Transferring heat transfer vinyl (HTV) can be pretty tricky, especially when it’s going to garments. There’s so much that can go wrong, and you always need to know exactly what you’re doing.
If you have recently started loving HTV, and have started trying to transfer vinyl onto clothing or fabric, you might have run into a few issues.
Your vinyl might be peeling off after a few washes, or maybe it just didn’t turn out right. Maybe it didn’t stick at all!
Whichever issue you’re experiencing, there are a few culprits that you can probably blame. We’ll be going through all of these in the sections below.
So, if you want to learn how to make your HTV adhere to fabrics properly, just stick around! By the end of this, you should know everything you’re going to need in order to be successful.
Common Heat Transfer Vinyl Mistakes: Why Your HTV Isn’t Adhering
There are a couple of common mistakes that a lot of people will make when they first start this hobby.
In fact, some of these issues might arise simply because of new equipment, or you’re trying something different. It doesn’t matter why the issue is occurring, only that it is!
If you aren’t sure what would be causing it, and feel like you’ve tried everything, double check everything we’re going to be going through on this list.
Chances are, you’re making a mistake that we talk about right here. If not, then it might be your equipment that is at fault, not you.
As long as you’re following the rules of heat transfer vinyl like we talk about below, your end results should come out perfect.
You Aren’t Applying Enough Pressure
The number one cause of peeling vinyl on clothing is due to the lack of pressure. You need to use a decent amount of pressure when you’re trying to get the vinyl to stick to your fabric of choice.
If you don’t use enough pressure, the results of all your hard work will be short lived.
The vinyl might stick to the material for a while, but after a wash and dry cycle or two, it will start peeling, or already be long gone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using a heat press, iron, or anything else, pressure is key. If you are using something like a heat press, the issue is easy enough to fix – all you need to do is adjust the pressure on the machine.
In order to determine how much pressure is required for a successful and long lasting vinyl transfer, use a dollar bill. It sounds weird, but hear us out.
Get a dollar bill and place it between the heat press platens. Simply adjust the pressure until you are unable to move the money when the press is fully closed.
If you don’t want to risk tearing a dollar bill, you can use something as simple as printer paper, since that works well, too.
Once the pressure has been configured, you shouldn’t have issues with it again. If this doesn’t solve your problem, then onto the next! Don’t worry, there are a couple of common issues, seven more to go!
You’re Using The Wrong Temperature
Using the wrong temperature is another super common issue that people have when transferring vinyl onto fabrics.
The temperature you’re using has to be high enough to get the job done, and sometimes it just isn’t.
If you’re using a home iron, you will need to make sure that you are giving it enough time to properly heat up, and that it isn’t broken.
If you’re using a machine like a heat press, you might need to take a look at the temperature settings and make the changes necessary.
It’s a good idea to take a look online to see how to make these changes if you aren’t sure how to do it.
It’s better to be careful and play it by the book and mess around and potentially cause some serious damage to your equipment!
You Aren’t Pressing Down For Long Enough
On a similar note to the one above, your temperature needs to be paired with the correct press time. This can be a little tricky if you’re doing things manually with a home iron, but it isn’t impossible!
Like with configuring the temperature for your equipment, you can also make changes to the time it presses down.
Again, you will have to search for your specific piece of equipment and figure out how to make the needed changes.
You’re Using The Incorrect Materials While Layering
Laying the incorrect materials is a common mistake that gets made, especially with anyone who is new to the process.
Many materials can be safely layered, but this all depends on what they are, and their manufacturers.
For example, some manufacturers produce glitters, printable, liquid patterned, and matte materials that can be layered easily, while others don’t.
Some thicker materials, like spectrum and hologram, have to be applied directly to the fabric of the garment in order for it to stick. This will be different for every material you can use, however.
It’s always beck to check with the manufacturer by taking a look at the website to see which materials of theirs should and can be layered safely. That way, you won’t be wasting your materials, and you’ll get the best results.
Materials that shouldn’t be layered might adhere for a short while, but after a wash, they will start to peel. This means that you will have wasted time and resources, which is exactly what we don’t want to do.
You can still use two materials that shouldn’t be layered, however. To do this, simply cut out the area that would be underneath the material. It still gets great results!
There’s Something In Your Way
When working with garments, very rarely do you get to work on something that is a completely flat surface.
Instead, there are either seams, other designs, or even zippers in your day. All of these things create an imperfect surface to work on, which makes vinyl transfer impossible!
If you are working on an uneven surface, the flattest part might get a great print, but the result of it won’t be adhered properly.
When this happens, you can literally pull the print off the shirt – we don’t want that! If there are things that will get in the way of a perfect design, try to make up for it.
In other words, if there are seams that would create an imperfect surface, try to get some fabric or cardboard to place underneath to raise the material. This should result in a great vinyl transfer.
If you’re able to, you should always try to situate zippers and seams off the press so that they don’t get in the way. This, however, isn’t always possible.
You Didn’t Do A Final Press
Your heat transfer vinyl might be peeling up because you forgot to do that final press. Completing a final, full press helps the vinyl adhere to the material well.
You will need to go over the whole design one final time with some more heat – just to make sure that all the layers are fixed to what you are pressing it onto.
If you use something like a heat press, the final press can just be an extra 10 seconds. For anyone using an iron, or something similar, go over each part of the design for 20 seconds or so.
If you are someone who likes to use an EasyPress, be sure to flip the item over and do a final press on the back for a further 15 seconds. That way, you should get the best, long-lasting results.
Your Item Got Washed Too Soon
Yet another common mistake! Never wash your freshly vinyl transferred clothing. By washing the clothing that you just transferred onto, the adhesive will start to fail, and the vinyl will come off.
You should always wait at least 24 hours before washing anything that you have heat vinyl transferred. By giving everything at least 24 hours, the HTV will have plenty of time to properly cure.
When you finally do wash your garments, make sure to use either a corm or warm wash. Wish the clothes inside out to reduce the possibility of damage, and finally dry on a very low heat.
If you don’t have a dryer or would prefer not to use one, simply hang it out to dry. Always try to avoid using bleach and fabric softeners, as they will have an adverse effect on the adhesive.
You’re Using Low-Quality Products
There is always the possibility that the vinyl you’re using is the issue in itself. Materials are not cheap, so of course we all want to save money when we can.
As such, it’s easy to fall into the trap of low quality (not so) goods. When this happens, the vinyl isn’t good enough to stick to anything, and you have wasted your money.
Always try to make sure that you are buying high quality materials to use for your crafts, especially if you intend to sell them.
Some heat transfer vinyl will last for years, while others will barely make it through a wash cycle. Learn how to tell the difference, and find a brand or manufacturer that you trust.
While you’re at it, always make sure that you are using the correct settings on your equipment.
If you are able to, you should find a brand that has both good products and good support, that way, they will be there for any issues you might have.
Tips On Getting Vinyl To Stick To Garments
If you’re having problems with getting your heat transfer vinyl to stick to your garments, you might appreciate a few tips and tricks in the area.
Check out these simple tips that you can implement to make sure that your vinyl adheres like it should.
Use The Right Type Of Fabric
As we mentioned previously, using the correct type of fabric can make all the difference when it comes to heat transfer vinyl.
Unfortunately, there is no one answer as to what the right kind of fabric is. Every manufacturer will produce their items at varying qualities and with various ingredients and materials.
To find out which fabrics and material you should use, always take a look at the websites where the items are sold.
It’s a good idea to try and stick to one or two brands, rather than getting lots of different vinyl from various brands.
Typically, brands will manufacture materials that are compatible with each other. That means that there’s a good chance that the majority, if not all, materials you buy from one brand should be able to be used together.
As soon as you try mixing and matching brands, materials and fabrics are less likely to work well together. This means that the vinyl is more likely to feel off.
Use The Correct Temperatures And Times
We mentioned this earlier, too, but using the correct times and temperatures for your heat transfer is incredibly important.
If you don’t use the correct amount of heat, the adhesive won’t work as it should, and your design is doomed to fail. Similarly, if you fail to press down or apply enough pressure when creating your design, it won’t hold.
If you think that your equipment is to blame for this, you will need to make the appropriate changes.
Depending on the equipment you’re using, you might need to go online and look for information on how to make the changes you need.
If you’re using a home iron or a similar device, this can be a little more difficult, as it is manual. You might need to buy a new iron if you think that yours isn’t able to get hot enough to get the job done.
Transfer Designs Onto Flat Surfaces
Finally – flat surfaces are your friend! Sure, this isn’t always possible, but if you can get your surface flat, then chances are, the vinyl will stick really well.
Try to keep buttons, zippers, seams, and anything else that isn’t flat off the side of the equipment.
If you want to vinyl something that you will not be able to get flat, your best bet might be to use a home iron, especially if it is a smaller area.
If you have large areas to work with, you might be able to get the surface flat by sticking some cardboard or fabric beneath the material.
This will help raise the material so that everything is level. Once everything is nice and level, you will be able to do a great heat vinyl transfer!
Heat vinyl transfer can be a lot of fun, but also hard work. For some people, it’s a full time job, and you can make pretty good money from it!
For most of us, however, it’s just a great hobby that we like to enjoy in our free time. Whether it’s a job or a hobby, when your vinyl is peeling from your garments, it isn’t a good time.
This situation can be especially frustrating when you have no idea what could be causing it.
From the heat not being high enough to a lack of pressure, there are a lot of places where the process can go wrong. However, this list will have given you a great place to start if you’ve been experiencing this issue.
It might take a little time and effort, but hopefully by going through each potential issue on this list, you have found your problem.
Once you have fixed the problem, you should be back on your way to creating flawless heat vinyl transfers. Good luck!
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