With sublimation, you’re more limited in the types of fabrics you can decorate compared to heat transfer paper. First off, sublimation only works with polyester fabrics. This is because sublimation ink only binds to polyester material. You can get away with sublimating on some poly-cotton blends, but the transfer will not be as bright and vibrant as when you use 100 percent polyester. Because sublimation adds no extra layer on top of the fabric, the material also needs to be white or extremely light-colored for your transfer to show.
On the other hand, with heat transfer paper, you can decorate on light and dark-colored cotton, polyester, and cotton-poly blends. While heat transfer paper may win in terms of the types of fabrics you can decorate, remember that sublimation can be used on a wide range of hard and soft surface substrates. For the most part, heat transfer paper cannot.
-Matthew Maurer, Coastal Business Supplies