How to Sublimate on Dark T-Shirts with 100% True Colors

It has been a common concept among people that sublimation only supports light-colored shirts because dark colors are merely not a thing of sublimation printing. To you your surprise, it was just a matter of the past, because now you can perform sublimation on your darker apparel just with a few tricks. So gear up as what you just gonna find out about “how to sublimate on dark shirts” will totally amaze you!

How To Sublimate On Dark Shirts

Although, sublimating dark shirts followed the same process as we did with white or light-colored shirts except for a few changes, and trust me it’s not so much science. Here the secret technique is using the glitter white heat transfer vinyl or EasySubli. Meaning that we are not printing the dark shirts directly, instead, using quite an indirect approach. Additionally, we’ll be covering you with do’s and don’ts as well so let’s get started!

So how exactly we’ll do sublimation for dark shirts?

Well, the process we’ve explained here consists of four steps. However, before you start the process, take a look at the tools and accessories and make sure you have all of them.

  • Sublimation printer for t-shirt
  • sublimation paper for dark fabric
  • Heat press vinyl (glitter)
  • Lint roll
  • Heat press
  • Dark/black-colored shirt

After getting everything set, let’s start with how to sublimate on dark shirts.

Get your design ready

The first thing is to decide on “what design you want your prints on”. Basically, selecting the design can be the hardest part if you previously don’t have any. Though, you can create your own design or use some websites such as So Fontsy. In the case of text, make sure your printer provides the highest accuracy because there’s no room for blur designs. If you have accuracy issues, you can check the best sublimation printer and own one that matches your need!

2. (a) Sublimating process using sublimation paper

As you get done with finalizing the design, get your printer ready for sublimation. Here we’ll be following a simple sublimating process but in a different way that is; we are not getting the print on the front side of the paper. Besides, make ascertain that you are using one of the best sublimation papers for dark shirts. Instead, the prints will be on the matte/ rough side.

After getting it printed, move the design on an adhesive sheet and put it inside the heat transfer for 15-20 seconds. Basically, we are transferring the design onto the adhesive sheet so it’ll be pasted onto the shirt in the last step. Anyhow, after getting it pressed on the sheet, we’ll remove the paper and then take aside the adhesive print till we get the black sublimation shirt ready.

   2.  (b) Using Sublimation Vinyl For Dark Shirts

Heat transfer vinyl is a more versatile yet complicated way to sublimate dark shirts. Here, we are using glitter HTV because it possesses more polyester than the smooth transfer vinyl. Now as we’ll go on with the print, we don’t use the mirror printing option because the design we need must be reversed. So, in the settings, we’ll select flip horizontally and get it printed. Additionally, the printed should be in full, so we don’t have to go through the hassle to cut and weed the paper.

Speaking of cutting, yes it’s the most difficult part! Here the additional vinyl will be cut and only the parts where there is design should be left. Also, only the adhesive side will go under trimming, you don’t have to do anything to the plastic side. Now, let’s get to the next step.

Prepare the shirt

Get the dark/black colored shirt and make sure you are using 100% polyester shirt since we are using the method for how to sublimate on dark polyester shirts otherwise we’ll recommend you use 75% polyester at least. We use bleached shirts, and here’s how we bleach a shirt, by following the simple steps we’ve mentioned in our article, you can have yours. Get it pressed to remove any wrinkles and lint roll the shirt. Remember, lint rolling is the most important step in getting the shirt ready. If you skip this, you may bring negative effects to the printing quality.

Heat press the shirt

Finally, take your sublimation paper or the vinyl and place it down onto the shirt. First, we’ll start with the sublimation paper where we’ll set the temperature of the heat press, warm it and get out the design we got using an adhesive sheet and sublimation paper and place it in alignment with the transfer paper. 60 seconds into heating it at 400 Fahrenheit, we’ll get out the shirt and remove the paper, and jeez! The design will be on the shirt.

heat pressing the shirt

In the case of vinyl, put the glitter sheet on the shirt and remove the plastic sheet, and then heat press it for 20 seconds such that the glitter stick to the shirt. Now, with proper alignments, put the design over it. Make sure there’s not even a 1% error in that, otherwise the glitter sheet and sublimation print will be printed out differently.

Now, set the heat press and full temperature, and again, press the shirt for 60 seconds. Remove the sublimation sheet and tada! You are done with sublimating your dark fabrics. If anything goes wrong, remove the design by following the simple hacks we’ve mentioned in our blog, “How to remove Sublimation Inks from Shirts“.


So, this is all about how to sublimate on dark shirts! Though it does require some technicalities and carefulness, though, it totally worth it once you get the beautiful prints on your darker shirts. So keep in mind all the necessary steps and don’t settle to skip any! Practice is the key and we are sure you are dedicated enough to put the efforts into it. Good luck!


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