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Heat Transfer Vinyl FAQs

We understand that you may have more than a few questions about heat transfer vinyl and how everything works!  Therefore, let us save you some time and effort by answering the most popular questions our team are asked.

Heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, is a type of film that can be used to print custom designs, lettering and numbers onto different fabrics.  It is commonly used to create sports kits, party wear and even apparel for private businesses!  Printable HTV is easy to print onto, cut and press.

Iron on films are generally available as cuts from a larger roll or in small rolls which can be cut to length.  Vinyl pressing is great for producing unique promotional clothing and designs, and is backed by adhesive.  This allows it to be easily cut and weeded in preparation for heat transfer.

You can use vinyl material with specialist printing and vinyl cutting machines, and can press and print using a household iron or larger heat press.

HTV has a glossy side, or carrier sheet, which covers the vinyl itself.  The other side, which is matte, is the cuttable, adhesive side.  This is important to remember when it’s time to cut out your design!  The adhesive side is not sticky to touch.

Yes – both are exactly the same, however, some people use different terminology.  There are two parts to HTV, which are the carrier sheet and the vinyl itself.  They are initially bound together, but during the heating process and transfer, they will peel apart.  For smaller designs, you can use an everyday household iron to heat and press.  For larger or more complex designs, however, you should always use a heat press.

You will likely need the following tools and materials before you get started with HTV printing for the first time:

• Garments you wish to print onto
• Tools for weeding
• A heat press or iron
• A piece of cloth or Teflon to protect your design during the transfer process
• A cutting machine
• Transfer vinyl paper of your choice
• A compatible printer
• A PC or Mac compatible with your printer and cutter

You may also wish to make use of specialist illustration software which you can use to print your custom designs.  You may already be more than prepared!  You simply need to choose the right iron on transfer paper or vinyl for your project.

All heat transfer vinyl and iron on vinyl is perfect for t-shirts as it arrives with an adhesive that activates with heat.  You won’t be able to see or feel the adhesive right away.  However, once you apply heat, it will react and press into the fabric of your choice with ease.  This type of vinyl and adhesive is perfect for most fabrics as it can easily stick to clothing without there being any risk of tearing, splitting or loss of design.  You will simply need to make sure you follow the right instructions to get the best results!

HTV and transfer vinyl have two distinct sides, and you should always place it glossy side down for printing.  The matte side should be facing up.  The glossy side is sometimes called the ‘carrier’, and it is responsible for aligning the vinyl and adhesive.

Generally, a heat press is advised for all t-shirt vinyl.  However, it can depend on the size and complexity of the design you wish to use or print.  You may be able to use a simple household iron if your design or lettering can fit underneath.  If not, however, you will likely need to consider investing in a heat press machine.

A heat press can be an amazing asset to regular vinyl printing and design pressing.  It is generally advised that you should purchase one if you are to use heat transfer sheets regularly, or if you are likely to be working with larger designs more often than simple logos.

Using a heat press is recommended as it is crucial that you will need to apply equal pressure across your design and vinyl sheet.  Failure to apply equal pressure throughout may result in results that aren’t what you expect!  As always, we do recommend that you consider running a test print and press before you oversee a larger production run.

This can depend on the type of textile films you are using, and the temperature, however, an even press of around 10-15 seconds is normally advisable.  As a general rule, we recommend testing press any designs you print to ensure you find the best rhythm and process for the results you desire.

Yes.  Whether you are using an iron or another type of press, you should always have a protective sheet in place to cover your design.  When you are using a simple iron, you can use something as straightforward as a cloth or towel.  If you are using a larger heat press or something more advanced, you should consider using a protective Teflon sheet or something more rigid.  A tea towel or cloth, however, may generally provide you with the protection you need.

This is a common concern for anyone starting out with heat transfer vinyl and with transferring designs to fabric, and it’s a legitimate one.  The best advice we can give with regard to avoiding transfer burning is to consider applying a test press before you do transfer any logos or writing for real.

Beyond this, it is always good practice to use a lower temperature than you might start with.  This way, you can make sure you are under-heating your design as opposed to over-heating it.  Another good strategy to use to avoid spoiling or burning is to move around your iron frequently if you are using one.  A heat press will be able to support you with overall pressure that will minimise burning.  It is another great reason to invest in a professional heat press, more so if you are going to print and press designs regularly!

A pressing pillow is a tool that can be used if you are printing designs onto complex materials or items of clothing which require a little more care.  These are foam-filled pillows which are coated in Teflon and are therefore perfect for iron-on or heat transfer.  They will be able to help you transfer your designs with maximum protection.  They are ideal when it comes to making sure you apply even pressure and are great for ironing over shirt seams, hat rims and more.  If you are likely to print designs and lettering on a range of products in future, you should certainly consider investing in a pressing pillow.

You won’t always need to wash clothing before you prepare it for heat transfer vinyl, however, it is recommended that you pre-shrink the fabric as much as possible.  This means your t-shirts and other garments will be ready for an even pressing with craft vinyl or t-shirt vinyl for the best results.  100% cotton products, particularly, respond well to pre-shrinking.

However, make sure that you DO NOT use fabric softeners on garments before you use heat transfer vinyl.  Heat press vinyl may not be effective on clothing or material that has been exposed to such detergents, which means a straightforward wash – perhaps even just with warm water in a basin or in a washing machine – will be enough in terms of preparation required.

Good heat press vinyl and vinyl printing will endure years and years of use.  While poor quality or even cheap vinyl may be subject to scratching, flaking and peeling through regular use and washing, the vinyl products we supply are guaranteed to withstand regular wear and tear and even regular washing.  In many cases, iron on transfers and HTV can last longer than many garment materials!

To be able to prolong the life of your vinyl or iron on transfer design, you should always take extra care when ironing your garments.  Improper or hurried ironing technique may lead to damage or faster deterioration of your artwork.

You must also NEVER use garments with heat press vinyl in a dryer – and you should always turn your clothing inside out and wash on cold to mid-range heat (40˚C at most).  These are good steps to take to ensure that your garments withstand years of use and enjoyment.

Iron on transfers and vinyl transfer products work best on 100% cotton fabrics, but can also be used on simple polyester.  As a natural fibre, cotton is perfect for allowing t-shirt vinyl to easily adhere and remain for use after use and wash after wash.  Cotton and polyester blends will also withstand heat and will work well with heat press vinyl, which means you may even be able to get really creative and start printing on complex garments and apparel such as caps and scarves!

Some polyester, however, may not respond well to some heat products.  The vast majority of our heat transfer vinyl is designed and produced to adhere to such material, however, and providing you set your heat press to no more than 270˚F / 130˚C, you will run no risk of melting the fabric.  In fact, polyester can withstand heat of up to 482˚F!

Synthetic fabrics are not recommended for use with iron on films, iron on materials, or vinyl.  This means material such as nylon, acrylic and leather should be avoided.  Any man-made or synthetic garments, generally, will risk melting under heat pressure!

However, you can also apply transfer vinyl to surfaces and materials as diverse as wood!  Do ensure you avoid using HTV on anything such as paper or plastic, however, as they will not be able to withstand the heat.

You should always avoid washing any garments you have used printable HTV vinyl on for up to 24 hours after application.  As you would normally, pay attention to washing instructions on the garment involved and avoid washing at temperatures higher than 40˚C.  You will be able to wash garments in a standard machine, too, just as long as you make sure they are turned inside-out before you put them in!  Gentle cycles are advised to be best, which means you should avoid any special cycles or rinses if you can help it.

This may vary depending on the fabric you are using, as well as the type of transfer paper or film.  Natural fibres and materials such as cotton will be able to withstand firm pressure with temperatures of 320˚F or 160˚C.  However, you will need to be careful with polyester, as it is at greater risk of getting damaged at higher heats.

Heat transfer vinyl should be applied to polyester at heats no hotter than 270˚F or 130˚C.  While the fabric does have a higher boiling point, this is the optimum temperature to use should you wish to get the best transfer results.

It’s recommended that you avoid weeding your design until you are going to start ironing it or applying heat.  For simple storage, transportation or to offer decals as gifts, it may be a good idea to roll up anything you have printed in a Teflon sheet.  This will allow you to preserve the look and construction of your design.  There is nothing to say you have to use your garment decoration or designs right away!

Generally, any HTV with removable adhesive or with easy-weed technology will be ideal for use with a Cricut machine.  All of our HTV and vinyl products can be used with a wide array of heat presses, printing machines and cutting tools.  This includes some of our specialist products, such as glow in the dark HTV and metallic HTV!

My Question Isn’t Here – What Should I Do?

If you have any other specific queries or general questions about cuttable films, printable films, iron on patches or heat transfer designs in general, our team are always ready to help you.  Simply call us directly on +44 7471598378 or email us  [email protected] at your convenience.  Alternatively, we are also available to help you on social media, too!