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  • Sublimated Singlets and Shorts Available for Your Next Season!

    In the world of customized athletic uniforms, fabric sublimation stands out as a revolutionary process. It has not only enhanced the aesthetics of sportswear but also improved functionality and durability. Blue Star Sports Apparel was one of the first athletic apparel companies to make and sell sublimated singlets in 2000! Today, sublimated fabrics for athletic wear are an industry standard. Read on for its fascinating history, intricate manufacturing process, and the myriad benefits of fabric sublimation. Additionally, we will offer some practical cleaning tips to keep these vibrant uniforms in top condition.

    A Brief History of Fabric Sublimation

    Fabric sublimation has roots dating back to the 1950s when it was first used in textile printing. The process began gaining traction in the 1970s with advancements in dye technology and the introduction of polyester fabrics. Initially, it was a niche method used primarily for flags and banners. However, as technology progressed, the process became more refined and accessible, leading to its widespread adoption in various industries, including sportswear.

    The Manufacturing Process of Fabric Sublimation

    The sublimation process involves several key steps, each critical to ensuring the final product is of the highest quality. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how it works:

    • Design Creation: The first step is creating a digital design. Using graphic design software, designers create intricate patterns, logos, and color schemes tailored to the client’s specifications. This digital design is then mirrored and prepared for printing.
      • This is Blue Star “special sauce”! Justine, growing up as an athlete and in the sports apparel industry, has the experience to help you create the uniform of your dreams. Whether you are trying to recreate a throwback design from photos, or you have design on the back of napkin – Blue Star and our graphic designer work with you to create your perfect uniform. 
    • Printing the Design: The mirrored digital design is printed onto special sublimation paper using sublimation inks. These inks are unique because they convert from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid state, a process known as sublimation.
    • Transferring the Design: The printed sublimation paper is placed on the polyester fabric. Using a heat press machine, the fabric and paper are pressed together at high temperatures (usually around 375°F or 190°C) and pressure. The heat causes the sublimation ink to turn into a gas and bond with the polyester fibers.
    • Sublimation Process: As the heat and pressure continue, the ink particles penetrate the fabric’s fibers, creating a permanent bond. This results in a vibrant, high-resolution print that is embedded into the fabric, rather than sitting on top of it.
    • Cooling and Finishing: After the heat press, the fabric is allowed to cool, setting the design permanently. The fabric is then cut and sewn into the final uniform pieces.

    Benefits of Fabric Sublimation in Athletic Uniforms

    Fabric sublimation offers several significant advantages, making it the preferred choice for customized athletic uniforms:

    • Vibrant and Long-Lasting Colors: Because the ink becomes part of the fabric, sublimated uniforms boast vibrant, fade-resistant colors that remain bright and vivid even after multiple washes.
    • Lightweight and Breathable: Sublimated designs do not add extra layers to the fabric, maintaining the material’s original lightweight and breathable properties. This is crucial for athletes who require maximum comfort and performance.
    • Customization and Versatility: Sublimation allows for complete customization. Teams can have intricate logos, detailed designs, and personalized names and numbers without limitations on color or detail.
    • Durability: The sublimation process ensures that the design will not crack, peel, or wear off, even under the rigorous conditions of athletic activity.
    • Eco-Friendly: Sublimation printing produces minimal waste compared to traditional screen printing and uses water-based inks that are more environmentally friendly.

    Recommended Cleaning Tips for Sublimated Athletic Uniforms

    To maintain the quality and longevity of sublimated athletic uniforms, proper care is essential. Here are some cleaning tips:

    • Wash in Cold Water: Always wash sublimated uniforms in cold water to prevent any potential fading and to preserve the vibrancy of the colors.
    • Use Mild Detergents: Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach. Mild, color-safe detergents are best for maintaining the fabric’s integrity and color.
    • Turn Inside Out: Washing the uniforms inside out can protect the design from abrasion and reduce the risk of pilling.
    • Avoid Fabric Softeners: Fabric softeners can leave a residue that affects the breathability of the fabric. It’s best to skip them entirely.
    • Hang Dry: Instead of using a dryer, which can cause shrinkage and damage to the fabric, hang the uniforms to air dry. If a dryer is necessary, use a low heat setting.

    Fabric sublimation has revolutionized the production of customized athletic uniforms, offering unparalleled benefits in terms of design, durability, and performance. Today, Blue Star parts with another second generation owned and family run manufacturer from Wisconsin to manufacture our sublimated singlets and coordinating shorts. NOW is the best time to contact Justine at to discuss your next cross country (or track!) sublimated orders. 

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