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Beginner's handbook Printful 101

How to get on the sublimation printing band wagon

By Reading Time: 4 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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