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Can You Sublimate on Linen? (Sublimating on Linen)

Sublimation printing has become increasingly popular among professional and home-based craftspeople as it is straightforward, and the results are impressive. This digital print method is highly effective and quick, especially with designs that depend significantly on details. You can choose any creation and print on various surfaces using the sublimation process.

Sublimation can be done on a wide array of surfaces, including linen; however, the success of the process will depend on several factors, such as the quality of the material or fabric being used, the type and quality of dye or ink used, and also the amount of pressure and temperature applied during the sublimation process. Because sublimation involves the heating of the solid ink on a surface, making it a gas that joins with the fibers of the material being printed on, you should significantly consider the cloth or fabric you want to use.

The most compatible materials or fabrics for sublimation printing are synthetic fabrics like polyester, spandex, and nylon; however, you can sublimate on other materials like wood and fabrics like cotton and linen. This post will look extensively and discuss how to best use linen material for crafting projects.

Can You Sublimate on Linen? (Sublimating on Linen)
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Overview of Sublimation Printing on Linen

Sublimation printing is an innovative technology that uses heat to transfer dye onto different materials such as fabric, plastic, paper, and linen. It is popular in the apparel industry, commonly used to create T-shirts, hats, and other clothing items with vibrant, full-color graphics. Sublimation printing works perfectly with linen as long as It is mixed with polyester fibers. Linen with a minimum of 20% polyester creates the perfect substrate for sublimation printing due to its ability to take heat efficiently while preventing dye migration.

The process involves printing the design onto a special transfer paper using sublimation ink, which is then placed onto the linen fabric and subjected to high temperatures and pressure. The ink becomes a gas due to the heat, penetrating the fabric’s fibers and solidifying, creating a permanent and vibrant print.

Linen is famous for sublimation printing due to its natural texture and durability. It is also highly absorbent, allowing excellent color saturation and sharpness in the final print. However, it is essential to note that not all linen fabrics are suitable for sublimation printing, as some may contain coatings or finishes that prevent the ink from adhering correctly.

For effectiveness in sublimation printing,  it is recommended to use high-quality sublimation ink, transfer paper, and a heat press with accurate temperature and pressure settings. It is also important to pre-treat the linen fabric with a coating or solution that helps the ink adhere better. 

By being able to sublimate on linen, you get access to endless possibilities for creating beautiful designs that are sure to catch the eye and impress your audience. This process produces stunning results without sacrificing print quality or longevity and is also straightforward.

Step-by-Step Guide of Sublimation Printing on Linen

Sublimation printing is a process of transferring dye onto a substrate using heat. It is commonly used for printing designs on fabrics such as linen. The following is a step-by-step guide on the process of sublimation printing on linen:

1. Choose the design 

The first step in sublimation printing on linen is to choose the design you want to print. This can be done using graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

2. Print the design

Once you have chosen the design, print it onto sublimation transfer paper using a sublimation printer. Make sure to mirror the image before printing.

3. Preheat the fabric

With a heat press to the recommended temperature for sublimation printing on linen, typically between 375°F and 400°F. This is done to activate the fibers and remove any moisture.

4. Prepare the linen

Cut your linen fabric to the desired size and shape, then use an awl or other pinpoint tool to; make sure your linens are appropriately aligned before pressing; make sure there aren’t any wrinkles or folds that will show up after pressing too.

5. Position the transfer 

Place your sublimation transfer paper face down onto the linen fabric, ensuring it is centered and straight.

6. Press the transfer

When pressing, start with lower pressure for 45-60 seconds, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, and gradually increase as needed until you reach your desired transfer results; don’t press too hard, as this could cause damage to the material.

7. Allow the fabric to cool down

Once finished, allow the fabric to cool down completely before removing it from the press. This helps to set the design in place, so it won’t be affected by washing or wear over time.

Sublimation Ink and Linen Fabric Compatibility

Unlike all other fabrics, linen has specific requirements that need to be met for the printing to succeed.

For the fabric to be compatible with sublimation printing, it must have a polyester content of at least 55% or higher. Linen is a combination of cotton and polyester, and depending on the specific fabric blend you are using, it can have various ratios of cotton to polyester. So read the labels carefully when purchasing linen fabric for sublimation.

The compatibility of sublimation ink and linen fabric depends on several factors, including the type of ink and the quality of the fabric. The most crucial factor is the type of ink used. Sublimation inks are typically divided into dye-sublimation inks and pigment-sublimation inks.

Dye-sublimation inks are designed to work with polyester fabrics incompatible with natural fibers like linen. On the other hand, pigment-sublimation inks are designed to work with natural fibers like linen and can produce high-quality images with vibrant colors.

Another factor that affects the compatibility of sublimation ink and linen fabric is the quality of the material. Low-quality linen fabrics may not withstand the heat and pressure required for sublimation printing, resulting in poor image quality or even damage to the material. High-quality linen fabrics specifically designed for sublimation printing will produce the best results.

Generally speaking, most standard inks will work on linen. However, if you want better results, you may opt for specially formulated inks explicitly designed for this type of material. Sublimation ink and linen fabric can be compatible if the correct ink is used and if high-quality linen fabric is selected. Pigment-sublimation inks are recommended for use with linen fabric, while you should avoid low-quality materials.

The Pros and Cons of Linen as a Sublimation Fabric

Linen is a natural fabric used for clothing and household items for thousands of years. It has recently gained popularity as a sublimation fabric due to its unique properties.


Here are some of the pros of using linen as a sublimation fabric:

Produces vibrant colors

Linen material, when sublimated, produces full-color designs with intricate details and gradients.


Linen is a solid, durable fabric that withstands frequent washing and wear. This makes it an excellent choice for items that will be used frequently, such as tablecloths, napkins, and clothing.

Natural texture

Linen has a unique texture that gives it a natural and organic feel. This texture can add depth and dimension to sublimated designs, making them more visually attractive.


Linen is highly absorbent, which means it can absorb moisture easily. This property can help ensure the printed design is vibrant and long-lasting as a sublimation fabric.


Linen is a sustainable and eco-friendly fabric choice. It is made from flax plants, which require less water and pesticides than other crops, such as cotton.

Has a lightweight

Linen is lightweight and easy to transport, making it ideal for projects that require frequent movement.


Some of the disadvantages of using linen for sublimation include:

Uneven Surface

Linen has a textured surface that can make achieving a consistent and even transfer of the sublimation ink challenging. The texture can cause the ink to bleed or transfer unevenly, resulting in a lower-quality print.

Color Reproduction

Linen is not as receptive to sublimation ink as other fabrics, so the color reproduction may not be as vibrant or accurate. The colors may appear muted or washed out, which can be disappointing if you try to achieve a specific look.

Best Practices for Sublimating on Linen

Sublimating on linen might initially seem intimidating, but don’t worry; it doesn’t require any special tools or complex processes. With the proper preparation and technique, you can achieve beautiful results that last a long time. Here are some best practices for sublimating on linen:

Choose the Right Type of Linen

It is essential to choose a linen fabric that is specifically designed for sublimation printing. The best types of linen for sublimation are those with a tight weave and a smooth surface. This will help ensure that the ink is absorbed evenly and that the final print has crisp and vibrant colors.

Pre-Treat the Fabric

Before sublimating on linen, It is essential to pre-treat the fabric to ensure it is free from any impurities or coatings that could interfere with the sublimation process. This can be done by washing the fabric in hot water and detergent or using a pre-treatment solution specifically designed for sublimation printing.

Use High-Quality Inks and Transfer Paper

The ink and transfer paper quality used in sublimation printing can significantly impact the final result. It is essential to use high- and specifically designed for sublimation printing and transfer paper that can handle the heat and pressure of the sublimation process.

Use Proper Heat and Pressure Settings

The heat and pressure settings used during the sublimation process can also significantly impact the final result. Still, as a general rule, linen should be sublimated at a temperature of around 400°F and a pressure of approximately 40 Pounds per square inch (PSI)  for 60-90 seconds. The exact settings may vary depending on the type of press being used.

Use Heat tape

Heat tape is also a great way to ensure your design stays on the fabric during the transfer process. The tape provides extra adhesion and allows for more even pressure to be applied when pressing. 

Test and Adjust as Needed

As with any printing, it is essential to test your settings and adjust them as needed to achieve the best possible results. This may involve tweaking your heat and pressure settings, changing your color profiles, or experimenting with different types of linen fabric.

Tips on How To Care for Sublimated Linen Items

Sublimated linen items are becoming increasingly popular, and knowing how to care for them is essential. Here are a few tricks and tips on how to keep your linen items looking perfect:

Keep It Away from Heat and Light

Sublimated linen can quickly fade if exposed to too much heat or light. So if you want to keep the colors vibrant, store them away from direct sunlight. For the same reason, keep them away from high-heat sources like radiators or ovens.

Use Non-Chlorine Bleach

When washing sublimated linen items, use cold water and non-chlorine bleach. Avoid using hot water and fabric softeners, as they can damage the colors and design of the fabric. It is also recommended to wash sublimated linen items separately from other clothing items to prevent color bleeding.


The safest way to dry a sublimated linen item is to air dry it and never tumble dry it. If necessary, you can iron it on low setting only, but make sure you never iron directly onto the print side of the item as it will cause permanent damage.


Sublimation printing is a viable option for printing on linen, but it requires careful attention to detail and high-quality materials and equipment to achieve optimal results.  It is essential to choose good-quality linen if you plan to use it for sublimation printing. Also, the type of ink matters too; if you’re using a digital transfer paper and inkjet printer, you’ll need special sublimation inks for the best results.

Be sure that the linen is pre-treated for sublimation, is lightweight, has a tight weave, and is compatible with the heat press you use. Finally, when using a heat press, always follow the safety protocols and use the proper protection to keep yourself, your machine, and your materials safe and in good condition. 

Sublimating on linen is a great way to add images and designs to fabric without worrying about fading. Plus, with the right sublimation ink and pre-treatment, you should have crisp colors that will make a statement. With these tips, you can sublimate on linen and create beautiful and unique projects.


Can You Sublimate on Any Linen Fabric?

Sublimation works best on 100% polyester fabrics but can also be used on blends with high polyester content. Linen blends that contain at least 50% polyester can be used for sublimation.

What Other Materials Are Ineligible for Sublimation?

While many materials can be sublimated, some cannot, including metals and certain ceramics. Metals have a high melting point and do not form gasses quickly, so they are unsuitable for sublimation. Ceramics that contain water or other volatile substances may crack or explode when subjected to the high temperatures and pressures required for sublimation.