Beginner's Guide to HTV: The Terminology

When first getting started, or thinking about getting started with your Cricut or Silhouette Cutter, there can be A LOT to take in. So many choices, so many possibilities, and SO much information.

Before you get started, it'll be extremely helpful to know how to talk the talk before you walk the walk...or should I say...craft the craft?! Hopefully you get my point. Anyways! First thing’s first - the terminology.

Let’s start by going through some of the common terms you’ll see and hear in the vinyl crafting world.

Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)

Also referred to as iron-on vinyl or t-shirt vinyl. HTV has an adhesive backing that activates under heat and can be applied with any heat press, home iron or Cricut Easy Press. It can be cut with any vinyl cutter and is available in sheet or roll sizes. HTV is used to decorate soft goods or any type of items that are fabric and can withstand heat.

Just a few examples include: t-shirts, hoodies, pants, bags, hats, pillowcases, canvas, and much, much more. 

There are many different types of HTV materials - matte finish, glitter, metallic, holographic, patterned, stretchy, flocked, and other special effects. 


This is the clear, plastic-like shiny side of the HTV material. HTV comes with the carrier laminated on top of it to keep the design in place when being cut and transferred onto your item. 


Also referred to as pressure sensitive (PS) vinyl, adhesive vinyl, or sticker vinyl. I know this post is about HTV, but I think it’s important to know the difference between the two.

Vinyl is essentially a really durable sticker. The adhesive on the back is activated with pressure (from your thumbs, hand, or squeegee) rather than with heat. The two main types of vinyl you’ll see are permanent or removable vinyl. It can be used to decorate smooth, hard surfaces such as cups, walls, glass, ceramic, plastic, metal, etc.

With vinyl, you'll need transfer tape to transfer the design onto the item you're decorating. 


Transfer Tape

Also known as transfer paper. This is used with vinyl. After the design is cut and weeded, transfer tape is used to help transfer the cut design onto the item you’re decorating. 

After vinyl is cut and weeded, a piece of transfer tape is placed on top of the design to separate the vinyl from the paper backing. The transfer tape holds the design together in place and helps transfer it onto the item being decorated. 



To flip or reverse your image. Before cutting HTV, you have to mirror your design horizontally so that it appears backwards. This can be set in your cutting software. 



The process of removing (peeling) any access material away from the design after it’s been cut with the vinyl cutter. To help with this process, you can use a handy-dandy weeding hook. This tool helps to easily remove parts throughout the design that are not needed, including cavities such as the inside of the letter P.

Hot or Cold Peel

The type of peel refers to the removal of the carrier sheet after the HTV is applied.

Hot peel: remove the carrier directly after heat press application while the carrier is still hot.

Cold peel: wait for the carrier to completely cool before removing the carrier.


Cover Sheet 

A reusable non-stick sheet that can be used when applying HTV. Once you have your logo positioned and ready to apply, place the cover sheet on top of the design to cover the design and print area to protect your iron or heat press. You can also use parchment paper or butcher paper as a cover sheet for a more cost-effective alternative. 

Hopefully knowing and understanding these terms will help give you a head start when creating your first HTV project!

Happy Crafting!

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*. 

Any questions? 
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