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How to get on the sublimation printing band wagon

By Julia Gifford - Reading time: 3 minutes

Without a doubt, one of the biggest apparel trends of 2015 (which is already in full swing) is sublimation, or all-over printing. Sublimation is a technique that has recently become available on Printful, and it’s high time you implement it to your store.

A sweeping trend that has taken over the internet

The sublimation trend has taken over, and as an online store, you’re perfectly poised to take advantage and get on the band wagon. And why not? This is a trend that has exploded over the past few years, and promises to only get bigger.

Google Trend search reveals the explosive growth of "sublimation tshirt"

Google Trend search reveals the explosive growth of “sublimation tshirt”

This incredibly hipster trend used to be unattainable for most. They require special printers, large sheets and ovens to make the sublimation magic happen. There are a few sites out there that offer cool sublimated products, and they’re quite expensive. But now it’s available on Printful, and you should take advantage of this currently not-yet exploited option!

Right now on Printful we offer sublimated t-shirts and tank tops, but there’s much more on the way (we’ll mention that at the bottom of this post…).

What is sublimation printing and why should I use it?

Hypno-catSublimation printing (also known as all-over printing) is a printing method that transfers ink from one sheet onto the receiving canvas (in our case, fabric). Compared to alternative printing methods, which are limited to a particular field, sublimation printing is able to transfer a design to every inch of the garment.

With the possibility of designing every part of your garment, that unleashes a whole new world of possibilities.

Funky, funny, and clever all-over designs have been popping up all over the web.

How to choose your design?

To get started with sublimation printing, the first thing you’ll need is a bad-ass design. A lot of sublimation designs out there work so well because of their quirky nature, their unexpectedness or drama.

There are so many designs that work great for all-over printing, but it’s possible that you don’t already have an images in your arsenal that works well. So far with Direct-to-Garment (what Printful has been using up to now), the images that worked best were easily limited to the printing field. Now you’re got the entire garment to work with.

Some ideas that work really well:



Patterns: Repetitive, beautiful patterns look great. It leaves an impression

Landscapes: Some of the most popular sublimation garments feature nature – be it celestial or terrestrial. Take an image of the galaxy, ocean, canyon, clouds. It’ll be beautiful.

Ridiculousness: Some things that work well are just plain ridiculous. Like the burger t-shirt above. Because why not?

Images with backgrounds: This is the time you can pull out those images with backgrounds, like the cat tank above. When you’ve got access to printing the entire garment, you might as well use it!

The moral of the story is, the sky’s (literally) the limit. This is your chance to go creative and think of something insanely fun. You’ll be rewarded for it!

How to get started using sublimation?

If you already have your website set up, then adding all-over printed t-shirt options will be a breeze.

Once you’ve chosen which design you’ll use, you’ll have to create the print file. For those of you with Photoshop or Illustrator knowledge, you’ll be able to simply scale your design to fit the print guidelines for the sublimation garments.

If you’ve got an image you want to use, you can head over to the Mockup Generator.

The mockup generator gives you a picture of what your garment will look like

The mockup generator gives you a picture of what your garment will look like

You’ll be able to position your design and alter its size. Download the mockup, and that’ll be the image that you can put up in your shop. You’ll also be provided with a print file, which you can use when making orders. You can use the mockup to send to the Printful printing team, so that they know exactly how you had intended to position your design.

Make sure to order some samples for 20% off and free shipping within the US (go to “submit order” and click the “samples” option). Treat it as any other Printful product in terms of syncing and applying shipping costs.

NB! Sublimation products are hot right now – they’re more expensive to produce and use a lot more ink – that’s why you can (and should!) price them as a premium product.

Products we plan on making in the future

We’re constantly toying with new product ideas (in case you haven’t noticed), and here’s our founder, Lauris, modeling a sublimation sweater that was cut, printed and sewn in the Printful lab.

And the one product I’m personally waiting for the most….LEGGINGS!

Have you tried out sublimation printing yet? Share your links in the comments, and lets inspire each other!

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  1. Carol Vega

    HELP! I cannot find anything about the overall shirts. I did a mock up BUT are they printed on back and front? What is the pricing? I have placed designs on overall t-shirts on POD sites but they are so expensive I can’t sell them. What’s the info on yours? Where’s the links? Thanks for your help.

  2. ZACCY

    Hi! Just wanted to say I am absolutely LOVING my new all-over print tanks & I can’t wait to start selling them! I’ll be wearing them all summer! Leggings will be awesome for my sisters as well! & I am curious about underwear being a possibility with this print method? I know briefs are on your roadmap & I am curious what print method that will entail! If you have any insight I’d love to know!

    1. Julia Gifford Post author

      Hey Zaccy,

      Underwear is in the roadmap, you’re right. As to what print method that might involve, though I can’t say anything for sure, it would most probably be with DTG at first.


  3. SFB

    It’s getting more exciting every month!

    What would be a game changer in my eyes is to be able to do sublimation printing on sportswear. I’m personally waiting for the day that printfull makes it available on football (soccer) shirts/kits. Take a look at what oneills is doing with sublimation printing on sportswear/teamwear. It’s a huge market. Please make it happen.

  4. BYT

    I would really like to see other t-shirt models (women’s) available for sublimation. The standard you offer right now is too boxy and lacks stylish fit for women. When will you offer the other tee models in other colors?

    1. Julia Gifford Post author

      Hi there, thanks for your feedback! Not just any t-shirt can be sublimated, you need a specific sublimation style for it to work. For that reason, you’ll never see an existing t-shirt style available for both DTG and sublimation. As for colors – every sublimation t-shirt is by default white, so that you can sublimate whatever you want on top of it 🙂


    Considering the issue of white spots on the tees, I would love to see more cut and sew clothing options ( I saw the leggings announcement, and love that). The sweatshirt option looks promising.

    I would also love to see more allover bag options, perhaps a simple sling bag or drawstring backpack – something a bit more trendy than the tote.

  6. Thai

    Are only the leggings available as cut and sew? I’ve been looking all over the place for kids all over sublimated cut and sew products and it’s sooo hard to find…

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