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Sublimation Printing with Silhouette CAMEO and Heat Transfer Vinyl

Sublimation printing with Silhouette CAMEO (or Portrait) is gaining more and more popularity with Silhouette crafters because of the amazing results! It's a great alternative to heat transfer vinyl when you have items complex and multi-color designs that would be difficult to layer with heat transfer vinyl.

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This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

The problem is not all fabric can be sublimated has to be a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend minimum which means you need special blanks.  But there is a workaround and it uses white glitter heat transfer vinyl which will essentially let you do sublimation on any fabric.
I am using the Sawgrass 400 Sublimation Printer and Siser white glitter heat transfer vinyl - both from Pro World If you're looking for a review and tutorial on using this Sublimation Printer, check out my tutorial on getting started with Sublimation Printing and Silhouette CAMEO here.

Once you know the basics of how to use a Sublimation Printer with your cutting machine, let's go one step further and add in HTV.  Please know this will NOT work with an iron as you will not be able to get the heat and pressure that you need for the sublimation to transfer correctly.

Open up Silhouette Studio and find or create the design you want to sublimate.  You're looking for a print and cut design, ideally.  I am using this cute little donut design. This would be really challenging and time consuming to make as a layered heat transfer  vinyl design because of how many colors are in the design - that makes it perfect for sublimation.

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Size the design and then make a duplicate copy in your work space.

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Select the second copy and change the fill to 'transparent' from the Fill Color tool. You should now have something that looks like this.  The transparent design will be what you are going to cut on the glitter heat transfer vinyl while the full color design is what you are going to print on the sublimation printer.

Silhouette studio transparent, silhouette studio fill a design with color

Select the transparent design again. Click the Offset tool and create a small internal offset.  Delete the original cut line - you are going to cut the internal offset on the HTV.  You are doing this to give yourself a little wiggle room so when you add the sublimation print onto the HTV you make sure you cover the entire piece of the HTV with the printed design.

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The final step in the design process is to mirror both sublimation prints and HTV designs. Select both the full color and the transparent designs > right click > flip horizontally.

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OPTIONAL: To make it easier to line up the sublimation print and the glitter HTV on the shirt, you may want to print and cut the full color print so you have an easier time lining up the edges.  If you decide to print and cut, add registration marks to the work area before printing to the Sawgrass Sublimation printer.  The card stock default settings in Silhouette Studio work well to cut the sublimation paper.
When you're ready, print to your sublimation printer.

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Leave the printed sheet to the side (unless you're printing and cutting in which case you can go ahead and cut out the shape with your Silhouette cutting machine) while you cut the HTV portion of the design.

In Silhouette Studio, move the printed design off the work area and replace it with the HTV version of the cut.  Adjust the cut settings for the Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl. This glitter HTV from ProWorld cuts great on the HTV-Flock default settings in Silhouette Studio.

Set your heat press to about 315 degrees so you can apply the glitter heat transfer vinyl for 20 seconds.

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Remove the clear transfer sheet. Remove the shirt from the heat press plate while you bring your heat press up to about 400 degrees for the sublimation. 

When your press is at the correct temperature, place the sublimation print onto the glitter HTV with the printed side down.  Cover with a teflon sheet and then apply heat and pressure for 1 minute.

Carefully remove the shirt from the heat press (it will be very hot) and peel away the sublimation paper.

The sublimation ink has been transferred into the glitter heat transfer vinyl leaving you with a beautiful and sparkly sublimation print!

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Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) with sublimation and Silhouette CAMEO

It's important to know this process for sublimation printing with Silhouette CAMEO will only work with white glitter heat transfer vinyl.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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  1. You say in order to sublimate to fabric, it has to be a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend minimum. Which is the minimum? Can you use a higher cotton percentage? Higher poly? And is there a maximum of either? I just picked up a sublimation printer at an estate sale, and there aren't really any directions with it. I am now trying to figure out what I can do with it. It was kind of an impulse purchase! ;-)


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