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sublimation printing
Beginner's handbook

How to Get on The Sublimation Printing Band Wagon

By Reading Time: 4 minutes

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.

Look at our showcase videos of sublimated shirts and socks for a better understanding of the printing process!

sublimation printing products
Here are some of the sublimated products Printful currently offers. We have sublimated men’s t-shirts, tank tops, women’s t-shirts, crop tops, tank tops, socks, and towels.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

sublimation printing tee examples
These images were made using Printful’s Mockup Generator
  1. Patterns: Repetitive and easy, these look great and make an impression. Sublimated garments work best with patterns.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Light color: Due to the small white streaks by the armpits, sublimated shirts work best with white and lighter colors.
  5. 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!

Getting started

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).

sublimation printing mockup example
The Mockup Generator gives you a picture of what your garment will look like.

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.

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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…

  7. Timothy Rock

    I have been making a lot of cut & sew sublimation shirts but they don’t fit the same as the sublimation Ts. They are cut too tight. Is there a way to pattern the Cut & sew after the looser fit of the all-over sublimation Ts?

    1. Ilze Folkmane

      Glad to hear you’re making use of the sublimation printing technique! We’ve no immediate plans to change the patterns for our cut & sew t-shirts, but I’ll pass on your feedback to our product team. Perhaps try ordering a size up for a looser fit!

  8. alex

    Are you guys going to have men’s sublimation basketball shorts available since you have launched the women’s shorts?

      1. Margo

        That would be awesome, I have a lot of requests for basketball shorts as well and am currently searching for a POD that would do them for a decent price.

    1. Giedrė Šulčinskaitė

      Hi! It’s not in our plans as for now, but I’ll pass on your message to our product team.

  9. Tiffany

    I’m really excited to start making subliminal shirts. I do a lot of pattern designs and am excited this option is available

    1. Giedrė Šulčinskaitė

      Hi! All-over cut & sew products are made using similar printing technique and are available in Europe too. Check them out here!

  10. Tracey

    I know you are probably dealing with a lot of requests. But Just wondering if you have plans on have all-over printing for hoodies.
    I know Skyou have them, but they are so hard to work with, however the mockups give me a great idea on how they would look, and think this would be a great addition. There seems to be a hole in the market for sublimation hoodies/longsleeved garments. I would love it!

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