Experiments in Sublimation on Fabric

I started working at the Makerspace at Sacramento City College in the Fall of 2022 right around the time we received a Mimaki large format sublimation printer. This machine prints directly on fabric or on sublimation paper that you then heat-press onto fabric.

I really like the sublimation printer! I’m exploring upcycling clothing and image transfer techniques using sublimation. It feels like a natural combination of my love of printmaking, technology and reuse/altered clothing. Below is an overview of my first couple months of experiments in heat pressing sublimation prints onto various fabrics and combining some other tool sand techniques.

Early adventures in sublimation collage on polyester fabric.
Sublimation collage with free-form quilting and appliqué of heat-fused bubble wrap.
I made a hat! Sublimation collage on an upcycled tablecloth, milk jug base stabilizer and repurposed plastic waste and polyfill stuffing.
Sublimation collage soft sculpture. The scales on top are fused bubble wrap and fabric, stuffed with plastic waste and Styrofoam (some of them make a nice crinkly noise when you touch them. The base has a plastic desk mat to allow the piece to stand steadily.

These samples above are made with heat transfers at 380 degrees for 45 seconds on polyester fabric (bedsheets, tablecloths, and remnants).

Sublimation Prints on Fleece with Embroidery

My idea was to embroider over sublimation images. I like the results. The whale has “dive deeply” embroidered on it’s side.

These samples are made on other types of fabric

Test prints on clothing

Early tests on previously washed clothing of various fabric types. Its tricky to find an area where you can lay the print on the fabric without pressing non-fabric parts. Sometimes the heat press leaves a scorch mark or changes the color.


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