; so pouring into these tanks without the special caps takes patience. I also placed cardboard under the tanks to soak up any ink that leaked while filling the tanks.
A heatpress is necessary in order to properly apply the design. I keep a teflon sheet attached to the top of my heatpress with large magnets so that I don’t forget to apply it when I get in a crafting groove.
Sublimation only works onto polyester for fabric, and requires a special coating on hard surfaces. While you can sublimate onto cotton or cotton/polyester blends, the design will appear faded. It also needs to go onto white or light colored products since the sublimation printers don’t print white.
One thing I really wanted to make with sublimation was kitchen towels. I’ve made some with heat transfer vinyl in the past, but weeding the vinyl gets tiresome and I liked the idea of basically printing and pressing. Microfiber towels have worked perfectly for this purpose.
I can’t find a fiber content on the totes, but I’m assuming they have quite a bit of cotton because the image appeared rather faded when pressed. There are some liquids that can be sprayed onto cotton to make it possible to sublimate; however, I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t comment on the effectiveness.
Some times, you simply want to put a design onto a dark colored or cotton item. In this case, you can actually sublimate onto white glitter Siser HTV. In this case, your Silhouette or Cricut machine will be utilized to cut the HTV. In Silhouette Studio, I traced the design and then did a slight offset for the HTV.
If you’re looking for an easy way to add sublimation to your crafting, I’ve added a sublimation set on my Amazon storefront for easy shopping. What do you want to make first?