Sublimation printing is a fun way to spend a lot of time making no progress at all, until you realise that one, single thing that has been holding you back - you're using the wrong damned material to sublimate onto!
I got bitten by the customise everything bug when Square Lemon was still in Boyd Avenue. And I played with HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) for quite a while before deciding I wasn't in love with the texture it creates on clothes.
HTV was an easy jumping off point for me, as I already owned a Silhouette Cameo (vinyl cutter), a Cricut EasyPress (like an iron but so much better) and a bunch of ideas!
Christmas 2017 I made a bunch of personalised Christmas bags for friends and neighbours' kids, as well as my own, and HTV was an awesome choice for these
They wouldn't be worn, they would, hopefully, not require a lot of laundering, and they were used occasionally.
But for t-shirts and the like, I personally was not in love with the results you get with HTV. And so I dove, head first, into sublimation.
It can get expensive, quickly.
Specialised printers are not cheap, the ink is not cheap, the inevitable heat press is not cheap.
I hadn't gone out and bought a state-of-the-art sublimation printer (Aaron stopped me, thank heavens!), but I had put a lot of time and effort into researching how to make a printer do what I wanted. I bought a second-hand Epson Stylus R300, cleaned all of the icky old normal ink out of the cartridges, heads, and other gubbins, and installed a sublimation conversion kit.
It's not pretty, but it prints the right ink on the right paper, and I understand why it works. It's never a waste of time when you learn something new!
I did buy a heat press, and a conversion kit, and a CISS system. Sigh. And many sample items to print on.
And it DIDN'T BLOODY WORK!
Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, you want to throw everything out of the window. Yes, you obsessively watch YouTube videos, whilst scarfing down plates and plates of buttered toast. (Maybe that last one is just me.)
I put it to bed.
Meg found a deal on some Gildan t-shirts and baby onsies. All of them a beautiful 100% cotton.
Out came the sublimation stuff again, and we printed and heated and cursed.
Sublimation works best on 65%+ polyester content items. Sigh.
I bought and tried some sprays recommended to make cotton accept sublimation. They worked to varying degrees, but nothing was great. So the sublimation stuff went back into the basement until today.
I found a 95% polyester shirt. Ok, so I set everything up at home, using the EasyPress, because the heat press at Lemon is enormous and heavy. I printed, and heated and, guess what! It bloody worked!!
I now have a t-shirt with a lovely bird on it!
Yes, it was a couple of years of messing around. Yes, I may have thrown things around my craft room. But I now have something that feels and looks the way I wanted it to!