Using Sublimation on Dark Fabrics – It’s Easy!

I know that you were taught that sublimation (infusible ink) only works on light, polyester fabrics.  Well, they were so wrong!!!  I will show you what I learned about using sublimation on any fabric regardless of color or fabric material!  This is the image I put on black fabric.

What inspired Me to Try This Sublimation Technique

I saw this great product one day in Michaels called EasySubli from Siser to sublimate on dark fabrics.  But it was really expensive!  It was $45 for 5 sheets that were 8.5 X 11.  I went home and tried to find a cheaper source.   Amazon had some for much less and ordered it.  It works like vinyl, then  you sublimate onto the vinyl.  Genius!  But does it work on other types of vinyl?

Now I know what you are thinking.  Why not just buy printable vinyl?  Those materials only work in an ink jet printer and I have a laser printer for regular printing.  Never put printable vinyl into a laser printer!  I melted some a long time ago and almost ruined a laser printer.  And you can print on the EasySubli  with sublimation ink but I wanted to do all of them the same way.  There are lots of instructions to print on it on the web if you want to try it.

The Materials I Used

But back to the task at hand.  I pulled out every type of white vinyl I had.  Most of it was glitter vinyl, but I also had some flocked and plain.  I tried each one.  And some of them worked!  So I set up a trial.  I picked a print then cut image and printed a whole bunch of them.

Print then cut images for sublimation on dark fabrics trial
Lots of images

The image is light and has lots of white (white does not print).  It was a good trial.  I used the following vinyl brands:

  • Regular Cricut White Vinyl
  • EasySubli vinyl
  • Paper Studio Glitter and Flocked vinyl
  • HTV Ront White Glitter and Purple Glitter vinyl
  • HTV Ront Sublimation Glossy vinyl
How I Did the Sublimation

When doing this type of project make sure you mirror all images.  To cut this properly you need to cut out the print then cut image and also cut out the vinyl.  You can usually do this easily by copying the image and converting it to a basic cut image.  This usually greys it out.  If not select everything and weld.  Contour out any small gaps and cut this image from the vinyl.

Again remember to mirror everything!

Notes on Applying the Vinyl

Iron on the vinyl following the normal method, but the EasySubli takes an extra step.  After you cut out the EasySubli, you must take it off the backing and turn it over.  Now you can do this by hand or use the EasiSubli Mask (which is transfer paper for iron on vinyl).  Do use regular transfer paper because it will melt.  This was a simple image so I just peeled the EasySubli off the carrier sheet and ironed it down.

Pressing On To Fabric

Next, press the vinyl onto the fabric.  I used a black 100% cotton fat quarter and cut it up so that all were done on the same fabric.  Then let the fabric cool.  After it cools attach the sublimation printout or infusible ink to the vinyl.  Line them up exactly then tape the image down with heat tape.  This keeps it from moving.  

Finally, I heated the vinyl to 330 degrees for 30 sec on all of them and heated the sublimation image to 385 degrees for 40 sec.  These are the settings for cricut glitter vinyl and infusible ink.  It was a minor mistake to press them all at the same temperature.  Before you start, read the instructions on your product and sublimation paper.

Results of the Sublimation Test

Below are pictures of each vinyl.  The orange taps are how I kept track of what was what.  

The best was the Paper Studio Flocked with EasySubli coming in a close 2nd.  The three glitter vinyl worked great too.  The regular vinyl failed and the HTV Ront sublimation vinyl worked but (as I read later) is only to be used on light fabrics.  I will trial it on light fabric and get back to you.

I washed them 4 or 5 times and dried them after I finished.  The regular vinyl got lighter and lighter but everything else came out fine!


EasySubli works well but it is confusing as to which side goes down and which side takes ink and transferring it.  I sorta did it by trial and error because the instructions for doing it this way are confusing.  Probably I will print on the remaining that I have.  

I loved the way the glitter vinyl and flocked vinyl worked and will use this method often.  It is much cheaper than the EasySubli.  The glitter shows through but the glitter doesn’t bother me.  It may bother some.  The flocked vinyl will work for those people.

I am going to try the HTV Sublimation Vinyl on a lighter fabric soon.  I will let you know how that goes.  It will work well I think.

  • The lines in the images were caused by my sublimation printer.  I have since cleaned the printer heads and it works much better now. 
  • I pressed them all at the same temperature.  Some of them require a little cooler of a press which cause the orangish tint.  Make sure you read the instructions for whatever brand you use. 
  • And the frayed fabric is from the washing process.

2 thoughts on “Using Sublimation on Dark Fabrics – It’s Easy!

  1. I have used Oracle 651 white both gloss and matte and also clear to sublimate on. I use a-sub sublimation paper it seems to work best the htvront if i’m waiting on an order of a-sub. I sublimate on a lot of different substrates. Wood, glass, dark and light materials. I recently found a source for translucent and transparent vinyl and am working on stained glass panels to cover some clear windows at my church. I wish Cricut would get rid of the print & cut size limitation. 8.5×11 would be nice.

    1. Thank you I will try Oracle 651! But isn’t 651 permanent not HTV? And I agree on the print area but I understand that the alignment marks need to fit on the page too. But if I have a 12 X 12 printer, I should be able to print that size minus the alignment marks.

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