Make a Sublime Fashion Statement

Sometimes a basic screen printed apparel item can’t provide the unique design options you need to stand out in a crowd. T.R. McTaggart provides all-over print on a variety of apparel items using the dye sublimation process that delivers for your dynamic designs.


Sublimation dyes were discovered in the 1930’s in Europe. If you don’t remember from science class, sublimation means going from a solid state to gas without going through the liquid stage. (Dry ice is a good example.) Today we know that the dye briefly goes through the liquid state, but the name still sticks.

Despite the process being around for almost a century, dye sublimation has really gained in popularity over the past decade or so. Now you see it everywhere, from scarves to all-over print tees.

What Is Dye Sublimation?

The dye sublimation process now challenges screen printing for short production runs and imagery requiring multiple colors and photographic detail.

In screen printing, typically, individual dots can be visible to the eye. This works well for graphics, but makes the dye sublimation process a great choice for photorealistic imagery.

Graphics or images are digitally printed on transfer paper as a mirror image of what will be the finished product. A dye-sublimation printer has a roll of transparent film embedded with CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) dyes. The print head heats up the solid dyes so they can turn to gas and permeate the substrate before returning back to a solid state.

Dye Sublimation Printing Versus Screen Printing

Screen printing (a.k.a. silk screening, serigraphy, or serigraph printing) is an old favorite as far as printing processes go. Dye sublimation is new on the scene and has been increasing in popularity due to its ability to transfer dynamic designs to a variety of apparel items.

Screen Printing

Screen printing involves using a fill blade or squeegee to push ink through holes in a fine mesh screen onto a substrate (i.e. a T-shirt). The screen is covered with a temporary emulsion that blocks ink from moving through the mesh in specific areas, acting as a stencil.

Dye Sublimation Drawbacks

While the dye sublimation process has its perks, it also has its limitations. Sublimation dye is good for “oil-loving” fabrics. This includes polyester. Cotton is “water-loving,” and therefore wouldn’t hold the dye. So for an item such as a t-shirt, a poly-blend fabric is needed to capture the design on the material.

Other drawbacks to dye sublimation include:

  • Only works with synthetic surfaces
  • Doesn’t work well on dark surfaces
  • Can’t create puffed 3D effects on surface
  • Metallic inks and foils aren’t available

Despite this, dye sublimation is an ideal choice for a myriad of projects!

Advantages of Dye Sublimation

Small Orders Welcome

Screen printing is a great choice for high-volume orders because, after the initial set up, the process is cost effective. Small orders, however, can be impractical. After all, you don’t fly to Paris just for lunch! The dye sublimation process doesn’t have this drawback.

Detailed by Design

Screen printing and dye sublimation can both produce photorealistic images. Dye sublimation uses CMYO (cyan, magenta, yellow, and a clear overcoat) ink. Screen printing uses the four-color process, using a grid of tiny dots.


Both screen printing and dye sublimation can result in garments retaining their softness. Dye sublimation forces ink to permeate the substrate material, adding negligible weight. The result is a comfortable garment with no stiffness from ink added. Screen printing can use water-based, or discharge ink, to permeate fabric as well. Plastisol screen printing ink, however, piles up on the fabric, creating a heaviness to the fabric.

Long Lasting

Both screen printing and dye sublimation can produce lasting imagery. However, this isn’t true for all screen printing projects. Screen printing can crack over time if there are a lot of layers on the fabric. Dye sublimation saturates the fabric with ink, so the ink becomes part of the fabric rather than sitting on top of it. This prevents the build-up of ink that can crack over time.

Breaking Design Boundaries

Dye sublimation lets you create designs that wouldn’t have translated well to production in the past. With dye sublimation you are granted:

  • All-over printing
  • Full color
  • Photo quality
  • Nearly unlimited design options

Products Best Suited to Dye Sublimation

While screen printing is often used for T-shirts and apparel, dye sublimation is an excellent choice when working with materials such as nylon, plastic, and polyester. These synthetic materials contain polymers that bond with ink when heated.

A Whole New Material World

New polymer-treated materials prepared specifically for dye-sublimation applications include aluminum, brass, glass, fiberglass, acrylic, plastic, and hardboard sheet materials. 

  • Rigid products
  • Soft signage
  • Apparel
  • Ceramics
  • Photo printing

A Wide Selection of Products

T.R. McTaggart offers dye sublimation on items including:

  • Polyester knits
  • T-shirts
  • Jerseys
  • Socks
  • Key chains
  • Mouse pads
  • Tote bags
  • License plates
  • Flags
  • Banners
  • Plaques/Awards
  • Aluminum signs
  • And more!

All-Over Printing

One of the best things about dye sublimation is its impeccable job executing all-over print tees.

All-over print tees might seem intimidating to add to your wardrobe at first, but the possibilities are a lot of fun! All-over print tees are surprisingly versatile and jazz up even the most ordinary outfit.

Teen Vogue suggests pairing printings with subtle accessories so they eye is drawn to the print, the star of the outfit. Harper’s Bazaar declares ‘60s florals as a trend to follow in 2018. Other fashion magazines say all-over-print florals drawing from any decade are fab.

Get Creative with All-Over Print Tees

We say all-over print tees can all be fabulous if they’re designed well, whether working with floral patterns or any other motif.

Consider transforming your logo into a pattern fit for an all-over print tee. Design it yourself or have T.R. McTaggart’s in-house design team help you craft the perfect size and spacing to turn your logo into a pattern that functions as a design element and promotes your business, nonprofit, or sports team at the same time!

Since dye sublimation doesn’t have an extensive set-up, individualizing apparel is another option to play with.

For a basketball team, why not make an all-over print tee with basketballs interspersed with each player’s last name repeated over and over? Or use each player’s name on the team for a fashionable take on traditional signatures? Or space basketballs and your team’s logo far enough apart to leave room for players to sign their names by hand.

There are a lot of possibilities!

Make All-Over Print Tees Ready to Wear

T.R. McTaggart provides all over printing to deliver you endless design options. Our staff can work with your designs or our design department can create unique designs for your business or nonprofit.

Who can benefit from dye sublimation?

  • Businesses (work apparel)
  • Non-profits (fundraising or apparel for workers and volunteers)
  • Sports teams (team and fan apparel)
  • Gift & souvenir shops (eye-catching items to stock your racks)

Only Quality Here

T.R. McTaggart employs the highest quality printing techniques and quality assurance process to ensure that your designs stand out.

Contact Us

T.R. McTaggart’s expertise in providing high-quality apparel at a great price is apparent in the products we create for our clients. Give us a call at (800) 433-0983 or Contact Us for all of your all-over print and dye sublimation design needs!