Ever felt constrained by the “print area” rectangle you see on the online mockup of your typical t-shirt? Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you were so used to it that you didn’t know designing outside those lines was possible. But now it’s time to think outside the box!
Enter, sublimation printing. The bandwagon that began back in the early 2010’s is still going strong, to the surprise of nobody. Printful has found success the past three years in this market, and it’s high time you get in on it too.
What is sublimation printing?
Sublimation printing is an all-over method of printing (not to be confused with cut and sew) that transfers a design into a material or fabric, rather than simply on it. Every inch of your garment is available now for when artistic inspiration strikes!
While the machinery needed for sublimation printing is very expensive, you need not fear. Order your sublimated shirts and other garments for the price of fulfillment and shipping at Printful, where we sell sublimated shirts, socks, and more.
The trend that keeps trending
After sporadic popularity, interest in sublimation printing has steadily grown since 2013. With an online store, you are perfectly poised to take advantage and get on the bandwagon. And why not? Growth rates in this industry only promise to reach new heights.
How do you choose your design?
Before you go to the drawing board you need to know what works and what doesn’t in the sublimation printing business. This technique offers a lot of room for creativity, but like with every printing process, there are a few disclaimers that you need to be aware of:
- Placement: We can’t guarantee the accurate placement of designs directly underneath the collar, on sleeves, or anywhere outside the safe print area on the Mockup Generator.
- No wraparound: Images placed on the front, sleeves and back can’t be coordinated to perfectly align with each other (e.g. you cannot have the image of a dragon wrap around the front to back).
- White streaks: Most sublimated shirts have small white streaks around the armpits. This is unavoidable because of the way the shirts are printed, so we advise using a lighter color for the base of your design.
With all that being said, sublimated t-shirts look superb when done right. They grab your attention because of their distinct and zany nature. Keeping all of the above in mind, these are our suggestions to get the best bang for your buck with sublimation.
- Patterns: Repetitive and easy, these look great and make an impression. Sublimated garments work best with patterns.
- Landscapes: Some of the most popular sublimation garments feature nature, celestial and terrestrial. Your favorite landscapes don’t need to only live in memory or photographs anymore.
- Wow Factor: Surprise your friends with your shirt! Make something unique and stunning. This is what sublimated shirts do best (if you haven’t noticed by now).
- Light color: Due to the small white streaks by the armpits, sublimated shirts work best with white and lighter colors.
- Images with backgrounds: Adding a background to an otherwise normal graphic tee can really make your shirt pop (look to the cat tank below).
The moral of the story is, the sky’s (literally) the limit. Be creative, you have 70% more shirt to work with!
Fulfilling your sublimation t-shirt ideas is easy with Printful.
1. From Printful’s homepage follow these steps, go to:
- Mockup Generator → Men’s/Women’s clothing → All-over shirts → Choose from any shirt that has the sublimation option.
2. With your desired product chosen, click on the “Upload File” tab and drag your print file to the front and back of the shirt. Make sure that the print file is of sufficient quality (we suggest at least 300 DPI).
3. Position and resize your design as needed. Be sure to include all of important elements of your print file (i.e. what you’d like to clearly seen) within the safe print area.
4. Now you can either click “Generate Files” or “Order.”
5. The “Generate Files” tab lets you download your files to your computer or save them to your print file library. This way you can order the same exact shirt at a later date.
6. The “Order” tab lets you order a sample or a basic order immediately (but you should save your design, it takes literally 10 seconds).
- Sample orders are designed to let you test new products before adding them to your store for 20% off, but you only get two a month. Learn how to get more free samples.
The Bandwagon’s Pulling Out
Sublimated shirts are only becoming more popular. Get ahead in this rapidly expanding niche market for a bigger slice of the sales pie, before it’s too late and someone “steals” that idea you were too slow to act on (because we all know it’s about who gets there first).
You now have the know-how needed to make a sublimation garment. You have a fulfilment service ready to help you make it happen. You have those design ideas tucked away behind your work papers. But what are you waiting for? You can’t print money, but printing sublimation shirts might just be the next best thing. Get started.
This article was originally published in April 2015; it has since been updated.