4. Heat Sublimation:
Saving my preferred method for last. Heat sublimation involves
the use of a heat press. A special printer paper is used for one of
two processes (see white and dark fabric transfer below)
A heat press uses a combination of high dry heat and heavy
pressure. Your transfers will come out clear and sharp for either dark
or white fabric transfer paper. Small transfers require only a few
seconds of heat and pressure. Large (8" x 10") transfers can be
perfectly completed at 30 seconds of 350 degree heat and constant pressure.
A Hix Brand - Hobby Lite Model is lesser expensive heat press and mine has
served me well for over 7 years. There are many brands and sizes of heat
presses. Your choice will be based upon your purpose and budget.
NOTE: You can use a 'pants press' like they use at the dry cleaner.
You can get an inexpensive one from Singer. HOWEVER, this is a
NO steam process and the steam holes in the press can cause transfer failure
or glitches. If you use a steam press or iron, you must do the
transfer in 'quick bits'. This means either moving the hand iron
constantly around the transfer image OR in the case of a steam press,
lifting the top and moving the transfer several times.
Heat Sublimation for Photo to Fabric transfer has two variations.
White Fabric Transfer: This is my preferred product for all
photo to fabric transfer. Perfect for transfer to white fabrics. Most
popular for photo quilts and purses. This process requires a bit of
photo editor and printer manipulation. See our
Photo Prep for fabric transfer. This process is permanent,
washable, produces vivid images and IMMEDIATE gratification for a job well
done! This process cannot be used on any colored fabric (perhaps
pastel for artistic effect). The ink/dye is sublimated down into the
Dark Fabric Transfer: The similarity to white fabric transfer
process ends at the need for a heat press for best results. Dark
Fabric Transfer paper works on any solid colored fabric. It does NOT
work on printed fabric. Photo Transfer
Fabric Selection This process closely resembles the traditional
professional photo-lab process of separating color emulsion from the
backing. After printing (no special digital editing required), be sure
to allow to dry according to manufacturer recommendations. The process
involves very carefully placing the separated emulsion onto the top of the
fabric (printed side up). Your product will include parchment or
NOTE: Do NOT attempt to heat press dark fabric transfer without the
parchment paper. If you do, you will ruin your iron or heat press.
Another difference with the dark transfer paper is the 'touch and feel'.
This process FUSES the image to the fabric. It is vibrant in color and
permanent if done properly. If not done properly, a 2 yr old with a
sharp end of a paper clip can damage the transfer. You should also
launder this process by hand. The dark fabric transfer process feels
more like a store bought t-shirt with printed image. It is a little
stiffer than the white fabric transfer process.
Recommendation: Both white and dark fabric sublimation processes
have great application. The key to both is high heat and constant
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