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sublimation on dark shirt

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Is Sublimation Printing on Dark Shirts Possible? Here’s How

I get this question a lot and I understand your concern about this. If you’re a black lover and wondering how to do sublimation on dark color shirts you’ve come to the right spot. 

If you’re going to ask a normal person who has inadequate experiences in all over dye sublimation t-shirt printing, what you’re going to hear is a straight and clear NO. However, a lot of emerging products on the market are claiming that they can solve this issue. And, before you waste your money buying wrong and untrusted products, let me tell you what really works.

Make sure to read the whole article to know the products and processes that you should follow.

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye sublimation printing is a process of transferring all over, full color designs to garments. The inks are heat-transferred from the polyester film (heat press) or dye rollers onto the fabric and then covered with a protective top sheet which helps prevent bleed through for lighter colors and provides an easy peel off after pressing.

The process of all over dye sublimation t-shirt printing can be a lot easier than you think. There are few steps to go through and the most important is choosing which product will work best with your garment color. Keep in mind that all colors react differently under heat, so it’s absolutely necessary to choose the products carefully or else all you’ll get is a mess. This is especially true if you are using a black cloth.

How can You Sublimate on Dark Shirts?

The best all over dye-sublimation t-shirt printing on a black fabric can be achieved by using specific products. The ink you will use for this type of all over dye-sublimation t-shirt printing is white and the garment should be 100% cotton or polyester with no dyes so it absorbs all light without bouncing back any colors.

Here are the steps that you should follow:

Step 1

Load dye sublimation ink into an inkjet printer. To create a print on your shirt, prepare the design you want. Your cloth should also be polymer-coated material or at least 50 percent polyester content T-shirt.  To make it work, you should do a Silhouette Cameo or a programmable printer machine.

Step 2

To get the dark ink onto the light shirt, put a piece of white paper from your printer under black dye sub polyurethane transfer paper. It will make it look like you’re printing on the color shirt. There are also different transfer papers that will work on dark shirts like white glitter HTV.

htv for sublimation

Step 3

First lay the dye sub dark polyurethane transfer paper face down onto the T-shirt or other item to which you want to transfer it.

Step 4

The proper temperature to adhere the transfer paper with design to dark t-shirts is 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Press the clothes iron closed with moderate to heavy pressure for 10 seconds to 4 minutes. Note that the heat press time will depend on the type of material to which you are transferring the design.

Step 5

After pressing the shirt, examine it for color transfer and allow it to cool. There you have it! A sublimated black shirt!

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

Because of the high demand of sublimation on dark colors, some printing and transfer paper companies did their best to come up with products that work on dark-colored fabrics. To help you know which ones are real and which ones are just false advertisements, we listed down some of them.

Siser Glitter HTV

This product is very popular when it comes to all-over dye sublimation t-shirt printing in dark colors. It boasts of a high-pressure sensitive carrier which allows easy weeding of tiniest details when sublimating. It is also very easy to use and highly durable considering that printing on black fabrics is almost impossible.

After 19-20 laundry cycles, however, you will notice small cracks on your sublimated print as opposed on whote shirts. Still, the print will remain really bright and accurate to its design.

B-Flex Glitter HTV

This is another product that is famed for its compatibility on dark shirts. Although it indeed works, the print is noticeably duller than when you use Siser Glitter HTV. However, a lot of people who want a more definitive glitter style still use this product as it contains 320 microns. It comes in 10 colors and is not widely available.

Subli Flock

Although it is not as famous as Siser Glitter HTV, Subli Flock still definitely works on dark colored shirts. The print turns out really bright and colorful which I definitely love!

However, the problem with this product is mainly the durability of the print. After about ten cycles of laundry, there will already be noticeable cracks on the print which is disappointing. When you wash it for about 20 times, you will notice more pronounced cracks and even dark lines across the print.

subliflock printed

Subli Flex

If you are looking for a great sublimation product that prints well on dark shirts, this may be the one for you. When using this product, the product turns out great and the colors are shiny and fantastic. However, the print is not as durable as you may expect and will already start to crack when washed for about five times. To prevent cracking, you may try to handwash the material as it is quite delicate.


I heard plenty of positive reviews about Sublimate and they claim that it really works well on dark shirts. However, the truth is that the print does seem a little opaque when using this. It means that you will still notice the black background on prints. There is also a clear advice on its packaging stating that it should be washed carefully to maintain the design at a longer period.

Printworks Dark T-shirt Transfers

This product is from Printworks and is specifically advertised for printing in dark T-Shirts. So yeah, it definitely works and is fade-resistant through a long cycle of washing. Still, you can notice small cracks forming after some time. It is also perfect for beginners as it is very easy to use and it will only take 10 minutes to finish.

Siser EasySubli

When it comes to color and durability, Siser EasySubli is the clear winner! Upon printing, you will notice that the color turns out really great rather than the previous products mentioned. After many cycles of laundry, the design still holds on well and does not develop noticeable cracks. However, it is printer sensitive so you have to make sure that it is compatible with your printer before availing and using the product.

What are The Things to Consider for All-over Dye T-shirt Sublimation Services?

Choice of Printer

The type of printer you currently have or plan to purchase will affect the type of transfer paper you use. Inkjet printers are the most common choice of printers for heat transfer printing. Some of the reasons behind this is because they are inexpensive and compatible with all types of paper.

Method of Transfer

If you’re only planning to make dark shirts for friends and family, then a household iron will do the trick. If you consider making this a business, however, we recommend getting a commercial heat press. These are more suitable for mass production when time is of the essence.

sublimation heat press

Opacity/Material Color

Reading the description of the product and selecting the best paper for your fabric color choice is important. Make sure to read labels that are clear about whether or not they work with light or dark colors. If you plan to work with dark fabrics or leather, choose the transfer papers labeled as “opaque”.

Sheet and Project Size

Look into the projects you want to work with. Make sure to read each item’s description before buying heat transfer paper. This is because it comes in various sizes and is not easy to cut any pieces off. That is unless it was previously specified by the manufacturer.

Number of Sheets

Heat transfer paper is sold in a variety of numbers. Think about the project you have in mind and estimate the number of sheets that you’ll need. Do you need one sheet, 10 sheets, 20 or more? You can save money by purchasing the right amount of sheets with a few extra sheets that are needed for the sublimation. However, if it’s for a business, I would recommend buying in bulk as it is far cheaper than retail.


All over dye sublimation t-shirt printing services is almost impossible for dark colors but by using the right products and techniques, you can surely do this. However, if you only need to sublimate a dark shirt on one occasion, then it is best to just rely on professionals. This will save you time, money, and effort to make things work.

In Dad’s Printing, we offer you the best sublimation for dark t-shirts in a quick turnaround time. This way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time researching for the products that work and not. Call us now to order!

With an in-depth understanding of Quality Control, Apparel Production and experience in warehousing and transportation all over the world, the Dads Printing Team is dedicated to making your Canadian Apparel production a seamless process, no matter the product or the print!

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