Can You Sublimate on Canvas? Of Course, You Can!

Everybody loves canvas fabrics! From canvas tote bags and pillowcases to purses, there are plenty of canvas garments to choose from. How can you not? It’s inexpensive, durable, and most importantly, you can custom-print on it. That’s a lightbulb moment for every crafter!

Let’s get straight to the point, can you sublimate on canvas? YES, you can sublimate on canvas. Canvas merchandise is outsourced from different materials. Some canvases are made from cotton, while some are made of polyester or a combination of both.

If you’re familiar with sublimation printing, you know that you can’t directly sublimate on a 100% cotton garment or for that matter, any dark-colored garment. But if the garment is made of polyester and is light-colored, then you can directly sublimate it.

But don’t worry, if the canvas material is made of 100% cotton or if it’s a dark-colored canvas because there are several workarounds around it. In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about sublimating on canvas.

Sublimate on Canvas
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Danangtrihartanto

Canvas Facts 101

Before anything else, let’s get on the same page and understand everything there is to know about the canvas. As mentioned, typically, the canvas is either made of cotton or polyester. Canvas comes in different colors too!

There are plenty of canvas products available out there. From canvas boards for paintings to canvas merchandise like tote bags, aprons, or purses, there’s plenty to choose from. Can you sublimate on all canvas products? Yes! Some may be indirect, but the bottom line is, that you can work your way around it.

Sublimate printing on Canvas
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Maria Eklind

Canvas Sublimation Printing Rules

To keep it simple, here’s what you need to know about sublimation printing on canvas. You might want to get your pen and paper and take note of the printing rules:

  • 100% cotton canvas (light-colored): Press a white heat transfer vinyl first, then sublimate over it. Or use a sublimation coating spray.
  • Polyester canvas (light-colored): Directly sublimate on it.
  • 100% cotton canvas (dark-colored): Press a white heat transfer vinyl first, then sublimate over it.
  • Polyester canvas (dark-colored): Press a white heat transfer vinyl first, then sublimate over it.

You might be wondering, how does sublimate over heat transfer vinyl work? Hold your horses because we’ll get to that important part. That secret technique makes cotton sublimation prints on cotton and dark-colored garments possible.

Types of Canvas Products Available

You’ll be surprised to know how many canvas products are available out there. Do you know what this means? You can custom-print on many products, may it be as a gift to a loved one, or as a business opportunity.

Here are several canvas products you can sublimate on:

  • Tote bag
  • Apron
  • Purses
  • Laundry bag
  • Grocery bag
  • Pillowcases
  • Drawstring pouch and bags
Sublimate printing on Canvas

Other products, aside from canvas, you can sublimate on:

To make sure you won’t miss out on the sublimation printing opportunities, it is best for you to know what other merchandise you can sublimate as well. You can sublimate on these other crafts:

  • T-shirts
  • Neoprene merchandise (facemasks, coasters, mouse pads, arm sleeves and many more)
  • Sublimation mugs or tumblers
  • Sublimation keychains
  • Sublimation picture frame

Knowing the other merchandise you can sublimate on opens the opportunity for you to create more custom-printed merchandise. So don’t limit yourself to sublimating canvas alone. That’s one thing crafters love about sublimation printing – the endless options of projects you can make.

What supplies do you need for sublimation printing?

Of course, here at TeckWrap Craft, we wouldn’t miss out on sharing with you useful information on how to sublimate on canvas. This is what the next part of this informational post is all about. To start off, you need to gather the needed supplies for sublimation printing.

  • Sublimation printer with dye sublimation ink
  • Sublimation paper from TeckWrap Craft
  • Heat press machine
  • Butcher paper
  • Teflon sheet
  • Scissors
  • Thermal transfer tape
  • Heat transfer vinyl
  • Sublimation designs (SVG images or photos)
  • Sublimation canvas or blank of your choice
  • Optional: sublimation spray

How to sublimate directly on canvas?

If you have a canvas material made of polyester fabric, you can directly sublimate it. Sublimation on canvas polyester is pretty straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Print your design on the sublimation paper on your printer.
  • Print on the shiny side of the sublimation paper.
  • Place butcher paper in between the canvas bag to avoid the print from bleeding.
  • Place a Teflon sheet over the sublimation paper so it doesn’t come in direct contact with the heat press machine.
  • Make sure to use the highest quality print setting.
  • Don’t forget to mirror the image.
  • Set the heat press machine on the right temperature and time settings. Set it at 365℉ for 40 seconds.
  • Don’t forget to pre-press the material to wick away the moisture.
  • Use a thermal transfer tape to secure the sublimation paper in place when pressing.
  • It’s time to heat press!
  • Carefully remove the transfer tape and sublimation paper from the merchandise.
  • You’re done!


Sublimate printing on Canvas
Image from Katsa Atbp Iloilo by Lynsel de la Banda

How to sublimate on a cotton canvas?

If you want to print on a canvas but it’s made of natural cotton fibers, then this part is for you. Other than cotton canvas, you can follow these instructions if you’re printing on dark-colored garments as well. For this step, you’ll need white heat transfer vinyl and your cutting machine.

  • The first step is to prepare your design and start with cutting the heat transfer vinyl on your cutting machine.
  • Make sure the heat transfer vinyl and sublimation paper are of exactly the same size. The purpose of the heat transfer vinyl is to serve as the base layer you can sublimate on.
  • Print the sublimation paper using the best print quality. Of course, don’t forget to mirror the design.
  • Pre-press the canvas bag to wick away the moisture.
  • Press the heat transfer vinyl. If you’re using TeckWrap Craft’s PU HTV or glitter HTV, the heat press time and temperature should be 266 ℉ to 284 ℉ for 8 to 12 seconds.
  • Let the fabric and HTV cool off for a while before the sublimation process.
  • Press the sublimation design on the HTV.
  • You’re done!

How to sublimate on a canvas board?

Do you know you can create those canvas paintings? Surely you can with canvas sublimation. There are blank canvas paint boards you can buy in craft stores. If you’re in doubt of your painting talents, why not sublimate them?

Most of these stretched canvas painting boards come in a wooden frame. All you have to do is remove the staple wires from the canvas and then sublimate over it. Just like you would on the instructions stated above.

After you’re done, if you have an industrial stapler, hot glue, or thumbtacks, put back the canvas on the wooden frame. There you have it! You now have a sublimated painting. Try out this project and the details are just amazing!

Sublimate printing on Canvas
Image from Flickr by Jernej Furman

How to sublimate on a laminated canvas?

You can even sublimate over the laminated canvas. Many crafters use blank canvas boards, laminate over them, then sublimate them to achieve that glossy picture frame look. These sublimation prints will make the perfect gift for your loved ones and friends.

All you have to do is heat press the laminating film on the canvas fabric, then sublimate the print over it. Then, using hot glue or stapler, attach the canvas to the wooden frame. You can even make a reverse canvas board.

Check out this YouTube tutorial on Sublimation on Canvas video. The outcome is so cool you’d want to make one now to hang on your walls.

Sublimate on Canvas
Image from Katsa Atbp Iloilo by Lynsel de la Banda

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you sublimate directly on canvas?

Yes, you can sublimate directly on a canvas made of polyester. If the canvas is made of cotton fibers, you can heat press heat transfer vinyl first, then sublimate over it.

What temp do you sublimate on canvas?

The recommended time and temperature settings of the heat press machine are at 365℉ for 40 seconds. Don’t forget to pre-press the canvas for 5 to 10 seconds to wick away the moisture.

Can you sublimate on polyester canvas?

Yes, you can sublimate directly on a polyester canvas. All you have to do is directly heat press the sublimation print on the canvas.

The Takeaway

You’ve seen those beautifully-printed canvas bags and have always wondered how it is printed. Now you have stopped wondering. You now know you can sublimate on canvas. The best part? There are plenty of canvas materials you can sublimate on.

Just a final reminder, always make sure to use the best sublimation paper. Create your sublimation projects now, whether it be on a shirt, canvas, or any sublimation blank, don’t forget to use TeckWrap Craft’s sublimation paper for your printing needs. Happy crafting!

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