Sublimation Blank Shirts | Best Shirts for the Best Price

What to look for in a sublimation blank shirt

The best sublimation blanks are made of 100% polyester. The process of sublimation uses the heat and pressure of a heat press to turn the sublimation ink into a gas, then it solidifies into the polyester material.

So, if you use a 100% polyester shirt the design is vibrant, feels just like the shirt itself and will never wash off.

But “polyester” is not just ONE thing. Yes, it’s all a polymer made of petroleum and other things, like recycled plastic.

And it has been used to create some amazing fabrics. The core of the of high-tech textiles developed over the years is polyester. Because its wrinkle and stain resistant, looks great after multiple uses, and it can be treated to add odor protection.

In the case of Vapor Apparel sublimation blank shirts, for example, you can get UV protection as well.

You can already see the potential for variety in polyester–material components, how it’s processed during manufacture, and what it’s treated with afterward just to name a few.

So, in the end, what you are looking for in a t-shirt for sublimation is something that IS 100% polyester. But you should still either test the individual model of the shirt yourself or rely on recommendations from the manufacturer to be sure.

You’ll find the best of those recommendations below.

Are all wholesale blank shirts good for sublimation?

No. At least not for SPOT sublimation.

When you apply a sublimation transfer onto a garment it uses heat and pressure to make the result beautiful.

But different polyesters and blends react differently to the high temperatures and pressure needed to make the process effective.

CAN you sublimate onto any shirt with a polyester component? Yes.

But on many of the wholesale blanks shirts that process will do 2 things:

  1. Leave Press Marks – that’s the dreaded “box” in the middle of your shirt
  2. Under all that heat, the appearance of the shirt can change. It develops a sheen that makes the color look different.

When you sublimate a roll of fabric, the press marks and heat don’t matter because you’re imaging the entire garment.

You probably will be adding graphics to a completed t-shirt though, using a transfer made with a Sawgrass SG1000 or SG100 sublimation transfer printer – so you’ll need to be concerned with both those factors.

Best sublimation shirt blank brands

The heat press box and the slight discoloration, believe or not, are not deal breakers for a LOT of t-shirt makers and their customers.

For example, the 100% polyester Spork-tek Posicharge LST340 is a ladies Racermesh v-neck tee that is very popular with sublimation but is not immune to color change or press marks. In fact, all the Sport-tek 100% poly shirts are just like that but still used ALL THE TIME!

But if you are looking for the IDEAL sublimation blank shirt, you’ll want to head straight for Vapor Apparel (stocked in Florida at the Colman and Company warehouse).

There are a lot of reasons to buy Vapor Apparel wholesale, add your sublimation transfer to it, and resell it. That’s because while many t-shirt makers make polyester shirts, Vapor Apparel makes them specifically for sublimation.

A note about tri-blends: White, 100% polyester shirts are going to provide the best looking, brightest images. No question. But not every job requires that. Blends of materials, as long as they have enough polyester content, will also provide a long-lasting I-can’t-feel-it image, but that image will be less bright. That’s fine if you’re going for a vintage or subdued effect, but not ideal for anything else.

Why Vapor Apparel is #1 Sublimation Blank Shirts

Chris Bernat, Co-Founder of Vapor Apparel put it perfectly in the video below, but the gist is – there was an obvious need for something made for sublimation and we filled it.

But they didn’t just stop at making the shirts ideal for sublimating, they made them super high quality and added UV protection as well.

And perfected the techniques needed to avoid the press box and the sheen you’ll get with other brands.

In addition to just being a better-quality garment, natively designed for sublimation, it’s also a high-value product.

For example, this shirt sells at online retailers like WalMart and Amazon for $25.00, but from Colman and Company it’s as low as $10.85 depending on color and quantity.

That’s a $14 built in profit BEFORE you add your graphic!

Because it’s a premium, high quality shirt you can get $35 or more for a custom printed one. The fact that it’s advertised at such good retail pricing means that you can make a clear case for adding to it when you decorate:

  • Sale Price: $35.00
  • Cost of Sublimation Blank Vapor Shirt: $10.85
  • Cost of sublimation printer supplies estimate: $.40
  • Total Gross Profit = $23.75 each

Or giving your customers extra value by selling them a customize shirt for the same price they would pay for a blank one:

  • Sale Price: $25.00
  • Cost of Sublimation Blank Vapor Shirt: $10.85
  • Cost of sublimation printer supplies estimate: $.40
  • Total Gross Profit = $13.75 each

Even at that lower gross profit, you still are getting a great return for you and your business.

Other Costs and ROI in a Sublimation T-Shirt Business

Now that we know what our potential gross profit is using the best sublimation blank shirt from Vapor Apparel, what else will you need to make these custom shirts? What’s the return on that investment?

Sublimation Printer:

Of course, you’ll need a Sawgrass sublimation printer. There are 2 models:


This is an 8.5” x 11” printer that sells for just under $600.


The DK20S [$1750] is a heavy-duty commercial heat press with a 16”x20” platen size, perfect for the 11”x17” transfers you’ll make with the SG1000.

The only difference between the 2 is the size of the paper it uses and the print it can make.

The reason to choose the SG500 printer is really because it’s what you can afford. It’s true that most transfer images are 8×10” or smaller, but that’s because that’s the size of most printers.

With the larger paper, you can produce TWICE the design size and offer that as a premium, you can put multiple images on 1 page to save ink and paper, and you can offer prints on larger items.

After you’ve owned the printer for any time at all, you won’t miss that extra $950 you spend on the SG1000. Even at the cheaper of the 2 gross profit scenarios we mentioned above, you just have to sell 60 shirts and it will pay for the difference.

And just to hammer that point home – there is financing available that makes the SG1000 cost just $42/month. You cashflow your business at just 4 shirts!

Heat Presses

You may be surprised to find out that the heat press – the device you use to apply a sublimation t-shirt transfer onto the shirt – is as or more expensive than the printers.

Some recommended heat presses include:

Digital Knight 16X20 Swinger | Colman and Company

The DK20S [$1750] is a heavy-duty commercial heat press with a 16”x20” platen size, perfect for the 11”x17” transfers you’ll make with the SG1000.

Hix SwingMan 20E Heat Press 16″x20 Swing-Away is a commonly purchased heat press. It’s a 16” x 20” swing-away press that sells for just over $1000.

But the VERY best heat press for sublimation transfers, white toner printer transfers, and bling is the Hotronix Fusion-IQ for $2,450. It’s got a digital pressure readout for the most accurate pressure application and you can store different settings for different shirts or techniques.

Hotronix Fusion-IQ Heat Press | Colman and Company

While the Fusion heat press may seem extravagant when you consider the cost of the printers and supplies, it is not when you look at the total ROI when financed.

You can put together a package with the Fusion heat press, SG1000 printer and enough supplies and blanks to get you started for well under $150/month when financed – with approved credit, etc of course.

Can you sell 11 shirts per month? If you can, then that monthly finance charge for the BEST heat press and the BEST sublimation printer is a no-brainer!

Then it’s just down to choosing the BEST sublimation blank shirts – Vapor Apparel!