To be able to produce small runs of custom items in a short time frame is easy for the average sublimator. Using sublimatable socks, follow these five steps to personalize products with high profit margins:
- Prepare your design: Start by designing the socks in your graphics program. Create your own design or start with templates for different styles of socks. These are laid out for the socks with a slight over-bleed area to completely color the sock area.
- Print the design: Once your designs are completed, print the heat transfer with your sublimation printer.
- Using a jig: To keep the socks straight during pressing, and slightly stretched at the top part to be able to sublimate the ribbing, use a reusable jig. By stretching the sock over the jig, you are expanding the leg of the sock. This exposes more sock fabric to the application of ink. This critical step presents “grin through,” the term for revealing untreated white fabric when the sock is worn over the calf of the customer. A straight jig will allow you to sublimate the front and back, and a hockey stick-shaped jig will allow you to sublimate the left and right side of the socks. After slowly pulling the sock over the “foot” of the jig, take extra time to adjust the sock so there are no bunched areas. This will reduce any press folds in the printed design.
- Pressing: After you put your sock onto the appropriate jig, heat your press up to 370 degrees and set your timer to approximately 50-60 seconds. If you are using a large printer, use tacky paper to keep the sock in place. If you are using sheet paper, you can use a repositionable spray adhesive. After the image is printed, lightly mist the image area with the spray, or you can tape the sock to the transfer paper with clear heat tape. After you press the first side of the sock, if you simply flip it over and press the second side, you will get a slight white edge on the sock. To avoid that, slightly pull the colored edge from the first side around to the other side so that all of the white area will be covered.
- Remove the jig: When each side has been pressed, use protective gloves to handle the jigs. When the sock is finished, remove it from the jig, and you will have a finished custom sublimated sock.
-Kevin Lumberg & TJ Kvilhaug, Johnson Plastics