HTV – Working with Heat Transfer Vinyl

How I work with HTV.
I love working with heat transfer vinyl (HTV). It comes in oodles of colors and types: regular, flocked, glitter, holographic, stretch, and other specialties. You can create designs with intricate detail and itty bitty pieces. It’s easy to cut, easy to weed, and easy to get everything placed exactly where you want it. Love it, love it, love it.

Machines and people vary in how they do things, but here’s a rundown on what’s worked for me when using heat transfer vinyl.

This page includes affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Before cutting…

Mirror the image…always, always with HTV Because HTV is placed bottom up on the mat and the machine cuts from the top, the design must be mirrored before cutting if you want it to appear as you’ve designed it, or in the case of words, if you want to read it!

How I Work with Heat Transfer Vinyl at

To mirror or “flip” an image in Silhouette Studio, simply select the image, then right-click and select “Flip Horizontally” from the list. Cut the mirrored (flipped) image. An exception to mirroring is printed HTV, which is applied the other way (so the printing shows), and comes with a special separate carrier sheet.

If you forget to mirror – Everyone I know has done this at least once, including me, um, *cough*more than once*cough* so don’t be too hard on yourself when it happens to you. If there are no letters in your design that would read backwards and you can live with the rest of the design the reverse from what you intended, go ahead and use the non-mirrored version. Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board—mirror the design, pull out some fresh HTV, and re-cut. Don’t throw the mistake away, though…can you apply it to the underside of picture frame glass and frame it as art? Or perhaps you can salvage parts of the design (like the dog and paw prints above) to be applied to another fabric item. Reuse, recycle…

Now, you might be thinking. . .what if I remove the HTV from the carrier sheet and position it the right way on the fabric, lay the carrier sheet on top, and press?  Nice try, but it turns out that only one side of HTV will adhere to fabric, so that won’t work. Points for thinking outside the box for a solution, though!

Place the HTV on the mat SHINY SIDE DOWN.



Cutting Mat or No? – Technically, you don’t need a cutting mat to cut HTV on the Silhouette Cameo—adjust the rollers to fit your HTV width, use “Load Media” instead of “Load Mat”, change your ‘Cutting Mat’ to NONE in the ‘Design Settings’ window, and away you go—but as long as my design is shorter than 24″, I always use a cutting mat as extra protection against slippage. I don’t have a large HTV supply on hand and I’ve heard some horror stories, so I play it safe. Since I generally do one-offs for personal use, I cut my material close to the design size to conserve HTV, and that usually means smaller than mat size. Also the cutting strip wears faster when you cut without a mat. When you cut with a mat, the mat protects the cutting strip, and it lasts much longer.

Cutting Long Pieces – Silhouette machines can cut material as long as 10 feet (maximum width 8″ for the Portrait, and 12″ for the Cameo). To cut pieces longer than the mat, feed the vinyl into the machine without a mat. Industrial cutting machines use punched holes along the vinyl sides (are you old enough to remember dot matrix continuous printer paper???) to keep the vinyl perfectly aligned, but the Silhouette machines don’t work like that. Instead, they rely on the rollers to roll the vinyl in straight. This, of course, isn’t as accurate and often results in vinyl going askew—which can waste a lot of vinyl, especially if you’re doing a really long design. To keep the vinyl from going off the rollers, use a Silhouette roll feeder. It gets the vinyl straight into the machine and keeps it straight. You can find more detail HERE on cutting long pieces with out a mat.

Settings – In the Cut Settings window (in the upper tool bar on the right), I use the following settings. Note: cut settings will vary with HTV brand (and sometimes certain colors within a brand, go figure.) and from machine to machine, but these are good starting points.

For Smooth HTV:
Cut Mode:
Standard, Cut Style: Cut, Material Type: Heat Transfer Material (smooth), Blade: 2, Speed 3 (I cut almost everything at Speed 3…I get into less trouble when I slow things down, especially when cutting text and intricate designs), Thickness: 4, and Double Cut box checked.

For Glitter HTV:
Cut Mode: Standard, Cut Style: Cut, Material Type: Heat Transfer Material (flocked), Blade: 3, Speed 3 (I cut almost everything at Speed 3…I get into less trouble when I slow things down, especially when cutting text and intricate designs), Thickness: 9, and Double Cut box checked.



 Work with Heat Transfer Vinyl at whatchaworkinon.comWeeding a simple design is pretty straightforward. Simply  use a hook tool (I use a dental hook similar to this one, but Cricut and Silhouette both make tools specifically for this purpose) to remove the parts you don’t want from the carrier sheet and leave the design parts you do want. I like to leave my HTV on the mat while I weed it (or transfer it to a less expensive Cricut mat to preserve my Silhouette mat). It’s much easier to weed a design with the mat holding it in place.

Weeding an intricate design can be a whole ‘nuther ballgame. I wrote an entire blog post about the tools, techniques, and tricks I use when weeding intricate HTV designs HERE.



First and foremost – Follow the application instructions for the *brand* and *type* of HTV you’re using. I know this is super obvious, and I feel a little silly pointing it out, but you’d be surprised at how often people don’t follow the manufacturer’s directions and then—surprise!—the application is unsuccessful or the HTV lifts sometime later. Temperature and time varies wildly from brand to brand and even within a brand…regular HTV vs glitter HTV for example. Manufacturers spend a lot of time testing application methods to find the best one. Use it. :^)

Do I need a heat press or will an iron do the job? – If you read enough Silhouette Facebook groups, you’ll find posts that say you must have a heat press to make HTV adhere properly. It’s not true. What the posters mean is that THEY need a heat press to get their HTV to stick properly, but it IS possible to do just as good a job with an iron.

You need three things:

1. Low Temperature HTV
Many commercial HTV products are designed to be applied at temperatures much higher than home irons can handle. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you try and use a high temp HTV with an iron. Instead, look for HTV that is intended to be used at temps of 315°F or lower. Examples include Siser Easyweed, FDC 9000, Chemica Firstmark, and Silhouette, but there are several others. You can check the heat specs on the manufacturer websites. Sometimes they’re listed under ‘Application Instructions’ or ‘Technical Specs’ or something like that.

2. Hot Iron
Even the low temp HTV heat requirements are at the top end of the heat range of most home irons. Some irons just don’t get hot enough…many, it seems, given the chorus of people singing the “you need a heat press” tune. If your HTV isn’t sticking well, you can use an infra-red measuring device to measure your iron heat to see if insufficient heat is the culprit. Sometimes you can make up for insufficient heat by extending the pressing time. (That’s how I’m able to apply glitter HTV with my iron).

3. Proper Pressure
You need more than just heat to apply HTV properly. It’s necessary to have good solid pressure while applying the heat. If your ironing board is super padded or a little flimsy and can’t resist the hard pressure well enough, try a harder surface—work on a counter, tabletop, or floor (protect the surface from the heat!) and/or use something under the thing you’re applying HTV to. Some people use a tile, wood plank, or cookie sheet. I have an ancient ironing board that is wonderfully sturdy and quite flat (it’ll outlive me by many decades, I’m sure!), and it works well without any extras or having to resort to other surfaces.

If you’re using low-temp HTV, enough heat, enough time, and a non-squishy ironing board, pushing down on your iron very firmly is sufficient pressure. See the Heat Press Rule of Thumb below to get an idea of what sufficient pressure feels like. You don’t need to be standing on your iron or planking it on the floor. In fact, the specs for Siser Easyweed call for “Medium Pressure”—planking or standing on your iron way exceeds that. And, interestingly enough, more pressure isn’t always better. The Siser folks will tell you that using too much pressure could make the HTV not apply properly.

***IMPORTANT***: These three things—low-temp HTV, high enough heat, solid enough pressure—are like the legs on a three-legged stool: if one is missing, it won’t work.
I’m convinced there are a lot of irons out there that don’t get hot enough. If you’ve handled the HTV type and pressure & time, and your HTV isn’t adhering well or it peels after washing, it’s probably time for a new iron, or heat press.

If an iron works, why would I want a heat press?
1) Time
The larger heat plate on a heat press (15″ is a typical size) means you can press more design area at once. For designs larger than your iron heat plate, you’ll have to press one area at a time, press for full time, lift, move, press for full time, lift move, etc., until the whole design is done. If you’re making items for yourself or gifts for family & friends, the time difference probably isn’t a big thing. But if you do this as a business—e.g. you sell t-shirts, hoodies, onesies, book bags, stuffies, etc. with your htv designs applied—having a heat press will translate into a considerable time savings over using an iron. It’s also easier and faster to get a consistent application when you press a whole design at once.

2) Convenience
If you have the room to store and use a heat press, and the money to spend on one, it’s a nice convenient tool to have. Many folks have one even though they aren’t in business. This one is very popular amongst Silhouette crafters.

3) More HTV choice
HTV comes in a range of temperature requirements, varying from brand to brand and even types within the same brand. Most home irons don’t get hot enough to apply HTV higher than about 315-320F (the low end of the HTV range), so using a heat press allows for a lot more choice in terms of vinyl type and brand—you have access to HTV in the full range of temperatures, including professional brands.

Heat press rule of thumb – Temperature and time are easy to control with a heat press. Simply set the thermostat on the heat press to the required temperature for the htv you’re using, and press for the manufacturer’s full recommended time. As for pressure, how do you know when you’ve got enough of that? A good rule of thumb is the dollar test. While the press is cold, place a dollar bill half on half off the plate on all sides, close the press, and try to remove the bills. If they’re stuck in there good and proper and you can’t remove them, you’ve got enough pressure. If you can pull the the bills out, you don’t have enough pressure and you should adjust your heat press. (This is also a good test to do if you use an iron. It’ll give you a really good idea of how hard you have to press.)

When an iron or heat press won’t do – Sometimes you want to apply HTV in a tight space or on an awkwardly shaped item and your iron or heat press plate is too large to do the job. In those cases, look for a hair straightener or mini iron. Hair straighteners come in a variety of widths (½”, 1″, 1¾” 2″, choose depending on what you want to do) and mini irons come in a variety of sizes & designs, too, such as this Dritz mini iron or this little Clover iron (which has a larger plate available for it as well). All of these alternatives will get hot enough to apply HTV, and some even have temperature controls to allow you to zero in on the temperature for your particular HTV.

Preparing the fabric – Before applying HTV, thoroughly press the book bag or t-shirt or whatever you’re applying HTV to. No steam. You want a nice flat surface with no moisture.

Place the design SHINY CLEAR CARRIER SHEET SIDE UP and HTV side down on the project. Images and text should be the right way around, not backwards or mirrored. Work with Heat Transfer Vinyl at

Can you see the clear carrier sheet?

Use a dry heat – Absolutely NO steam. Steam will ruin HTV…it ain’t pretty, trust me. Some irons will poof a bit of steam at regular intervals if there’s any water in the tank, so if you use an iron, I’d recommend emptying out the water and letting the iron sit a bit to dry up completely before using it to apply HTV.

Follow the instructions – As I said before, instructions vary, depending on the brand and type of HTV. If your HTV has instructions on the box or on an enclosed piece of paper, follow them. If your HTV arrived without instructions, Google the brand name, “heat transfer vinyl”, and “instructions” to find them. I haven’t tried all the HTV out there, but here’s what I do with these brands:

— Regular Siser Easyweed
— Siser Glitter HTV
— Smooth Silhouette Brand HTV

Don’t have the iron too hot – For the above brands, the cotton setting on my iron is the right temperature of just above 300°F. Follow temperature recommendations for the brand you’re using. Use a dry iron…NO STEAM (yeah, I said that before, but it’s super important so is worth repeating. ;^) Be aware that you *can* get it too hot, and if you do, you risk design distortion from the vinyl shrinking and curling. Been there, done that when I used my mom’s super-dee-duper quilting iron."The Universe is Made of Poems!" Sjón quote book bag in htv from Free Silhouette cut file.Yeah, super-dee-duper hot isn’t better.

Cover the design with an old cloth or Teflon sheet or parchment paper before pressing. I tried using an old pillowcase, but even though I pressed at the recommended temperature and time, I kept scorching it. I’ve had no scorching issues with the Teflon sheet or parchment. I also like that I can see the design through the Teflon & parchment.Using a Teflong sheet while pressing heat transfer vinyl. |

Press with solid pressure for about 15 seconds (or whatever your HTV instructions say). Heat presses have built-in timers, but if you’re applying with an iron, use a clock with a second hand to time your pressing; counting out loud is notoriously inaccurate. It’s better to go a little longer than shorter.

Press, don’t iron – I don’t move the iron around while pressing—I’m afraid I’ll move the not-quite-in-place design out of whack. Instead, I press down in a single spot, then lift, go to another spot, and press down again. Once the whole design has received its full 15 seconds at good pressure, I go over the whole thing quickly one more time.

Peel off the backing hot or cold?  Again, follow the instructions on this one. Most will say you can do either. I find it easier to peel it off hot. Be careful…it’s, uh, hot. Doctor Who fan shirt. "Next stop…EVERYWHERE!" Free Silhouette cut file at Whatchaworkinon.comAnd press again… After removing the carrier sheet, place the teflon sheet (or pillow case or parchment paper) back onto the design and press all over again. For thick HTV materials, such as flocked or glitter, there’s no test you can do to know if you’ve applied it properly, so pressing for the full time, and maybe a titch longer, is important. For thinner HTVs, such a regular or stretch, you’ll know it’s applied properly when the HTV takes on the shape of your fabric fibers. Adhering HTV properly from

In this picture, most of the 8 is applied properly (see how the HTV has taken on the shape of the denim underneath?), but a small part of the 8 and the 3 need more pressing time (still smooth on top). This is very noticeable on denim, canvas, and other heavily textured fabrics. On smoother fabrics, such as T-shirts and sweatshirts, properly applied HTV still takes on the shape of the fabric…the effect is much more subtle, but it’s there. Look for it.

If your design contains different colors of HTV that butt up against each other, don’t give each layer the full application time. HTV shrinks a tiny bit when applied. It’s not usually noticeable unless you’re applying layers and one color has to fit exactly around another…say in an offset. If you give the first layers the full application time, they’ll shrink and it may be enough that the later layers no longer fit nicely, resulting in gaps. Instead, press the first layer just long enough to barely adhere it to the surface (a few seconds), then remove the carrier sheet, press the next layer for a few seconds to barely adhere it and remove the carrier sheet, and so on until all your colors are tacked in place, then cover the whole shebang with the Teflon sheet (or pillowcase or parchment paper) and press it for the full time.


About that Glitter HTV…

Layering glitter is tricky. You need to think about it a bit before layering or mixing with plain HTV. Most manufacturers advise that it’s okay to layer glitter HTV on top of plain HTV but not the other way around. (But…psssst, I’ve heard of more than one person who had success layering plain on glitter, so if your design desperately calls for it, experiment beforehand and see how it goes…give your experiment a wash test).

After weeding glitter HTV, you’ll probably end up with a haze of glitter bits on the carrier sheet. I’ve never had those bits adhere to the fabric after application—I just go ahead and apply the HTV as usual. However, if your design is made up of glitter *and* plain HTV, and you’ve already applied the plain HTV, the glitter bits from the glitter carrier sheet may become embedded in the already-applied plain HTV. You can avoid this problem altogether if you apply the glitter elements first, then the plain HTV. This is doable for some designs, but not all, and certainly not if you’re actually layering glitter on top of plain HTV. In that case, here are a few things you can do to get around this.

1. Trim off the glitter carrier sheet right to the design wherever the glittery carrier would come in contact with already-applied plain HTV. This works well for simple designs…where you’re adding a single piece of glitter HTV, say a bow, for example. For a more complicated design with multiple elements, such as a name, you could still do that, but it would be more finicky to apply separately. If you do this, have your Silhouette do the cutting. Simply change the blade to a larger number so it cuts through the HTV *and* the carrier sheet.

2. Remove the letters from the glittery carrier sheet and rearrange them on a used carrier sheet from plain HTV (with no glitter on the carrier sheet). Only one side of HTV will apply to fabric, so be sure to attach the same side of letters to the new carrier sheet as were attached to the glittery one. Apply as usual.

3. Trim the carrier sheet not right to the letters (or other design), but close so it acts as an offset (quarter inch? half inch?). This would keep all the letters (or small design pieces) attached to each other for simpler application and any glitter transferred to the plain HTV would be limited to that quarter inch/half inch area immediately around the letters and would look intentional. This cut could also be done on your Silhouette with a second pass. To do this, add an offset to the letters in the software, cut the HTV as usual (but with cut lines turned off for the offset), DO NOT UNLOAD FROM THE MACHINE, turn off the cut lines for the design, turn on the cut lines for the offset, change the blade to a higher number to cut through the carrier sheet, and send to cut again.

4. Create a knockout for the glitter design elements, then trim the carrier sheet to the whole glitter design you’ve knocked out. This is a good technique for more complicated designs. A knockout basically cuts away the plain HTV design areas that would be covered by glitter, so the glitter elements would be inset and the plain and glitter elements would fit together like puzzle pieces. I haven’t done a knockout tutorial on the blog yet, but if you search for knockout design Silhouette, you’ll get a bunch of tutorials on this technique.

5. Find a new HTV brand – If you do a lot of this sort of thing, it might be an idea to compare different brands of glitter HTV to see if there’s one that doesn’t have this problem.

Oops…did you make a mistake?

HTV is tricky to remove from fabric if you make a mistake, so the best advice I can give is “Don’t make mistakes”. LOL Yeah, I know…not helpful after the fact, but it really is the best advice. Carpenters have it right with their saying “Measure twice, cut once”. The HTV equivalent is “check the weeding & placement twice, press once”. If, despite being as careful as you can, you do make a mistake, it may be possible to remove some HTV and reapply it the right way or in the right place. Try to fix mistakes right away. The longer HTV is adhered to fabric the harder it is to remove.

To remove an HTV mistake, carefully heat it from behind with an iron (a mini iron might be easier to apply heat to a small area without affecting correctly applied parts of the design) and then use tweezers to pluck off the offending HTV while the HTV’s still hot. Repeat the heat & pluck until the HTV has been removed. If you have a larger area, or the HTV has bonded too well with the fabric, you may need to use a chemical remover. But even that should be used within 48 hours of application.

To avoid wasting HTV…

Get the right design size BEFORE cutting – Sometimes even though you measure and measure, it’s hard to know if a design is the right size for a project. (Okay, LOL, maybe that’s just me!) If I’m not sure about the size, I test it by printing the design in several sizes before cutting any HTV. I then cut the excess paper around the designs and hold them up against whatever I want to put the design on to choose the size that fits best. Going through a few sheets of paper is far more economical than having to re-cut HTV because something was the wrong size. Your HTV supply will go farther, too.

Lucy Maud Montgomery quote (yes, of Anne of Green Gables fame!) in heat transfer vinyl. Free Silhouette cut file. ~ whatchaworkinon.comIn case you’re curious, E won out. And if you want to see the finished bag, you can find the book drunkard book bag project HERE..I’ve had a few folks ask where I got this canvas bag. It’s this bag.

When cutting several designs at once – I arrange the designs as close together as I can. To make weeding easier, I use the ‘Draw a Line’ and ‘Draw a Polygon’ tools to draw extra red cut lines separating the designs. The blade will cut the vinyl, making it super easy to weed, but not the clear backing. After weeding, I cut the backing with scissors to get the designs apart so I can arrange them where I want them. This is how the ready-to-cut design mat looked for my shower curtain full of quotes project:Shower curtain full of quotes before cutting | Whatchaworkinon.comNot much wasted vinyl there! For larger designs with lots of white space, you can create weeding lines over the whole design. I haven’t written about how I do that yet, but you can find excellent instructions HERE and HERE


HTV…not just for fabric…

It’s true. You can apply HTV to any flat surface that can take the heat of an iron (see warning below). I’ve applied HTV to cardstock and cereal cardboard (see my photobooth props project), wood, slate (the FREE DOBBY odd sock collector), and picture frame glass (coffee poem) so far.

Why would I do that? Well, sometimes it looks nicer, sometimes it’s because the HTV will melt into the crevices of the rough surface and stick better than adhesive vinyl (on slate, for example), and part of it is making my craft supplies go farther and having more options when materials can be used in different ways…for example, I may have red HTV on hand but no red adhesive vinyl, so I can get going on a project with the HTV without having to stop and buy red adhesive vinyl first. And HTV comes in many colors that adhesive vinyl does not, so that expands project possibilities, too. Have you seen how glittery glitter HTV is? Uh-huh…enough said.

Do not apply HTV to trivets, hot mats, or hot pads
that you intend to use to protect your table from hot dishes.

Although hot dishes don’t melt the HTV, dishes that are hot enough
(e.g. a glass pie plate after an hour in a 400ºF oven) will cause the HTV to release smelly fumes—not a huge amount, but it’s not a smell you want at your supper table, and heated vinyl fumes likely contain a variety of toxins.


HTV on cardstock (paper & cereal cardboard)

Use a much shorter pressing time. I find a few seconds is fine. And you don’t need nearly as much pressure, either. If you can’t lift it the HTV off the cardstock with your fingernail, then the HTV is on. I usually apply the HTV to the cardstock or cereal cardboard and then cut whatever shape I want.

HTV on cardstock...yes, you can!
My bat garland was made of mostly plain black cardstock bats, but about a dozen of them were glittery, thanks to HTV applied to cardstock. Sometimes a little glitter just adds that pizzazz, you know? I applied the glitter HTV to the cardstock (remember to cover with parchment paper or Teflon sheet), then cut out my little bats (about 2½” wide) from that.


HTV on glass…

I cover the design with a Teflon sheet, use the cotton setting on my iron, and press firmly for about five seconds on one part of the design before lifting and pressing in a new area, another five seconds, lift, new area, and so on until I’ve pressed the whole design.Heat transfer vinyl on glass? Yes, you can! ~

This is a much shorter pressing time than you would use on fabric. When applying HTV to fabric, the idea is to press it long enough, hot enough, and firm enough that the HTV melts and bonds with the fabric in all the nooks and crannies. When applying HTV to glass, you want to heat it just enough to activate the stickiness sufficiently to stick it to the glass, but not so much that the HTV melts. On glass, the HTV has nowhere to go so if it melts, it spreads out onto the glass a little, ruining the crisp cut lines. You don’t want that. You also want to make sure you’re ironing on a flat surface so you don’t break the glass.

Make sure the work surface under the glass supports all parts of the glass. If it doesn’t, you may break the glass when pressing. Also, if glass is unevenly heated, it tends to split and shatter. It’s more of a problem when glass thickness varies, but even on a uniform surface, apply heat evenly over the entire surface to reduce the risk.

Most HTV instructions say you can peel the backing off hot or cold. I like to peel hot. If you’re a hot peeler like me (Hee…I didn’t mean for that to sound so risqué! LOL) you like to remove the carrier material right away when applying HTV to fabric. For glass, though, step back and wait a minute or two before peeling. The glass gets super hot and stays hot a lot longer than fabric does. Be careful.I"m comfortable making a project with it for my own personal useThe good news with glass is if you don’t like what things look like after pressing, it’s easy to scrape off with a little heat and start over. Not that, uh, I would know anything about that from personal experience or anything *cough*oh-yes-I-do*coughcough* [grin]

HTV on awkward, non-flat surfaces…

I wrote a whole blog post about this. You can find it HERE: How to Apply HTV to Awkward Non-flat Surfaces

Now, it’s your turn…

If you have any questions about HTV, let me know. I’ll get back to you and add the answers here. And if you have any tips and tricks for working with HTV, I’d love to include them here. Leave me a comment or send me an email at eff…(at)…



HTV adventures at Whatcha Workin’ On?
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee Poem (on glass)
The Universe is Made of Poems! Sjón Quote Book Bag
1890s William Morris Letter Book Bag
Stephen King Quote Book Bag
Calgary Stampede T-shirt
Photo Booth Props Galore
Shower Curtain full of Quotes
Doctor Who “Next Stop…EVERYWHERE!
Harry Potter FREE DOBBY Odd Sock Collector
Bohemian Rhapsody Misheard Lyrics
Split William Morris Letters
Book Drunkard’s Book Bag
For more HTV projects…search for HTV in the sidebar search box.
If you liked this tutorial and would like to know when new ones appear on Whatcha Workin’ On?, subscribe. I’ll send you an email each time a new project or tutorial is posted (usually about once a week)!

Silhouette_Ultimate_Guide_V4_1024x1024now234wideA great Silhouette resource…

Ever felt like throwing your Silhouette out the window? (…or maybe I’m the only one who was that frustrated in Week One! LOL) Well, don’t. Once you figure out how the software works and how to handle different materials in the machine, you and your Silhouette will become great friends for a long, long time.

The Ultimate Silhouette Guide will help you replace your frustration with confidence. This guide clearly explains the Silhouette Studio design features and how to use them, and goes over all the cut settings to get you up and running and figure it all out quickly. It’s like having a mountain guide on that steep hike up the learning curve.  Click HERE  for more information.



111 thoughts on “HTV – Working with Heat Transfer Vinyl

  1. Thank you for the information on HTV, I purchased it and there was no directions on how to use it. I didn’t know top from bottom. I guess you can tell I am new at useing htv. Again thank you

      1. Can you tell me how to use HTV on a vinyl purse?? I am afraid it would melt trying to iron it on> Help please>>

        1. Heat and vinyl don’t go well together. You might even find a tag on your purse that says “Do not iron”. Having said that, though, it is possible to apply HTV to some types of vinyl. You just have to be *very* careful because you could go from “Yay, it’s working” to “Oh crap, it’s melted” in the blink of an eye. The trick is to use a low temperature and repeated pressings of a few seconds each until the HTV is applied securely…usually way more time than the application instructions indicate. Slow and steady is the way to go. I would only attempt it if you’re willing to take the risk of it not working…if you’re okay with possibly wrecking the purse.

        2. “Why not just use regular vinyl on the vinyl purse instead of Heat Transfer?!”

          LOL…yup, good point. That’s the official match (leaving HTV for fabric only). And it’s how I would go if it were a purse that got light use. However, for something like the large reversible totes from Walmart that were all the rage recently, adhesive vinyl will start to peel due to wear and that they’re slightly textured, which adhesive vinyl does. not. like. Aside from that, HTV has a matte look, which some folks prefer, and you just can’t get the same glitter effects with adhesive vinyl that you can with HTV.

    1. Hey there,
      I am new to HTV and creating . I had a qt well actually a few lol..

      If I find a free copyright image that I like how to I lift the image? Again not sure if I am asking the right qt or even wording it right. But lets say, I found an image of a colorful butterfly,and If I have clear vinyl , will the image be printed and cut out in color?

      TIA Tara

      1. Welcome to the world of HTV! :^) If I’m interpreting your questions correctly, you want to know how to get an image onto the vinyl, right? One way is as you describe: print the image onto the vinyl and cut it with your Silhouette. Regular HTV won’t work for that (even the white or clear). Instead, you need to use printable HTV or iron-on photo transfer paper. Another way to get an image onto the vinyl, is not to actually put the image *on* the vinyl, but to cut the design *from* the vinyl. For that you would use regular HTV, and the design is as you cut it. It’s possible to layer a few colors of HTV (just don’t layer on top of glitter HTV), but this is suitable for only fairly simple designs. For example, for a monarch butterfly, you would cut out a butterfly-shaped piece in orange HTV and then the black outlines in black HTV…then you would apply the orange to your shirt (or whatever) and then layer the black over the orange and apply it as a second layer. For complicated designs or photos, the printable HTV/photo transfer paper would be the way to go.

    2. Thank you for a great tutorial. I was getting ready to work with glitter HTV and my cutter wouldn’t cut. No where did I see to use the “flocked” settings. Thank you so much!

  2. Where is the best place to get the Teflon sheet that you mention? Is there a particular brand you prefer? Love your site and all the info!!

  3. Why would you use HTV on glass when there are so many other options ( 631, 651, glitter vinyl) . Does it give you a particular look? Just curious.

    1. For projects that will be viewed close up, I prefer the look of HTV. It’s a bit softer. And then HTV comes in different colors and finishes than adhesive vinyl—the HTV glitter is much more “glittery”, for example—so adding HTV to the list of possible material choices expands the color palette and options for different looks. It’s a handy backup, too. I may have HTV in a color that I don’t have in adhesive vinyl, so I can get going on a project, or complete a short-notice project, without having to order adhesive and wait for it to arrive.

      1. I’m new to die-cutting and have a question. I purchased a printed monogram license plate (aluminum) but the monogram itself isn’t the shade I was wanting. I can recreate the monogram on my Cricut software but the only vinyl I can find that’s the exact color I want is Sister glitter htv. I have no doubt it will adhere but would you know if it’ll stand up against the elements of being outside 24/7?

        1. HTV outdoors? I don’t know. I’ve never done HTV on something for outdoor use, so I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up to the elements…and warmth of the sun (you may find it melts and distorts in direct sunlight, especially with help from the metal plate getting warm).

          And that brings me to the bigger issue—how tricky it is to apply HTV to metal. Metal gets very hot, very fast. In the blink of an eye, a design will go from ‘perfect, just needing a little more heat to apply properly’ to an unsalvageable, distorted mess because the HTV got too hot. So if you do try to apply HTV to the license plate, go slowly, apply heat in 2 second increments, JUST until it’s applied. Don’t overdo it. More time is fine when applying to fabric, but not metal. For metal, knowing when to stop is critical.

          If this is for yourself, you could just give it a try. If it works, great. If it doesn’t apply properly or withstand the elements, you can always heat the license plate to remove the HTV and then apply an adhesive vinyl in your second color choice. If you do try it, please come back and let me know how it worked. Good luck! :^)

  4. You have been a lifesaver and you have saved my sanity with your tips and how ya do its. I have been working like a crazy person trying to make gifts with my Sil and vinyl. I have vinyl I purchased in 2013 (no clue where I bought it or what brand/type) along with the Sil and Cricut brands. I recently bought some HTV. My question~ I know you place the HTV shiny down on the mat but what about the other types? I have mirrored the image, cut it, loaded the image on my transfer tape only to discover the sticky part of the vinyl is backwards and if I try to put it on a mug or whatever it’s backward. The sticky side of the vinyl is facing the wrong way. I hope this makes sense. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to put all types of the vinyl shiny ( or mat ) face down on the cutting mat??????? Merry Christmas and thank you so much for your awesome blog!!!

    1. Aw, you’re such a sweetheart. Thanks for your kind words. You made my day! :^)

      To answer your question… There is HTV and there is adhesive vinyl. Two very different critters. HTV is cut with shiny side down on the mat and the design must be mirrored before sending it to cut in order for it to appear the right way when applied with your iron or heatpress. Adhesive vinyl has a backing on it (mine has always been white so far) and you cut it with the backing facing the mat and the vinyl side up (which, for most permanent vinyls is the shiny side). For most applications (walls, cups, wooden signs, etc.), you don’t mirror adhesive vinyl before cutting. The only time you would is if you were applying it to the underside of glass where the design would be viewed through the glass…say a glass cutting board.

        1. You’re very welcome, Rebecca. :^) It’s a steep learning curve, but you’re well on your way. Happy Silhouette adventures to you!

    1. You want a “kiss cut”, where the machine cuts through the dull portion (that’s the actual vinyl), but doesn’t cut through the shiny layer (that’s the carrier sheet from which you’ll weed the unwanted parts of your design) Your design remains stuck to the carrier sheet so you can lift the sheet and place it shiny side up on the surface to which you want to apply the HTV. The carrier sheet keeps all of your design pieces where they should be. Leave the carrier sheet in place for pressing…just cover it with a Teflon sheet, parchment paper, or old pillowcase.

  5. Thanks for this tutorial! I finally got some htv (several project ideas for forever…) and the baby shower onesies came out great with only a few mistakes that no one will really notice!
    I thought I had wasted a bunch because you could see the line where it marked the designs, but didn’t actually cut (blade was very dull, whoops). But test cut over a part and you couldn’t tell when I applied it! phew!

    Though I can see where people think they need a press, as my iron wasn’t as hot as it could be, but nothing a little longer pressing didn’t take care of!

    1. You’re welcome, Jessie! Glad you took the dive into HTV. No looking back now! Yeah, a heat press is much more efficient, and if I did this as a business, I’d get a heat press to save time, but for personal projects, my iron has done a great job. The end results have been just as good as if they’d been done with a heat press.

  6. Great read! Do you recommend washing articles of clothing before applying htv (if you are selling the clothes)? I have read so many mixed reviews on this.

    1. I’ve done it both ways—applied HTV to clothing that’s been washed many times (already had it in the wardrobe) as well as to new unwashed clothing when I’ve bought a new shirt for a specific project, or it’s for a gift—and I haven’t noticed a difference in adhesion. The HTV has stuck equally well to both…no problem either way.

      Having said that, I don’t sell what I make, so I haven’t had to come up with a “best practices” way. I’ve read that some fabric softeners may prevent good HTV adhesion, but I don’t have any first-hand experience with that (I use dryer sheets, not liquid softener in the washing machine). Most folks I know who sell, don’t wash the clothing before applying HTV.

  7. THANK you SO MUCH for all the details!!! I was about to have a meltdown since my vinyl kept slipping and jamming in my machine. Most tutorials I read said not to use the mat and that’s exactly what I needed- my mat! This was only my second time using the machine and the glitter worked great my first time, the smooth was my issue. So excited I found you!

    1. You’re welcome, Nicole! Glad you found me. :^) When I first got my Silhouette, I remember coming across blogs with great projects, the instructions would say, “Do X.”…huge leap, no details, and I would talk to the computer screen I’d just read… “Yeah, but HOW do you DO that?”. So now when I share info and write tutorials, I try to write with a level of detail that will allow readers to carry on confidently and do whatever it is I’m talking about. I’m hoping there are fewer folks talking to their computer screens these days. ;^)

      As for the mat, I always use it. So far, all my HTV and adhesive vinyl projects have been less than 24″ so the 12×24 mat has done the trick. The mat allows me to get more use out of the material because I can cut a piece of vinyl the exact size I need. It also protects the cutting strip from wearing as quickly. If I ever do go longer—and there’s a good chance I will at some point—I’ll buy the Silhouette roll feeder to keep everything straight going into the machine.

  8. Thanks for sharing your experience with htv. I haven’t used it much myself. I was wondering if anyone has used it on painted walls? I’m picturing a flocked stencil wallpaper effect. Would be more interesting than just painting a wall stencil. Can the htv be ironed onto a wall? Would it be durable and long lasting? And how difficult would it be too remove when the time comes to redecorate?

  9. You can apply htv to any surface that can withstand the heat & pressure. I’ve applied it to variety of surfaces (this week, cork) but I’ve never seen a project where it was applied to walls. If the paint survived the heat of applying the HTV (would paint melt or burn under the iron?), I imagine it would be durable and longlasting…perhaps too much so in that it would be horrible horrible horrible to try and remove, and almost impossible to remove without damaging the wall. It would also be expensive to apply a whole wall of it. A textured wallpaper would be much more economical, easier to apply, and easier to remove.

    There is temporary adhesive vinyl (Oracal 631 and equivalent) that’s easy to use on walls. I like it because it’s got a matte finish. I’ve done small feature applications and quotes with it, but again, I wouldn’t do a whole wall in it—wallpaper wins out again for that.

  10. Your blog is so wonderful and informative! Thank you for sharing with us!! I tried glitter htv for the first time and need a little help. After I weeded, I notice that there was glitter still on the transfer paper. I thought maybe it wouldn’t stick to the shirt; no luck. After I ironed the design on, all the specks of left over glitter were still there, it wouldn’t brush off. What am I doing wrong? Should I wash it afterwards? Cut the transfer super close to the design? I was using siser glitter htv. I know there has to be a way bc I’ve seen so many projects with super clean glitter lines. Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rebekah! Glad you’re finding my posts helpful. :^)

      Wow. . .I’ve used a lot of glitter HTV, glittery specks are always left on the transfer sheet as they were for you, but they’ve never adhered to my shirt (or whatever) after applying the design. You *could* trim the transfer sheet close to the design next time, but you shouldn’t have to do that. . .and if your design is intricate, would be a royal pain to do. I see you’re using Siser brand, which is what I’ve always used, too, so I’m perplexed. I don’t know what’s causing this to happen for you. Perhaps give the Siser company a call and see what they say (and come back and let us know their response! :^).

      And what to do about those errant glittery bits you already have? Try taking a lint roller or some packing tape or masking tape (or a vacuum???) and see if you can get the extra glitter to come off the shirt that way. If not, it wouldn’t hurt to try washing it to see if they’ll come off. Did one of those work for you?

      1. I have the same problem but the “bits” of glitter on the transfer paper. If I am just apply it directly to the shirt the extra glitter doesn’t stick. BUT if I layer with other htv the glitter bits come off and stick the the other htv. Example: I made a Minnie Mouse head with black htv. Then added a glitter bow and my niece’s name. Glitter around the top of bow (directly on t-shirt) didn’t come off the transfer paper). Glitter on the black htv did come off and now part of the Minnie head has pink glitter. I’ve been looking for answers about how to layer glitter and regular htv.

        1. There are a few things you can do to get around this.

          1. For simple designs such as your bow, trim off the glitter carrier sheet right to the design wherever the glittery carrier would come in contact with already-applied plain HTV. For a more complicated design such as a name, you could still do that, but it would be more finicky to apply separately. If you do this, have your Silhouette do the cutting. Simply change the blade to a larger number so it cuts through the HTV *and* the carrier sheet.

          2. After weeding, remove the letters from the glittery carrier sheet and rearrange them on a used carrier sheet from plain HTV (with no glitter on the carrier sheet). Only one side of HTV will apply to fabric, so be sure to attach the same side of letters to the new carrier sheet as were attached to the glittery one. Apply as usual.

          3. Trim the carrier sheet not right to the letters (or other design), but close so it acts as an offset (maybe a quarter inch?). This would keep all the letters attached to each other for simpler application and any glitter transferred to the plain HTV would be limited to that quarter inch area immediately around the letters and would look intentional. This cut could also be done on your Silhouette with a second pass. To do this add an offset to the letters in the software, cut the HTV as usual (but with cut lines turned off for the offset), DO NOT UNLOAD FROM THE MACHINE, turn off the cut lines for the design, turn on the cut lines for the offset, change the blade to a higher number to cut through the carrier sheet and send to cut again.

          4. A better choice for complicated designs—is to create a knockout for the glitter design elements, then trim the carrier sheet to the whole glitter design you’ve knocked out. A knockout basically cuts away the plain HTV design areas that would be covered by glitter, so the glitter elements would be inset and the plain and glitter elements would fit together like puzzle pieces. I haven’t done a knockout tutorial on the blog yet, but if you search for knockout design Silhouette, you’ll get a bunch of tutorials on this technique.

          5. If you do a lot of this sort of thing, it might be an idea to compare different brands of glitter HTV to see if there’s one that doesn’t have this problem.

          Good luck! :^)

  11. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I just got the new Silhouette and it’s a lot to learn :) What brand would you recommend for Heat Transfer Vinyl?


    1. Glad you found the information helpful, Chalise. :^)

      Oh, yes, there’s quite a learning curve with this machine, but if you dive in and take whatever you’re doing step by step, you’ll soon be creating all kinds of wonderful projects.

      As for my fave HTV, I really like Siser Easyweed. It cuts well, weeds well, and applies well…never had a problem with it. If you’re applying with an iron (I still do), that’s what I would recommend hands down. There are several other good quality brands, but they tend to require a higher application temperature that is beyond the capabilities of most home irons so you need a heat press to apply them properly. If you’re working with an iron, look for HTV that needs 315F or less.

  12. I’m really interested in using HTV on cardstock. But I’m pretty worried about it. Won’t the card burn or something? I’ve never actually used HTV before but I assume if I used regular adhesive vinyl on card it would just peel off?

    1. Adhesive vinyl sticks really well on cardstock or cereal cardboard. I haven’t had any peeling issues. I have different colors of adhesive vinyl and HTV, so I use both, depending on color choice (see the photo booth props project here: ). Also, the HTV glitter is so much glitterier (new word there, LOL) than adehsive vinyl, so it really does give a different look…sometimes that’s what makes me decide on HTV over adhesive.

      HTV on cardstock and cereal cardboard isn’t a problem at all. The heat required isn’t hot enough or on long enough for the cardboard/cardstock to be at risk of burning. And then there’s the vinyl plus carrier sheet and Teflon sheet (or parchment paper or thin fabric) in between the iron and the cardboard, as well.

      So if you want to apply HTV or adhesive vinyl to cardstock or cardboard, I say go for it! :^) My recommendation for both is to apply the vinyl to the cardstock/cardboard first, then cut out whatever design you want from that. I talk about that a bit in the photo booth props project above, and you can see it in action again on the bat mini-garland project here:

      HTV is one of my favorite materials to work with. Have fun!

  13. Thank you so much for your very straightforward, to-the-point, step-by-step tutorial! Such a huge help for a newbie like me! I will be checking back often to see what sort of neat things you are up to!
    Christie B.

    1. You’re welcome, Christie! Glad you found me. If you want to make sure to catch every project, head over to the sidebar and sign up…you’ll get an email every time there’s a new post or tutorial. Have fun with your HTV—it’s my fave material to work with!

  14. I had someone ask me to put some vinyl on ribbon for a door hanger for a newborn, it is the stiff ribbon. 100%Polyprophylene, could I use htv on that or should I just use 651?

    1. Sorry, I haven’t worked with that ribbon, so I don’t know how well it would work. As long as it could handle the heat, it would be fine, so I would do a test on a small piece of the ribbon to see if it distorts or melts. To minimize the heat, I would use a low-temp HTV (such as Siser) and an iron in short bursts of pressing. Good luck. Let me know it goes!

  15. I have read that stretch fabrics need a special htv? Is there a chart that tells what htv goes with the material a cotton jersey or a spandex type of material. I saw a picture of a tank top that had the vinyl tearing when it was stretched out. Thank you for taking the time to help.

    1. Regular HTV has some give to it (some brands more than others), but for spandex, you definitely want stretch HTV, which is thinner and, well, stretchier. LOL. For application charts and details about the various types of HTV, check the website of whatever brand of HTV you’re using. I use mostly Siser. You can find the Siser chart here: and check out the drop down menu under “Heat Transfer Vinyl” in the navigation bar at for information on the types of HTV they make and what they’re used for. Other brands should have something similar.

    1. Yup! :^) And on the bottom, if you like:

      You’ll want to watch the type of material the socks are made of as some of the man-made materials have a low melting point. In the sock project above, I used socks that were at least 60% cotton and they worked just fine.

      And as with applying HTV to any fabric, you’ll know the application is done properly when you can see the shape of the fabric fibers through the HTV. Scroll up for a photo example (black numbers on denim).

    1. You’re welcome, Heather!

      Re: Siser on mugs… yes, apparently, you can. :^) And I heard rumors it might even be dishwasher safe (Gasp! Be still my beating heart.) Having said that, though, I haven’t tried it myself. I have the supplies all ready to give it a go—and a husband patiently waiting for a new travel mug LOL—it just hasn’t made it to the top of the project list yet. ;^)

      When I applied HTV to other types of hard surfaces (tile, glass, slate), I found the HTV tended to melt and spread out a little, slightly distorting the design, if I pressed for the full time, so when I do try HTV on mugs, I’ll press for a few seconds at a time until it’s adhered, rather than giving it one long pressing time.

    1. Well… LOL… it’s funny you should ask. :^) We had a new engagement to celebrate over the holidays, so I pulled out the HTV (Siser Easyweed) and a stainless steel travel mug to add a “Does this ring make me look engaged?”. I treated it like the other hard surfaces I’ve added HTV to (slate & glass, for example), reducing the time significantly to keep the HTV from spreading. At first it went well. I pressed it under parchment paper for a few seconds at a time until the whole design was stuck enough to the surface that I could peel off the carrier sheet. So far, so good, but it wasn’t adhered well enough, so I applied more heat. And that’s where it went wrong…very wrong. The next time I lifted the parchment paper, the lettering had not only spread out (see the white around each letter), but it was all distorted and looked very…hmm… “creepy Halloween-y”, shall we say….LOL…very similar to the distortion on the book bag above where my temperature was too hot.

      Halloween-y HTV on steel

      This was supposed to be a quickie project fit into holiday festivities and my time for it was up, so I had to leave it as a project to come back to later. I haven’t had the time to do that yet, but when I do, I don’t think reducing the time any further will make much difference (I didn’t press for very long, so there isn’t much time to reduce). Instead, I’ll experiment with reduced temperature and thicker HTV, such as glitter.

      So there you go. I’ve tried it, the first attempt didn’t work, but I still have hope, so I’ll try again. If you give it a go before I do, please do come back and let me know your results.

  16. First, thank you for the fantastic information which will certainly help all Silhouette owners. My Silhouette is a year old and I finally used it to make simple onesies for my grandaughter. Wish I had read your tutorial on HTV hints! The two biggest reminders are to mirror images and shiny side down.
    Do you use the scale feature to size images or do you click and drag the corners?
    Do you scale the entire image in “grouped” mode and then “ungroup”?
    Do you always add the grid lines on your screen to help with sizing and estimating the size of vinyl needed for cutting?

    1. You’re welcome, Susie! Yup, remembering to mirror…oh, man, that can be a tough one to keep in mind. I still forget from time to time, and kick myself over wasted HTV. ;^)
      To answer your questions:

      Do you use the scale feature to size images or do you click and drag the corners?
      I do both. It depends what needs to change size and whether the specific measurement is important. If I’m trying to get multiple shapes all the same width, for example, or I want a shape to be a very specific size, I’ll use the scale tool. If I’m adding a design element to a design in progess, or I’ve finished designing and I’m changing the design size to figure out what size I want to cut, I’ll drag a corner until it’s the size I want. When I have a very specific usable space on something (e.g. a cup or book bag or picture frame glass) and the design must fit in that space, I’ll draw a rectangle (or oval or circle…to match the usable space), use the scale tool to size the rectangle to the exact shape of the usable space, then drag the corner on my completed design until it fits inside the rectangle.

      Do you scale the entire image in “grouped” mode and then “ungroup”?
      Sometimes. It’s easier to move multiple elements around when they’re grouped together, so when I’m finished designing, I’ll group all the elements together and then change the size as needed. If I’m mid-design, I sometimes group, change size, ungroup, but sometimes it’s faster to just select all the elements and drag the corner of one of the elements to change the size of all of the elements at the same time…fewer steps. Both work. I’ve gotten into the habit of grouping a design together before I save it so I don’t get a SURPRISE! the next time I use the file.

      Do you always add the grid lines on your screen to help with sizing and estimating the size of vinyl needed for cutting?
      Yes. I generally design with the grid lines turned off (I find them to be distracting when designing). I may turn them on briefly—to snap elements to grid, for example—but I leave them turned off most of the time. When it comes time to getting the right size to cut, I’ll turn on the grid lines (in 1″ squares) to get the design the size I want. Once I have the right size, I continue to use the grid lines to match the size and placement of my material on the mat with the cutting area the design needs. I cut material pieces really close to the design size and always use my mat when cutting vinyl less that 12″x 24″.

      1. Thanks for all the helpful information. I made three shirts today starting with one color HTV, the second with three separate layers of smooth HTV, and the third with smooth and glitter HTV. The scaling and grid suggestions were very helpful. I did use pre designed SGV files from Etsy.

  17. I’m curious if you’ve ever used htv on other non htv? I want to make a sticker for my car and would like to use glitter htv on top of the regular vinyl. Can the regular vinyl take the heat of an iron?

    1. Adhesive vinyl definitely can’t take the heat of an iron. You’ll end up with a terrible melted mess if you try to layer HTV onto adhesive vinyl.

      Instead, look for a glitter adhesive vinyl (my personal fave is the Avery Ultra), but also check out holographic or irridescent adhesive vinyl, as well as car wrap vinyl (it sometimes comes in finishes not usually marketed to crafters). One of them should give you the glittery effect you’re looking for.

  18. I brought 10 shirts from a graphic designing company they put the logo on with vinyl. It seems to be buckling/pulling. They told me to turn it inside out and iron it because it was wrinkled but it didn’t fix it. Wish I could show you a pic.

    What should I do now

    1. It’s hard to say without seeing the shirts, but if removing wrinkles from the shirts didn’t fix the HTV buckling, it sounds like the problem has to do with the application. I would go back to the company and expect them to make it right.

  19. okay ive just started out with the vinyl world but have it down pack ,til i wanted to do a glass dish but its to small and not shallow enuff for me to put my iron on!!! help!! what can i use to heat it to place and stock to glass dish?

    1. You can get mini irons with smaller heat plates for getting into awkward places. But having said that, you have to be super super careful when applying heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to glass. It’s one thing to apply it to a piece of picture frame glass that’s flat and all the same thickness so you can evenly heat the whole thing at once, but you run a good risk of the glass shattering if some parts are thicker than others or you’re unable to heat the whole thing evenly…such as when the walls of a dish don’t rest on the surface. I wouldn’t use HTV in that situation, and I’d seriously caution you not to, either. In that case, permanent adhesive vinyl (Oracal 651 or equivalent in another brand such as Avery, 3M, or MacTac) is the way to go. It doesn’t require heat to stick, and you can use your fingers to mold the vinyl to the shape of the dish.

  20. Hi – I came across your site when I was looking for alternative HTV application surfaces. I really like how detailed and helpful your posts are – so thank you for that! :)

    I just wondering if you ever went back to test more variations for applying HTV to steel/metal? (read about it in your comments above)

    I have a small boutique and a customer asked me for customized steel tins for party favors, but I am hitting deadends when looking for application mediums. I work with Oracal 651 on a daily basis, but this design is rather intricate with multiple colors and layering Oracal vinyl is not going to give me the finished design that I want and I haven’t found a printable vinyl that will withstand wear and tear. I am on the hunt for something that will be more flush with the surface when applied and look less ‘sticker-ish’. Any recommendations? I was thinking HTV may potentially be a cost-effective alternative to sublimation inks.. maybe.. hopefully?

    Also, when you use HTV on glass, you mentioned it peels off easily if you make a mistake – however, when compared to adhesive vinyl (i.e., Oracal 651, etc.) would you say it seems more permanent? Is the HTV more flush with the surface?

    Thank you so much for your time and help! Looking forward to your thoughts on this!

    1. I’m still experimenting with HTV on metal to try and find a reliable technique (with lower temps, shorter times, and thicker materials than Teflon sheet or parchment paper for the intermediary material). I still haven’t found a good combination. Applying HTV to metal is tricky, as the metal quickly gets too hot and the HTV distorts. Given *that*, and that your detailed layering would require multiple heat applications on the same area, I don’t hold out much hope that HTV would be a good solution for your tin project.

      As for application… there is a slight texture to HTV applied to a flat surface. Think about what it looks like on fabric…it’s similar…the look is a little softer than adhesive vinyl. So, again, I don’t think HTV’s going to give you the flush design you’re looking for.

      About removability… once applied to a flat surface, HTV is good and stuck. In fact, some folks report that HTV on coffee mugs is dishwasher safe. What makes it easily removable if you make a mistake is the power of heat. Apply high heat again, melt the HTV, and you can scrape it off to start over. The flat surface makes removal relatively easy, as opposed to fabric that has nooks and crannies from which it’s difficult to remove HTV.

      Sorry…wish I had better news for you. Good luck to you in finding a solution for your tins.

    1. Oooo…I’ve never tried applying HTV to faux fur, so I don’t know firsthand if it would work well. My guess is probably not…unless the fur is super short. The problem, of course, is if you try it and it’s an epic fail, you’ve likely ruined the hat. Is there some way you could test it first…is there an inconspicuous place where you could experiment? If you try it, do come back and let me know how it works…I’d also love to see a pic. Good luck! :^)

      P.S. Your grandma sounds cool!

  21. Thank you so much for this , it has been so helpful to me.

    If I wanted to Post my glitter HTV how would I cover it so the sticky bits don’t get messed up or so it doesn’t stick to packaging?

    Once again thank you so much so easy to follow xx

    1. Do you mean after you’ve cut it but before you’ve applied it? I would sandwich it in a folder made of parchment paper, and lay flat or roll after that.

      Once it’s applied you shouldn’t have any problem with bits getting messed up. Treat it like any other piece of clothing (or whatever you’ve applied the HTV to). If you want to be extra careful, wrap the item in tissue paper like they do in the high end clothing shops.

  22. Love your site and all the info you provide. I have a question about outlining a project with a different color HTV. For instance, I see initials or designs that have a coordinating outline color around them. I am new to this and have searched Etsy for ideas with no results. Can you help? Thank you.

    1. Maybe. :^) Theoretically, there should be a way. I’ve been experimenting to find a technique that’ll work. It’s tricky, though, because the metal gets very hot, very fast, and if it gets too hot for the HTV, then the HTV melts and distorts. In the blink of an eye, a design will go from ‘perfect, just needing a little more heat to apply properly’ to an unsalvageable, distorted mess. Like this:

      Halloween-y HTV on steel

      On this “Does this ring make me look engaged?” design, I reduced the time significantly, pressing it under parchment paper for a few seconds at a time until the whole design was stuck enough to the surface that I could peel off the carrier sheet. So far, so good, but it wasn’t adhered well enough, so I applied more heat. And that’s where it went wrong…very wrong. The next time I lifted the parchment paper, the lettering had not only spread out (see the white around each letter), but it was all distorted and looked very…hmm… “creepy Halloween-y”, shall we say…not exactly the look I was going for for an upcoming wedding celebration! ;^)

      This was supposed to be a quickie project fit into holiday festivities and my time for it was up, so I cleaned off the misshapen HTV and applied the design in adhesive vinyl instead. I’ve been moving to a new house and ill on top of that, so I haven’t had the time to try again. When I do, though, I don’t think reducing the time any more will make much difference (I didn’t press for very long, so there isn’t much time to reduce). Instead, I’ll experiment with reduced temperature, a thicker intermediary material (instead of parchment paper or Teflon) to slow down the heat transfer, and thicker HTV, such as glitter.

      If you give it a go before I do, please do come back and let me know your results.

      P.S. If you want to see what this design was supposed to look like, it’s here:

  23. Hi! I’m new to this an a little nervous. Thank you so much for your information and ideas….I can’t wait to try out some. I was also wondering where did you get the Doctor Who graphic? It would be perfect for my daughters birthday.

  24. How can I put all my HTV layers onto my shirt at one time? For example, a baseball with initials, so I have black, white, red, and the glitter for the initials. I’d love to be able to do like I would with regular adhesive, and put it on transfer tape, then apply to item all at once (meaning less chance of iron mess ups and everything is lined up correctly).

  25. Applying all HTV layers at once may sound appealing—after all, it works so beautifully with adhesive vinyl—but in practice, HTV isn’t sticky, so one layer of HTV won’t stick to another until you apply heat. So until you apply heat, you need the carrier sheets to keep the design layers in place, and of course, you can’t press an HTV-on-HTV design with all the carrier sheets in between. Oh, what a mucky mess that would be. :^o

    But here’s the good news: The non-stickiness that prevents you from layering HTV like adhesive vinyl also makes it easy to layer HTV another way. With adhesive vinyl, once you’ve put a layer in place, it’s stuck…you can’t peel it up…there is no opportunity to re-position it. You get one shot and that’s it. But with HTV, because it isn’t self-adhesive, you have all the time you need to re-position each layer as you apply one layer at a time. Don’t press each layer for the full time, though. Most HTV shrinks slightly when applied, so if you press the bottom layer for the full time, it will likely shrink to the point that subsequent layers will no longer line up with it properly. Here’s what to do instead: Press the bottom layer for a second or two, just long enough so it sticks to the shirt when you peel off the carrier sheet. Then line up the next layer, press for a second or two…again, just long enough so the second layer sticks to the first when you peel off the carrier sheet. Repeat for the remaining layers, giving the whole thing the full press time only once all layers are in place.

    Having said that, if your layers aren’t truly layers (e.g. you’re applying different layers of HTV, but there’s no HTV on HTV in the design…the colors are positioned on separate areas of the shirt), you can trim the carrier sheet around subsequent layers and stick the elements (with their carrier sheets) onto a single carrier sheet to apply all layers with one pressing. I often do this if an element in a design didn’t cut properly or if I make a mistake weeding. I remove the mistake part of the design from the carrier sheet, re-cut it, then trim the carrier sheet around the new part, place it on the original design in the space where the mistake was, and press the whole thing at once. The trick here is to make sure that none of the added carrier sheets overlap the original design. Oh, and to make sure you remember to peel off *all* of the carrier sheets.

    Once you’ve layered HTV a few times, you’ll be wishing adhesive vinyl was more like HTV and not the other way around! :^)

  26. Hi, my name is Afreen. I used HTV for the first time for my son’s t-shirt and I got a Iron stain on the shirt from pressing down on it, how do I get rid off the stain and in the future how do I avoid getting the stain again? Please, I really hope you answer my question. I really appreciate it. Afreen

    1. Hi Afreen. Oh, no, and on your first project, too? That’s not fun. It’s probably a simple fix, but it’s really hard to say what the fix is… it depends on what kind of stain. Can you email me a photo of it? I might have some suggestions once I’ve seen it. My email address is

  27. Ok. I got HTV that has no liner or anything that you can use so I used my cutting mat. But now it’s stuck on that after I’ve weeded. Can I iron the cutting mat or is it going to melt? How else do I get the letters onto my fabric?? Hope this doesn’t sound silly.

    1. What brand of HTV is it? As far as I know, you need a carrier sheet of some kind. Either it comes attached to the HTV or comes separately, but one way or another, you need a way to transfer the HTV from the mat to whatever you’re applying the design to. HTV with no carrier sheet at all is really odd, so you may be missing something. Before cutting this HTV in the future, I would contact the seller and ask about application directions.

      For the design on your mat right now… yikes. I’ve never tried ironing a mat, but it’s plastic, so my guess is it would melt, and even if it didn’t melt, I would be worried about what high heat would do to the mat adhesive…it could get really ugly. If the design is a simple one, I would gently peel the design off the mat and place it carefully on the shirt (or whatever you’re applying it to), cover with parchment paper and press it in place. If it’s a complex design, I would start all over, contacting the seller for application instructions first.

  28. I’m trying to put my monogram on running shorts, but I don’t know what kind of HTV or a temperature or anything I need to do that. Do you have any experience with that?

    1. You’ll need stretch HTV. The temperature will depend on the brand you choose. If you’re using an iron to apply, choose a low-temp HTV (around 300-305F). My fave is Siser Easyweed Stretch. :^)

  29. I’ve noticed that every time I make a shirt using HTV there always seems to be a shadow left from the clear plastic transfer. Is this normal? How do I get rid of it?

    1. If it’s just the impression from the carrier sheet, it should disappear. Try covering the design with a Teflon sheet or parchment paper and pressing again after you remove the carrier sheet. If the shirt is for you, washing it should work, too. To prevent this from happening, check your pressure. You may be using too much. Another thing you can do to prevent the carrier sheet from leaving a mark is press for just a few seconds, just long enough to be able to remove the carrier sheet and leave the vinyl on the shirt. After you remove the carrier sheet, cover the design with parchment paper or Teflon sheet and then give it the full pressing time.

  30. I am very new to all this vinyl stuff and am so grateful I found your site. Just wish I would have found you before I messed up. With that being, I did a few window decals and they turned out great. So I was asked if I could do a few t-shirts and me being me said sure no problem. Wrong…I remembered reading that I needed to mirror my image so I did (I was pretty proud of myself for that…with having crazy chemo brain little things like that excite me), however I did not remember the part where it says to place the shiny side down….oops in a big way (I bought just enough htv and I had to drive an hour to get that). Is there any way to salvage my screw up and still use it for my t-shirt?

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Wendy. :^)

      Kudos to you for remembering to mirror! :^) There are still days when I forget.

      Unlike adhesive vinyl, HTV can be forgiving…when you press it, it melts, so errant cuts usually self heal during application. So if you’ve already cut it, but haven’t weeded it yet, you can sometimes recut it, weed it very, very carefully (if it’s not a super simple design it can be very challenging to weed only the second cut and not the first), and it’ll come out fine. If you’ve cut through the carrier sheet, though, so you’re left with separate bits, that’s not possible anymore. And because you’ve now cut it on the wrong side, the design is no longer mirrored as you remembered to do, and it won’t apply the right way.

      HTV is designed to adhere on one side only (the non-carrier sheet side), so you can’t just peel the HTV off the carrier sheet, flip it, and apply it. It won’t apply. If your design is an image only where reversing it simply changes the direction of the design, but there are no text or design elements that will be backwards or “wrong” if applied in the reverse from which you intended, and you’re okay with getting the reverse design, you can place the pieces on your shirt and press them in place. However, if your design includes text or other elements that will simply be wrong if applied in the reverse, I’m sorry to say, there’s no recovery here. You’re going to need a new piece of HTV.

  31. Hi…great blog you have.

    I have a heat press and I use inkjet color images printed on vinyl letter size sheets. After cutting with cameo 3 and weeding images…..

    what type of transfer media do I use to apply to garment…..
    do I need a HTV transfer tape/sheet specifically for heat press use or will normal transfer tape/sheets do?

    Thanks in advance…

    1. Transfer tape used with adhesive vinyl will melt in a heat press (Ew…what a mess). You need transfer tape specifically designed for heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Most HTV comes with a built-in carrier sheet that works as a transfer sheet–you weed the non-design bits from it, which leaves the design attached to it. Having said that, though, I’m not familiar with printed heat transfer vinyl…you may need to buy a separate carrier sheet to use with it. I would check the vinyl manufacturer’s website for the product info about your printable HTV. That should tell you exactly what you need to successfully apply it.

    1. Stretch HTV is usually thinner than regular HTV, so would be a good choice for a light t-shirt. My fave brand is Siser Easyweed & Siser Easyweed Stretch. I’ve also just tried Chemica HTV brand and find it thinner than regular Siser Easyweed.

    1. There have been mixed results when it comes to HTV on mugs. I haven’t tried flocked on ceramic, but the thicker glitter HTV seems to work better than regular HTV, so I would think the flocked would work well, too. None is guaranteed to withstand the dishwasher.

  32. Hi, I was interested in which heat press was popular for silhouette, but the link to amazon site is broken. Can you provide the description / link again please. I’ve tried the HTV on t-shirts using an iron and have been very unsuccessful. I’m determined to figure this out….all help appreciated.

    1. Oops, sorry! That sometimes happens with Amazon links. Thanks for letting me know. :^) I’ve updated the link (above).

      I’m sorry you’ve not had success applying with an iron. If you’ve followed all the information above about pre-pressing, temperature, time, pressure, type of HTV, etc., and it’s still not working, it’s probably your iron that’s the culprit. A heat press will definitely solve that. Good luck! :^)

    1. I’ve never tried, but I’ve heard of folks successfully applying HTV to fake leather bags from Walmart. Now, having said that, I’ve also heard of many failures, where the bag ends up melted, so it’s a tricky thing to do right. If you’re determined, and you’re okay if you get a little melty bit, I would experiment on an inconspicuous place on your item to see if it would work. Use a much lower temperature and several short pressing times (few seconds at a time) until it’s applied.

  33. I am planning to make shirts for a Disneyworld trip and would like to use glitter HTV for Mickey with the castle cut out, and then use that castle for a different shirt to not waste. To do that I would need to cut the carrier sheet to separate the two. What settings would I need to do that? Thanks!

    1. Smart use of HTV! I can’t remember the settings I used (it’s been too long, and before I started keeping a notebook), but all you have to do is increase the Blade, probably by one or two. After you’ve cut your design, don’t unload it, leave it in the machine, change all of the cut lines to no cut except what you want to cut right through the backing (you can also cut by color and simply toggle which colors cut on each pass), increase the Blade by one, then send it to cut around the castle. Again, when it’s finished, don’t unload it from the machine. Instead, while it’s still in the machine, check to see if you can remove the castle (whether it cut right through the backing). If it did, you’re done. Unload. If it didn’t, increase the Blade by one again and send it back to cut. Again, don’t unload. Check if it cut through. Repeat until it does. Have a great trip! Say hi to Mickey for me. :^)

  34. Good evening. Few questions if you don’t mind. I’m fairly new to the whole vinyl world and so far loving it but…. glitter htv is driving me mad! It’s so incredibly Thick, and almost impossible to weed. The thickness and hardness gets to me. It actually is hard for me to pull the excess off the carrier sheet. Also the foggy stuff on the back I assume is the adhesive? It seems to peel off of my parts I need to keep. Am I using a bad brand? Are these things normal? Thank you so much, and I’m thankful I came across your page and appreciate all the help you offer us newbies.

    1. Welcome to vinyl! Beware…it’s addictive. LOL

      You don’t say what brand of glitter HTV you’re using, but generally, glitter HTV *is* thicker than regular vinyl, and more of a challenge to weed because the lines are harder to see. When using glitter HTV, I tend to use simpler designs (because of the thickness), and keep a printout of the design beside me while I weed, so I can be sure I’m weeding the right thing. Usually, once you get started, you can use the last thing you weeded to know where the next one is. Also, use a good light, preferably one that you can adjust the angle of the light. I find having the light down low pointed across the HTV shows the lines well. I haven’t experienced the “foggy stuff on the back” that you mentioned, so I can’t comment on that, but you shouldn’t be removing HTV from the carrier sheet. Leave the design parts on the carrier sheet and only remove the parts that aren’t part of the design. The carrier sheet is removed from the HTV *after* it’s applied. Buy a good brand of HTV. Siser is very common, but it’s one of the thick ones. For a thinner glitter HTV, try the Chemica Galaxy Stretchable Glitter HTV.

  35. I am applying both regular vinyl and glitter vinyl ( both are Siser) to a shirt. The setting for regular vinyl is 305° for 10 seconds and the setting for the glitter is 320° for 10 to 15 seconds. I am applying the glitter last what temperature should I use?

    1. With glitter HTV, you can use a lower temp but press it for longer, so use the lower temperature (or one slightly higher than 305), do a quick tack on the regular HTV (press it for only a couple of seconds…long enough for it to adhere to the shirt and allow you to remove the carrier sheet), then add the glitter vinyl and press for for the full time for the glitter. Wait a few seconds and give it another going over. Then I would turn the shirt inside out and press it from the back for another 10 seconds or so.

    1. It’s hard to say without seeing how much htv is bunched together—if you’ve got layers, then no, you’ll get blobs when you apply it—but if you can use your hand to gently push the HTV back onto the carrier sheet where it belongs, wrinkles will iron out fine. To avoid wrinkles, instead of removing the HTV from the mat, remove the mat from the HTV. To do that, flip the mat over so the mat faces up and HTV faces down. Then curl the mat back onto itself with one hand while holding the HTV onto the work surface with the other hand. This prevents the curling that causes wrinkles. (It’s a great technique for cardstock, too) :^)

      1. You are the best! Thanks so much for the technique. I’m not layering and it’s one wrinkle/crease so I’m hopeful it will iron out. Again thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *