What type of vinyl should I use?

Vinyl!  Possibly one of the things you’ll be using the most but where to start?  There are tons of companies providing vinyl supplies and different types of vinyl.  Under my handy links page you’ll see a list of vinyl suppliers.  Hopefully I can start getting discount codes for these sites but I’ll update everyone when this is available.

Printing onto clothing/fabric.

You need HTV also known as heat transfer vinyl, also known as Iron on.  This vinyl has an acetate type backing.  You need to cut with the backing side down.  The Cricut setting for Iron On works with their own brand vinyl.  I found the vinyl setting works fine for for me with vinyls bought from other suppliers.  You must cut this using the “mirror” function.  This function flips the image and means your design wont be back to front when pressed.  See below.  The first image shows the design as I’d created it.  On the right hand side you’ll see a button which says Mirror for Iron On.  Once you’ve clicked this button the image will change to the one on the right and flip the image.

Once your design has been cut you need to weed out the bits you don’t want.  As the backing itself it quite sticky, I found it easier being right handed to start on the left top side of the image and work diagonally down, this stops your hand getting stuck on the back sheet all the time.  I also found (although this requires concentration) to weed out the design itself first and then weed out the larger background.  Just means there’s less amount of time for the stickiness to be exposed (doesn’t matter in terms of print, just found it annoying getting my hand stuck to it, or fluff) and reduces the chance of a tiny bit of design flying off and getting stuck somewhere else on the sheet.

Once you’ve finished weeding.  Take your garment/fabric and quickly run over this with an iron to take out any creases.  Also heating up the product removes any excess moisture.  DO NOT USE STEAM.  For either pressing or applying the design.  Position your design where you’d like.  I use a ruler and measure the top and bottom to the edge of the item to make sure it’s central, (having spent over an hour weeding a very complicated design only to discover I applied it wonky).  There are loads of videos on you tube on how to apply using an iron here’s one… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnQXs2Z163c

I know lots of crafters that use irons with great success. If you are one and found the design lasts please reply to this post.  I found that my iron pressed the design brilliantly and my tshirts looked amazing, but even being washed at 30 degrees and not tumble dried the design peeled off on the first wash. Gutting!  So I bought a heat press.  More on that in another blog.

 

Printing onto plastics, glass, ceramics, wall decals, notebooks, wood.  (Worth noting vinyl is not food safe, so if you print to a plate this should be for decorative purposes only).

This is a different type of vinyl which doesn’t require heat to adhere to your product.  It has a paper type backing.  When using this vinyl you do not mirror image your design.  Again you cut with the backing side down and once the design is cut you need transfer tape to lift the design from the backing and place it on your product.  Transfer tape is a clear sticky film sold in rolls or A4 sheets.  Cut the tape to the size of your design and lay it over the design carefully, this is sticky so be careful about being too heavy handed. Once the tape is over the design using a scraper tool start in the center and run the tool across the design to the outsides to eliminate any bubbles.  Image of scraper tool below.

 

When this is done lift the tape off the design and your design should lift off with it.  If any bits of design are still stuck put the tape back down and go over the the stuck bit a bit harder with the scraper.  Or alternatively if the design has small bits I use the other end of my weeding tool.  Image of weeding tool below.

weeding tool

I always wipe down the product I’m about to add the design to with alcohol (I’m not wasting my valuable 10 year old Cuban rum) I mean rubbing alcohol, you can get this on eBay cheaply.  This just removes any dirt or grease from the product.  Then lay your design over the product where you’d like it and get “burnishing!!”, this is basically what you just did to lift the design on to the transfer sheet.  It’s rubbing the design with the scraper so it bonds to the product.  Again start from the center and move outwards.

How easily your design comes off will depend on how sticky your transfer sheet it and how sticky your vinyl is, but rub it for a bit getting all the details parts then slowly peel off the sheet at a 45 degree angle.  Really Important!  pull the sheet backwards inline with the product not up, if you pull backwards across the product you have a better chance of it sticking.  If any bits are still lifting put the sheet back over it and rub again, bit harder, try the end of the weeder for fine detail.

One note on transfer tape, this tends to be advertised as reusable but I find once I’ve used this once it’s really curly, and got a bit stuck on itself and creases have appeared.  If I try to use it again generally it tends to make my design bubble or crease more so I use new tape every time. Again, any cricut veteran that’s overcome this, please comment below.

Once the tape is up just rub over the design again to make due it’s really stuck, starting from the center and moving out.  Bubbles sometimes settle in a couple of days, if not try using the thinnest needle or pin you can just burst the edge of it to let the air out.

 

 

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