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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Crafting Medium: Heat Transfer Vinyl

While I've been quiet on the blogging front, I've been very busy crafting. I've been having a hard time finding the mental balance of making things and actually writing something up about them. I feel like I've taken a lot of pictures with the intent to eventually post something, but I somehow never get around to it.  I'm hoping to write a few posts to be released in the near future - maybe it will help to inspire me again. So, if you're still with me... thanks. :)

One of the newest crafts I've taken on has been working with the Silhouette and therefore: vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, and just a little bit of paper-crafting.  I have enough sewing materials, fabric, patterns, yarn, and books that I don't necessarily want to stock up on all new craft supplies, but I've been able to reign in my Silhouette crafting to a so-far reasonable level.

I started by doing a few vinyl projects. Mainly, labeling my water bottles, buckets for Ian's outside toys, etc, but eventually tested the waters by making HTV shirts for a run that I recently did. Don't act all impressed - it was a beer run. A 4k where at every k, you drank a beer. Classy.  But hey, it got me running.

I ended up making all of the shirts for the ladies I ran with, but it made me want to get a better understanding of HTV.  I was frustrated with the pressing process and about ready to throw in the towel by the time I got to the end.  But, through some of my Silhouette Facebook groups, I found some designs that convinced me that I needed to try it again on shirts for Ian.  I did a bit of research and short of buying a press, I think I found a pretty decent method for applying HTV using an iron.  I may still end up getting a press one day, but in the meantime, the iron does the trick.  But I'm happy to share the method with you.

To iron on  HTV, you will need:

  • the garment to iron on (I stuck with cotton onesies). If you're going to use something other than cotton, you will need to do a quick search to make sure the HTV won't melt it. You press down for a long enough amount of time that you will want to be sure before ruining a garment.
  • iron
  • pressing cloth. I used a piece of scrap, cotton fabric. 
  • firm, iron-safe surface, such as an ironing board
  • your design, printed in reverse onto heat transfer vinyl. For this project, I used the Silhouette brand HTV, but you can use any kind - your press time may vary slightly depending on the type, so check with the manufacturers directions.

First, prep your HTV.  Weed out any designs that you don't want to iron on to your surface. If you have text printed on your design, make sure it's a mirror image as you will apply it in reverse to the shirt - which then adhere's it in the proper direction. Make sense? You'll see.

Then, prep your garment. I did a quick iron of the onesie to release any wrinkles and warm the surface up a bit.  Make sure you only have one layer of the garment on the side of your ironing board. Otherwise, you may end up bonding the HTV through your article of clothing.  To adhere the HTV, set your iron to the 'cotton' setting.

Place the HTV, with the clear sheet attached, to the shirt. I used a ruler to center the design. When the HTV is flipped onto the garment surface, the design is readable. See? Told you.

Lay the pressing cloth on top of the HTV/clear sheet.  Press your iron down on the pressing cloth for one minute*. I turn on the stopwatch on my phone. Repeat this process on various part of the design (depending on how big it is) to ensure that all sections have been adhered to the garment.  Remove iron and let cool for a minute or so before handling.

Remove pressing cloth and begin to slowly peel off the clear sheet from the HTV. With letters and small pieces, you may need to be especially careful. If something is not adhered enough, it may either need more time to cool, or may need more pressing time.

Once the clear sheet is removed, your design is done! I do a quick press with the pressing cloth directly over the design, then with the shirt inside out.

I went a little crazy and made a few designs, including one that layered two colors. I can definitely see this becoming an addiction with customizing some of Ian's clothing.

Have you worked with HTV before? How was your experience? Please let me know if you have any other tips to share.

*I pressed my HTV for one minute. I believe the Silhouette instructions said 20-30 seconds, but that did nothing other than cause frustration.  You may want to test on some throw-away garments or vinyl first, but I found that one minute was the only way to get the HTV to actually adhere to my different fabrics.


  1. How has the HTV held up in the wash?

    1. The Silhouette brand vinyl that I've used is horrible (and have since found that it's pretty common knowledge). I did get regular HTV and it's held up awesome. I'm going to redo the shirts that I originally did with the Silhouette brand.


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