My neighbor asked if I would make her a shirt with an iguana on it for her next trip to Mexico. “No problemo”, I told her, pretty sure ‘no problemo’ missed the Spanish by a bit. Then she asked if I could have the iguana come over her shoulder. “Wouldn’t that be cute,” I said, wondering how I was going to make it happen.
But once I had the design cut and ready to apply, I found a great way to support Mr. Shoulder Iguana during pressing. So, if you’ve ever wanted to apply HTV over the shoulder, read on; I’ll show you how I did it. And if you’d like an iguana design, for over the shoulder or not, I’ve got the free SVG and Silhouette cut files for download, as well.
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What you need…
- Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) – In two contrasting colors. I used Siser Easyweed dark green and Chemica metallic gold
- Iron & ironing board
- Teflon sheet or parchment paper – today I used parchment paper
- Weeding tool
- Wooden chair with a square-ish back to be shoulder-like – I used an Ikea Ingolf chair
- Bath towel
- Printer & copy paper (optional)
- Silhouette cutting machine – or another brand if you use the .svg file.
- Free cut file ↓ ↓ ↓
Mr. Iguana is a Creative Commons commercial use image. The license allows for the file to be adapted, so I tweaked him a bit, doing some point editing to clean him up, and adding the dual color to his tail.
To figure out the design size I needed, I printed three different sizes, trimmed them with scissors close to the design, and auditioned them on the shirt. I wanted Mr. Iguana to fit on the shoulder, but not step onto the sleeve or collar. For my size L shirt, the winning design size was 9¾” tall. It also conveniently fits on a 10″ piece of HTV. Go ahead and resize the design to fit your project (select it and drag a corner box).
If you’re new to HTV or you need a refresher, I’ve got a jam-packed post about working with HTV HERE. Here’s the fast forward version for this project:
Cutting the design…
Remember to mirror the design so it looks the way you want it once applied.
Cut the two design parts in contrasting HTV colors and weed out (remove) the parts that aren’t part of the design. My neighbor chose dark green and gold, which she’d fallen in love with thanks to the Ray Bradbury Bee Bookbag. I have to admit, the gold does look rather smashing on Mr. Iguana.
Applying the design…
Since a shirt shoulder isn’t a nice flat surface for pressing, and the sleeves have layers with seams that are hard to avoid, I recommend grabbing your iron for this one and leaving the heat press turned off. It’s much easier to maneuver the iron around all the curves.
So, now the tricky part—finding a shoulder shape to press on that is firm enough to offer resistance to the iron. If I were very, very careful, I could use my ironing board, but getting Mr. Iguana in the right place on both the front and back of the shirt without blips at the shoulder seemed fraught with potential disaster, so I went in search of another solution. I don’t have mannequins or dressmaker forms hanging about, and a real person is out of the question (WARNING: do not even think about ironing clothes while someone is wearing them. If you do, you’re almost guaranteed a visit to the burn unit at a hospital near you. I know that’s quite a “duh”, but I want y’all to be safe, so I’ll say it out loud for good measure.). Here’s what I did instead.
I plopped a folded bath towel over the square-ish back of a wooden chair. There are about eight layers of towel.
Then I fitted the shirt over top as if the chair were a mannequin, and smoothed the fabric flat. It fit really well—the chair+towel made a surprisingly good shoulder stand-in. It was easy to layout Mr. Iguana exactly where I wanted him.
As you can see I started with the green layer. It looked like an iguana, so it gave me a good idea of what the whole design would look like once applied, and the design began and ended with green parts, so it would be easy to see what area would be covered by the completed design. I just had to remember to allow room for those shiny gold toes.
Here’s what the back looked like before pressing:
When I had Mr. Iguana positioned where I wanted him, I covered the design with parchment paper (a Teflon sheet would work fine, too).
Note: Since the design has two colors, and HTV tends to shrink slightly when applied, I didn’t press for the full time, just long enough to adhere the HTV to the shirt and allow me to remove the carrier sheet. This gives minimal shrinkage in the first color so the second color design should still match well.
Starting with the bottom of the design, I pressed the iron to the parchment paper/HTV/towel/chair with one hand while gently pushing the other side of the chairback toward the iron with my other hand to give the iron something to push against (so the chair didn’t fall over or skitter across the room).
I worked my way around the chairback, press a few seconds, move, press a few seconds, move, until the whole design had been pressed for a couple of seconds.
After carefully peeling off the carrier sheet, I went to the ironing board to apply the gold. Now that the first color of the design is in place, I can use the first color as a guide to apply the second one.
To apply the second color, slip the shirt over the ironing board so the board fills the shoulder area of the shirt. Smooth the fabric out, and position the second color. If you have trouble getting everything to match, pressing probably shrank the first layer a little, throwing things off a bit. In that case, cut apart the second color carrier sheet with scissors and apply the parts one or a few at a time. As before, cover with parchment paper and press for a few seconds. When done, peel off the carrier sheet(s). If you use Chemica HTV, as I did, remember it’s a cold peel. It really does make a difference, so do wait for it to cool down.
I started with the tail.
After adding gold to the bottom half of Mr. iguana, I removed the shirt from the ironing board, flipped it, and slipped it back on so the other side of the shirt showed…
…then applied the remaining gold pieces.
Once the gold is applied and the carrier sheet(s) removed, cover the whole design with parchment paper and press for the full application time to get proper adhesion. Flip the shirt and press for the full time on the other side.
Pay particular attention to that bulky seam—make sure the HTV is properly applied right up to the seam on both sides. Butt the edge of the iron into the seam on the non-bulky side and press to make sure the HTV is adhered properly along the crack. You’ll know HTV is applied properly if it takes on the shape of the fabric fibers. On t-shirt material, the effect is subtle, but it’s there. If your HTV looks smooth, press some more.
And yo, you’re done!
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