Want to make t-shirts, tote bags, and tumblers with your sublimation printer? This is the ultimate guide to finding the best sublimation blanks and substrates for your projects!
Welcome back to this series on sublimation! Today we’re talking blanks and substrates.
In sublimation printing, you need a special blank or substrate with a poly-coating or enough polyester (we’ll cover that later) to transfer the design. A regular kitchen mug or 100% cotton t-shirt won’t work. If you use an item that isn’t meant for sublimation, you’ll end up with a faded design or no design at all.
In this post, we’ll talk about the different types of sublimation blanks you may want to use in your crafts, plus my favorite places to buy them! There’s so much information in this post, so make sure to bookmark it to return to as you begin to explore sublimation printing.
In This Post:
- What is a blank or substrate?
- Best places to buy sublimation blanks and substrates
- Drinkware sublimation blanks
- Barware and kitchen sublimation blanks
- Apparel and soft blanks
- Miscellaneous blanks
- Frequently asked questions about sublimation blanks
- More sublimation blank tutorials
What is a Blank or Substrate?
A blank, also often referred to as a substrate in sublimation printing, is a general name for an item that you can customize using sublimation prints with sublimation ink or Cricut Infusible Ink.
Sublimation blanks are different from regular blanks you can use with vinyl or iron on with heat transfer vinyl. I have a separate post on the best blanks for Cricut—these are great, but aren’t designed for sublimation specifically.
Best Places to Buy Sublimation Blanks and Substrates
Here are direct links to the sites and suppliers and I use for purchasing blanks for sublimation printing projects. A lot of the smaller retailers here can offer really competitive pricing on quality products, particularly if you buy in bulk.
Sign up for the email lists for these sellers. They will often send out coupons and other deals like free shipping.
- My Amazon.com Sublimation Store
- Heat Transfer Warehouse
- Conde Systems
- Heat Press Nation
- Coastal Business Supplies
- Johnson Plastics Plus
- ProWorld Inc.
- Jiffy Shirts
- Threadsy – polyester shirts and more (Save 10% Off Orders $110+ at Threadsy with Code HEYLETSMAKESTUFF10. Valid through 10/21/22. Not stackable with Super Simple Bulk Savings.)
- Cricut.com – Cricut Infusible Ink (You can use HEYLETSSAVE to save 10% on your order!)
- JOANN – Cricut Infusible Ink
- Michaels – Cricut Infusible Ink
Note: Cricut, Michaels, and JOANN all sell blanks for Cricut Infusible Ink. These same blanks can ALSO be used for sublimation projects, since Infusible Ink is a sublimation product. Outside of Cricut Infusible Ink blanks, many the other blanks sold at these retailers are generally not sublimation friendly. Make sure to check the or product page to see if they are sublimation-friendly.
A lot of the small businesses listed here also have great customer service so reach out if you have questions about a specific question! They have years of experience and can help a lot more than the larger online retailers that do not know sublimation crafting well.
Now let’s take a look at all of the amazing types of blanks out there, and where you can get them. I’ve broken them out by type of blank so that you can find what you’re looking for quickly and easily!
Drinkware Sublimation Blanks
The Process for Sublimating Drinkware
There are many types of sublimation drinkware you can use. Everything from coffee mugs to tumblers, glassware and more. To sublimate on the curved surface of a mug, you have several options for your heat source:
- Cricut Mug Press (see my Guide to the Cricut Mug Press)
- Heat press with a mug attachment
- Standalone mug press
- Mug shrink film and a convection oven (see my post How to Sublimate a Tumbler Using Shrink Wrap & a Convection Oven)
- Silicone mug wrap and a convection oven
Sublimation Coffee Mugs
Coffee mugs are my favorite type of blank for sublimation, and the Cricut Mug Press makes it easy to make them! If you want to use mugs in the mug press, look for an outer diameter of 3.2″ to 3.4″.
- 11 oz. + 15 oz. Cricut Infusible Ink Coffee Mugs
- 11 oz. Ceramic Mugs
- 11 oz. Glitter Ceramic Mugs
- 11 oz. Glitter Bottom Ceramic Mug
- 11 oz. Glitter Gradient Mug
- 11 oz. Color Changing Ceramic Mugs
- 11 oz. Ceramic Mugs w/ Colored Inside/Handle
- 12 oz. Camping Mugs
- 15 oz. Ceramic Mugs
- 15 oz. Stainless Steel Camping Mug
Sublimation Travel Mugs
Travel mugs are generally designed to fit within a car’s cupholder and usually have a lid. They often require a mug wrap or shrink film to get an even transfer since the walls are not straight-sided.
- 10 oz. Travel Mugs with Handle and Lid
- 12 oz. Camping Mug
- 14 oz. Stainless Steel Travel Mug
- 20 oz. Travel Coffee Mug with Lid
- 20 oz. Polar Camel Mug with Lid
- 30 oz. Travel Mug with Octagon Base
Sublimation Water Bottles
Stay hydrated! Water bottles come in both straight-side and tapered-side styles. Make sure you’re purchasing bottles that will fit in your press, or the necessary wraps or shrink film.
- 12 oz. Sport Water Bottle
- 17 oz. White Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- 20 oz. White Aluminum Water Bottle
- 20 oz. White Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Flip Straw
- 22 oz. White Tapered Water Bottle
Tumblers are often skinner than may fit in a mug press, and are occasionally taller than some of the convection ovens out there. Check out How to Sublimate a Tumbler Using Shrink Wrap & a Convection Oven for more information.
- 12 oz. White Stainless Steel Wine Tumbler
- 12 oz. Frosted Glass Mason Jar Tumbler with Lid and Straw
- 15 oz. Stainless Steel Sparkle Cup with Straw
- 17 oz. Mason Jar Tumbler
- 17 oz. Glitter Tumbler
- 20 oz. White Stainless Steel Skinny Tumbler with Straw
- 20 oz. Glow in the Dark Skinny Tumbler with Straw
- 30 oz. White Stainless Steel Tumbler with Lid
Other Sublimation Drinkware
- 2 oz. Shot Glass
- 6 oz Frosted Champagne Glass
- 8 oz. Stainless Steel Flask
- 16 oz. Glass Beer Stein
- 17 oz. Stainless Steel Pint Glass
- 32 oz. Stainless Steel Growler
Barware and Kitchen Sublimation Blanks
Barware Sublimation Blanks
In addition to actual cups and tumblers and mugs, there are lots of other fun “barware” blanks to sublimate—think just about anything you might find on a bar cart or in a hostess gift basket!
- White Stainless Steel Can Cooler
- Can Koozie
- Skinny Can Koozie
- Round Hardboard Coasters
- Heart Hardboard Coasters
- Infusible Ink Ceramic Coasters
- Metal Bottle Opener
- Maple Bottle Opener
- Bottle Stopper
- Neoprene Wine Tote
- Wine Glass Charms
Kitchen Sublimation Blanks
Then head to the kitchen with these fun blanks and substrates!
- Bamboo Cutting Board
- Glass Cutting Board
- Kitchen Towels
- Oven Mitts
- Kid’s Plastic Lunch Box
- White Enamel Bowl
- Cork Tray
Apparel & Soft Blanks
Let’s talk clothing and other soft blanks! One cool thing about sublimating apparel and other soft items is that you do not necessarily have to purchase an item that is specifically labeled for sublimation. Sublimation works best on 70% – 100% polyester fabrics, which you can often find in everyday places you shop. Just check the tag!
When looking for polyester counts, you want at least 65%, but ideally more like 75%+ will help your transfer work really well. The lower the polyester count, the more “vintage” your design will appear.
Apparel Sublimation Blanks
- Basic T-Shirt
- Basic Tank Top
- Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
- Long-Sleeve Hoodie
- Long-Sleeve Quarter-Zip Pullover
- Knotted Headband
- Face Mask
- Neck Tie
- Ankle Socks
- Crew Socks
- Baby Bibs
- Baby Headband
- Trucker Hat
Sublimation Bags, Totes, and Pouches
- Canvas Tote Bag
- Makeup Bag/Pencil Pouch
- Glitter Makeup Bag / Pencil Pouch
- Multi-colored Zipper Pouch
- Canvas Wine Bag
- Sequin Drawstring Bag
- Drawstring “Santa” Sack
Home Decor Soft Blanks
- Christmas Stockings
- Pillow Covers
- Sequined “Magic” Pillow Cover
- Shimmer Pillow Covers
This is another area where you can have A LOT of fun with sublimation. You wouldn’t believe how many everyday items are created using the process of sublimation. You can add a family photo to your mobile phone case, create custom luggage tags, and more! Here are a few of my favorite miscellaneous blanks for sublimation!
- Apple iPhone 12 Case
- Apple iPhone 11 Case
- Apple AirPods Case
- Apple Watch Band
- Phone Grip Holders
- Mouse Pads
- Round Keychains with Tassels
- Various Shapes of Keychains with Tassels
- Rectangle Keychains
- Leather Keychains
- Keychain Bottle Opener
- Luggage Tags
- Badge Reel
- Round Coasters
- Square Coasters
- Ceramic Car Coasters
Frequently Asked Questions about Sublimation Blanks
Prices and sales change all the time, so it’s best to shop around. But remember that cheapest isn’t always the best. Really cheap blanks often produce poor transfers or have sublimation coatings that chip or flake.
Hard sublimation blanks, like mugs and tumblers, have a special poly coating that allows for the sublimation process to work when the transfer is applied to the blank using heat. You must have a sublimation blank with the poly-coating for sublimation to work.
If you’re doing soft blanks, like t-shirts and other apparel, 65% polyester will get you a more faded vintage look, and the higher you go, the brighter your transfer will be.
Check Out these Additional Sublimation Posts & Tutorials!
- The Ultimate Guide to Sublimation Printing & Crafting
- What’s the Difference Between Sublimation, Cricut Infusible Ink, and HTV?
- How to Convert a Printer for Sublimation
- ICC Profiles & Color Management for Beginners
- Sublimation Software: What’s Best for Your Needs?
- The Best Sublimation Blanks and Substrates for Crafters
- Must-Have Sublimation Supplies and Tools
- Sublimation Paper Comparison
- Heat Press Machine Comparison for Sublimation Crafters
- Using Sublimation Prints with the Cricut Mug Press
- The Beginner’s Guide to Sublimation on Ceramic
- Troubleshooting Sublimation Printing
- Sublimation Cheat Sheets for Time, Temperature, Pressure & More!
With sublimation printing, the possibilities truly are endless! There are so many substrates/blanks out there to experiment with. Have a favorite you don’t see on the list? Leave a comment or email me at email@example.com. I’d love to add it to the list!
Check out my post for some cute Christmas sublimation ideas! Free Christmas Sublimation Designs + Ideas for How to Use Them!