How to fix sublimation mistakes? A guide for beginners

Have you ever been frustrated with the results of your sublimation printing? You’re not alone—I’ve grappled with this issue too, discovering that unexpected errors such as ghosting and gassing out are all too common.

I’ve spent significant time researching solutions, even learning tricks like pre-pressing the blank to prevent transfer shifting! In this article, we’ll delve into how to fix sublimation mistakes and more so you can perfect your prints.

Ready for an error-free journey in sublimation printing? Let’s dive in!

5 Common sublimation mistakes

Crooked tumblers can be a common sublimation mistake, but it can easily be fixed by re-baking the tumbler to realign the design.

1. Crooked tumblers

Navigating the realm of sublimation printing can be a tricky endeavor, especially when you encounter common issues like crooked tumblers. As odd as it may seem, even the slightest misalignment can cause your final product to appear less than professional.

But don’t fret; there’s a solution. The process begins with meticulous placement of your design on the tumbler surface. Employing heat tape can keep your design in place and prevent shifting during the sublimation process.

Now comes rectifying existing mistakes: A possible method involves re-baking the tumbler using convection oven method – providing even heat distribution that may help correct off-center designs.

Remember, getting perfect results requires consistent practice and unyielding patience – This is where those mistake-laden tumblers come in handy for honing skills without wasting new materials.

2. Ghosted designs

One of the common mistakes sublimation makers may encounter is ghosted designs on their products. Ghosting occurs when a faint image or shadow appears alongside the intended design, giving it an undesirable blurry effect.

This can happen due to various factors such as incorrect temperature settings, improper pressure application, or poor transfer paper quality.

To fix ghosted designs, there are several steps you can take. First, ensure that you are using the correct temperature and time settings for your specific sublimation process. Experiment with different combinations until you find the optimal settings that produce crisp and vibrant results.

Another solution is to check your pressure application during heat pressing. Make sure you’re applying even and consistent pressure across the entire product surface to avoid any potential ghosting issues.

3. Uneven heating of zippers and seams

One common sublimation mistake that sublimation makers often come across is the issue of uneven heating when working with zippers and seams. This can result in a patchy or faded appearance of the sublimated design in those areas.

To fix this problem, it’s important to use heat-resistant tapes to cover the zipper and seams during the pressing process. This helps to distribute heat more evenly across the entire blank and ensures consistent color saturation.

Additionally, pre-soaking the garment before pressing can also help to alleviate this issue by allowing the fabric fibers to relax and absorb moisture, resulting in a smoother surface for better heat distribution.

4. Ink smearing

Ink smearing is a common problem that sublimation makers often encounter during the printing process. It can be frustrating to spend time and effort on creating a design, only to have it ruined by smudged ink.

However, there are effective solutions to fix this issue. One option is to use alcohol or acetone as quick fixes for correcting sublimation ink mistakes. These solvents can help remove excess ink and prevent further smearing.

Another helpful tip is to ensure that your substrate is clean and free from any dust or debris before starting the transfer process. This will help minimize the chances of ink smearing during heat pressing.

5. Faded sublimated designs

One of the common sublimation mistakes that sublimation makers face is faded sublimated designs. This can be quite frustrating when you invest time and effort into creating a design, only to have it come out dull and lacking vibrancy.

Fortunately, there are solutions to fix this issue. One effective method is re-baking the item in the heat press for a longer duration or at a higher temperature. This allows the ink to fully penetrate the fabric or substrate, resulting in more vibrant colors.

Another technique is using a convection oven method, where you place the item in an oven set at a specific temperature for a certain amount of time. This helps to enhance color saturation and revive faded designs.

How to fix sublimation mistakes?

To fix sublimation mistakes, there are several steps you can take, including re-baking the tumbler, using a convection oven method, removing sublimation with vinegar, pre-soaking sublimation blanks, and avoiding mistakes with sublimation ink.

Re-baking the tumbler

If you’re dealing with a crooked design on your sublimated tumbler, don’t fret! There’s a simple fix that can help straighten things out. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature for sublimation (usually around 400°F).
  2. Place the crooked tumbler in the oven and let it bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove the tumbler from the oven using heat – resistant gloves or mitts.
  4. While the tumbler is still hot, gently twist it in the opposite direction of the crooked design.
  5. Hold the twisted position for a few seconds before releasing.
  6. Allow the tumbler to cool completely before handling.

Using a convection oven

One effective method for fixing sublimation mistakes is by using a convection oven. This technique allows for even and consistent heating, ensuring that the sublimation ink properly transfers onto your desired material. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat the convection oven to the recommended temperature indicated on your sublimation transfer paper or ink instructions.
  2. Place the item with the sublimation mistake onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure to lay it flat and avoid any wrinkles or folds that may affect the transfer.
  3. Carefully put the baking tray with the item into the preheated convection oven. Ensure that there is enough space around the item to allow for proper airflow and heat distribution.
  4. Set a timer for the recommended time specified in your sublimation instructions. It is crucial not to exceed this time as it may result in overexposure or scorching.
  5. Keep an eye on the item while it is in the oven to avoid any potential issues such as melting or warping. Be mindful of any signs of overheating, such as discoloration or smoke.
  6. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the baking tray from the convection oven using oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves.
  7. Allow the item to cool down completely before handling it further to ensure that the sublimated design sets properly without smearing or fading.

Removing sublimation with vinegar

When it comes to fixing sublimation mistakes, vinegar can be a handy tool. Here are some steps for removing sublimation with vinegar:

  1. Prepare a Vinegar Solution: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Shake well to ensure the solution is properly mixed.
  2. Apply the Vinegar Solution: Spray the vinegar solution directly onto the area where the sublimation mistake occurred. Make sure to cover the entire affected area.
  3. Let it Sit: Allow the vinegar solution to sit on the fabric or material for about 10 minutes. This will help break down the sublimation ink and make it easier to remove.
  4. Gently Scrub or Rub: Using a soft cloth or sponge, gently scrub or rub the area where you applied the vinegar solution. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this may damage the fabric.
  5. Rinse with Water: After scrubbing, rinse the area thoroughly with water to remove any leftover vinegar residue and dissolved ink particles.
  6. Repeat if Necessary: If there are still traces of sublimation ink remaining, repeat steps 2-5 until the mistake is completely removed.

Pre-soaking sublimation blanks

Pre-soaking sublimation blanks is a crucial step in ensuring successful and vibrant transfers. By following this simple technique, you can prevent common mistakes and achieve professional-looking results. Here’s how to pre-soak sublimation blanks:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with warm water. Make sure the water is not too hot as it can damage the blank.
  2. Add a few drops of mild detergent to the water and gently mix it until it forms suds. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach as they can affect the quality of the blank.
  3. Immerse the sublimation blank into the soapy water and let it soak for about 15 – 20 minutes. This allows any manufacturing residue or dirt to loosen up.
  4. Gently agitate the blank in the water to remove any stubborn stains or debris. Use a soft sponge or cloth to clean any specific areas that require extra attention.
  5. Rinse off the soap from the sublimation blank under running water until all traces of detergent are gone. Ensure that no soap residue remains on the surface, as this can affect ink adhesion during transfer.
  6. After rinsing, pat dry the sublimation blank with a clean, lint – free towel or allow it to air dry naturally.
  • ThePrintWays: “6 Easy Ways to Fix Sublimation Mistakes”
  • Common sublimation issues and troubleshooting solutions
  • Proper care instructions from sublimation blank manufacturers

How to prevent sublimation mistakes?

To prevent sublimation mistakes, use the right supplies, properly size your sublimation designs, mirror them before printing, check for any printer issues, and avoid banding and print quality issues.

fix sublimation mistakes

Using the right supplies

To ensure successful sublimation printing, it is crucial to use the right supplies. Starting with high-quality sublimation blanks such as shirts, tumblers, mugs, and blankets can make a significant difference in the final results.

Opt for blanks that are specifically designed for sublimation to achieve vibrant and long-lasting prints. Additionally, using compatible sublimation ink and paper is essential for accurate color reproduction and sharp details.

It’s also worth investing in a reliable heat press machine or convection oven that provides consistent temperature control for even heating. By using the right supplies, you can avoid potential issues like ink smudging or faded designs while achieving professional-looking sublimated products every time.

Properly sizing sublimation designs

One important aspect of sublimation printing is properly sizing your designs. When it comes to sublimation, the size of your design can make a big difference in the final result. If your design is too small, it may appear pixelated or unclear when transferred onto the substrate.

On the other hand, if your design is too large, it may not fit properly or could get cut off during the transfer process.

To ensure that you have the right size for your sublimation designs, consider using software or tools that allow you to visualize how they will look on different substrates before printing.

This way, you can adjust and resize your designs accordingly to achieve optimal results.

Another essential tip for proper sizing is to take into account any bleed areas required by your printer or supplier. Bleed areas refer to extra margins around your design that will be trimmed off after printing.

By including these bleed areas in your design file, you can avoid having important elements cut off during production.

Mirroring designs before printing

Mirroring designs before printing is an important step in ensuring successful sublimation transfers. By flipping your design horizontally before printing, you are creating a mirrored image that will transfer onto your substrate correctly. Here are some reasons why mirroring your designs is necessary:

  1. Sublimation transfers require a mirrored image: When heat and pressure are applied during the sublimation process, the ink on the transfer paper turns into a gas and bonds with the polyester fibers of the substrate. To achieve accurate results, the design must be printed in reverse on the transfer paper.
  2. Avoiding backward or inverted images: If you forget to mirror your design before printing and proceed with the transfer, you will end up with a backward or inverted image on your substrate. This can be frustrating and result in wasted time, materials, and effort.
  3. Ensuring legibility: Text and logos may appear illegible if not mirrored properly. Mirroring allows for easy reading and recognition of words or symbols once transferred onto the substrate.
  4. Consistency across multiple items: If you are working on a project that requires multiple identical items, such as t-shirts for a team or promotional mugs for an event, mirroring ensures consistency across all products. This way, each item will feature the same orientation of the design without variation.
  5. Preventing design distortion: Depending on the application method used (heat press or convection oven), failure to mirror designs can lead to distorted images due to stretching or shrinking during transfer.

Checking printer issues

One of the crucial steps in fixing sublimation mistakes is checking for printer issues. Here are some important aspects to consider:

  1. Nozzle Check: Perform a nozzle check to ensure that all ink nozzles are working properly. If you notice any missing or misaligned lines, clean and align the print heads as necessary.
  2. Ink Levels: Check the ink levels in your cartridges or tanks to ensure they are not running low. Refill or replace them if needed to avoid inconsistent printing results.
  3. Printer Settings: Verify that you have selected the correct print settings for sublimation printing. Adjust the print quality, paper type, and color management settings according to your specific requirements.
  4. Sublimation Paper Compatibility: Make sure you are using sublimation-specific paper that is compatible with your printer model. Using regular inkjet paper can result in poor color transfer and image quality.
  5. Print Area Alignment: Ensure that your design is correctly aligned within the print area on your sublimation paper. Use software tools or guides provided by your printer manufacturer to adjust and position the design accurately.
  6. Temperature and Pressure Calibration: If you are using a heat press machine, calibrate the temperature and pressure settings to match the recommended guidelines for sublimation printing. Incorrect heat or pressure can cause color shifting or poor ink transfer.

Avoiding banding and print quality issues

Banding and print quality issues can be frustrating when it comes to sublimation printing. Here are some tips to help you avoid these problems:

  1. Use high-quality sublimation ink: Ensure that you are using reputable and reliable sublimation ink brands. Poor-quality inks can lead to banding and low-quality prints.
  2. Maintain proper printer maintenance: Regularly clean your printer heads and perform nozzle checks to ensure optimal printing performance. Clogged or misaligned printer heads can result in banding.
  3. Optimize printing settings: Adjust the print settings on your software or printer driver to achieve the best results. Experiment with different settings such as resolution, color profiles, and substrate type for optimal print quality.
  4. Use the appropriate heat press settings: Improper heat press settings can cause banding or uneven heating, resulting in poor print quality. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct temperature, pressure, and dwell time for each type of substrate.
  5. Ensure proper drying time: Allow sufficient time for the printed design to dry completely before removing it from the heat press or handling it. Premature removal can cause smudging or banding.
  6. Check sublimation paper alignment: Make sure that the sublimation paper is properly aligned on the substrate before pressing. Misalignment can lead to distorted prints and uneven colors.
  7. Use high-quality substrates: Using high-quality substrates that are specifically designed for sublimation printing can significantly improve print quality and reduce banding issues.


1. What are common mistakes in sublimation printing?

Common mistakes in sublimation printing include blurred or fuzzy images, color bleeding or fading, uneven transfer of ink, and ghosting (the faint outline of the image).

2. How can I fix a blurred or fuzzy image in sublimation printing?

To fix a blurred or fuzzy image, ensure that you are using high-resolution artwork and files. Check the settings on your printer to make sure it is set for optimal print quality.

3. What can cause color bleeding or fading in sublimation printing?

Color bleeding or fading can be caused by excessive heat during the transfer process, incorrect pressure settings on your heat press machine, poor-quality sublimation paper, or low-quality ink.

4. How do I address ghosting issues in sublimation printing?

To address ghosting issues, make sure that you are using a clean and flat surface for the transfer process. Ensure that your substrate is properly aligned and secured before applying heat and pressure during the transfer process.


In conclusion, fixing sublimation mistakes is possible with the right techniques and tools. Whether you’re dealing with crooked tumblers, faded designs, or ink smearing, there are solutions available.

By following the steps outlined in this blog post and taking preventative measures to avoid future mistakes, you can ensure high-quality sublimation prints every time. Don’t let small errors discourage you – embrace troubleshooting as part of the process and keep creating stunning sublimated products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *