What Color Shirts Can You Sublimate On? (Untold Truth)

Sublimation printing is like a magical fusion of art and science that transforms ordinary shirts into vibrant canvases. Imagine your favorite photo, or a quirky design permanently printed on your favorite apparel. That’s sublimation in action! But here’s the twist: shirt color matters, not every color fabric can be sublimated as you desire. So, what color shirts can you sublimate on?

The right color shirt will highlight artwork, making it pop with brilliance, while the wrong color shirt can lead to muted visuals. Therefore, understanding what color shirts can you sublimate on is essential for crafting truly stunning personalized t-shirts.

Read the comparison between DTV vs Sublimation printing to find the better method for you.

what color tshirts can you sublimate on


Understanding Sublimation Printing on Shirts

Sublimation printing allows you to create custom shirts with high-quality and vibrant designs. It involves using a special ink that turns into gas when heated, and then transfers the design onto the fabric. Unlike other printing methods, sublimation printing does not leave any residue or coating on the surface of the shirt, but instead dyes the fibers of the fabric.

Let’s break it down:

Solid Ink: We start with specialized sublimation ink. It’s like a secret mixture—vibrant, intense, and ready for adventure.

Heat and Pressure: Apply heat and pressure to your design (printed on sublimation paper), and watch the magic unfold.

Gas State: The ink molecules leap from solid to gas, infusing themselves into polyester fibers of the shirt, and they become one with the fabric.

Permanent Bond: The ink cools down, solidifying within the fabric. It’s a permanent bond with no peeling, no fading—just color woven into the fabric’s DNA.


Why Sublimation Rocks for Custom Apparel?

 Vibrant Colors:  Sublimation creates vibrant designs on apparel which scream, “Look at me!” Whether it’s an abstract artwork or your pet’s goofy face, sublimation brings it to life.

 Photo-Realistic Detail:  Tiny details? No problem. Sublimation captures every pixel and every detail, from grandma’s smile lines to the texture of a basketball. It’s like printing with a magnifying glass.

 Durability:  Sublimated prints withstand the test of time. They won’t crack, peel, or fade—even after countless laundry cycles.

 Endless Possibilities:  T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, hats, bags, mugs, phone cases—you name it. Sublimation works on various surfaces.

So, why is sublimation popular for custom apparel? Because it’s not just printing; it’s artistry in motion. Now, let’s unravel the colorful mystery of shirt colors!

sublimation on color shirts


Sublimating on Light-Colored Shirts

One of the best options for sublimation printing is to use light-colored shirts, especially white ones. White shirts are like the pristine pages of an artist’s sketchbook—they eagerly await your colorful strokes. Let’s look at some light-shaded shirts for sublimation printing:

White Shirts

White provides the perfect backdrop for vibrant designs. Colors pop, gradients shine, and intricate details come to life. Sublimation ink blends seamlessly with white fabric. What you see on your screen is what you get on the shirt.

White shirts do not interfere with the color transfer, as they do not have any pigment of their own. This means that you can sublimate any design, image, or text onto a white shirt without bleach, and it will look exactly as you intended.

Best of all, white tees are versatile and they suit any occasion—whether it’s a family reunion, a sports team, or a quirky statement tee.

White shirts are also the easiest to sublimate on, as they do not require any special settings or adjustments. You can simply print your design onto a sublimation paper, place it on the shirt, and press it with a heat press.


Pastels and Light Shades

Beyond the brilliance of white shirts lies a world of pastel hues and light shades, each offering a unique charm for sublimation printing. These delicate colors provide a subtle yet elegant backdrop for your designs, adding a touch of sophistication and understated charm.

Pastels and light shades are colors that have a high value (brightness) and low saturation (intensity). Think of light pink, light blue, light green, baby blue, light yellow, mint greens, and delicate yellows, etc.

These colors can also work well with sublimation printing, as they can create a subtle and soft effect. However, you need to be careful when sublimating on pastels and light shades, as they can affect the color transfer and the quality of the print.

Pastels are wedding favorites, sublimate bridal party tees, baby shower gifts, or anniversary keepsakes. Or, choose light pastel shades for custom tees. They are comfortable, breathable, and oh-so-pretty.


Sublimating on Dark-Colored Shirts

Sublimating on dark fabrics, especially black, is tough. This is because sublimation ink is translucent and it doesn’t cover up the fabric color; it merges with it. So, on dark shirts, the ink competes with the fabric’s hue.

Imagine sublimating a vibrant red design on a black shirt. The result? A muted, almost ghostly version of your intended colors.

Traditionally, sublimation on black shirts involved printing a white underbase first. This white layer acted as a canvas for the colors to pop. But it’s an extra step, and sometimes, we crave simplicity.

But, should you sublimate on black or dark-colored shirts? I would say YES – colorful prints on black t-shirts are almost everyone’s favorite and they pop up brighter than a full moon. However, if you want vivid, accurate colors, go for a white underbase on black shirts. It’s tried, tested, and reliable.

But wait! We’ve experimented. You can directly print sublimation images on black shirts without the white underbase. How? By sublimating onto heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and then pressing it onto the shirt. It’s a game-changer! The result? Vibrant, long-lasting sublimation on dark shirts.

Here’s a detailed guide to sublimate on vinyl.


Ideal Color Shirts You Can Sublimate On

If you want to achieve the best results with sublimation printing, you should choose a white color shirt. No other color would produce the same vibrancy, even if it is a muted and light-colored one.

Sublimation on white shirts is like a burst of fireworks. Colors shine through brilliantly, creating eye-catching designs. Whether it’s a family photo, a quirky quote, or a floral pattern, white t-shirts make the colors pop.


Final Words

Now you know what color shirts you can sublimate on, and what color apparel you should avoid. From the pristine whites to the muted grays, each color holds its secret.

For optimal results, white and light-colored polyester shirts, such as pastels and heather fabrics, are the ideal choices for sublimation printing. Their neutral hues and receptive fibers allow your designs to come to life with remarkable clarity and vibrancy, transforming your creative vision into wearable art. And, darker shirt colors can subdue the vibrancy of your design.

So, next time you pick a shirt for sublimation, think beyond the fabric. Think of the colors—their whispers, their vibrancy, their magic. Because when you wear a sublimated shirt, you wear a piece of your soul.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use sublimation on 50 50 t shirts?

Yes, you can sublimate on 50% polyester/50% cotton fabric. However, the results will not be as vibrant as if you were to sublimate on a 100% polyester shirt. This is because sublimation ink only bonds with polyester fibers, and not with cotton fibers. Therefore, only 50% of the sublimation ink will remain in the fabric after washing, leaving you with a faded and vintage look. Some people may prefer this look, while others may not.


Can you sublimate on any clothes?

No, you cannot sublimate on all clothes. Sublimation printing requires that the fabric be made of at least 50% polyester. This is because the polyester fibers are what allow the ink to adhere to the fabric. If the fabric is not made of at least 50% polyester, the ink will not bond to the fabric and the design will not be permanent.


What color can you not sublimate on?

Technically, you can sublimate on every color using different techniques. You can directly sublimate on white and other light colors, however, black or dark colors would require a white base or heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for sublimation.

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