One of the fun things about garment decoration is the fact that there are so many methods of decoration from which to choose. Two of the popular methods for which EnMart sells supplies are sublimation and heat transfer vinyl (HTV). These methods share some of the same characteristics, they both need to be applied with heat, for example, but they’re also offer many different options when it comes to decorated goods. Given that, how do you know which option is the right option for your project? Here are some guidelines that may help you with that decision.
First of all, while both decoration disciplines work with heat, the heat required for sublimation is much higher. For polyester shirts or poly coated hard goods, that won’t matter and sublimation is a great option. If you’re working with fragile fabrics or items that have a low melting point, you’re going to want to work with the EasyWeed Vinyl, which seals at a lower temperature.
Second, what color is the item in you’ll be decorating? It sounds like a silly question, but sublimation works best on light colored garments and items. HTV, on the other hand, is not effected by the color of the item onto which it is put. So, if you’re working with a dark or strongly colored item, you might want to opt for heat transfer vinyl as opposed to sublimation. (Although, side note, tone on tone sublimation can be a very attractive option, and works well as long as the fabric is lighter than the print. )
Third question, what sort of fabric are you using, or what type of coating does the item you’re decorating have? As stated earlier, sublimation only works with polyester fabric and poly coated items. If it isn’t polyester or poly coated, it can’t be sublimated. For other fabrics, or items without a polyester coating, HTV is your option.
Fourth, does the decoration you’re adding include a photo? While vinyl cutters are great for cutting out designs and silhouettes, and there are such things as printable vinyls, the sort of vinyl EnMart sells is probably not the best option for photos. When you want to add a photo realistic image to something, sublimation is the decoration discipline with the major advantage. You can print your exact photo on to the sublimation paper and transfer that directly to your garment or hard good.
Don’t forget, there’s always the option of using heat transfer vinyl and sublimation together, either by sublimating the vinyl, or by combining the two disciplines in a mixed media decoration. The effects offered by some of the vinyls, like Holographic or Glitter, can be very complimentary to the sublimation and add a little extra eye catching glamour to the design.