There are several things you can create with HTV (heat transfer vinyl), whether it’s designs for bags, shirts, or any other clothing item.
Cricut cutting machines make it easy to bring these designs to life, but before you get to work, you must know what you’re doing.
Even small mistakes in the process of cutting HTV with your Cricut could end up ruining your design or even causing damage.
The following article will break down all you need to know about cutting heat transfer vinyl with a Cricut machine.
We’ll be providing instructions specifically for the Cricut Maker and the online Cricut software called Design Space, but every recent Cricut machine comes with said software, so the instructions are unlikely to differ if you’re using something else.
Is HTV The Same As Iron-On Vinyl?
It might not have occurred to you thus far, but there’s no difference between HTV and iron-on vinyl. Both terms describe vinyl that can be adhered to fabric (or other materials) via heat.
So, when we refer to heat transfer vinyl throughout this article, remember that phrase is interchangeable with iron-on vinyl.
Materials And Equipment Required
The only materials you’re going to need are some HTV and some black fabric, whether it’s a t-shirt, a tote bag, or anything else you’d like to add your design to.
Naturally, you’re also going to need a Cricut machine, whether it’s a Maker or any other machine from the manufacturer. The instructions will be almost the same for the other machines.
You’ll also need a grip mat (StandardGrip will do), a weeding tool, the Cricut EasyPress 2 (although if you don’t have access to this tool, your iron will do), and an EasyPress mat (although, again, if you don’t have one then a very soft, folded up towel would also work fine).
How To Make A Heat Transfer Vinyl Project On Cricut
So, now that you know which materials and equipment you’re going to need, let’s move on to the actual process.
Make A SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) File On Design Space
To start your design that will go on to be cut into your vinyl, you’re going to need to open Cricut Design Space on your computer and start a project.
If you already have an existing design that you’d like to cut into HTV, then open this image and you’ll be able to turn it into an SVG file.
Simply sending the PNG or JPG file to your Cricut machine won’t work- it needs to be a vector file, and every Cricut machine supports SVG.
Adjust The Design
Once you’ve either uploaded an existing design or typed out a new text design within the project, you can adjust the said design to your preference.
Both the texts and the graphics that make up your design will be positioned automatically by the program, to make the most of your vinyl. However, if you want to move around certain images or words, then do so now.
If you’ve typed your design and given each word its text box, you’ll be able to drag each word where you want it to go. Otherwise, you can use the line spacing options.
You’ll next need to make it so every component is ‘attached’, meaning all of the design is grouped. To do so, select everything in your design at once.
You’ll see a gray button at the bottom right-hand side of the interface that says Attach- click this, and every layer of your design will be attached to the rest.
Once every layer is attached, you’ll be able to move the whole design as a unit, as well as resize it as one complete design.
Another benefit of attaching the layers is that they’ll now be lined up exactly how they’ll be lined up when you begin the cutting process.
If you’re happy with your finished design, click Make It, which you’ll find at the top right-hand corner of the screen.
Send the Design To Be Cut
When you click Make It you’ll be taken to a Prepare screen. One of the most important things to remember about this stage is that you’ll need to make it so the design is mirrored before proceeding with the cut.
Every HTV design must be mirrored.
Once you’ve mirrored the design by clicking Mirror, select Continue, and you’ll be asked to pick which material you’re using.
In this case, it’ll be some variation of ‘Iron-On’, whether you’re using ‘Foil Iron-On’, ‘Glitter Iron-On’, or ‘Everyday Iron-On’.
You won’t need to choose the material if you have an Explore machine. There will be a Smart Set Dial on this machine that you’ll be able to simply toggle to Iron-On.
Now you’re going to be loading the blades into your Cricut, as well as your mat. Place your HTV onto your mat, with the shiny side of the HTV facing said mat.
Do this carefully, ensuring that every part of the HTV is stuck down.
Next, load your fine-point blade into Clamp B, and then load your mat onto the Cricut. It should go in front of the machine’s guides, at which point you should hit the button that says Load/Unload.
Design Space is very useful at this stage in the process because once it knows what material you’re using it will tell you exactly where to place the HTV, and which tools are needed.
For example, Clamp A doesn’t need a tool to be loaded when you’re working with iron-on vinyl, and it’ll tell you as much.
Now that you’ve loaded your blade and the mat, you’ll notice that the Go button will be flashing. Hit this button and the machine will begin the cutting process.
Adhering Your Design To The Fabric
When your design has been completely cut, hit Load/Unload. Turn over your mat and carefully peel it from the HTV. Put some pressure on the HTV while you’re doing this, otherwise, it may curl.
With your weeding tool, remove all of the small parts within the design that you don’t want to be included in the final project (for example, if you’d type the letter ‘O’, you’d probably want to remove the middle of that letter).
For most fabrics, you should preheat them before adhering to your HTV. This extra step will remove moisture that may have been within the fabric.
Next, preheat your fabric on the EasyPress mat for around five seconds, and then position your HTV design. Lightly hold your EasyPress against your design for no less and no more than half a minute.
Your fabric will require a few seconds to cool, and then you can peel the transfer sheet off of your vinyl.
To make sure the HTV has properly adhered to the fabric, turn your piece of fabric inside out and use the EasyPress on it for another half a minute.
Once the fabric has cooled down, you’ll have successfully designed your t-shirt, bag, or whichever other item you’d been using.
Cutting HTV with a Cricut machine is a fairly simple process because Design Space will walk you through each step, and even tell you which tools to load for your specific material.
Before you can get to this stage, though, you need to create an SVG file in Design Space. This can be as simple as uploading an existing image or simply typing your design into text boxes.
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