Can You Sublimate on Black Shirts?

Can You Sublimate on Black Shirts?

When it comes to black shirts, sublimation printing can be a bit tricky because the dark color of the shirt can absorb the heat and cause the ink to spread or bleed. Sublimation works best on light-colored fabrics, but is it possible to do sublimation on Black Shirts? 

Yes, you can do sublimation on a black shirt. However, keep in mind that the colors may appear less vibrant on dark fabrics compared to light fabrics.

In this article, we will explore the potential of sublimation as a printing method for black Shirts including the challenges and techniques involved.

Can You Sublimate on Black Shirts?

Sublimation on black shirts is possible but requires a specific type of fabric and a specialized technique. Black shirts are typically made from cotton or polyester blends, which may not be suitable for sublimation printing. To sublimate on black shirts, you will need to use a specialized sublimation ink that is specifically designed for use on black fabrics.

How To Sublimate on Black Shirts

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here is step by step method on how to sublimate on black shirt.

Sublimation Method for Black Shirt

Here are some steps to follow for sublimation on black shirts:

1. Choose a design that you want to sublimate on the black shirt. You can use any image editing software to create or modify your design. Make sure to mirror the design before printing, as it will be reversed when transferred onto the shirt.

2. Print your design onto a sublimation paper using a sublimation printer and ink. Sublimation paper is specially coated to hold the sublimation ink and release it when heated. You can use any size of paper that fits your design and your shirt.

3. Cut out a piece of sublimation vinyl or glitter HTV that matches the size and shape of your design. Sublimation vinyl and glitter HTV are special types of heat transfer vinyl that can be sublimated. They have a white or light-colored base layer that acts as a substrate for the sublimation ink to show up on the black shirt.

4. Weed out the excess vinyl or HTV around your design. You can use a weeding tool or your fingers to peel off the unwanted parts of the vinyl or HTV. Be careful not to damage the design or the carrier sheet.

5. Preheat your shirt using a heat press or an iron. This will help to remove any wrinkles, moisture, or dirt from the fabric and prepare it for the sublimation process.

6. Place the vinyl or HTV onto the shirt, aligning it with your desired position. Make sure that the carrier sheet is facing up and the design is facing down. You can use some heat-resistant tape to secure the vinyl or HTV in place and prevent it from shifting during pressing.

7. Cover the vinyl or HTV with a piece of parchment paper or a Teflon sheet. This will protect the vinyl or HTV from direct heat and prevent it from sticking to the heat press or iron.

8. Press the vinyl or HTV onto the shirt using a heat press or an iron. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the temperature, time, and pressure settings for your specific product. Generally, you’ll need to press at around 400°F for 60 seconds with medium pressure.

9. Peel off the carrier sheet and the parchment paper or Teflon sheet from the shirt. Be careful not to burn yourself or damage the design. You should see your design transferred onto the shirt with vivid colors and details.

Challenges and Techniques While Sublimation


  • Black fabric absorbs heat, leading to potential scorching.
  • Achieving vibrant colors requires higher ink coverage.
  • Regular inks may lack opacity; use specialized inks.
  • Pre-treatment is crucial for ink adhesion.


  • Use lower temperatures and specialized paper.
  • Increase ink coverage or use specialized inks.
  • Pre-treat the shirt with a sublimation solution.


Can I use a regular printer for sublimation heat transfer paper?

No, regular printers are not suitable for sublimation heat transfer paper.

How long does sublimation print last?

Sublimation prints are highly durable and resistant to fading, water, and scratches. With proper care, they can last several years or even decades without significant deterioration.


It is possible to do sublimation on black shirts, but there are some challenges and techniques to consider. The colors may appear less vibrant on dark fabrics and there is a risk of scorching due to the black fabric absorbing heat. To achieve vibrant colors, it is recommended to use specialized inks and pre-treat the shirt with a sublimation solution. Lower temperatures and specialized paper can also help with the sublimation process on black shirts.

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