How to Sublimate on a Black Shirt

Sublimate on a Black Shirt can be tricky. However, sublimation printing is an easy and affordable way to add unique patterns and artwork to your clothing! From black shirts to sweatshirts, the process of sublimation gives you the opportunity to customize your clothing in no time at all! Here’s how to sublimate on black shirts step by step

How to Sublimate on a Black Shirt

What you will need

Heat press machine, sublimation paper, black shirt, vinyl type heat transfer paper (if applying graphics).

Decide what design you want

Now that you’ve decided on your final product, it’s time to start shopping for an actual design. Picking something out yourself can be difficult if you don’t have experience—especially if you want something more specific than something cool.

Luckily, there are many websites and designers that specialize in custom artwork and are happy to help customers pick their favorite option.

Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) process

HTV is not complicated, and it doesn’t require special tools or skills. The equipment and supplies needed are minimal, which will save you money in startup costs. You require an iron, some heat transfer vinyl (and extra if your design requires re-cutting), a T-shirt or other garment, and that’s pretty much it.

Beyond that, you require your creativity and vision for what you want to create, as well as some practice (which comes with time).

Heat press set up & operate

Heat presses are special machines that sandwich an item between two heated surfaces and then press it between them with pressure. Heat presses are used to sublimate designs onto materials like clothes, signs, and more. Here’s how they work.

Place shirt and heat press machine

When you purchase your heat press machine, it should come with instructions and safety precautions. When using any sort of machinery, it’s important to follow all manufacturer’s guidelines and warnings in order to keep yourself safe.

Place your shirt on your heat press machine and make sure that you’re familiar with its operation before starting out.

An overview of the actual sublimation process

The design you want to transfer must be created in an image editing program such as Photoshop. A vector drawing program is preferred, as it will allow for simpler sublimation down the road (you’ll be able to change color and sizing at any time).

Once you’ve got your logo or design drawn out, you can go ahead and scale it down so that when printed on a shirt, it looks exactly how you want it to look. If multiple colors are going to be used in your design (most sublimation shirts print one color at a time), make sure each layer of your artwork is set up with different fill colors and shapes in order for them to not all show up as one hue once printed.

For easier handling later, save each layer of your design as its own individual file.

Careful use of clips and trimming/trimming mat & knife

The first step is deciding where you want your image placed. For example, if you’re putting it on a t-shirt, be sure that you know where your heart is going to end up and how large an area will be covered by it. Then position and place one piece of transfer paper face down over top of where you want your image.

Once you have done that, decide what part of your design will go first, in case there are any spots that need to be filled in with white or other colors before moving onto darker colors. Place one sheet of clear plastic over top of the transfer paper (but NOT directly over top of the black shirt or design). Then use little clips to hold both pieces of transfer paper down at each corner.

Final stages – product inspection / final touches

When your design is completed, you should inspect every inch of it. There will be some areas that need extra attention, and you should cover them up with masking tape so they don’t get stained during sublimation. When you’re happy with everything, go ahead and pull off all your masking tape.

The end result should be a crisp print that has no blurry edges or over-inking in areas. If everything is satisfactory, now it’s time for final touches! This is where you’ll place your order, select sizes, pick shipping options, etc. You’ll want to triple check all these details before submitting. And that’s it!

Your design will be created, printed, and shipped out to customers as soon as possible… usually within 2 weeks of ordering! Woo!


The black t-shirt is an incredibly versatile fashion piece. You can wear it casually with jeans or use it for more formal events such as weddings and funerals. Whether you want to sublimate your clothing using a custom printed design or print your own project onto it, there are many ways that you can customize your black shirt at home.

Make sure that you’re using quality clothing in order to achieve great results! The key is experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try something new and fun. From there, all that’s left is for you to get started!

Last Updated on November 5, 2022

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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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