Can You Sublimate on Leather? In-Depth Guide

Can you sublimate on leather? First of all, the answer is absolutely yes.

We can sublimate on leather, we can sublimate on faux leather.

And we’ll also explore what other types of leather we can personalize with various designs in different shapes and forms.

Thus, when we’re answering a question like can you sublimate on leather or learning if we can sublimate on acrylic or talking about sublimating on glass, my major interest is what type of objects we can personalize, what type of projects we can attempt.

Of course, I’ll only be able to give you a few examples but I’m sure that you’ll come up with more fun and creative projects as you experiment with various leather types and forms.

Overall, I hope you’ll enjoy my sublimation on leather guide and that you’ll expand your horizons even more.

Can You Sublimate on Leather? Tools We Need

can you sublimate on leather?
Since we’ve already answered that we can sublimate leather and we’ll explore to see what type of leather we can personalize, both natural leather and faux leather, I want to jump straight to that.

I also want to make sure that you’re aware which pieces of equipment and tools we need to make that happen.

Sublimation printer

We have two main types of printers to choose from.

We can choose to buy a dedicated sublimation printer, like Sawgrass SG500 & SG1000 and Epson SureColor F170 & F570.

Or we can buy an Epson inkjet printer and convert it to sublimation by buying sublimation inks for that respective model. Frankly, this is the most popular option among both amateur crafters and business owners.

If you’re interested in checking out some interesting models, check out my reviews for the best Epson sublimation printer or the best sublimation printer for t-shirts.

Of course, any printer for sublimation, whether it’s a dedicated printer or a converted inkjet printer to sublimation, needs sublimation inks to print our design. There’s no sublimation without the right inks created for this craft.

Sublimation paper

Sublimation means printing on a special type of paper and that’s the only thing we can buy.

Check out my reviews for the best sublimation paper if you need some recommendations.

Heat press

The last big piece of equipment we need is a heat press. I wrote an article on the best heat press for sublimation if you need help choosing one.

If you only want to sublimate smaller pieces of leather, you can check out the HTVRONT Heat Press Machine for T Shirts, 10″x10″. It’s among the most affordable options that we could buy and the 10 x 10 inch plate is big enough for most designs and objects.

The Cricut EasyPress 2 Heat Press Machine, 9”x9” and 12”x10” are another two great options. But they’re significantly more expensive so I prefer the model from HTVRONT for its affordable price, great quality, and ease of use.

If you plan on personalizing t-shirts, big leather pieces, and other substrates with bigger designs, then you most likely need a 15 x 15 heat press, like the Fancierstudio Heat Press 15 x 15. Or the more expensive, more technological advanced HTVRONT Auto Heat Press Machine for T Shirts 15×15.

Other useful tools

Besides these major tools, we also need smaller tools.

Of course, we need to choose the leather products that we want to personalize. And we’ll analyze these in more depth right below.

We also need butcher paper, which will basically act like an envelope for our leather product when it’s placed in the heat press for transferring the design from the paper onto the leather piece.

And we need heat resistant tape to fix our sublimation paper to the leather piece so it stays completely fixed during the heat transfer.

Plus, we need heat resistant gloves for removing the leather from the heat press when the time is up.

The leather is going to be very hot since the temperature for the heat press will be set at a considerable level, usually at 300 degrees F for about 150 seconds.

Thus, another reason for answering the question can you sublimate on leather that we definitely can is that natural leather can be exposed to temperatures up to 200 degrees C (392 degrees F) for short periods of time without any structural damage.

Thankfully, the time spent in the heat press is short.

Can You Sublimate on Faux Leather?

The simple answer is yes. In a moment I’m going to give you a couple of examples on how to sublimate faux leather or artificial leather, PU leather, artificial leather polyester, etc.

There will be one method that first uses vinyl as a layer on top of the blank leather and then heat presses the design from the paper onto the leather + vinyl combo.

And then there will be an example that sublimates directly onto leather.

The very nice thing about faux leather is that it comes in lighter colors. Just like with t-shirts, we prefer sublimating on white or very light colors in order to make the designs and the ink stand out, to guarantee vibrant colors.

If you want to sublimate on darker colors, check out my article talking about the best sublimation paper for dark shirts.

Another good thing is that we can buy faux leather in smaller pieces. We might still need to cut it but it can be easier.

We can use a pair of scissors to cut it, which can be easy for those who are sewers. Or we can use a Cricut cutting machine, like the Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore, which are some very expensive machines. Stick to scissors.

However, there is a difference in heat resistance between faux leather and natural leather.

Real leather pieces do fine even at almost 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for small periods of time.

Artificial/faux leather is heat sensitive and it can end up being melted or discolored. Let’s see how we handle that. I mostly recommend pressing at 300 degrees F.

How to sublimate faux leather

If you need a demonstration of the fact that we can sublimate on faux leather, watch this very short YouTube tutorial. It’s a very interesting and short tutorial that teaches us a very easy method to sublimate on faux leather.

The interesting thing is that the person in that video uses both sublimation vinyl and sublimation paper in order to sublimate on faux leather.

In the first part of the process, the blank piece of white leather is placed in the heat press with the sublimation vinyl on top of it, safely attached with heat resistant tape.

The vinyl is blank and white, I recommend using the HTVRONT Sublimation Vinyl for Cotton Shirts.

The leather and the vinyl are pressed at 395 degrees F for 20 seconds with a piece of butcher paper on top of the vinyl sheet.

Once that is done, the piece of leather with the vinyl now stuck to it is let to cool down and the tape is peeled off.

Next, on top of the faux leather piece that now also has a vinyl layer, place your sublimation paper with the design on it. The part with the design will meet the side with the vinyl. Attach them with heat resistant tape.

Place them in the heat press with a piece of butcher paper on top. Press for 50 seconds at 395 degrees. Remove the paper while the piece is still warm. And that’s it.

Since we personalized a big piece of leather, you can cut it into smaller pieces to make multiple keyrings for example. Or some slim leather coasters.

How to sublimate on leather: temp and time

You’re going to find multiple opinions when it comes to determining time and temperature as settings for the heat press when we’re using leather as a substrate.

If you are interested in sublimating on leather without the vinyl addition, check out this YouTube video.

The people in that video sublimate directly on a blank piece of leather with the sublimation paper on top.

They’re heat pressing at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 150 seconds.

It seems that this temperature and time combination is the one that worked the best for them in terms of how the designs were transferred from the sublimation paper onto the leather.

However, while I told you that faux leather can’t withstand high temperatures without being damaged, I must also say that there are exceptions.

On this website, you’ll come across blank sheets of PU sublimations leather, meaning blank sheets of faux leather.

The recommendations from the manufacturer are: use medium-heavy pressure at 400 degrees F for 60 seconds.

If you’re buying leather blanks for sublimation, those usually will come with their own instructions for time, temp, and pressure. It’s best to start off with those recommendations.

Thus, we can come across different methods if we’re looking for complete answers to the question can you sublimate on leather.

Leather products for sublimation

Since I mentioned that I want to talk about what type of leather objects we can sublimate on, I thought it would be a good idea to recommend a few products for your projects.

Of course, sublimating on large PU leather blanks is always a good idea but there are more ideas to experiment with.

1. Arokimi Sublimation Keychains Blank

I love keychains because they’re fun to work with and they’re great both for businesses and amateur crafters.

For a price under $15 we can buy a set of 8 keychains of different shapes and sizes.

We get the following shapes: heart, round, square, and rectangular. 2 of each.

There are two sides to each of these keychains. One side is white and this is the sublimating surface. The black side is polyurethane leather. They’re light and durable.

The recommendations are: 360 degrees F for 50-60 seconds.

2. Youkang Sublimation Luggage Tag

Another shape in which we can buy our faux leather for sublimation is in the form of luggage tags. That’s an interesting idea.

Once again, the price is under $15.

This time we’ll receive 6 sublimation luggage tags + PU buckles. The buckles are frankly my favorite part of this set.

The front is blank so this is the part we’ll personalize.

However, there’s actually a sublimation cardboard inside the window so we’re not sublimating the luggage tag but the cardboard that is prepared for this craft. And then we insert the cardboard in the small window inside. I like this idea.

The back is high temperature resistant PU leather.

The instructions are: set the temperature at 356 degrees F (185C) and pressurize for 60 seconds.

3. Shuangart Sublimation Blank Sparkly Faux Leather Earrings

If keychains or luggage tags are definitely not what you’re looking for, there are these sublimation blank sparkly faux leather earrings to tempt you.

For a price around $20, we get quite the amazing set.

It contains 30 pairs of superfine glitter faux leather sublimation blank earrings. And there are 5 different styles, 6 earrings per style: teardrop, round, eye, flower, and butterfly.

We also get earring hooks, jump rings, earring backs, and 1 sublimation paper with pattern. Plus 1 jump ring opener. It’s quite the complete set.

The blank glitter leather fabric is made of PET. And we can sublimate on both sides, which is amazing.

The recommendations are: 392 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 40 seconds.

4. Zonon Sublimation Journal Leather Blank

Another thing we can personalize is journals or notebooks with beautiful leather covers. I like this idea.

For about $30, we can buy 4 blank pieces of A6 sublimation notebooks, each 95 sheets (190 pages).

They come in the form of white journals with faux leather covers that can be personalized on both sides with whatever designs or pictures we want.

The recommended settings are: 356-374 degrees F (180-190 degrees C), 60-80 seconds, medium press.

I hope my answer to the question can you sublimate on leather and faux leather and my short guide consisting of different suggestions of how you can achieve exactly that will help you expand your horizons and will bring more beauty and creativity into your home or business.