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Avoid Heat Transfer Vinyl Mistakes with these 3 Must-Do Tips

Avoid Heat Transfer Vinyl Mistakes with these 3 Must-Do Tips

Heat Transfer vinyl (HTV) is a hot commodity among crafty folks like us at Hippie Crafter, and its popularity is growing.

Likely, you’re reading this blog because you’ve heard how fun it is to work with HTV and are looking for high-quality sheets like our chameleon, holographic, or metallic HTV, or you’re ready to create a fabulous item and need some quick tips. Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive right into the world of working with HTV!

#1 Mirror the Image

Let’s imagine for a second that you’ve finished putting your final touches on your favorite design. The image looks spectacular and that wording the goes along with the image is just so clever and cute!

You’re happy with your design. You’re ready to cut. Or are you?

 I’ll give you a hint: if you haven’t flipped your design (i.e., “mirrored” it), you are 100% NOT READY to cut.

Believe me, there’s nothing worse than spending time designing an image, only to forget to flip it. If the imaged isn’t mirrored, the words in your design will show reversed on your surface – that’s a huge HTV party foul. Unless, of course, you plan on carrying a mirror around with you to show others what the final product should look like.

Okay, okay…all joking aside, mirror that image and NOW you’re ready to cut.


#2 A Cut Above

HTV consists of two sides: the vinyl (heat activated) side and the carrier sheet, or “shiny” side.

No matter what you use to cut your design, remember: shiny side down. Why, you say? Well, as stated above, the shiny side is the carrier sheet, as opposed to the vinyl side. The vinyl side is what will be cut and pressed onto a shirt or other surface. 

If you’re using a cutting machine, kudos! Your cutting task is a cinch. Just be sure your machine is set to “vinyl” and follow all directions that came with the packaging.

If a cutting machine is not yet in your budget, you can cut your design by hand (yes, you can!) BUT get ready to pack some patience.

Larger designs that don’t require intricate detail work best when cutting by hand. If a detailed design is what you have your heart set on, just be sure you set aside plenty of time to cut.


#3 The Heat is On

There’s a ton of “pros” when it comes to working with HTV, but one of my favorites has GOT to be the fact that a heat press isn’t required to make great stuff. This little fun fact is especially useful if you’re just getting started or if purchasing a heat press isn’t in the cards yet.

Do you own a household iron? If so, you’re ready to press.

But wait. A caveat. Using your iron to create a unique design isn’t like running it over your favorite shirt on an ironing board to get out the wrinkles. In fact, I’d ditch the ironing board altogether.

To ensure a successful transfer using an iron:

  1. Use the highest heat setting.
  2. Press FIRMLY – put as much weight on the iron as possible. An ironing board will give under the pressure you’d need to use, so try using a sturdy table or even the floor. Be sure to protect your surface with fabric placed under your project.
  3. Hold the press for about 15-20 seconds.


If you DO have a heat press, that’s great! To ensure a successful transfer using a heat press:

  1. Use 300-320 degrees.
  2. Press with medium pressure.
  3. Press for 8-12 seconds.


Ready, “Press,” Go!

While it does take some practice to get going, I know you’ll love working with HTV. In fact, you’ll probably become an HTV addict – don’t say I didn’t warn you!


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