A dry release sublimation transfer is provided which includes a temporary backing sheet having disposed thereon a sublimation transfer design layer formed of one or more sublimation transfer inks, and a polymeric coating disposed in contact with such design layer. In one embodiment, the design layer is first printed on the backing sheet employing conventional printing techniques and thereafter the polymeric coating is applied over the design layer. In another embodiment, the polymeric coating is first applied to the backing sheet and thereafter the design layer is printed over the polymeric coating. The dry release sublimation transfer is applied under heat and pressure to a substrate to be decorated, such as cotton fabric or a cotton-polyester fabric, thereby causing the polymeric coating to soften and penetrate into the substrate and upon cooling securely bond the design layer to the substrate. In addition, a method for decorating a substrate employing the above-described dry release sublimation transfer is provided.