How to Prevent Heat Press Marks on Polyester for Sublimation

Hey there, everyone! Lindsey here, and I’ve got some awesome tips on how to prevent heat press marks on polyester for sublimation printing.

If you’re just starting out with sublimation printing, you might have faced a puzzling problem: those heat press marks that show up on the fabric during the process. Don’t worry, it’s a common roadblock for beginners like you. But fear not! I’m here to shed light on this issue and help you achieve picture-perfect prints without any hassle. So let’s dive in and unravel the mystery together!

Preventing heat press marks when sublimation printing requires careful attention to the process and materials used. Heat press marks can occur due to various factors, such as improper pressure, temperature, or time during the sublimation process.
Let’s get started!

In today’s article, I will share three effective techniques to avoid heat press marks when decorating fabrics, specifically polyester t-shirts. These tips will help you achieve flawless results in your fabric decoration endeavors.

Adjust Heat Transfer Pressure

The first method is the simplest and most obvious one – adjusting the heat press pressure. As a perfectionist, my primary worry while heat-pressing patches, vinyl, and sublimation was the fear of the decoration falling off the t-shirt or washing off due to insufficient pressure during the transfer process.

As some of us may already know, sublimation is a fascinating printing technique, but for those who are new to it, here’s a quick overview. Sublimation ink is printed onto a unique paper that enables the ink to be released when subjected to heat. This transformative process causes the ink to change from a solid to a gas, allowing it to embed deeply into the polyester garment, resulting in vivid and durable prints.

Optimal heat press pressure for sublimation printing is typically set to medium pressure, around 35-40 psi. This level of pressure ensures a tight and even press without risking damage to the garment. Be cautious of setting the pressure too high, as it may cause the sublimation paper to leave unsightly indents on the fabric.

Time and Temperature

The next method involves fine-tuning the time and temperature settings. For sublimating polyester fabric, it is generally recommended to set the temperature between 375° to 400°F and the time between 40 to 60 seconds. However, it’s essential to note that not all garments and sublimation paper are created equal. I recommend reaching out to your garment supplier to review their product specifications and recommendations for achieving the best results in sublimation printing.

Use a Heat Press Pillow

A heat press pillow is a clever tool to prevent heat press marks when working on garments. These pillows, made of foam with a Teflon cover, come in various sizes and are affordable. You can easily find them on platforms like Amazon or Heat Press Nation.

To use the pillow effectively, simply place it inside the garment at the spot where you want your design to be printed. The choice of the right-sized pillow depends on your design requirements. The primary purpose of using the heat press pillow is to lift your design slightly above the rest of the garment. This adjustment allows the top of the heat press platen to focus its pressure mainly on the pressing pillow.

By creating this extra lift, you can now adjust your pressure settings to avoid applying excessive force during the pressing process. This will help ensure a clean and professional-looking result for your sublimation or heat transfer projects.

Check out my video below to learn the step-by-step process of using a pressing pillow for achieving impeccable results in your next sublimation project.

Common Sublimation Mistakes to Avoid

Moisture Free

Before starting the sublimation process, it’s crucial to prepare the shirt properly for the best results. To ensure the shirt is free of any moisture that could interfere with the transfer, preheat it using a heat press. Additionally, take the time to lint and roll the shirt thoroughly to remove any loose particles or lint that might affect the final print quality. These simple yet vital steps will lay the foundation for a successful sublimation printing experience.

Be sure to carefully read the instructions to determine the precise temperature and duration required for pressing the shirt. Excessive heat can not only damage the print but also harm the fabric itself. Moreover, remember that applying too much pressure won’t yield any positive results. Take these crucial factors into account to achieve the perfect press and preserve both the print and fabric integrity.

Trime Right to The Edge

Avoid cutting the sublimation paper, as this may lead to unwanted press marks on your polyester fabric. Instead, trim the edges to minimize the risk of heat press marks significantly.

Avoid Ghosting

In sublimation printing, it’s crucial to create a strong connection between the transfer paper and the blank product during pressing. If the paper shifts or isn’t firmly in place against the substrate, you might encounter issues like ghosting or gassing out.

Ghosting appears as a blurry image with a shadow effect along or outside the edges while gassing out results in an ink burst outside the intended image area.

To avoid these problems, ensure a snug fit between the transfer paper and the substrate. Use heat-resistant tape to secure the transfer without taping across the image area, which could harm the print quality. Remember to use only a small amount of tape for easy and quick removal after pressing.


In conclusion, tackling heat press marks on polyester for sublimation printing might seem like a daunting task, especially for beginners. But fear not, with a little attention to detail and the right techniques, you can achieve flawless and vibrant prints on your fabrics. Remember to adjust the heat press pressure to a medium level, fine-tune the time and temperature settings, and utilize a heat press pillow to avoid any unsightly marks. Preparing the fabric properly by ensuring it’s moisture-free and trimming right to the edge of the sublimation paper can also go a long way in achieving picture-perfect results. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating stunning designs that will leave a lasting impression. Happy sublimating!

Thank you for taking the time to read my article on how to prevent heat press marks in sublimation printing. I genuinely hope that the information provided will be valuable for your future projects, helping you achieve flawless and professional results. If you found these tips helpful, consider sharing this article with your crafting friends to spread the knowledge and make their sublimation journey smoother too. For more sublimation-related content and updates, be sure to follow us on social media. Happy crafting, and may your creative endeavors continue to shine brightly!

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