How To Layer Heat Transfer Vinyl Using The Knockout Technique

One of the most exciting things about heat transfer vinyl is working with all the beautiful colors out there, and the imPRESSED Vinyl assorted color bundle is loaded with them. What is even more fun is mixing and matching those beautiful colors in one project. You don’t have to stick with one single color for your projects. You can actually use as many as you’d like! It’s called layering. Heat transfer vinyl can definitely be layered, but if you layer too many colors, the project starts to get very stiff and thick and won’t look the best. I want to teach you how to do the “knockout technique” where you create negative space for each color so you’re actually not layering at all! Sounds pretty neat, right??


Supplies Needed:

imPRESSED Vinyl’s Assorted Color HTV Bundle
-cutting machine (I use a Silhouette Cameo)
teflon sheet (included in imPRESSED Vinyl’s Assorted Color bundle)
-weeding hook or craft tweezers
-home iron or heat press
-blank tote bag (found at any craft store)



STEP ONE: Prepare Design In Software

Open your software program (I used Silhouette Studio) and either create your own design or import one. We created this one just for this project and is free for you to download at the end of this post! (Who doesn’t love a free design!)

Now the trick to the knockout technique is all in the software. Right-click on your design and select ungroup.

Next, we need to copy and paste the text and move it down in our workspace.

Great! Now here’s where the magic happens. Select both the text and the leaf, then go to your modify window and click subtract. This will take out all the parts of the leaf that was covered by the text. Neat, right?!

Now select all the little parts of the leaf, right-click and select Group. That will keep all the pieces of the leaf together.

And that’s really all there is to it! Now we have our leaf and our text, which will fit perfectly in the space we just created. Layering with layering!


STEP TWO: Cut Your Heat Transfer Vinyl

Now that our design is modified for the knockout technique, it’s time to cut! Place your HTV onto your cutting mat, shiny side DOWN.

Before we cut, select your designs, right-click and select Flip Horizontally. This will mirror our images since we cut on the back side of the HTV.

Now go to the cut settings window and choose the material. We recommend Heat Transfer, Smooth. Be sure to adjust your blade accordingly if you aren’t using the auto blade function on the Silhouette Cameo 3.

Load your cutting mat into the machine and let it get to work!


STEP THREE: Weed Your Design

After both colors are cut, it’s time to weed. Begin by peeling away all the vinyl that is not part of the design.

Use a weeding hook or a pair of craft tweezers and peel out the tiny pieces insides of the letters.

Repeat for the other color(s) until all parts have been weeded.


STEP FOUR: Apply HTV Onto The Garment 

After all the parts of the design have been weeded, it’s time to warm up your iron to cotton settings (No Steam.) If using a heat press, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Make sure to iron out the wrinkles of your fabric tote bag before getting started.

Now place your first layer (the orange leaf) onto the bag and center it.

Next, place your teflon sheet over the design and press with heavy pressure for 15-20 seconds. Repeat until all areas of the design have been pressed.

Allow the vinyl to cool for at least 1 minute, then carefully peel off the clear carrier sheet. If any part of the vinyl starts to peel up, replace the carrier sheet and teflon sheet and add a little more heat and pressure.

Now we are going to repeat the same process with the black text layer. You want to place the text perfectly into the negative space we created in the leaf.

Use the teflon sheet as a protective the design and press the black text with heavy pressure for 15-20 seconds just like you did the leaf. Repeat until all areas of the design have been pressed.

Wait 1 minute for it to cool and peel off the carrier sheet.

Now we have created the illusion that the vinyl has been layered, when there actually is only 1 true layer with two different colors!

This knockout technique can be used on so many different projects and as many colors as you want! Download here your free SVG leaf file here (for personal use only) and tag us #impressedvinyl to share your creations!

Happy Crafting!



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