Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Basics with Cricut Design Space

If you are ready to get started with heat transfer vinyl (also called iron-on vinyl), you’ll soon discover how easy and fun it is. This tutorial covers the basics:

  • sizing,
  • cutting,
  • weeding, and
  • transferring a design to a t-shirt.

Sizing

The first question many people have about doing HTV usually has to do with how big to make the design. Expressions Vinyl has a great tutorial on sizing and placement.

I usually measure the area I want to cover and make my design fit that measurement. If you’re still not sure, you can cut your design out of paper or cardstock and place on the garment to judge the size.

Image cut out of cardstock for sizing and placement.

Add a Weeding Box (optional)

Once you have your design ready, you can put a weeding box around your design if you wish. A weeding box will make it easier to weed and trim away the unused portion of the vinyl.

To create a weeding box, insert a square from the Shapes menu.

Click “Arrange” to send the square to the back.

I’m going to attach these items in a minute, and when I do that, they will both turn gray. I want them to be orange, so I’m going to make my square orange too. Since this is a cut-only project, it doesn’t really matter what the colors are, but I’d rather look at orange on my screen. 🙂

Now, either drag a bounding box around the square and the image to select them both, or in this case, I could use the Select All button since these are the only two things on the design screen. Then hit Attach.

There’s information on attaching to hold cut placement in this post.

Now, I’m ready to cut!

Cutting the Design

After hitting Make It, next screen is Prepare screen. Here is where you will mirror the image. If you don’t mirror the image, your design will end up backwards and you won’t be able to iron it on correctly.

Place the heat transfer vinyl on the mat – shiny side down. The shiny side is the carrier. You want to cut the heat transfer vinyl that is on the other side.

Cut using the “Iron-On” setting – this is a dial setting on the Explore machines. The Cricut will do a “kiss cut,” which will cut the HTV and leave the carrier sheet intact. This will keep your project together, and make it easy to transfer.

Weeding

Weeding is simply removing the unwanted HTV so that the design is exposed. I use a Cricut weeding tool, but some people use tweezers or other sharp objects to peel the HTV away from the carrier sheet.

Pressing/Application

Heat activates the adhesive on heat transfer vinyl. You can use a household iron, but it can be difficult to get good results. This video from Expressions Vinyl has some great tips on using an iron with HTV.

Commercial heat presses give good results, but I don’t really have enough room, and I’m not comfortable having a large press around with kids in the house. I use a Cricut EasyPress which gives consistent, even heat and is still very portable and easy to store.

To center the design, fold the shirt in half lengthwise and press a crease in it.

I generally line up the design with the armpits of the shirt, but you can also fold the shirt in half at the armpits and press a crease horizontally.

Next, fold the weeded design in half (non-sticky side together), and crease it. Line up the creases. Don’t worry about the creasing… you’re about to iron it out!

Refer to Cricut’s Interactive Quick Reference Guide for temperature settings and pressing times for the EasyPress.

Press the design front and back according to the recommended temperature and times for your fabric and iron-on material.

Peel off the carrier sheet and enjoy!

Here’s information from Cricut on layering HTV.

Here’s my video demonstrating these techniques:

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