Ray Bradbury Bee Quote Book Bag

…a heat transfer vinyl project

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

It seems I have the tradition of making a new book bag each time the Literary Daughterly One starts a new degree. Since she began her PhD studies this month, it’s time for a new book bag! Her past research took her deep into the life of bees, so I coupled a vintage bee image with a literary bee quote from Ray Bradbury (Yup, of Fahrenheit 451 fame. Who knew he waxed poetic about bees, too?) and cut the whole shebang from metallic gold heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for an ooh-la-la classy look. So shiny.

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

As usual, I have a free cut file if you’d like to make one, too. The weeding is intricate and time consuming on this one—thank you, vintage style—so I would rate this project as more advanced (don’t make this your first HTV project), but if you’re careful and take your time, the end product is oh so worth it.

This post includes affiliate links to help you find the products I used. Read my full disclosure here..

What you’ll need…

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bagFree File Download
Silhouette .studio3 Bradbury Bee file
Silhouette V2 Legacy Bradbury Bee file
SVG Bradbury Bee file

If you’re new to HTV or you need a refresher, you’ll find detailed info about working with HTV here.

The Vinyl…

This was my first time with metallic HTV. OMG, it will not be my last. It cut so fine, was a dream to weed—essential with such an intricate design—and so, SO pretty. It’s official: I {heart} metallic HTV.

Siser Easyweed is my go-to HTV brand, but I couldn’t find any gold foil locally and didn’t want to wait a week to order it in. Chemica metallic HTV was available from my local sign supply shop, is a low-temp HTV (290F…perfect to apply with an iron), and is a little thinner than Siser, so I gave it a try.

With regular HTV, it’s really obvious which side is the vinyl and which side is the carrier sheet, but it wasn’t clear from just looking at this HTV which side was which. So if you ever find yourself flipping a piece of HTV over from side to side, wondering which way to put it on the mat, here’s a simple trick to figure it out. Take your weeding tool, poke it in a corner, and pull the material back ¼” (no more), as if you were going to weed it. The vinyl side is much thinner so it will bend and fold, like this:

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

See the poke hole in the carrier sheet? I started by poking that side, but because the carrier sheet is so much stiffer, it didn’t fold like the vinyl. Thanks to this little test, I now know this vinyl needs to go on the mat gold side down, grey side up.

The design…

The bee is a vintage black and white from pixabay.com. I cleaned it up and simplified it a bit. Now it’s all ready to cut.

The quote is from the novel Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury:

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

The Literary Daughterly One requested that “BEES” not be part of the design. If you’d like to eliminate it, too, simply ungroup the design (to do that in Silhouette Studio V3 or V4, select the design, right-click, select ‘Ungroup’ from the list), select “BEES” and drag it off the mat.

Getting the design the right size…

Go big with this design…as big as you can. I cut mine about 7¼” wide, and I definitely wouldn’t go any smaller than that. At that size, the design is pushing the limit for weeding—did you see how small the “—Ray Bradbury” attribution is? Any smaller and it would quickly become unweedable.

I need to see a design in situ (the science-y way of saying “in place”) to know a design is the right size. Rather than waste vinyl, I print my design in several sizes, trim them close to the design, and then audition them where I want the design to go. When I compare the sizes right in front of me, the right one becomes obvious. Here’s the winner for this bag:

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag


Cutting the vinyl…

Remember to mirror your design before cutting so it appears the right way once applied. (To mirror in Silhouette Studio V3 & V4, select the design, right click, and select ‘Flip Horizontally’ from the list)

The regular HTV cut settings worked beautifully for me. Machines vary a bit, so do a test cut and adjust settings as required. You can see my test cut square already cut out below.


Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

If you weed the background first, you stand a good chance of some letters going askew later. Instead, start with the counters (the inside parts of letters such as D, A, and O). If you weed them first, the background vinyl around the letters will keep them in place.

Weeding trick: weed the counters before the background so the background keeps the letters in place.

Once you’ve weeded the counters, carefully weed the rest of the design. I wrote a whole blog post about weeding intricate HTV designs, so be sure to check it out for helpful tips and tricks.

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Yes, indeed, that *is* a Cricut mat. I find it much easier to weed when the HTV is held in place on a mat. Since Cricut mats are much less expensive than Silhouette mats, I cut on the Silhouette mat and then transfer the design to a Cricut mat to weed.

When it came to the itty bitty teeny tiny bits, I used a quilting pin to stab & pop them out.

Best tool to weed out those itty bitty teeny tiny bits in a vinyl design.

Applying the HTV… 

Place the design on the bag where you want it, HTV side down, carrier sheet side up. Nothing should be backwards. You should be able to read the words.

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Oh, the seams…aaack. Note to self: choose a bag with fewer seams next time.

Pressing over a seam will create a gap between the iron or heat press and the design, preventing it from adhering properly. If you use a heat press, be sure to use a pressing pillow or folded pillow case to get good pressure on the center area. If you use an iron, avoid the seams while pressing so you get good even pressure. I had no trouble avoiding the side seams; the bottom seam, not so much. My iron was too tall to avoid it, so I moved the bag down until the bottom seam was hanging off the ironing board and the iron could rest nice and flat on the design.

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Cover with a piece of parchment paper or Teflon sheet. Today, I’m using parchment paper. Press in a heat press according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or press firmly with an iron. If using an iron, press down on one area for the full time, then lift the iron and press on another area for the full time until all areas have received the full amount.

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Carefully peel off the carrier sheet. Doesn’t that gold on black look stunning!? #lovelovelove

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Each HTV brand/type will be either a hot, warm, or cool peel. I’m used to Siser’s hot peel, so I had to be patient and wait for a cool peel with the Chemica. Don’t try and force a hot peel if you’re supposed to do a cool one…the HTV won’t release properly and you’ll wreck the design.

Replace with the parchment paper or Teflon sheet and give the whole thing another quick going over. And, yo, you’re done!

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag



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More Literary Book Bag Projects at Whatcha Workin’ On 

Book Drunkard (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
Universe is Made of Poems (Sjón)
Books are a Uniquely Portable Magic (Stephen King)
William Morris Letter 

Free cut file for Ray Bradbury quote book bag








8 thoughts on “Ray Bradbury Bee Quote Book Bag

  1. Love, love, love this bag! It’s so appropriate for so many people in my family! Thanks so much–it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (never too early to start, it it!)

  2. Thank You so very much for sharing this sunshiney, happy wee Bee ! As we dig and chip our way out from an early winter blast, I’m looking forward to some time to whip this design onto a t-Shirt for my lovely Librarian friend !
    Please note… the link from the e-mail doesn’t work… says your site is not secure ( How rude of them to say that! I think anyone who could weed this little Bee is extremely “SECURE”!) LOL thanks again…. LBB

  3. You’re welcome, Laura! We just had an early blizzard where I live, too (#notreadyforwinter #thatscanadaforyou), so I know that feeling of wanting to make something non-winter. LOL Have fun with this project.

    Yeah, the link to this specific blog post glitched somehow between my mail service and the blog. I think I’ve tracked down the reason and fixed it. Fingers crossed for the next mailing. :^)

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