Heat pressing a design you or a loved one has created may seem like a daunting task. In reality heat pressing a design on multiple surfaces is easy. There are two common things you need to know to heat press a design on different surface. First, you need to know how to do it. I promise — it is easy! In this article you will find simple to follow instructions on how to heat press. Second, each surface you want to heat press a design on must have at least a 80% polyester coating or blend. Resources and suggestions on where it find those will also be provided in this article.

Table of Contents

  • What is Heat Pressing a Design?
  • The Pros and Cons to Heat Pressing a Design
  • Heat Press Project Ideas on Multiple Surface
  • How to Heat Press a Design
  • Heat Press Supplies List
  • Heat Press Video Tutorial

What is Heat Pressing a Design?


Heat pressing a design is called sublimation. Sublimating is taking an image created with sublimation ink on a piece of paper and transferring it to a surface through heat. An image created on paper is pressed with an iron or heat press like this one by Artesprix or this one by Cricut (Cricut even has a mini heat press for small surfaces here)  to another surface. (If you are do not want to invest in a heat press, you can use your iron. Directions for how to do that will be supplied in this article as well.) As a result, heat turns the image into a gas and forces it to bond with the surface. Therefore, since the image is infused with heat, it is permanent. A design will last the life of the surface it was sublimated to through heat pressing it.

The Pros and Cons to Heat Pressing a Design

The Pros to Heat Press

There are several benefits to heat pressing a design versus painting it or using other forms of creating art on a multitude of surfaces.

  1. There is little risk to ruining your project. By creating an image on a piece of paper and then transferring it, the chances of it accidently messing up on the project (which can be an expensive surface depending on what it is) are slim. You literally will just be out the time it took you to create your design. For example, if you mess up on your design, simply throw away your paper and start again. You only heat press it when the design is to your liking.
  2. The image is permanent. It will not wash out or rub off of your surface since it is infused. It becomes one with it.
  3. It is easy to do and does not require special equipment unless you want to invest in a heat press. Otherwise, you can do it with your household iron.

The Cons to Heat Press

  1. Heat Pressing does involve high heat and gets hot. If you are pressing this image for your child, you will need to do this step for them because they could burn themselves.
  2. If you do not tape all your edges or move your image during the transfer you may get a ghost image.

Heat Press Project Ideas on Multiple Surface

Here are several heat pressed projects I have created. The only thing these all have in common is they each had an 80% polyester coating or blend.

How to Heat Press a Design

How to Heat Press with a Household Iron

It is best to use an iron that does not have holes or steam option. If the iron has holes, you will need to lift and press it several times in different spots to make sure the image fully transfers. Above all —  DO NOT IRON!!! By moving your iron over your substrate it will cause the image to shift. Consequently, the movement will cause the design to look fuzzy or create a ghost image. Place the iron on top of the surface and PRESS with firm pressure for the full 3 minutes.

  1. Create your design using sublimation ink (ink pad and/or markers) on a piece of copy paper (any paper will work. I like copy paper because it is cheap!) For words and numbers you will need to do them backwards because they will transfer as a mirrored image.
  2. Trim the design  leaving about 1/4 inch border. This does not have to be perfect.
  3. Using heat tape, adhere your image to your surface (also called blanks) face down so the two are touching each other thoroughly. One small piece of tape will not be enough. The design needs to be adhered with each side completely covered in tape as to avoid a ghost image.
  4. Place surface between two pieces of silicone paper. One sheet on top and one on the bottom. This serves two purposes. First, it traps the gas created by the heat and forces the image into the surface. Secondly, it  captures all the ink so it does not transfer to your iron or ironing board.
  5. Put your surface on a protective mat or ironing board.
  6. Set preheated iron at highest setting (making sure steam is OFF. Best to remove water too!) on top of surface. Finally,  firmly press (DO NOT IRON) for 3 minutes.
  7. Lift iron from surface and let project cool for several minutes. Depending on material will depend on how long it needs to cool (metal takes longer to cool than fabric).
  8. Lastly, remove tape and image to reveal final design!

How to Heat Press with a Press

  1. Follow steps 1 – 4 above. Instead of adhering tape to all the edges just use a piece on each side. Consequently, you do not need to adhere it entirely.
  2. Place your project in preheated press set at 400 degrees for 90 seconds.
  3. Carefully remove project from heat press with protective gloves and let cool.
  4. Remove tape and image to reveal design.

Protective paper and tape can be used more than once as long as no ink is present on them. Sometimes you may be able to get a second transfer from your image.

Heat Press Supply List

The best place to find all things heat press related is Artesprix : ARTESPRIX

For unique and diverse substrates (blanks) Innosub : INNOSUB

For other supplies:


Heat Press Video Tutorial

For further clarification on how to heat press, here are several video tutorials:

Until next time ~ Happy Crafting!