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Vinyl designs are a great way to personalize clothing and accessories, or to make fun, customizable crafts. Add your child’s name to a diaper bag, a fun design on an otherwise plain t-shirt, or a famous quote on your bathroom’s hand towels. With vinyl, you can print out any image imaginable and apply it to fabrics like cotton, polyester, spandex, and more.
If you’re interested in trying out this fun, simple, and affordable DIY suggestion, here’s a simple guide that will show you the best way to apply a heat transfer vinyl.
Make Your Design
Before applying your vinyl, you’ll need to make it.
Vinyl paper can be purchased at your local craft store, or from online retailers like Amazon. They go into your printer like regular paper. Make sure you purchase a kind that’s compatible with the type of fabric you’re using. Some work better for cotton, while others are recommended for use with spandex.
You can make your own design using online programs like GIMP or Photoshop or purchase pre-printed ones online.
If you’re making your own design, don’t forget to flip the image before you print it. If you don’t, the final product will be backward!
Cut Out the Image
The first step to applying your vinyl is cutting it into the appropriate shape. Cutters work well for this, as do scissors.
When cutting your vinyl, keep the glossy side facedown.
Use your cutting tool of choice to trace along with the printed stencil. Go around the edges of your design, ensuring you’re only cutting through the first layer of your printout. Cut close, so there aren’t any white borders left behind.
After the stencil is cut, peel off any pieces that aren’t a part of your design, including the clear layer.
Apply To the Desired Surface
These next few steps will outline the best way to apply your heat transfer vinyl. For this, you can either use a clothing iron or a specialized heat press.
Heat presses have several advantages over irons. If you’re planning to make vinyl transferring into a regular hobby, they’re highly recommended.
To start, turn on your heat-press or iron. The packaging on your vinyl paper will specify the level of heat required for the application.
If you’re using an iron, set the item you’re customizing flat against an ironing board. For those using heat presses, place it into the lower half of the machine.
Set your design in the exact spot you plan to transfer it to. This time, the glossy side should face upwards.
Once you’re done, press on the item with the upper part of your heat press. If you’re using an iron, press it against a section of your design and hold for approximately ten seconds. Don’t sporadically move the iron or rub at the design. Instead, move your iron from spot to spot, holding for ten seconds each time.
Once the design’s been adequately heated, you’ll need to peel off the carrier sheet. For some types of vinyl, it should be peeled off directly after heating. For others, you need to wait until your project’s cooled off.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully applied your heat vinyl, and have a fun, personalized item to show for it.