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  • 5 Ways to Print T-Shirts with a Heat Press

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How to Decorate Jerseys and Active Wear Without Scorching

When decorating team jerseys and active wear you’ll run into challenges using a heat press on these polyester, spandex/Lycra®, and polyester blend garments. Customers increasingly want the breathability, moisture wicking ability, and stretch of these synthetic fabrics – but they also want them to be uniquely theirs. That’s where the decorator comes in.

Common challenges to decorating jerseys and active wear.

  • Adhesion – Synthetic fabrics require heat press adhesive specially designed to stick to these fabrics. Not all heat transfer vinyl is designed to stay on these types of fabrics.
  • Heat Press Marks – High heat and high pressure can leave imprint marks on synthetic fabrics.
  • Scorching – Heat transfer vinyl applied at high temperature risks scorching or melting these fabrics.

Solutions for heat decorating jerseys and active wear.

The good news is there are solutions for decorating these garments with confidence and good results. It’s important to follow a few best practices.

  • Follow the instructions
    Always follow the application instructions for your heat transfer vinyl or heat transfers. These instructions are specific to your materials and don’t change based on what you’re applying to. If your apparel is unique, change the transfer or heat transfer vinyl type, not the application instructions.
  • Cool down your heat press
    It’s a misconception that if some heat is good, more is better. Hot melt adhesive is designed to adhere under specific conditions, using too much heat will make the adhesive burn off without properly applying. When dealing with fabrics that can scorch, always use the lowest recommended temperature for the material you’re decorating.
  • Read your care label
    Your jersey or other active wear’s care label will tell you the garments fiber content along with percentages of each type of fiber. Use the highest percentage fiber to choose the right heat transfer vinyl for the job. For example, if your shirt’s care label lists the fiber content as 30% polyester, 20% rayon, and 50% spandex, choose your heat transfer material based on the spandex fiber.
  • Use the right tools
    There are a variety of accessories and tools available to help reduce and eliminate the risk of scorching. From a variety of heat press platens in different sizes to put heat only where you need it, to the Hotronix® Heated Lower Platen which applies heat from below, reducing heat on the face of heat sensitive fabrics.
  • Recommended materials
    We’re always optimizing our heat transfer vinyl, adhesives, and application instructions to give you products that work on today’s heat sensitive fabrics. It’s why we created CAD-CUT® Premium Plus™ and why we keep testing applications, improving colors, and expanding the line. Premium Plus now features a high tack or low tack carrier for easier weeding no matter what design you’re weeding.

Scorching is a fact of heat decorating but with the right tools, best practices, and heat transfer vinyl – you can decorate jerseys and active wear with confidence.

Ready to learn more about heat sensitive fabrics? The Performance Wear Handbook is a guide to active wear trends, definitions, and best practices for heat decorating them without scorching. 

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