posted by Ahijoy on December 02, 2022
How Heat Transfer Vinyl Works?
Heat transfer vinyl is one of the best tools for embellishing fabrics. It vivifies an otherwise monotone garment making it beautiful and eye-catching. But before we jump onto how Heat Transfer Vinyl works, let's first understand what this amazing film is. This blog explains everything you need to understand about HTV.
What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl?
Heat transfer vinyl or HTV is a polymer that is used to decorate t-shirts, clothing, bags, shoes, and other items made up of fabrics. It consists of a heat-activated backing, which helps the vinyl to completely adhere to the fabric. You just need to apply adequate heat and pressure for a recommended period of time to make it work.
Heat Transfer Vinyl comes in rolls and sheets. It is compatible with cotton, polyester, poly/cotton blends and the like fabrics. It has two sides: matte and glossy. The glossy side is the top of the vinyl with a clear plastic carrier sheet. The matte side has the adhesive which gets tacky when heat is applied to it.
There are several types of HTV with various colors, textures and finishes that you can experiment with. You can even layer them to create exquisite designs but there are certain specialty vinyl films that can only be used as the toplayer.The best thing is that HTV can be easily cut and weeded no matter how intricate your chosen design is. There is printable HTV as well on which you can print any picture you want using a normal inkjet printer.
HTV has made designing garments amazingly easy which is why so many crafters use it to create beautiful pieces. You not only get an incredible decal on your fabric but also a promise of durability and longevity making it a trusted product to use.
Tools Required For Using HTV
Let's see what things you need to work with HTV. Following tools are essential to complete a successful project:
- Premium quality HTV: Ahijoy has a vast variety of heat transfer vinyl with a plethora of amazing colors, designs and finishes.
- Vinyl Cutter: You can use an automated machine such as Cricut or Silhouette or if you are a novice, you can select a simple design and cut it with a pair of scissors.
- Cutting mat: This ensures that the cutting process goes smoothly and the blades of the automated cutter do not damage your surface. It also prevents the blades from getting dull sooner than expected.
- Heat Press: A heat press machine transfers your design onto the selected substrate applying the required temperature and pressure. If you are new to this mode of crafting, you can even use a regular dry iron available at home.
- Heat resistant tape: This will help keep your design where you want it on the fabric.
- Weeding tool: This helps remove negative vinyl from the adhesive carrier sheet once the design is cut. Ahijoy has state-of-the-art weeding pens that make the job extremely easy.
- Teflon sheet or parchment paper: You cannot apply heat to your design directly. You will have to place this sheet on top to save the design from burning or melting. This is a non-stick sheet so it also prevents tiny bits of HTV from sticking to your heat press machine.
How Heat Transfer Vinyl Works?
It is not difficult to work with HTV. Once you have the right tools, you will quickly get the hang of it with only a little practice. Follow the simple steps mentioned below to completely understand how heat transfer vinyl works:
Step 1: Prepare The Fabric
Before starting the process, it is imperative to prepare the fabric for thorough transfer and longevity of the vinyl. Wash it with a mild detergent but do not use any bleach or fabric softener. After it has dried, press the garment to remove any remaining moisture as it should be completely dry and crease-free. Use a lint roller to remove any small loose fibers that may hinder perfect adherence of the HTV.
Step 2: Select A Design Of Your Choice
To customize, you will have to select a design of your choice that you want to transfer. It can be simple or intricate. It can also include lettering. You can use any software you are comfortable with to create this design. If you are using an automated cutting machine, you will get compatible software along with it.
With Cricut you get Design Space and with Silhouette you get Silhouette Studio. Just make sure that the design and fonts are of the correct size according to the space of your substrate where you want to place them. Also, before you cut your design, make sure your image is reversed or mirrored.
Step 3: Load Your Vinyl In The Cutter
Once you are done with designing your file, you need to load your HTV in the cutting machine you are planning to use. Take a cutting mat and place the vinyl on it aligning it with the grid on the mat. The glossy, carrier sheet side of the HTV should face down on the mat.
Step 4: Cut Your Vinyl
Press ‘Make it’ on your cutting machine and let the magic begin! The cutter will carve out your design on the matte, adhesive side of your vinyl that is why we mirror the design. Once the design is cut, unload the mat and remove the vinyl. Now it’s time to weed.
Step 5: Weed Out The Excess Vinyl
Once your design is cut, weed out the excess vinyl from it. You just need to peel off the extra HTV from the carrier sheet using your weeding tool. This process needs time and patience, especially if the design is intricate. Be calm and confident, and let the design take shape as you first weed out the vinyl from the sides and then the inside of the design.
Step 6: Transfer The Design
Once the extra vinyl is removed, you can clearly see your design. Now it’s time to apply heat to it. Preheat your machine to the desired temperature. Once it is done, place your fabric on the bottom heat press platen. Align and place the design on top of the fabric where you want it to be.
You can use the heat resistant tape to make sure that the design does not leave its place. Place a Teflon sheet or parchment paper on top, Adjust the pressure and time setting according to the vinyl used. Now press your fabric.
As soon as the timer goes off, open the heat press. According to the instructions mentioned, you will have to see whether the vinyl is cold peel or hot peel. If it is hot peel, you can remove the carrier sheet immediately otherwise wait for the design to cool. Once it is done, you are ready to flaunt your amazing piece of art.
Using Household Iron To Transfer HTV
If you are a newbie or you still have to invest in a heat press machine, you can use your dry household iron to transfer the HTV design on the fabric. Do not use a steam iron. Here’s how to go about it:
- Set your workstation on a sturdy table. Cover it with a thick cloth, ironing mat or a towel so that its surface does not get damaged.
- Put your fabric on which the design is to be transferred on top of it and place your already cut and weeded design on the desired spot. You can secure it with a heat resistant tape so that it does not move.
- Place a Teflon sheet or parchment paper on top of your design.
- Set the settings dial of your iron to cotton. Press your design by applying pressure. Do not move your iron to and fro. Just press down all parts of your design evenly for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Once the whole design has been pressed evenly, remove the carrier sheet according to the cold or hot peel instructions. You have successfully transferred your design.
HTV Aftercare Instructions
In order to get the best out of your HTV projects, it is important to follow these aftercare instructions to ensure durability and longevity of the vinyl. If properly taken care of, it will not peel or fade. Here’s what you need to do:
- Once the design is transferred, do not wash your shirt for at least 24 hours. It will be good to leave it for a day or two to allow the adhesive to adhere thoroughly to the substrate.
- Wash the fabric inside out with hands. Do not rub or wring it.
- Do not use a harsh detergent, bleach or fabric softener.
- Do not tumble dry. Put the fabric on the clothesline away from sunlight.
- Avoid excessive UV exposure. Heat tends to weaken the adhesive of the HTV.
- It is better to clean a stain on the spot than to soak the whole shirt.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have summed up everything you need to know about how heat transfer vinyl works, what materials and tools are required as well as the steps you need to follow to complete the process. We hope this guide will be useful for you. Get the best HTV from Ahijoy and start crafting. Don’t forget to send us your feedback.