So, you’ve decided to start crafting with heat transfer vinyl (or you’re thinking about it, at least). Congratulations! Customization of various materials – garments, tote bags, and even mugs and plates – with heat transfer vinyl and heat press machines offers endless opportunities for creating unique items. With a little creativity, knowledge, and the right tools, you can even create your own business selling hand-crafted items.
But, before you plug in your heat press and vinyl cutter, it’s a wise idea to develop an understanding of heat transfer vinyl so that learn how to use it properly so that you can achieve the best results possible.
An Introduction to Heat Transfer Vinyl
Heat transfer vinyl (simply referred to as HTV in the crafting world), is a specialized type of vinyl that is specifically used to embellish fabrics. With a vinyl cutter, HTV can be cut into various designs, and then it’s weeded and adhered to textiles using either a heat press or a hot iron.
HTV features a special adhesive backing that is made out of plastic, which is weeded (torn away) from the material after it has been cut and before it is affixed to a fabric. One side of the material is the carrier side; it’s glossy in appearance and it keeps the pieces of the HTV in place while they are being applied to a garment in order to ensure that it remains properly aligned. When applying the cut vinyl to a garment, the carrier side should be facing up.
Types of Heat Transfer Vinyl
HTV is available in both rolls and pre-cut sheets of varying sizes. There are a myriad of colors, textures, patterns, and finishes available, too. If you’re planning on using the same type of HTV to create multiple designs, than purchasing a roll is likely more economical. When you’re just learning how to use HTV or you only want to create a small amount of designs from a specific color or pattern, than pre-cut sheets may be a better option.
In addition to rolls and pre-cut sheets, as well as the wide range of styles, there are also a variety of different types of heat transfer vinyl. Some of the more common types of HTV include:
- Standard HTV
- Performance wear HTV (stretchy)
- Glitter HTV
- Shiny/holographic HTV
- Metallic HTV
- Pearlescent/shimmery HTV
- Glow-in-the-dark HTV
- Flock HTV
Each type of heat transfer vinyl has a recommended temperature, pressure, and time for pressing setting. To ensure proper application, it’s important to note those settings and adjust your heat transfer machine accordingly. Additionally, it’s important that you conduct a few test cuts and modify the settings on your vinyl cutting machine to ensure the best results.
Like most things in the crafting world, there are certain terms that are associated with HTV. These terms describe properties of the material, tools that are used to work with it, as well as strategies that are involved with using it. Essential terms that you should be familiar with include:
- The removal of excess vinyl material after a design has been cut into HTV
- A tool that is used to remove excess vinyl; it’s shaped like a hook and made of stainless steel.
- Vinyl cutter. A machine that features a sharp blade that cuts designs into the material.
- Heat press. The machine that attaches cut and weeded HTV to fabric; it utilizes heat, pressure, and time to adhere the vinyl to the substrate.
- Heat transfer cover sheets. Sheets that are made of heatproof material, such as Teflon, and protect the material from being burned while the vinyl is being applied by a heat press machine.
There are so many things to learn about HVT. Take the time to familiarize yourself with this incredible material and you’ll discover a world of endless crafting possibilities.