What is Cut & Sew Sublimation?

Learn the ins-and-outs of cut and sew sublimation and why it's the best method of manufacturing for your print-on-demand business.

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May 9, 2022

In the world of print on demand there’s a few different printing methods that are used to bring your designs to life on apparel, homewares, accessories and more.

One such method is called cut and sew sublimation and here at Subliminator, it's our specialty! It's actually all that we do and in this article you’ll discover why it’s the best method for printing high quality, long lasting print on demand products.

We understand that it can get confusing for print on demand sellers though. There are so many different products and various printing methods, but they are certainly not all the same.

To explain the process from a very basic point of view, the cut & sew sublimation process involves printing designs on sublimation paper and then transferring them to fabric using heat and pressure.

There's more to it though and there are even other sublimation methods that are not the same as cut and sew.

That's why in this blog post, we will discuss the following topics so you can learn everything you need to know about cut and sew sublimation:

  • What is Cut & Sew Sublimation
  • What Type of Fabrics Are Used for Cut & Sew Sublimation
  • What Are The Benefits of Cut & Sew Sublimation
  • How is it Different to 'Regular' Sublimation
  • How is it Different to Direct-to-Garment Printing

What is Cut & Sew Sublimation?

Well for starters, not all sublimation is the same. Cut & sew sublimation is actually different to 'regular' sublimation, which we will cover further later in this article.

The process of cut & sew sublimation is literally exactly as it sounds. The products are cut and sewn together, but not before the printing part of the process has happened.

So when an order is submitted to Subliminator from your Shopify store, we already have your artwork so we can get to work straight away.

Our talented team of Sublimation experts print your design onto a large sheet of dye sublimation paper.

Large format printers used for dye sublimation
Large format printers used to print designs onto dye sublimation paper

Then, your design is pressed at high temperatures of around 180 to 210 °C (356 to 410 °F) directly onto the fabric that we are going to use to create your product.

Now that we have the large pieces of fabric ready with your design on them, we can cut it to shape and sew it together seamlessly. That's how we get such an amazing finish with cut & sew sublimation.

What Type of Fabric is Used for Cut & Sew Sublimation?

An important thing to understand about sublimation is that the ink becomes a gas when heated and then bonds with the polyester fibers in the fabric.

This means that you cannot print on just any type of fabric as it needs to be made of polyester or at least a polyester blend in order for the process to work.

Subliminator uses a wide range of different fabrics with varying blends of polyester, cotton and spandex. For more technical details of the fabrics we use you can take a read of our handy guide.

What Are The Benefits of Cut & Sew Sublimation?

The most obvious advantage of any form of sublimation, especially cut & sew, is the ability to print over the entire garment. Hence the name, "all over print".

With cut & sew sublimation you get the added advantage of a seamless finish with no unsightly white creases or patches.

Advantages of Cut & Sew Sublimation with Subliminator

  • Seamless, all over print finish
  • Vibrant, high definition colors
  • Very durable print with no cracking or peeling
  • Matching thread colors for certain products
  • Long lasting two way stretch material

So What is 'Regular' Sublimation?

As we just discussed, not all sublimation is the same. So what exactly is 'regular' sublimation then?

Regular sublimation is a printing process that uses dye-sub inks and a heat transfer process just like cut & sew sublimation, but the dye sublimation paper is pressed directly onto the product.

This is fine for products such as mugs, phone cases, and coasters. But when it comes to clothing, there can be issues.

If you can imagine a blank t-shirt laying flat ready for pressing, then you might realize that the finish certainly isn't going to be perfect.

Issues with sublimation printing
Image found on Reddit showing common sublimation issues

As you can see from the image above, some areas of a regular sublimated t-shirt are never going to have a perfectly pressed finish so you often get creases and patches where none of the design has actually transferred onto the garment.

What About Direct-to-Garment Printing vs Cut & Sew Sublimation?

There really is a huge difference between Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing and cut & sew sublimation.

DTG printing is the typical kind of print you would expect when ordering a standard t-shirt or hoodie with a single print on the front or back.

The DTG method uses special digital printers to print directly onto a garment, making it a very popular choice in the print-on-demand industry and even amongst amateur home-based printing businesses.

DTG printer and t-shirt
T-shirt ready to print on a DTG machine

The garments that are used for DTG printing are also pre-made and sourced from big clothing manufacturers like Gildan and Hanes. They also come in various colors direct from the manufacturer, pre-dyed just like the mass-produced apparel you might find in a department store.


Now you have a better understanding of cut and sew sublimation, there's a good chance that you know why we're so passionate about it.

After all, it was only few years ago we saw a gap in the market with a severe lack of high-quality, affordable cut & sew sublimation print on demand suppliers. Because of this, and the ever-changing fashion trends, Subliminator was launched.

Sure, there'll always be a market for DTG garments but there's so many printing companies out there putting out below-par quality products for rock-bottom prices that we just aren't interested in doing something that we can't be proud of.

That's why here at Subliminator we are always pushing innovative boundaries and delivering unbeatable quality products, state-of-the art app technology and amazing user-experiences.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog post, we hope that it has given you an improved understanding of how cut and sew sublimation works.

If you are interested in ordering a sample, which is highly recommended, then feel free to learn about that process here or if you would like to join the conversation with nearly 8,000 other print on demand sellers then please feel free to join our Facebook Community.