No Pressing Pillow? No Problem

What can I use instead of a pressing pillow_

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When you are just getting started into Sublimation, it is an investment, and you seem to spend more than you make. But you don’t have to have the latest and greatest inventions to be successful. Today we are answering some great questions about Pressing Pillows.

What is a Pressing Pillow?

They are flat foam squares with a Teflon sheet sewn around them. They cushion items with thick pieces in them, like buttons, bulky seams, the silver rings, bags, masks, etc. It essentially lifts areas with seams or other items listed above, so you still get more even pressure and keep blurring to a minimum.

Why do you need a pressing pillow, and for what?

It allows those hard items to sink into the pillow and not interrupt your consistent pressure. It helps with things that don’t lay flat, that may have zippers & so forth to help get even pressure against your substrate.


Pro-tip Make your sublimation print a little bigger than the product you are working on to ensure complete coverage.

No Pressing Pillow? No Problem!

If you don’t have a pressing pillow, you can use some things from around the house. *White so there is no color bleed

EasyPress Matt- This is what I started with and use from time to time. Just remember to cover it with butcher paper before you use it for Sublimation.

A washcloth- I found this works for some smaller items, but not bigger ones.

A Rolled Towel-* Because other colors often bleed, you will want to use a white one to keep your substrate clean.

A Folded Hand Towel to fit where you need to press. **White so there is no color bleed

A Baby Blanket or burp cloth (My favorite is the old-fashioned “flat laying cloth diapers.”

A Blank White Mousepad (Yes, people still use them and want them personalized.

A Piece of foam cut to size and covered (check your local craft stores for the foam.)

A memory foam bath rug–without stitching, then cover it in Teflon for a pressing pillow. If you use Teflon, you will need some butcher paper over it, so the ink doesn’t get on them.

Cheap, blank white craft felt sheets, 2 or 3 stacked depending on your project size.

Cut up an extra rubber mat into different shapes and sizes for what you need.

Try an ironing board cover if you have one, pull it off of the ironing board.

Use your hat press. Just stretch over the bottom plate, and you will get nice, even prints.

A Book- This one makes me cringe a little, but again, if it works, that’s all that matters.

A pressing ham– While most of us probably don’t have on hand, it is an excellent addition to your craft room!

No Pressing Pillow? No Problem

Whatever you use, be sure to cover it with blowout paper, though, so the sublimation ink does not transfer to it and then get onto something else on future presses. 


Make sure you put something over your pressing pillow and only use your heat transfer pillow if you need to raise a design above the seams. Applying lots of pressure isn’t always required with Sublimation. And you don’t want to ruin your pressing pillow with ink that turns to gas and sticks to it. It can be sneaky. You might not see it, but it’s there.

How to Make your own Pressing Pillow

Ironing board fabric and high-density foam can be purchased at local craft stores as well as online.

For every yard of foam you purchase, you need to get 2 yards of fabric. I suggest ironing board fabric. If you get a yard of foam, get 2 yards of fabric. If not, you will have more foam leftover and no material. So if you want 1 set, get half a yard of foam and 1 yard of fabric.

Cut your materials to the correct size, stitch them up on your sewing machine, or use hem tape if you don’t sew. I suggest leaving one side open like a pillowcase, so when your foam goes flat, you can easily replace it. Some standard sizes are:

  • 5″ x 5″
  • 10″ x 10″
  • 12″ x 15″
  • 5″ x 15″


Use ironing board fabric because it breaths, and not Teflon because of the inks.

Here is a great video walking you through the steps of how to make your own Heat Press Pillow.

Don’t like videos? Me either, I’m more of a written instructions kind of gal, so here are those for you folks!

How to Make Your Own Pressing Pillow

How to Make Your own Pressing mat

If you want to make your own heat-press pillow, you have come to the right place.

A common size is a six by eight for things like onesies and your small items.

A five by eighteen which is going to be for things like sleeves and pant legs.

A ten by twelve and a ten by fourteen common for t-shirts and the like.

Or if your press is larger than 15 by 15, you're going to want to have one that's, a 16 by 20 or 16 by 24. Depending on the size of your press.


  • You will need 1 yard of high-density foam (available in most craft stores near you)
  • A yard and a half of ironing board fabric, not the quilted kind. (So you will get a nice clean, even print)


  • Use a cutting ruler so you can get a straight line and of course the right angles.


    1. Lay your fabric out flat and decide where you are going to place your pieces to cut them out. I went with the 5 x 8 first and used a sharpie to mark five inches in a semi-straight line. Then, measure the 18 inches marking again with your sharpie. (It will be covered in material, so need to worry about those marks.
    2. Then, move over to your 6 x 8 leaving enough room to cut and separate. Then, repeat the process for the sizes you want to make. 5 x18, 16 x 24, and so forth.
    3. Next, you will cut your fabric and foam using a knife, scissors, or even a rotary cutter if you have one. Remember your fabric needs to be a little bigger than the foam so allow room for the seams.
    4. Fold your fabric so the brighter side faces each other and you can sew on the backside, so your seams are inside. Try to sew a semi-straight line, but no worries if it isn't perfect!
    5. Then, sew three sides, leaving the fourth side open so you can turn your pocket inside out so the pretty fabric is showing.
    6. Insert your foam and fold the raw edge over so you can sew up the last seam completing your pillow.
    7. Trim up your excess thread and get to work using your new pressing pillows.


Remember your pillows don't have to be perfect, they are just the tool we are using to allow us to get equal pressure on our substrates.

If I use a pressing pillow, do I need the pillow to be the same size as the design, or smaller or larger than the design?

I would have the paper larger than the print and the pillow smaller than the paper but bigger than the print.

What can I use instead of a press pillow?

Lots of things, some of the more common are wash clothes, towels, and things you find around your house.

What can I use instead of a pressing pillow?

The possibilities are endless, but my favorite is this!

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