How To do Sublimation On Dark Shirts | Explained

Are you eager to learn how to achieve vibrant and eye-catching sublimation prints on dark shirts? Look no further. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of sublimating on dark shirts step by step. Discover the essential techniques, tools, and materials needed to ensure successful results. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sublimation enthusiast, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills to create stunning designs on dark shirts using sublimation printing.

Steps To Perform Sublimation On Dark Shirts

Here are the steps that you should follow when you are doing sublimation on dark shirts.

Step 1

If you’re looking to create your own unique prints on your shirts, load dye sublimation ink into an inkjet printer for the best results. To begin the process, first, prepare the design that you want to print. It’s important to remember that the cloth you use should be polymer-coated material or have at least 50 percent polyester content to ensure that the ink properly adheres to the fabric. 

While a Silhouette Cameo or programmable printer machine can simplify the process, you don’t necessarily need to splurge on expensive equipment to get started. Research various options and find the cheapest sublimation printer that fits your needs and budget. With a little bit of creativity and the right tools, you’ll be able to showcase your individual style on your clothing with ease.

Step 2

Here’s a pro tip to get dark ink onto a light shirt, slip a piece of white paper under the black dye sub-polyurethane transfer paper, and voila. It’ll look like you’re printing straight on the shirt. Try some white glitter HTV transfer paper instead. Your wardrobe just got way cooler.

Step 3

Position the dye sub-dark polyurethane transfer paper with the colorful side down onto your T-shirt or preferred item to transfer the design.

Sublimation On Dark Shirts

Step 4

For a successful transfer of your favorite design onto darker t-shirts, set your temperature to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, press the clothes iron closed with passion and moderate to heavy pressure for anywhere between 10 seconds to 4 minutes. Keep in mind, the heat press duration will vary depending on the material you’re using.

Step 5

Once you’re done pressing your shirt, be sure to give it a quick once-over for color transfer and let it cool off. Voila! Your brand-new black shirt, hot off the press.

What Are The Products that Work to Dark Color Shirt Sublimation?

Given the high demand for sublimation on dark colors, lots of printing and transfer paper companies have worked hard to develop products tailored to the needs of dark-colored fabrics. With so many options available, it can be tough to separate authentic products from those simply making false claims. For your benefit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most reliable products out there.

Siser Glitter HTV

The Siser Glitter HTV is the secret weapon of dye sublimation printing on dark t-shirts. This high-pressure sensitive carrier allows for the weeding of even the tiniest details, making it a crowd favorite among professional printers. But wait, it gets better it’s incredibly durable too, perfect for those who are worried about printing on black fabrics. Although after 19-20 laundry cycles, you may spot some small cracks, the print remains as bright and accurate as ever.

B-Flex Glitter HTV 

B-Flex Glitter HTV is a popular option for use on darker shirts, but it may yield a slightly less vibrant print compared to Siser Glitter HTV. However, many still opt for B-Flex due to its unique, unmistakable glitter aesthetic, thanks to its thick 320-micron build. With 10 colors to choose from, it’s definitely worth considering as part of your creative toolkit.

Subli Flock

Subli Flock may not have the same level of recognition as Siser Glitter HTV, but it still works great on dark shirts. The vibrant and vivid results are truly impressive. Sadly, the main drawback is the durability of the print. You can only wash it about ten times before you start seeing noticeable cracks. After 20 cycles, cracks become deep, and even dark lines appear across the print.

Subli Flex

Subli Flex is the perfect sublimation product for dark clothing that allows for superior printing. The colors are not only fantastic but also impressively shiny. Keep in mind though, after around five washes, the print may start to crack, which reduces its durability. If you want to preserve it longer, you can try handwashing it since the product is quite delicate.


Sublimate is getting a lot of buzzes lately for its effectiveness on dark shirts. While many have given positive reviews, it’s important to note that the print may still appear somewhat opaque, meaning the black background could still be visible. To make the most of your Sublimate experience, follow the clear advice on the packaging and make sure to wash your garment properly for a long-lasting design.

Printworks Dark T-shirt Transfers

Printworks Dark T-shirt Transfers is the go-to product for creating top-notch designs on your dark T-shirts. Get unbeatable print quality that won’t fade after countless washes, but don’t be surprised if some teeny cracks appear over time. Best of all, it’s beginner-friendly and takes just 10 minutes to use. 

Choice of Printer

Your choice of printer can impact the type of transfer paper you should use. Inkjet printers are affordable and versatile, making them the go-to option for heat transfer printing.

Method of Transfer

When it comes to making dark shirts for friends and family, a household iron will do the trick. But, if you’re thinking about taking it to the next level and making a business out of it, listen up. A commercial heat press is your best bet for mass production and saving precious time.

Opacity/Material Color

To ensure the perfect match between your fabric color choice and product, a careful reading of the description and label is crucial. Be sure to choose the right transfer paper, clearly labeled as “opaque,” if you’re working with darker fabrics or leather.

Sheet and Project Size

Discover the projects you want to work on. Don’t forget to read each item’s description before you purchase heat transfer paper. It comes in various sizes and isn’t easy to cut into smaller pieces unless the manufacturer has specified otherwise.

Number of Sheets

Heat transfer paper is available in various quantities. But wait, before you make a purchase, consider your project and estimate the number of sheets you need. While buying, keep in mind to get extra sheets for sublimation, so that you don’t run out at the last moment. But if you are making a business purchase, it’s best to buy in bulk. Trust me, it’s way cheaper than buying at retail prices.


While it’s challenging to achieve all-over dye sublimation printing on dark t-shirts, there are specific products and techniques you can use to get the job done. For a one-off project, it’s best to leave it to the pros and save yourself time, money, and effort. Trust the professionals to give you a flawless outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do sublimation on dark shirts?

Yes, it’s possible to sublimate on a dark shirt with a little trick. Use a white heat transfer vinyl as a base layer and sublimate over it. First, press the HTV and then layer the sublimation on top. Your dark shirt is ready to shine with vibrant colors.

Do you need different sublimation paper for dark shirts?

When it comes to white or light-colored t-shirts, you have the choice of using both dark or light transfer paper. However, for darker shirts, only dark transfer paper is suitable as it comes with a white backing. This little detail is important to ensure your designs come out just as you intended.

What color shirts work best for sublimation?

White is commonly used for sublimation apparel, but don’t be afraid to experiment with light-colored garments (just not if you need white in your design). Colored apparel poses a bit of a challenge though the dyes need to be heat set to keep the color from fading in the wash.

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye-sublimation printing is a super cool way of transferring full-color designs onto garments. Simply put, the inks are heated and transferred onto the fabric so that it can be covered with a protective top sheet. When the heat’s off, you can peel that sheet right off, and voila. A beautiful, long-lasting design. Now, picking the right product is crucial for all colors to stay vibrant under heat. So, make sure to choose wisely if you’re using black cloth. 

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