Tips and Tricks to Heat Transfer Vinyl
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Getting a Cricut machine can be intimidating, so I want to start out this blog with the very basics of using your Cricut. I feel like the more you know, the more you'll be willing to explore new projects. As my blog progresses, I will add new project ideas using the basics I've talked about here. So let's get started!
We are going to talk heat transfer vinyl (HTV) vs adhesive vinyl (or Premium Vinyl if you are buying Cricut products) in these first few posts. Both products will help you to create amazing things, but they are definitely not interchangeable.
Let's start with HTV first. This product is near and dear to me and my business. What I love about HTV, is that once it is on, you will not be able to get it off the product. Sounds dangerous... but I love taking pride in my towels and baby outfits whose lettering won't fade in the wash! Okay, back to business.
The fundamental difference between HTV and adhesive vinyl is... you probably guessed it... HTV requires a heat source to apply it. A standard household iron will work if you are just starting out, but I also highly recommend some form of heat press (I use the Cricut Easy Press and love it). Using a heat press will help you to get a more even heat and pressure throughout your product, which helps keep the integrity of the vinyl. Another difference with HTV is that you do not need a transfer vinyl. HTV comes with it's own sort of transfer sheet, which is why it is important that you mirror the image before cutting it (you'll see this in my example below).
Let's dive into some instructions and an example (with pictures) to help describe what I'm rambling about :)
Step 1: Open Cricut Design Space and create your design. You can change fonts, colors, etc to make it perfect. If you haven't done this before, check out my blog post "Design Space Basics" for step by step instructions on creating your design. Make sure your design is the size you want it by using the "Size" section on the toolbar, or by holding the bottom right corner of your design.
Step 2: If you want your phrase to be cut from your vinyl in the exact placement on your screen, make sure you click "Weld" in the bottom right toolbar. This function will connect any cursive lettering you have so there are no breaks in the connections, and will also ensure your letters do not end up all over your vinyl page for printing.
Step 3: Once you are ready to cut, click "Make it" in the top right hand corner. This will take you to your next screen, as seen below. If you have multiple images on one project (as I definitely do here), click on the 3 dots in the left hand corner and click move object to add it to a different mat or a new one completely.
Step 4: Before you can start cutting HTV, you need to make sure the image is mirrored, so when we transfer it, it will read the correct way. To do this, find the mat you are ready to cut on, and slide the "Mirror" option to green. Place your lettering where you would like it on the mat, and then click Continue in the bottom right.
Step 5: Placing your material on your mat. A few things you want to know here. First, you'll want to make sure you cut your material a little bigger than what's shown on the screen. There is nothing worse than having your machine cut beyond your material section.... trust me.
Second, you will want to make sure you place the shiny side of the material face down on the mat. I have found that not all HTVs have a clear "shiny side", so a quick test I do is to pull apart a small corner of the vinyl. When you do, you will see a colored side and a clear side (as seen below). Make sure the CLEAR SIDE is face down on the mat. You basically want your Cricut to cut only the colored layer so you can use the clear layer as a transfer.
Step 6: Once your mat is loaded, set your dial to Iron-on (or Iron-on+ for a deeper cut). Confirm that the correct mat is selected on the left hand side, and then follow the instructions on your screen to start.
Step 7: After your machine is done cutting. click the Load/Unload button to release your mat. This is where we will start the weeding process. You'll want to start by pulling back one corner of the TOP layer, as shown below. Be very careful and move slowly during this process to make sure you don't remove any of the design you want to keep.
Once you have removed the top layer, you will need to weed the inside of letters that aren't supposed to be filled in. You can use your pick tool to help remove some of the smaller items.
Your design should look clean and free of filled in letters (unless you designed them that way), and it should be written backwards.
Step 8: We are now ready to use heat! Warm up your iron or your heat press. Heat settings will vary based on the item you are transferring to. I recommend using the Cricut Heat Guide if you are using a heat press for times/temperatures. In our example I will be using a Cricut Heat Press at 315 degrees for 30 seconds. Place the design you weeded onto your item and adjust it to the exact spot you want it to be.
Once you are ready to press, add heat directly to the clear layer of the vinyl. You will want to make sure you apply some pressure to your item to ensure the vinyl transfers correctly.
Step 9: Remove the clear layer from your vinyl. Move slowly from one corner to another, and make sure all vinyl has been pressed to the item. If not, place the clear layer back down and apply more heat/pressure.
There are also two different methods to remove the clear layer - hot peel and cold peel. Each HTV is different, so make sure you read the instructions that come with your vinyl to know whether you should peel it off right away or let it sit for a while.
Step 10: Step back and admire your awesome project. You've worked hard on it!
I'd love to see how YOUR project turned out. Tag me on Instagram or Facebook, or send me a message!
Thanks for joining me to learn more about HTV. My next post will feature adhesive vinyl, so stay tuned :)