Heat Transfer Vinyl How To – Part 3 Applying Your Design

Vinyl being Impressed on Shirt by an Iron


Now that you’ve finished your heat transfer vinyl design and cut all your HTV to exactly your liking it’s the big moment: time to MAKE IT STICK! We’ve laid out a few guidelines below to help the application process go smoothly.

Step One: Choose Your Weapon

There are three ways you can go about applying heat transfer vinyl to your material. You can use either an at-home iron, a heat press or the Cricut EasyPress™.  Each is similar, but there are a few particular differences which you can read about below.

Option 1- An Iron:

A few of the positives of using a home iron include price-point and convenience. Most of you already have one (nothing is cheaper than free). If not, you can grab one at Target,  Walmart or Amazon for around $20 which is significantly less than most heat presses. Plus, they’re small and can be easily wrapped up and stowed away.

However, getting exactly the right heat for the application can be a little tricky. Through research and some trial and error, we have found that 300* is best which on most generic irons would be right around the “cotton” setting. Also, since the iron has such a small area for heat transfer, you will have to make sure that you use consistent, even pressure to provide full coverage over your design. The surface area of iron is not very big, so depending on the size of your design you may need to move it a bit.

Make sure that your iron is void of all water or steam because any leakage could spoil your wares.

Option 2- A Heat Press:

Your second option for heat application is to purchase and use a heat press. Although they may be more expensive and less portable than an iron, the heat press offers a lot of advantages over an iron.

Option 3- A Cricut EasyPress™:

If neither one of the above options seems right, then the Cricut EasyPress™ could be the answer. The EasyPress™ is a foolproof way to apply vinyl. We use one, and we love it. It is the perfect happy medium between an iron and heat press. The EasyPress combines the speed and consistency of a heat press with the convenience of an iron. Since it is only slightly larger than an iron, it is easily stored. While it still costs significantly more than a home iron (around $130 on sale) it is still a fraction of the cost of many of the heat presses on the market.

Step Two: Center Yourself

If you are making a full frontal design for a t-shirt, you will want to make sure that you find the center of the shirt to apply the design onto. There are a few ways that you can do that.

First, you can use t-shirt rulers or alignment tools. These can get a little pricey though so if you don’t want to splurge right away, we have an alternative!

The easiest way we’ve found to find the center of a shirt is by folding the shirt in half and making sure the seams line up perfectly. Then once you’re folded, you can press or iron along the seamless edge of the shirt creating a crease. Once you unfold the shirt, there will be a perfect line right down the middle of the shirt. Align your design along that line to your preference and press!

Step Three: Getting to Pressin’!

Finally, the time has come. You’ve sweated it out and practiced and cut your way to near victory. Now it’s time to get pressing. It seems as simple as lay and press, but we have a few tips that you can check out to help get your design to stick and to finish your project perfectly! So be sure to check out “5 Tips For Making Your HTV Stick” here to learn more.

So, how did your project turn out? Perfectly, we hope!  We also hope you enjoyed this three part series to introduce newcomers to the craft or refresh the seasoned vet. If you missed anything (or you accidentally got ahead of yourself, it happens to the best of us) check out Part 1 (Design) and Part 2 (Cutting).

Love getting tips and tricks on all things HTV? Make sure to check back for new content each week. Also, don’t forget to join our Insider’s Club to receive information on promotions, giveaways, and FREE SVG files.

Happy Crafting!

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