Heat transfer vinyl (HTV), is the easiest and quickest way to make your own customized t-shirts and apparel. If you're just getting started or looking to get started with HTV, you've come to the right place! We'll walk you through the entire process of how to make a t-shirt using HTV in just 4 easy steps!
Make a T-shirt with HTV in 4 Easy Steps
- Step 1: Getting your design ready
- Step 2: Cutting HTV
- Step 3: Weeding HTV
- Step 4: Applying HTV
Here’s a list of items used for this project:
- UltraWeed HTV
- Cricut Maker Cutting Machine
- Bella Canvas Unisex T-shirt
- 9 x 12 Pink Craft Heat Press
- Weeding Hook
- Ruler (optional)
Step 1: Getting your design ready
Both Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio have a giant selection of cut-ready designs available to use. Most of which you have to pay for, but a good chunk of them are free to use. I recommend taking a look at what they have and finding a fun design to practice with. There’s also the option to upload your own design file, or create one from scratch within the designer.
We have a free designer available to use right on htvfast.com that’s filled with a variety of pre-made templates, like the one I’m using for this project, that can be customized to your liking and then downloaded to your computer or mobile device. Once downloaded, you can upload the file right into your vinyl cutter software.
Step 2: Cutting HTV
Once your design is ready, it’s time to cut it out!
Take your sheet or piece of HTV and place it shiny side down onto the cutting mat and then load it into the cutter.
When using a standard type of HTV, you can use the blue (light grip) or green (standard grip) cutting mat.
Before cutting HTV, you have to mirror your design horizontally so that it appears backwards. This can be set in your cutting software.
- Make sure your design is the size you need to fit onto the item you’re decorating
- !!!!!Mirror your design!!!!!
- Test cut - double check your dial setting &/or force, and depth setting
For this project, I have my cutter set to Iron On setting for cutting UltraWeed HTV.
Step 3: Weeding HTV
Let’s see that design!
After your design is cut, remove the cutting mat from your cutter.
Keep the shiny side of the material faced down. Grab your weeding tool, and at the top left corner of the material, you’re going to stab the pointy end of the weeder into the material and pull towards you to try to separate the material from the carrier. I usually hook the HTV with one hand and use my finger on the other hand to hold the carrier sheet to help pull them apart.
- Have the design up on your screen so you know what you’re weeding
- Heat up the lower platen on your heat press for about 10 seconds. Lay your HTV on the lower platen and weed your design. The heat from the heat press will slightly activate the adhesive and allow you to weed the design more easily and smoothly. Caution: this trick only applies to HTV with sticky carrier sheets, or HTV that can be peeled hot
- For designs with small detail, use a lint roller to collect the pieces you weed away
Step 4: Applying HTV
Okay, we’ve made it to the exciting part - the application.
Every type of Heat Transfer Vinyl has its own recommended press time, temperature, and pressure settings that can be found on their product pages.
If you’re using an iron or Cricut Easy Press, make sure you have something to protect your table or surface area from getting damaged by the heat such as the Cricut EasyPress Mat. Follow the application instructions for using a home iron or Cricut Easy Press.
If you’re using a heat press, lay and position your t-shirt or item on the lower platen, keeping the location of where you’re printing centered on the platen.
Always keep the collar part of the shirt off of the press to reduce the risk of having uneven pressure on the design.
Make sure the temperature, pressure and timer are set to the correct settings. You can find application instructions for applying HTV with a heat press and a home iron on the product pages.
Before placing your design, close and lock your heat press down onto your shirt for 2-4 seconds. This “pre-press” will help eliminate any wrinkles that could affect the application. Use this step to double check your pressure is correct.
Now place your design onto the surface of the item you’re decorating, sticky-side down.
Once you’ve positioned the design to where you want it, close the heat press down and let it do it’s thing.
When the timer goes off, open the press and peel the carrier sheet away from the shirt.
If the material you’re using requires a cold peel, leave the carrier sheet on and carefully take the shirt off the press and place it on a flat surface to wait for it to fully cool. Once cooled, peel the carrier.
If you see the HTV peeling up with the carrier, place it back down and re-press the design again for 5 seconds.
BOOM! And just like that. you’ve successfully made a custom t-shirt!
UltraWeed HTV Application Instructions:
APPLICATION (HEAT PRESS)
- Temp: 300°F
- Time: 12 seconds
- Pressure: Medium
- Peel: Hot
- Layering: Press background color for 2-3 seconds, peel hot. Place foreground layer for 12 seconds, peel hot.
APPLICATION (HOME IRON)
- Set iron dial between Cotton & Linen
- Cover design with cover sheet or other multipurpose paper
- Place on flat, hard surface
- Press iron with medium pressure (do not slide iron)
- Press each section of design for 15-20 seconds
- If areas of design lift after application, replace cover sheet & re-press for 10 seconds
- Peel carrier cold
If you're getting ready to make your first t-shirt, or if you've made one recently, be sure to let us know how it goes and tag us on social so we can see how awesome it looks!
Please Note: *Not all HTV materials are the same - they all don’t cut, weed, or apply the same - make sure to double check the product specs to ensure that you’re using the right settings for each material. Application and cutting settings can be found on each of the materials product pages*.
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