Welcome to the third and final installment of our Ultimate HTV Beginner’s Guide! Our goal throughout this guide has been to get you from complete newbie to a heat transfer vinyl PRO! Well, maybe not a pro . . . but at least an apprentice!
In Part 1, we talked about all the supplies you'll need in order to get up and running with heat transfer vinyl projects.
In Part 2, we showed you how to make, cut, and weed your design!
In this Part 3, we’ll be walking through how to press the HTV design onto a t-shirt using a home iron. If you haven’t already, make sure to read the first two parts before reading this one!
The last thing we did in Part 2 was weed the material, which resulted in us having our ready-to-press vinyl design:
Now that we have this design, all that’s left for us to do is apply it to the t-shirt! To do that, we’re going to use an ordinary home iron and ironing board. You can pretty much use any iron that you have lying around the house. Some people suggest using one without holes on the bottom (where the steam comes out), but we don’t think it's that big of a deal. Just be sure not to have any water in your iron and also not to have the steam setting turned on.
Go ahead and set your ironing board up and plug in your iron. Turn the iron up to its hottest setting. After the iron is pretty hot, go ahead and iron the front of the t-shirt. We like to place the t-shirt around the ironing board so we’re only ironing the front layer.
After the shirt is nice and free of wrinkles, go ahead and place the weeded design on the shirt exactly where you want it to be permanently affixed. The stickiness of the carrier sheet will hold the design in place, but you can also feel free to adjust its placement. In other words, you don’t need to place it in exactly the right spot on the first try (but you do need to put it exactly where you want it before applying heat.)
How you position your design on the t-shirt is really just a matter of personal preference and creativity. But one common mistake you should avoid is placing your lettering/design to close to the shirt's collar.
If you can’t get a good view of the whole shirt while it’s on the ironing board (in order to figure out where to place the design), just take the shirt off the board, place it on the floor, apply your design, and then place the whole t-shirt back onto the board. Sometimes that’s the best way to make sure the design is in the right place in the context of the entire t-shirt.
After your design is in the desired place on the t-shirt which is on the ironing board, it’s time to make sure your hot iron is hot enough. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE MISTAKE BEGINNERS MAKE: Not letting the iron get hot enough or using an iron that cannot get hot enough.
The key to avoiding this pitfall is to use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of the iron’s surface. In this video we use a digital thermometer, but a non-digital thermometer is fine too.
In this project we've been using Rozzy Crafts’ Red Glitter heat transfer vinyl, which requires an application temperature of 300 to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. If the thermometer you’re using cannot get higher than at least 275 degrees, you’re going to need to get a different and hotter iron.
Once your iron is the right temperature, the time has come to apply heat!
One of the main drawbacks of using a home iron instead of a heat press is that the surface of the iron is usually not big enough to cover your entire design at once. As a result, in order to make sure the entire design is properly pressed, you’ll need to divide the design up in your head into different segments—each segment being smaller than the surface of the iron. You then press each segment for the amount of time stated in the instructions—in this case, 8 to 10 seconds.
Be sure to press firmly straight down and to hold the iron in place. Once the 8 to 10 seconds have passed, lift the iron up and move on to the next segment. Once again apply the heat straight down for 8 to 10 seconds.
When you move from pressing one segment to the next, TRY TO AVOID OVERLAPPING AREAS YOU’VE ALREADY PRESSED. It’s not the end of the world if you do overlap (we did in this video a little bit), but overlapping is how you risk burning your t-shirt and vinyl.
After you’ve pressed each segment of your design for 8 to 10 seconds, go back and run the iron over the entire design several times. Don't press down too hard, just run the iron lightly.
Pay special attention to the edges of the design. You really want to make sure the edges are fully and strongly applied. Keep the iron moving so you don’t do damage to the t-shirt or design.
If you’re using Rozzy Crafts HTV, you need to let the vinyl cool before peeling the carrier sheet away. (That’s what’s meant by “cool peel” vinyl.) After you’ve let the vinyl cool—or immediately after you press, if you’re using a "hot peel" vinyl—go ahead and slowly peel away the carrier sheet.
Once you've peeled away the carrier sheet, VOILA!, you have a beautiful new t-shirt! Great job!
And with that, our Ultimate Beginner's HTV Guide has come to an end!
Our goal has been to get you from having no clue about the heat transfer vinyl world, to being able to produce a simple text-based t-shirt. Hopefully you've been able to follow along with no problem, but if you have any questions please don't hesitate to send them to us or ask them at our Facebook group, "Heat Transfer Vinyl Is Fun!"
Best of luck with your HTV future! And remember, the only limit is what you can imagine!!