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How to Make a Fall Sublimation Mug

How to Make a Fall Sublimation Mug main article image
Posted on August 25, 2021 by Naomi Garcia

Have you ever had this experience when getting a new car?  Before you purchased it, you never even knew that color, make, and model even existed. But once you drive it off of the car lot, it seems like you see that same exact dark blue SUV with cool looking rims EVERYWHERE!  

That’s how I felt about sublimation. Not too long ago, I had no clue what this was. I began seeing it all over YouTube, on Pinterest, and Instagram. After that, I began to notice it everywhere I went. I would catch myself looking at shirts and mugs and instantly identifying whether the design was a sublimated design or a heat transfer vinyl design.  

Sublimation with the mug press

Shortly after discovering this new way of creating, I purchased a cup press. It was an inexpensive press that I found on Amazon. I started sublimating mugs, but it was not all fun and games at first. I had a hard time figuring out how to actually set the temperature and time on the press.  I kind of figured it out eventually and was satisfied with being able to create cute mugs using the sublimation process.

Recently, Cricut added a Mug Press to its line of heat presses. I didn’t get one for several months. After getting it, I didn’t use it for quite some time. Once I had the time to sit and use it, I found out how user friendly it is. I still love using my original cup press. I probably still use it more than the Cricut press. But for simplicity, I want to walk you through how you can make a special fall mug using the Cricut Mug Press.

Personalize your mugs for the fall

Many people that I know love fall.  Aside from the leaves turning all kinds of gorgeous colors (not where I live in the desert, of course), fall brings in the apple cider, delicious greens and other veggies, and yummy pecans. But more than anything else that I hear mentioned autumn lovers don’t play when it comes to their pumpkin spice lattes. So I decided that I’d make a few of my friends some special fall mugs for all the pumpkin spice drinks. Here’s how you can make one (or 8) too.

Pumpkin Spice Sublimation Mug (Naomi D. Garcia)

Materials and Supplies

  • Sublimation mug
  • Sublimation paper
  • Digital designs*
  • Heat resistant tape
  • Mug press
  • Sublimation printer
  • Sublimation design
  • Scissors
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • Lint-free cloth or paper towel
  • Parchment or butcher paper

* Here are a list of the designs I used from Creative Fabrica:

Group of sublimation mugs (Naomi D. Garcia)

Note: If you do not have a sublimation printer, you can purchase a pre-printed sublimation print. Search “sublimation prints” on Etsy for some options.

Also, you do not necessarily need a cutting machine for this project. In fact, you may not even need the software. You can insert your images into something like a Word document instead. For this tutorial, I will be using Cricut Design Space for easy designing and sizing purposes.

Mug Sublimation Set Up (Naomi D. Garcia)

The Process

Creating Your Design

  1. Purchase and download a fall sublimation design from Creative Fabrica
    1. I could not settle on just one design because there are so many that I like.  I’ll include a list of the designs I used at the end of this article.
  2. Upload the file into your cutting software (Cricut Design Space, Silhouette Studio, etc.)
    1. If using Cricut Design Space, you’ll want to upload it as a “print then cut” file.
    2. If you are not using cutting machine software, you can just add your graphic(s) to the software of your choice.
  3. Insert the design on your canvas.
  4. Size your design.  (I’m using a straight, 12 oz mug)
    1. In Cricut Design Space, you are limited to 6.75” x 9.25” for any print then cut design.
    2. To maximize use of my sublimation paper, I inserted several designs onto my canvas.
    3. For a design that will only show on one side of the mug, I size to 3”. 
    4. For a full-wrap design, I size to 3.5” x 8.5”
  5. If you are printing more than one design that you’d like to fit onto one page follow these steps next:
    1. Insert a square onto your canvas and size it to 6.75” x 9.25”
    2. Send the rectangle to the back
    3. Arrange your images inside of the rectangle.  You may have to turn some pieces
  6. Select “Make It”
  7. Be sure to “mirror” your design.
  8. Turn off the “bleed” option for sublimation designs.
  9. Load the sublimation paper into the printer. 
  1.  Make sure it is placed so that it prints on the plain side, and not on the side that is labeled.  
  2. Send it to print.  (I prefer to use the system dialog for printing.  This is especially important when printing on a sublimation printer.)
  3. Once printed, use your scissors to cut around each design

Pressing Your Design

  1. Plug in your Cricut Mug Press and turn it on.  
    1. If this is your first time using the Cricut Mug Press, you will need to set it up using a computer and the USB cable that comes with the press.  (I learned this the hard way.)
    2. The press will be ready when the power button turns green.  Cricut Mug Press Ready (Naomi D. Garcia)
  2. Clean the outside of your mug using alcohol and a lint-free towel.
  3. Place your printed design face down onto the mug.
  4. Use heat resistant tape to hold your design in place.   Adding sublimation print to mug (Naomi D. Garcia)
  5. Wrap the parchment paper around the outside of the mug.
    1. This will protect your heat press from any ink 
  6. When ready, place your mug into the mug press and push down the lever on the right.
  7. The mug press will beep and all 5 of the lights on top will be lit when your pressing time is complete.  This can take up to 4 minutes.  
  8. Lift the lever and carefully remove the mug from the press.
  9. Your mug will be VERY HOT.  Carefully remove the sublimation paper and place the mug on a heat resistant surface for it to cool.

Wasn’t that fun? Your mug is ready and it is dishwasher safe. No need to seal it and you don’t have to worry about the design fading.

Fall Kind of Girl Mug

Other drinkware projects you can make with sublimation

In addition to mugs, there are other sublimation drinkware blanks you can try. Here are some I have either tried or that I have my eye on.

  • Water bottles and tumblers
  • Metal can koozies
  • Cloth can koozies
  • Stemless wine glasses
  • Sippy cups

Is sublimating on a mug or other drinkware in your crafting future?  If so, please tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. I am EJsFunCrafting on all platforms. Make something beautiful!

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