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Sublimation on Hats Tutorial Plus Which Hat Blank Works Best??

Learn about sublimation on hats by comparing four different sublimation hat blanks. Which sublimated hat turned out best?

With all the hat-making I’ve been doing lately, I wanted to see which hat worked best for sublimation and what kinds of problems could happen with different sublimation cap blanks.

So today I have a post about sublimation on hats and what I found from trying the same exact sublimation image on four different brands of hats.

Honestly, I was surprised by the outcome! I didn’t think there would be a big difference between the hat sublimation blanks.

sublimation on caps pin

What is Sublimation on Hats?

Sublimation printing is the process of transferring a printed image to a compatible material or fabric with high heat so that it actually infuses and becomes one with the material.

Specialty sublimation dyes and high polyester material are needed to be used to achieve these results. I have a full detailed tutorial all about getting started with sublimation and how to convert a printer to a sublimation printer, so make sure to check that out if you are just getting started.

Since all you need is a sublimation printer with sublimation ink (and not a vinyl cutting machine), you can pretty much print anything you want to sublimate on a hat. Think specific sports team, favorite animal, favorite saying, photo, etc.

Sublimation definitely becomes addicting, as you can tell by my posts on how to sublimate tumblers, shirt sublimation, and sublimating ornaments!

Where to Find Sublimation Hat Blanks

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Awin, and Amazon.com. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Since sublimation has increased so much in popularity over the past few years, it is pretty easy to find sublimation blanks. But unfortunately, not all sublimation products are made equal!

To make it easy for all of us, I turned to Amazon! Who doesn’t, right? I found four different brands of hats that I thought would work pretty well for sublimation.

These are the four hat blanks I will be testing:

best hats for sublimation

Etsy and Sepsgraphics.com also have a pretty good selection of wholesale caps for sublimation, but I have not used any products from those sites.

Tips for Hat Sublimation

  • You can use a digital image that is specific for sublimation like the one I’m using. I found this Summer Vibes image at CreativeFabrica.com. Or you can pretty much google anything you want and find an image to download and use as a custom design (most images you will find for free are for personal use only).
  • The printed image will appear dull, that is normal! The vibrance doesn’t happen until heat is added to it.
  • The higher polyester percent the blank cap has, the brighter the image will turn out.
  • If you are wanting to make a sports team hat, check out pngtree for a bunch of different sports logo and mascot images.
  • For all cap sublimation, you’ll want to mirror image the digital print. You can do this within your computer print settings if your software allows. Mine does not, so I use Canva.com. I upload the image, flip it horizontally, size it (under 2.25inx4.25in for Cricut hat press), and download it as PDF print (for best quality).
mirror image sublimation image
sublimation pdf print
  • There are a lot of different hat presses out there (including some cap press attachments to a standard heat press machine), but I happen to love the Cricut hat press so that is what I’m going to be using to test the hats out. You can learn all about this new hat press here!
  • Use a piece of butcher paper to protect the hat blank and the hat press from burn marks and dye sublimation.
  • Use strong heat resistant tape to secure your images in place on the blank sublimation caps. This will prevent images ghosting or not being as crisp.

Since I wanted to compare the hats themselves, I used all the same sublimation techniques: the same image, same sublimation paper, same amount of time for press (40 seconds), and used the same amount of pressure.

I’ve described my sublimation on hats process below and then below that I will show you what happened to all the different cap blanks.

Yield: 1 hat

Sublimation on Hats

colored sublimation hat

Learn how to sublimate a hat. Make sure to watch the video for a comparison of four different types of hats.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10

Materials

Instructions

  1. Find an image you want to sublimate on the hat. I have linked the Summer Vibes image I am using above.
  2. If using the Cricut hat press, size the image under 2.25 inches high by 4.25 inches long.
  3. Mirror the image (flip horizontally) and print on sublimation paper with a sublimation printer.Screenshot
  4. Trim around edge of image.
  5. Turn on the hat press and change the temperature to high (three lines).
  6. Pull down sweat band inside trucker hat and put hat form inside. Clasp back so the hat is nice and tight.how to sublimate hatshow to sublimation hats
  7. Push down top of hat so it's flat. Lint roll the sublimation area.sublimation on hatslint rolling hat
  8. Preheat for 5 seconds.sublimation on hats with cricut hat press
  9. Affix printed sublimation image with strong heat resistant tape.sublimation on hats tutorial
  10. Tape butcher paper on top to protect hat and press.sublimation on hats instructions
  11. With side to side motions, press the hat for 40 seconds.sublimation on hats hat press
  12. Remove the tape and paper.sublimation on hats summer
  13. Enjoy your new sublimated hat!
  14. Of the four sublimation hat blanks I used, I liked the Cricut trucker hat blank best!sublimation on hats info

Notes

Watch the video or read the full written tutorial for how different kinds of hat blanks handled sublimation and which one I found to be best!

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Which Hat Blank Worked Best with Sublimation Dye?

If you watched the YouTube video, then you probably already know the results, but here’s a summary:

As expected, the cap with only 65% polyester was much more muted than the others. But it handled the seam pretty well! So if you are wanting a more worn and faded look, then this hat might work well for you.

not best hat to sublimate on
I forgot to put a butcher paper on the hat before I pressed. You can see a little yellowish spot on the side that burned a little.

This next hat surprised me, and I actually don’t really have a reason why it didn’t work. This 100% polyester held the transfer and was bright, but the seam did not hold any of the sublimation dye. If you only wanted to press images on the sides of the seam, then this hat might work well.

sublimation fail hat

This next hat I wanted to like the best since it comes in different colors but didn’t come out perfect. This blank hat is made of a poly foam which I believe is too soft for the hat press.

colored sublimation hat

You can see the image sublimated beautifully, but I was left with those dreaded creases where the edge of the paper was. I tried to press just the creases down and I was able to get them to disappear some, but they are still there if you look closely. There was also a slight yellowing of the white part of the hat where the high heat was applied.

sublimation issues hat

The cap that ended up taking the sublimation the best was the Cricut trucker hat! I know I do a lot of Cricut posts, but this one was not sponsored. The Cricut brand just really ended up being the best sublimation hat blank of the four.

I did goof up on it a bit though, and I’m sure you’ll notice. I forgot to pull the sweatband out so there is a crease of color at the bottom! So that definitely goes to show to always remember to pull the sweatband out!!

cricut sublimation hats

So there you have my results when sublimating on hats with the Cricut hat press and different hats. If you have found a hat that works well, I’d love to know!

Hopefully, the Cricut hat blanks will come out in different colors sometime in the future.

If you’d like to save this tutorial on hat sublimation process simply hover over the image below and PIN It now!

sublimaton on hats pin

Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!

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