Learn how to sublimate 3D valentine tumblers with my free designs!
Do you love to have a special tumbler for every occasion? Once you know how to create and transfer a premium-quality sublimation print, you can have a new cup for every holiday! My new wraps for 3D valentine tumblers are perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the designs are so cute you can absolutely enjoy them year round! Let me show you the easiest way to use them on skinny tumblers!
The original video tutorial (and the written version below) shows you exactly how to prepare, print, and sublimate a design onto a tumbler. You can use the same steps with my new designs to make your own 3D valentine tumblers.
Sublimation is a fantastic technique for items like tumblers that get lots of use because the design’s ink dyes the specially-coated surface. Since the printed sublimation design becomes part of the tumbler, you can’t feel it and it won’t peel off like vinyl! You do need compatible sublimation tumblers, which have a special sublimation or poly coating that accepts the ink. My favorite skinny sublimation tumblers are in the material list, along with all the tools and items you’ll need to create a lasting impression. if you’re just getting started, my Sublimation for Beginners Ultimate Guide will help you start sublimating with ease!
You will need a sublimation-compatible skinny tumbler, a sublimation printer with compatible ink and sublimation transfer paper, a laptop or desktop computer, and a Google account to use my tutorial. You can find information on several printers in my Best Sublimation Printer to Buy in 2024 post.
My video covers different ways to sublimate a tumbler, because there are some special steps to get the best transfer, especially at the design’s seam. See how the different preparation and heating steps compare, and then pick the one that is best for you.
I made these designs using an AI art generator and image editing software to clean them up. Now you can use the high resolution files for your own projects, like 3D valentine tumblers! If you want to learn more about using AI in your crafting, check out my AI Art Design workshop.
Want to connect with other sublimation crafters? I have a group just for sublimation crafting where you can get help and tips from other crafters who love to sublimate, too! Come join us at jennifermaker.com/sublimationgroup to ask questions, share ideas, and get inspired!
Ready to make sublimation tumblers using my free wraps for 3D valentine tumblers and step-by-step tutorial? You’re going to love them! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Materials to Sublimate 3D Valentine Tumblers
- Sublimation Tumblers — I used Skinny 20 oz Tumblers for Sublimation with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free rag to clean them
- Sublimation printer and supplies – I used my Epson ET-4700 with Hippoo ink with the relevant ICC printer profile on 8.5″ x 11″ A-SUB high-quality sublimation paper, white butcher paper, heat resistant tape, and a heat-resistant felt pad.
- A Google account to edit your images on a Laptop or Desktop running Windows or Mac OS
- Heat source of your choice and the related supplies:
- Safety supplies including heat resistant gloves, a fan or other ventilation support
- Tools including a Cricut scraper, measuring tape, scissors or a paper trimmer
- Design #586 — My free wrap designs for 3D Valentine Tumblers (available from my free resource library — get the password at the bottom of this post)
How to Make Sublimation Tumblers
- Sublimation Tumblers -- I used Skinny 20 oz Sublimation Tumblers
- Sublimation Paper - I used 8.5" x 11" A-SUB Sublimation Paper
- Sublimation Ink - I used Hippoo
- White Butcher Paper
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Optional Shrink Wrap Tubes
- Design #404 — My free Sublimation Tumbler design files (available from my free resource library — get the password at the bottom of this post)
- Sublimation Printer - I used the Epson ET-4700
- Tumbler Heat Press - I used the PYD Life 110 V -OR-
- Convection Oven - I used an Oster Convection Oven -AND-
- Heat Gun - AND-
- Silicone Bands (optional)
- Heat Resistant Gloves
- Laptop or Desktop running Windows or Mac OS
- Google account - to use Docs for photo editing
- (Optional) Your ICC Printer Profiles here are the Hiipoo printer profiles
- Heat Resistant Tape
- Heat Resistant Felt Pad
- Scissors -or-
- Paper Trimmer
- Ventilation - I use this fan
- Cricut Scraper
- Measuring Tape
- Lint free cloth
STEP 1: GET OR PREPARE A SUBLIMATION DESIGN
You can use any of my Sublimation Tumbler design files from my resource library, Design #404. You can also make your own design.
Download the files and pick your design.
Today, I’m going to make the rainbow design, but you can use these steps for any of the options in the collection.
Sublimation, especially on objects like tumblers, is more of an art than a guaranteed scientific success. There are many variables at work - ink, print quality, pressure, getting a flat design to fit a round surface, overlapping areas, time, heat variability and more! So please don't expect a perfect, gift-quality result on your first try. Learning any new skill involves experimenting and making a few mistakes. You may also use up materials faster while you learn, so start with extra paper, prints, tumblers, and shrink wrap tubes if possible. Remember, an "imperfect" decorated tumbler will still hold your coffee perfectly while you craft!
STEP 2: PRINT YOUR SUBLIMATION DESIGN
We'll print the design on a good-quality sublimation paper for the best results. I’m using 8.5" x 11" A-SUB paper in my Epson EcoTank with Hiipoo ink. You can use another combination, of course.
For the full steps, view my earlier tutorial. If you're using the same design and tumbler as me, size the designs to 9.5" x 8.1". If you're using a different tumbler, measure the height from top to bottom and then around the item for the width.
If you use use a different design, you'll need to size it to match your tumbler's height and width (circumference). Be sure to make your design 1/8" wider than your tumbler's width for the seamless technique I teach you in this tutorial. Note that 1/8" extra is appropriate for the skinny tumblers I used in this tutorial — if you're using a narrower or wider sublimation surface, you may need to reduce or increase this extra width.
STEP 3: PREPARE YOUR PRINT AND TUMBLER FOR SUBLIMATION
Use a lint free cloth with some rubbing alcohol to clean the tumbler for a better transfer.
Since we want to avoid a gap or distracting seam when we wrap the design around the tumbler, there's a special way to trim the design.
Place the print face up on your surface so the correct edge is at the top. Grab your Cricut paper trimmer, the best way to get perfectly straight cuts!
Trim the top and bottom edges (9.5" long for my tumblers) of the design right on the edge of the ink. Try not to leave any white showing.
Trim the right edge in the same way, making sure there's no white at all.
The left edge is where we'll create the overlap to blend the seam as much as possible. Trim that edge so there is about a 1/4" strip of white left next to the design.
Grab your heat resistant tape and cut a few pieces that you can easily pick up. You'll need them soon and it's better to have them ready!
Place the tumbler on your work surface with the open edge at the top. Make sure the print is correctly oriented (especially since it has writing!) and wrap it around the mug so the ink touches the surface.
Where the edges overlap, put the side with the white showing on the outside of the layers.
Hold the wrapped print in place and gently tap the tumbler on the table from the bottom and top. That will help it straighten out.
Don't let the print shift and gently lay the tumbler on its side.
Our next goal is to secure the print to the tumbler as tightly as possible. If there are gaps between the surface and design, you might get white spots or other defects in the final result.
Lay the tumbler on its side and place a piece of tape securely on the white edge, but don't let it
touch the paper on the other side of the seam yet.
Use one hand to hold the lower layer of the design tight against the tumbler. Pull the loose section of tape tight as possible, then press it in place on the lower layer.
Add two more pieces of tape using the same method in between the first piece and the top and bottom edge of the design
Add more tape perpendicularly to bridge the three pieces and completely cover the seam in between them.
To check if the paper is tight enough, try to press hard and smooth the paper from both sides toward the taped seam. If anything ripples or comes away from the tumbler, remove your tape and try again. This takes practice!
Once the paper is secure, add tape to cover the top remainder of the seam, allowing some to extend past the edge. With your thumb on the tape, pull the extra tape as hard as you can over the edge and secure it inside the tumbler. Repeat for the bottom portion, securing the paper to the bottom as well.
Now we want to work all the air pockets out of the seam. Use a scraper or your fingernail and be really thorough.
Taping the print around the top edge helps create a smoother transfer. Look down at the tumbler from the top and think of it like a compass. Place the original seam in the North direction.
Just like we did for the top of the seam, place tape at the south location, letting it extend past the edge. Keep your thumb on the taped paper and pull the extra tape tightly, securing it to the tumbler's inner surface. Smooth the tape with the scraper to remove any air pockets. Repeat for the East and West points.
Then, fill in the intermediary directions like North East until the entire top rim is secured.
Again, repeat for the bottom edge.
TIP: On the bottom, use an extra long piece of tape to mark with the seam is, which you can reference when you need to turn the tumbler in the heat press.
Wrap the tumbler with a piece of white butcher paper to protect it.
STEP 4: PRESS YOUR SUBLIMATION PRINT
Tumbler Press Method
Before you turn on the press, adjust the tension so your tumbler fits snuggly. Try to make the pressure as even as possible all around the tumbler.
Check the manufacturer's directions for the correct temperature and time for your machine and project. I set the PYD Life 110 V's temperature to 350 Fahrenheit and the time to 50 seconds.
Place the tumbler in the heat press, making sure the seam is to the side. Pull the press's handle to close it.
Put on heat resistant gloves now that the items will be hot.
When the 50 seconds are up, open the press and rotate the tumbler 180°. Close and press the tumbler for another 50 seconds.
When it is done, remove the tumbler and place it on a heat pad to cool.
Convection Oven Methods
Before you begin, pull out any wire racks and place a heat resistant felt pad on the bottom of the convection oven to protect the surface. You might need to cut it to size.
Method 1: Shrink Wrap
Tape the print to the tumbler using the method above.
Preheat the oven to 375°
Some sublimation tumblers come with shrink wrap tubes but not all do.
Pull a shrink wrap tube over the tumbler. You might need to trim it if it's much taller than your tumbler.
Put on your heat resistant gloves. Use the heat gun to slowly heat the shrink wrap as it conforms to the tumbler. Make sure most wrinkles are clear, but don't make it too tight or it will pull apart in the oven.
Place the tumbler in the center of the oven and heat for six minutes.
NOTE: Some ovens create a better result if you rotate the tumbler (with your heat resistant gloves!) 180° halfway through the heating process.
Remove the tumbler from the oven after the time is up and let it cool.
Remove the shrink wrap.
Method 2: Silicone Bands
Tape the print to the tumbler using the method above.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Then, tape a piece of butcher paper around the tumbler to prevent ink from getting on the bands.
Place the silicone bands onto the tumbler, spacing them out evenly. Try to put the bands on the end as close to the tumbler edges as possible - it's ok if they cover the edge.
Place the tumbler in center of the oven and heat for six minutes.
Safely remove the tumbler from oven after the time is up and let it cool.
Remove the bands and paper.
STEP 5: SHOW IT OFF!
When your tumbler is cooled, peel away the tape and paper. Some of the paper may stick to the tumbler, just rinse it off with water.
To make your print last, only handwash the tumblers with soapy water. Remember to check your tumbler's instructions in case it's different!
Questions About How to Sublimate 3D Valentine Tumblers:
Q. Can you sublimate on any tumbler?
A: No, you must use blank tumblers designed for sublimation dye. There is a wide range of sublimation tumblers available, but always check the original packaging to make sure they are sublimation-compatible. The 20 oz steel tumbler I picked has a clear lid and reusable metal straw, but there are others if you prefer a plastic straw. Just make sure they have the correct sublimation or poly coating. Look for product information that includes “double wall insulation tumbler,” “leak-proof lid,” or “cold cup” to find the right tumbler for your needs. If you can’t find them locally, you can order items like wholesale stainless steel sublimation tumblers online.
Q. What do you need to make sublimation tumblers?
A: A printed sublimation design, adequate heat at the perfect temperature, compatible tumblers, and the tools and techniques in my tutorial! If you want to try sublimating without a printer, you can edit a SVG in Cricut Design Space and cut it from an Infusible Ink transfer sheet for another approach to sublimation.
Q. Do sublimation tumblers need epoxy?
A: No, the dye becomes part of the sublimation surface so you don’t have to seal it, unlike pesky vinyl designs. Yes, even if you hate to hand wash and prefer to machine wash your cups.
Q. Can sublimation tumblers go in the dishwasher?
A: Yes, as long as the sublimation blank is dishwasher-safe, they’ll stay in tip-top shape for many washes!
Q. Can you sublimate tumblers in a regular oven?
A: No, once you use a convection oven for the sublimation process, it is no longer safe to cook food in.
Q. Can I use sublimation printers for regular prints, too?
A: No, sublimation printers (whether purpose-built or converted) require high-quality sublimation ink, which is different from normal printer ink. If you really need to print something and all you have is a sublimation printer, the result is still usable, it’s just going to use sublimation ink. I don’t recommend trying to switch a converted printer back to using normal ink. If you don’t want to invest in a sublimation printer, look for a retail store who will make a custom printed sublimation sheet for you. It’s a great way to support a small business! Just make sure the seller’s handling time and shipping service is fast enough for your needs. Or, try Infusible Ink transfer sheets.
Q: What kind of paper do I use for sublimation tumblers?
A: Sublimation ink technically works with regular laser paper, but I really recommend you use special sublimation paper for the best and most vibrant results and ink transfer. I use A-SUB paper most often.
Q: What kind of ink do I use for sublimation?
A: Whether you’re putting designs on tumblers or tote bags, you must use special sublimation ink to create a permanent finish! I use Hiipoo Ink for most of my high quality sublimation transfers.
Q: What should I look for when buying sublimation tumblers in bulk?
A: When bulk-buying sublimation tumblers, research the seller well to avoid issues. Check the full details to make sure the tumbler is made for sublimation. It’s best to pick a seller who offers tracking services and a tracking number in case there is an issue with delivery times. That’s especially important during busy periods like holidays.
Q: Do you have other sublimation tumbler designs?
A: Yes! My original free download includes tumbler wraps with photos, and some seasonal 3D style wraps! You can get them in my free resource library in Design #404.
Q: Do you have wraps for tapered tumblers?
A: Yes, I have a tutorial on how to customize tapered tumbler wraps with free designs!
Q. Are your free designs just for personal use or also commercial use?
A: These designs were created using AI, which is a relatively new field. At the time of this publication, there are several pending court cases related to AI copyright and commercial use designs. The most recent rulings indicate that a person cannot hold the copyright to any piece of artwork or design created with the help of AI tools, and that means they and the items made with them cannot be legally sold. So until there are clear updates, these designs are for personal use only.
Need a little extra help understanding how to get started with sublimation? Join Sublimation Startup for a logical, step-by-step guide to getting setup for success with sublimation! You can ask questions and feel confident that you’ll get help! The Sublimation Startup mini-course is also great for those who enjoy learning from Jennifer Maker’s easy-to-understand, calm, and clear method of teaching. This is a no-fluff, no-mess, no-distraction workshop … it’s like sitting down with Jennifer in her craft room to learn directly from her! We work in logical steps to build your understanding and confidence with sublimation, and then provide support to keep helping you as you continue on your journey! Register now!
Get my free Sublimation designs for 3D Valentine Tumblers!
I can’t wait to see your 3D Valentine tumblers or other projects you make with these designs! Watch for more sublimation tutorials and please ask any questions you have in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.