Heat Transfer Vinyl How To – Part 2 Cutting and Weeding

PART TWO: Cutting Tips

You’ve got your design and now it’s time to get to work! Below we’ve laid out seven tips that will help guide you through the cutting process.

Tip 1: Lay Your Vinyl Correctly

Always make sure that you are putting the shiny side down when using Heat Transfer Vinyl. The shiny side is what is known as the clear carrier and this holds the pieces of vinyl in place during heat transfer

Tip 2: Loading the Mat Properly

You will want to make sure that you properly load the mat into whatever machine you are using. You’ll want to check out your machine’s manual as machines can vary, but typically the process is pretty standard. Align your mat with the alignment marking on the far left of the machine and hit load. If you’re using the Silhouette Cameo (our preferred machine) you will be able to autofeed the mat into the machine by pressing the load button. Always make sure to lock the roller bar. The rollers on the Silhouette Cameo can be adjusted (side to side) to accommodate different sizes mats. In order to move the rollers, you’ll want to move the release lever DOWN on the right-hand side of the machine.  Once the rollers have been adjusted, be sure to lock the roller bar back into place by turning it back UP. Not properly loading your mat can result in lots of wasted vinyl or a ruined mat, so always make sure that your mat is fed into the machine completely straight. If it doesn’t, don’t sweat it, just pull it out and try again.


Tip 3: Selecting the Proper Setting

This is a crucial step! Much like a sewing machine, you may need to readjust the machine settings with each project. You find many different settings on the machine each designated to a different material. This part can really vary from machine to machine, so be sure to refer to your user manual to know which setting to use. Most machines make it easy for you and have a heat transfer vinyl setting.  You can also check out our guide to the proper cut settings here!


Tip 4: Performing a Test Cut

Now, this step is completely optional but does come highly recommended. As with anything in life (riding bicycles, cooking perfectly al dente pasta, reading the classics) practice makes perfect. Just a small cut will do and can give you an idea of how your machine will work with the material. After the test cut, if all seems right, feel free to cut away!

If you don’t feel like doing a test cut, we wish you good luck and if something goes wrong we’ll be here to provide you will more vinyl to play with. 🙂


Tip 5: Peel Back the Mat

Once you’ve done the cutting it’s time to remove that design from the mat. The best way to do this would be to actually peel the mat away from the design and not the other way around. If you start peeling away at the design you could damage it and all that hard work just went to waste.

Tip 6: Weed away the waste

To weed the excess vinyl, you will need a weeding tool. We love a good weeding hook and a pair of tweezers.

Don’t forget about our tip from Part One of this series about making weeding boxes during your designing. This minimizes waste a whole lot. Also, if your design is pretty small we suggest you cut that section out before weeding so you don’t damage any of the unused vinyl. That way you get to save your scraps for a future project.

So, you are almost there. Your design is complete, your machine has done its job and the tedious task of weeding is complete. At this stage, you can almost see your design on a t-shirt, but first you have to make it stick!  Make sure to check-out Part 3 to learn just how to do it!

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Happy Crafting!

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