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How to Make Tumblers in a Sublimation Oven

How to Make Tumblers in a Sublimation Oven main article image
Posted on July 25, 2022 by Naomi Garcia
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Have you started your sublimation journey?  Are you excited to learn more about this fascinating, popular craft?  I’ve got you covered!  In this article, we’ll talk about a few sublimation basics. After that, I’ll list a few heat sources that can be used for sublimation.  Then I’ll walk you through using a sublimation oven to create the perfect print on stainless steel tumblers.

Sublimation is a great way to create custom, high-quality items. By using a sublimation oven, you can easily and quickly create custom items that are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift or wanting to add some personalization to your own wardrobe, sublimation is the perfect solution.

The Right Materials

However, before beginning the sublimation process, it is important to understand which materials and items are compatible with sublimation. Sublimation only works on certain types of materials, so it is important to select the right items for the desired results. In general, sublimation works best on white or light-colored synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon. However, some dark-colored fabrics can also be used if they are treated with a special coating that allows for sublimation printing.

Aside from fabric, or clothing, sublimation blanks can include wood, ceramic, stainless steel, and even glass.  Any of these products can be used as long as they are treated with a special coating.  That coating will make them compatible with sublimation.  In other words, you can’t just walk into the local discount store and pick up that mug or tumbler and expect to be able to sublimate your cool design onto it.  You’ll be very disappointed.  

To find compatible substrates (a fancy word we use that means “blank”),  you’ll need to search for “sublimation compatible” products.  You can find these online at Amazon, different craft stores like Micheals or Joann, or from vendors who specialize in heat transfer products.  As a side note, Cricut Infusible Ink products are, indeed, sublimation compatible. 

Sublimation Heat Sources

Since sublimation requires high temperatures to transfer your design, a consistent, quality heat source is needed.  There are a variety of heat sources available.  Let’s talk about some of them now.

Standard Heat Press: 

I love using my 16” x 16” clamshell press for adding sublimation designs to shirts, table cloths, hoodies, and other large items.  

Easy Press or Hand Held Press:

These are great for smaller items like baby bodysuits, headbands, sports towels, coasters, and keychains.

Tumbler and Mug Press: 

These are perfect for, well, mugs and tumblers.  They are marketed to fit various sizes of drinkware.  You can even get attachments to interchange on some of these.

Why Use a Sublimation Oven?

Here’s the thing… Most of the time, when we craft for ourselves or even to make gifts, we only need to make one or two of the items.  So it’s not a big deal to take your tumbler and put it in the tumbler press for the indicated time. 

But what happens when you are making tumblers for a whole softball team?  After about the 3rd or 4th tumbler, I’m about ready to take a break.  It’s hot.  The “beep” gets annoying after a while.  And the back and forth isn’t good for my attention span.

That’s when having a sublimation oven is AMAZING!!!  Seriously.  With the sublimation oven I own, I have personally sublimated up to eight 20 oz tumblers at once.  That saved me so much time!  Each cycle is about 7 minutes.  So in under half an hour, I had an order of 15 tumblers complete without opening and closing my tumbler press 15 separate times.

Making Tumblers in a Sublimation Oven

So here’s what you came for and here’s what I promised you.  Let’s make a few stainless steel tumblers in my sublimation oven.  We’ll be using designs from Creative Fabrica to create a set of super adorable mini tumblers for my kids and their friends.

*Please note that I will be printing my designs using my sublimation printer.  If you do not have access to a sublimation printer, you can still follow the instructions here using either a pre-printed sublimation print, a design created with sublimation pens or markers, or a design cut using Infusible Ink Sheets from Cricut or a similar product.

Materials and Supplies

  • Sublimation tumblers (I’m using 10 oz. Stubby from Craft Haven)
  • Sublimation paper
  • Heat resistant tape
  • Shrink sleeves 
  • Lint roller
  • Paper trimmer or scissors
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Heat gloves or oven mitt
  • Sublimation printer
  • Mermaid Kids’ Tumbler Wrap Pack from Creative Fabrica
  • Sublimation Oven
  • Software to size your print (I’ll be using Adobe Illustrator.  Other software that can be used include Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PhotoShop, and Sawgrass Creative Studio)

The Process

Printing the Design

  1. Download the Mermaid Kids’ Tumbler Wraps from Creative Fabrica
  2. Open the design inside of your editing software. (Cricut Design Space or Silhouette Studio are other options that have been used.)
  3. Measure the height and width of your tumblers
  4. Size your design to be slightly (less than ¼”) larger than your tumbler measurements.
    1. You really want to get the width measurement as close as possible to get a good fit.
  5. Add any additional elements you would like to the design.  At the last minute, I decided to add the girls’ names in this super cute Mermaid Glitter Font from Creative Fabrica.
  6. Flip, or mirror, your design.  This is extremely important if your design has text or is a one-way design.
  7. Send your design to print on your sublimation printer.
  8. If needed, let your design dry so that you do not get ink smudges
  9. Once dry, trim your design.

Designing in Adobe Illustrator

Measure the Tumbler

Trimming Images for Tumblers

Cut Sublimation Images

Prepping the Tumblers

  1. Remove the lids from the tumblers
  2. Use a lint-free cloth or lint roller to remove lint from the tumblers
  3. Wrap your design around the tumbler.  (Make sure the printed side is against the tumbler… I’m just sayin’…)
  4. Pull your design tight, trying to line up the seam.
  5. Use heat-resistant tape to secure the design to the tumbler.
  6. Slide the shrink sleeve over the tumbler and use the heat gun to shrink
    1. Keep the heat source moving
    2. The goal is to shrink the sleeve so that it draws the prints as close to the tumbler as possible
    3. Be careful not to overheat or heat too close to the sleeve

Remove lint with lint roller

Add print to tumbler

Match seams and secure with heat tape

Add heat sleeve

Use heat gun to secure heat sleeve

Transferring the Design

*NOTE*  Please read the instructions for operating your sublimation oven.  I am using the JTrans Sublimation Oven from Heat Transfer Warehouse.  The specs I will share with you are specific to this oven, and are likely similar to other sublimation ovens.

  1. Set your sublimation oven to 195 degrees CELSIUS for 7 minutes
  2. Wait for the oven to warm up.  My oven gives me a beep to let me know it’s ready.
  3. Put your tumblers in the oven.
  4. *HOT STUFF* When the timer is done, use heat gloves to remove tumblers.
  5. Place the tumblers on a cooling rack or heat resistant surface to cool
  6. When cool, remove the shrink sleeve and sublimation paper.

Set time and temperature on oven

Place tumblers in oven

Use heat glove to remove tumblers when done

Remove sleeve and paper when cool

A Final Look

Final Tumbler Reveal

So…. How did you do?  I seriously LOVE making tumblers in the oven.  For me, this has been 100% worth the investment.  It has saved me time and allowed me to complete more projects in less time.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would not give up my mug press, my tumbler press, my cup press, my Easy Presses or my clamshell press.  They each get used quite a bit in my craft room.  Some more than others, for sure.  But having the right tool for the job sure makes a difference.

Up close of completed tumbler

Many crafters have also found success using either a convection oven or an air fryer for their sublimation projects.  These gadgets can also do the job because they reach the high temperatures required for sublimation to work successfully.  Just know that once you use one of these devices, you CANNOT use it for food.  The gasses released in the process make the device no longer food safe.

Group of 4 tumblers

What designs will you sublimate?  Let us know.  And if you have sublimation questions, leave us a comment.  I promise to respond.  Also if you make a project using any of the tips in this article please tag Creative Fabrica and me.  I am EJsFunCrafting everywhere.

Now, go make something HOT!


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Comments
2 Comments

Absolutely beautiful tumblers!! Great instructions!! Love the pictures for illustration. Thank you very much for this fantastic tutorial!!! 💖🥰🎉💯😍🤩

Naomi Garcia's profile picture
Naomi Garcia

July 31, 2022

Author

You are very welcome! The kids loved them too. 😊


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