Create Custom Sublimation Clothing Tags to Sew In

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I prefer to make my own clothing tags to sew in the garments I make for my girls. First, it’s fun to make things, and second, I love that I can customize them exactly how I want! 

I’ve tried embroidering labels in the past, but that takes more time than I’d like, and the results are so-so.

Since setting up my sublimation printer, though, I’ve been sublimating clothing tags myself using ribbon. I can spend around 30 minutes and have 50 tags created for all my future projects. 

Here’s how to make your own clothing tags using sublimation!

sublimation clothing tag tutorial

Supplies

Here’s what you need for this project:

Any ribbon you purchase to use MUST BE polyester, or the sublimation dye will not work well. I used Offray 100% polyester satin ribbon, which I bought for less than $2 at Walmart. Polyester ribbon is also one of my favorite Dollar Tree sewing finds

How to Create Sublimation Clothing Tags

Step 1: Prepare the File

example of image

I use Canva Pro to create all my images, but you can use any program as long as it can create a file you can print. I created two images for my labels so I could craft long, skinny labels and short, wide ones for clothing I sew.

my labels in Word

Then, because I’m a dinosaur who still loves Microsoft Word, I created an entire 8.5″ x 11″ page of labels using those images. Leave space between images to cut them out in singles or columns later.

Make sure to mirror image the design as you’re copying and pasting. If you don’t, your tags will be backward after you sublimate!

Step 2: Print the File

print the labels

Next, print the file with your sublimation printer–using sublimation ink and sublimation paper–and let the ink dry before removing the page from the tray.

Cut out columns of images or singles depending on your preference and project plans. 

Step 3: Cut Ribbon Pieces

I like to precut my ribbon pieces before starting the process. Since my master plan was to sublimate multiple images at a time using a column of images, I cut pieces of ribbon to accommodate 3-4 images at a time. 

Remember that clothing tags have two sides–one with an image and the other with nothing–if you want the raw edges encased at the seam. So, leave some extra ribbon on the edges so you can later fold the ribbon under to create the double-sided tag.

Step 4: Tape Paper to Ribbon Pieces

adhere paper to ribbon

Next, use heat tape to adhere the paper pieces to the ribbon, with the ink side of the paper facing the front of the ribbon. If you don’t use tape, your paper will move and can smear the ink during the heat press portion of the project. 

Step 5: Heat Press the Ribbon

place clothing tags in heat press

Place the clothing tags in your heat press, and cover them with a Teflon sheet or other heat-resistant layer. 

close the heat press

I then sublimated each piece of ribbon for 45 seconds at 375 F. When I used less time, the dye transfer wasn’t as good, and the tags came out lighter. However, adjust the timing and temp for your heat press by doing several samples.

After the heat press timer goes off, open the heat press and remove the ribbon to let it cool completely. Then, carefully remove the sublimation paper and discard it.

Step 6: Cut Ribbon

Last, cut the ribbon into individual pieces, and fold in half to create the labels. I used my regular iron to press the creases in the ribbon. 

my beautiful sublimated clothing labels

If I’d been thinking clearly when creating this last batch of tags, I would have used my pinking shears to cut the top or at least cut at an angle to prevent fraying. But alas, mom brain!

Leave a little space at the top to sew the tags into your projects. When I sew, I sew with the right side of label to the inside of garment and then turn and sew the tag back down.

sublimation on ribbon to create clothing tags

Check out these finished beauties ready to be sewn into my me-made outfits and crafts. 

 

And that’s all you need to know about how to sublimate clothing labels using ribbon! I’ve been using this process for a while now to create custom tags at my convenience without paying out the wazoo for custom-designed options.

Interested in embroidering also? Learn more about embroidery vs. sublimation compared.

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