Sublimation Made Simple: A Comprehensive Guide to Sublimating a Cap

Sublimation is one of the most popular ways to print designs on textiles, and with good reason – it’s affordable, fast, and easy to do at home! But if you’ve never done it before, the process can seem like a mystery to you. Fortunately, there are only 5 steps required to complete this process – after reading through this sublimation step-by-step guide, your next project will be complete in no time! Below description refers on how to sublimate a cap.

How to Sublimate a Cap Step by Step Guide

The Hat You Want To Sublimate

The standard method for sublimating baseball caps is thermal transfer, where heat and pressure activate an adhesive. But you can use sublimation for any cloth item—just follow these steps.

Gather supplies

If you’re using an iron, you’ll also need to collect items for your new koozie. You can use foam board or cardboard. Or, if you want a permanent solution that looks and feels like real leather, you can buy high-quality leather and get crafty with a laser cutter. If you plan on cutting your own foam or leather, be sure it’s nice and rigid so that it won’t sag while you work with it. The final touch will be some sort of adhesive.

Cut out your design

There are many ways to cut out your design. Use your preferred method. The method described here is not necessary, but it will make cutting easier and more efficient. Use clear packing tape around your design, and then run a craft knife along all the edges of your design (exaggerating every curve so that you get all of it).

When done with that, place both sheets on top of each other, face down. Turn them over so that both designs are face up on top of each other, and use duct tape or clear packaging tape to seal off any areas that need extra protection from your scissors or cutting mat. Begin by cutting out each letter and number individually, simply cut away everything outside what needs to be trimmed out.

Arrange your design on the cap

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re having fun, so keep yourself on track by making sure you allow enough time for your design to completely cure. For example, if you are using an iron-on transfer, follow your fabric manufacturer’s directions, as they can vary depending on your specific product.

Most likely, it will take between 15 and 30 minutes for your design to fully set. Be sure that no parts of it are still loose before moving on. Write down how long you allowed for curing, so you can gauge future designs accordingly. Make a note of what speed or heat setting you used, too, as most transfers have specific settings based on material thicknesses and types.

Remove parts of the design you don’t want

If you want to keep your current design, you’ll have to sublimate (or bake) it onto another surface. You’ll need a special kind of iron that uses steam, called an “off-contact iron.” It helps remove residual solvent and uncured ink from your shirt’s fibers and gets them as clean as possible before sublimation printing or dye-sublimation printing. Next, find an image online or make one yourself with design software.

Trace your design onto the sublimation paper

Trace your design onto paper. Set your pattern up so that it does not overlap in any way. Lay down your sublimation paper on top of it and tape down each side. This will make sure that you get a clean transfer of your design when you print it out later on.

Make sure you leave space around all the edges of your design; do not lay it right up against any other portion of the page, or you may have problems with it transferring onto fabric later on. Take care to follow along with all the lines and curves, being careful not to smudge them with your pen or finger as you trace over them. You want an exact duplicate for printing purposes—and even slight variations could ruin how well things print once they are transferred onto fabric later on!

Iron it on evenly and let it cool

This part is all about patience. You want to ensure that your iron won’t burn through your hat, so you have to let it cool down after every few minutes of ironing. (A heat-resistant pad can help, if you’re concerned.) Ideally, you want your hat just warm enough that it doesn’t stick and tear when you remove it from the iron.

A light pressure is necessary here because too much will transfer ink unevenly. The main thing is not to keep putting on heavy pressure—it takes time and patience. Check out what happened on my first try! 🙁 I was attempting a navy blue cap with red sublimation… oops!

Peel off the paper backing carefully

If you used a glue stick as opposed to fabric glue, you may need help peeling off the paper backing. The key is to do it slowly and carefully; often the adhesives are so strong that they want to come off all at once. Try using an x-acto knife or other thin object with a sharp edge.

If you’re having trouble, take your cap into a window on an overcast day and allow sunlight to shine on it from behind—you should be able to see which parts of your adhesive don’t match up when sunlight hits them from different angles.

Put your cap on and enjoy!

When it comes to bringing out your inner super-hero, there’s one costume that always seems to top others: a superhero costume. In fact, many little boys who grow up in superhero households frequently never quite outgrow their love for capes and masks.

This Halloween, bring out your inner child and transform into one of the comic book legends with these simple steps: Start by putting on your cape. While some capes are meant for specific costumes (Wonder Woman is one such character), be sure that whatever cape you use matches what you’re wearing – for example, if you’re dressing as Spider-Man, wear red pants.

Last Updated on March 21, 2023

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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith is an editor and author for Printerchief, specializing in creating informative content on the topics of office printing and paper processing technology. When he is not working, he enjoys exploring the great outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, along with activities like hiking, cycling, fishing, and reading. Additionally, Andrew loves working on various projects for his home and garden to keep himself busy and continue learning new skills.


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