Sublimation FAQs – How Printing Works on Boat Shirts

While sublimation sounds like a government mind-control tactic, this is actually just a printing method used to transfer an image or design onto polyester materials. In today’s blog, we’ll cover the common questions we receive about using the technique and tips for the best outcome when designing a custom boat shirt.
sublimation on boat shirt

While sublimation sounds like a government mind-control tactic, this is actually just a printing method used to transfer an image or design onto polyester materials. In today’s blog, we’ll cover the common questions we receive about using the technique and tips for the best outcome when designing a custom boat shirt.

To more accurately define the term, we’ll channel Bill Nye – you know, the science guy. Sublimation refers to the molecular action of a solid directly transitioning into a gas, bypassing the liquid stage. Ok, lab coats off – what does that mean for your next printing project? It means that the ink penetrates deep into the material allowing for vibrant color payoff and a design that won’t fade, peel, or crease.

What style of shirt can this be done on? 

100% polyester is the best option for crisp, vibrant designs.

Popular uses include:

  • Warm-up shirts and undershirts for school athletic teams
  • Custom shirts for boating and water sports
  • Custom swimwear
  • Race shirts for triathlons or marathons
  • Hoodies
  • Luggage tags and bags
  • Anything that’s 100% polyester!
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Can sublimation be used on blended shirts? 

Yes, however, the technique only works on the polyester fibers, resulting in a weathered, vintage look. For crisp results, we recommend using 100% polyester. Avoid blended materials unless you are specifically looking for a faded, distressed design. 

Are there restrictions on the color of the shirt when using sublimation?

For the most vibrant results, white material is optimal. Using a white material also allows for the most design versatility as we cannot add or print white using sublimation. Light-colored garments will also work with this process as long as you do not wish to incorporate white into your design. 

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What are some of our customer’s favorite brands? 

Two options our customers love are the Team 365 Men’s Zone Performance Long-Sleeve T-Shirt by alphabroder and the Islander Longsleeve Tee by TSF-Sportswear. Both of these choices are 100% polyester, moisture-wicking, and provide UV protection, making them great choices for a day spent out on the water or pushing through sports practice in the Florida heat. 

What should I look for in a high-quality boat shirt? 

  • UPF rating – Sunburns, wrinkles, and sun damage? Noooo, thank you, ma’am! Make sure your shirt offers the protection you need for a long day out in the sun. 
  • Anti-microbial – *Slips lab coat back on* We’ve all learned that bacteria breeds in warm, moist places, right? Sun + heat + sweat + water = …well, you catch the drift, this is an important feature to look for in a boat shirt.  
  • Sublimation friendly – It’s always good to have this listed in the description, especially if you’re looking at a garment that isn’t 100% polyester. 
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What type of art or design file do I need for sublimation? 

Sublimation is one of the most forgiving techniques when it comes to file requirements. While other processes call for vector artwork, you can submit a scan of a photo for an order that utilizes sublimation. 

Is there a minimum order for sublimation? 

Only need a few shirts? No problem! We can accommodate small orders using sublimation. 

Looking for more? Check out our post: Dye-sublimation vs. Water-based Screen Printing.

Let us print your story.