HTV – Working with Heat Transfer Vinyl

How I work with heat transfer vinyl. | Whatchaworkinon.comI 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.

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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 whatchaworkinon.com

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…quicktip2

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.

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.

 …..

Weeding…

 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.

 

Pressing…

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, and Silhouette brand, but there are several others. You can check the heat specs on the manufacturer websites.

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.

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, high enough heat, and a non-squishy ironing board, pushing down on your iron very firmly is sufficient pressure. You don’t need to be standing on your iron or planking it on the floor.

***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.
YOU. MUST. HAVE. ALL. THREE.
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, 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 smaller 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 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.

Preparing the fabric – Before applying HTV, thoroughly press the book bag or t-shirt or whatever you’re applying HTV to. 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 whatchaworkinon.com

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 – 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:

For
— 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 whatchaworkinon.com 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. | whatchaworkinon.com

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. You’ll know it’s applied properly when the HTV takes on the shape of your fabric fibers.Adhering HTV properly from whatchaworkinon.com

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 several colors of HTV that you’ll be applying individually, press the first one 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 in place, then cover the whole shebang with the Teflon sheet (or pillowcase or parchment paper) and press it for the full time.

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. In 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..

Lucy Maud Montgomery quote (yes, of Anne of Green Gables fame!) in heat transfer vinyl. Free Silhouette cut file. ~ whatchaworkinon.comI’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 in the left tool bar 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.

***WARNING***
==============================================================
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! ~ whatchaworkinon.com

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)…whatchaworkinon.com.

effCheers,

–Eff

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)!

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53 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. 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.

  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?

  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?

    Thanks!

    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: http://www.whatchaworkinon.com/archives/668 ). 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: http://www.whatchaworkinon.com/archives/2412

      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 types..like 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: https://www.siserna.com/Files/2016-brochure-web.pdf and check out the drop down menu under “Heat Transfer Vinyl” in the navigation bar at http://www.siserna.com 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:

      http://www.whatchaworkinon.com/archives/4801

      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
    Lyght

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