Can You Sublimate on Dark Colors? – (Full Guide)

Last Updated on July 31, 2023

Learn Can You Sublimate on Dark Colors: Welcome back to another exciting sublimation tutorial! Today, we’ll be diving into the world of sublimating onto dark fabrics, exploring an alternative method that doesn’t involve heat transfer vinyl (HTV).

This technique will allow you to create stunning, colorful designs on dark-colored shirts and fabrics, giving your creations a unique and eye-catching touch. So let’s get started!

Can You Sublimate on Dark Colors
Image Source: The Sublimation Life, Canva

Can You Sublimate on Dark Colors?

Yes, you can sublimate onto dark fabrics! In this tutorial, we’ll show you an alternative way to sublimate on heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to achieve vibrant designs on dark-colored shirts. Let’s dive into the process.

Materials You’ll Need

Before we begin, let’s gather the materials required for this sublimation project. You’ll need the following:

  • Cricut machine and Cricut Design Space: We’ll use the Cricut to cut out the base layer that we’ll later sublimate onto.
  • Inkjet Printer: You’ll need this to print your design onto sublimation paper.
  • Sublimation paper: Ensure that you use the right sublimation paper for your printer.
  • Heat Press: A reliable heat press is essential for achieving the best results.
  • Dark-colored shirt or fabric: Choose a dark hue to bring out the vibrant colors of the sublimation.

The Process

The Process
Image Source: The Sublimation Life
  • Design Setup: In Cricut Design Space, upload your PNG file. Duplicate the file to ensure the cut and sublimation layers are the same size.
  • Cutting the Base Layer: Select one of the files and choose the “Basic Cut” option. Proceed with the cutting process using a suitable cutting mat and your preferred material.
  • Printing and Cutting the Sublimation Layer: Print the PNG file using your inkjet printer on sublimation paper. Ensure you mirror the image to avoid any reversals. Once printed, load the sublimation paper onto your cutting mat and proceed with the cutting process using your Cricut.
  • Preparing the Fabric: Lay your dark-colored fabric flat on the heat press and preheat it slightly to remove any wrinkles or lint.
  • Tacking the Base Layer: Place the cut base layer on the fabric and tack it down for about 10-15 seconds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Tacking ensures the base layer adheres to the fabric without causing any issues during sublimation.
  • Sublimation Process: Now, position the sublimation layer on top of the base layer. Tape it down securely with heat-resistant tape or painter’s tape. Cover the design with parchment paper or butcher paper to protect the heat press and prevent unwanted ink transfers.
  • Heat Press: Increase the heat press temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and apply heat for 60 seconds. This will sublimate the ink from the paper onto the fabric, creating vivid and vibrant colors.
  • Final Touches: Carefully remove the parchment paper and tape. Allow the fabric to cool before removing the sublimation paper.

The Results

Can You Sublimate on Dark Colors
Image Source: The Sublimation Life

The sublimation process on dark-colored fabrics yields stunning results! The colors pop against the dark background, creating eye-catching and durable designs. The heat-resistant tape may leave some sticky residue, but this easily washes off, leaving your design looking flawless.

What is the best way to sublimate on dark colors?

The best way to sublimate on dark colors is using heat transfer vinyl as a base layer. First, press the heat transfer vinyl onto the shirt, and then apply the sublimation paper on top of it. This method allows your colored and vivid design to stand out effectively on dark-colored shirts.

Does sublimation work on all colors?

No, sublimation does not work on all colors. The results will vary greatly as sublimation is a dye process and does not print white.

Why is my sublimation not dark enough?

Your sublimation may need to be darker due to incorrect time, temperature, or pressure settings during the process. Ensure that you have the right combination of these three factors to achieve bright and vibrant prints.

Does sublimation only work on light colors?

Yes, sublimation works best on light colors or white fabrics. A digital print solution may be more suitable for darker materials like black shirts.


Now you know the secret to sublimating onto dark-colored fabrics without using HTV. This method opens up a world of creative possibilities, allowing you to create vibrant, colorful designs on dark shirts and fabrics. With the right tools and a little creativity, you can craft personalized and unique items that will impress everyone around you.

We hope this tutorial has inspired you to explore sublimation on dark fabrics and experiment with different designs.  

Happy crafting, and have a wonderful day!

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