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Silhouette Heat Transfer Vinyl Tips for Beginners

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio
Whether you're new to Silhouette or just new to using heat transfer vinyl, we've got some tips and tricks for you.  Heat transfer vinyl is a special type of vinyl that can be cut on the Silhouette machines which can then be transferred to fabric be it clothing, pillow covers, bags, etc.

I suggest keeping your first heat transfer project a simple one, by working with something easy like a t-shirt that has a big open area and is easy to iron.  You may also want to test out HTV on an inexpensive piece first until you get the hang of it. I got this shirt at the craft store for just $1.

You can buy individual pieces of heat transfer vinyl at places like Expressions Vinyl or you can get started with the Silhouette HTV starter kit.  The kit is available on Amazon and can almost always be found for less than the price it's sold for in the Silhouette Online Store. I scored it on sale for about $25 - totally worth the price since it comes with 5 or 6 pieces of vinyl, the hook tool, and a $10 download card to the Silhouette Online Store.  An idea book and instructional DVD are also included.

Gather all your supplies before you get started. Here's what you'll need:
  • Heat Transfer Vinyl
  • T-Shirt or other fabric where you want to place the heat transfer
  • Hot Iron
  • Thin cotton fabric like a handkerchief or sheet
Let's get started...
Open up Silhouette Studio.   I made a t-shirt for my daughter with Elsa from Frozen. I will share some tips on using two colors of heat transfer vinyl in a follow up post, but for now let's just work with one.  Get your design all ready in Studio.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you transfer your design it will be the mirror image of you're design in Silhouette Studio.  If you have a design with no text, it's most likely not a big deal if it's the mirror, but if you have text, you want to be sure to flip your design horizontally.   I did not include the text on my daughter's shirt, but I have added it to the design for this example so you can see what it should look like as you go to cut.

Here's what the design originally looked like and the orientation I want when it goes on the shirt.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio

To mirror the image, group everything together and click on 'Open the Replicate Window' icon.  Click either 'Mirror Right' or Mirror Left.'  This is what you have now.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, replicate window

Select the original design (mine is on the left above) and delete it and then you can move the mirrored image over into the cutting area.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, mirrored

When you're ready to cut click on the 'send to Silhouette' icon (circled below)  You'll need to change the settings to Heat Transfer Vinyl - be sure to pick either smooth or flocked.  Flocked is the HTV that's kinda fuzzy.  I was working with smooth so I selected Heat Transfer Material - Smooth.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, test cut

Now here's where it gets a little tricky.  The machine suggests a very low blade setting of 2.  Perhaps it's because my blade is dulled or perhaps it's for some other reason, but I had to have my blade on a 6 to get it to cut through the vinyl, but not cut through the backing.  You likely won't need it that high, but I suggest performing a test cut first so you don't waste an entire piece of HTV. 

Also, the manufacturer suggests cutting without the mat.  I prefer to use the cutting mat whenever possible because I feel like it holds the medium in place better and gets a better cut.  I have cut HTV both ways and it works fine.  Just be sure you either check or uncheck the 'Cutting Mat' box depending on how you're cutting.  Regardless of whether you're using a mat or not, the shiny side of the HTV should be face down.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, shiny side, Silhouette Portrait

Now you're ready to cut...don't forget your test cut!

When the design is cut unload it from the machine and weed it, but leave your design ON THE CLEAR BACKING!!!  I apologize that these pictures are of two different color vinyls, I forgot to take a few pictures the first time around....


Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, snowflake

If you need to cut the design pieces apart, so you can properly position them on your shirt, you can do that now. 

Here's where the magic happens. Lay your shirt out flat on your ironing board and have your iron really hot.  Position your design exactly as you want it to look.  Be sure the clear plastic backing is up and the vinyl is touching the shirt or whatever you're transferring the design to.  If you have text, it's easy to see now why you needed to mirror the image before you cut.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio

Take your extra piece of material - the sheet or handkerchief - and lay it down on top of the vinyl/backing.  Now press your iron down on top with a lot of pressure for about 45-60 seconds. 

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, ironing

Remove the iron and the extra fabric and slowly peel up a small area of the clear backing.  If the vinyl does not stay on the shirt, lay it all back down and add more heat and pressure from the iron. If the heat transfer vinyl does stick, and it should, slowly peel away the backing.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio, peeling

When I posted a sneak peek of this design on Silhouette School's Facebook page many of you asked about how I did two colors of vinyl. I will be sharing a tutorial on how to make heat transfer design with multiple color vinyl tomorrow.

Heat transfer vinyl, HTV, tips, beginners, Silhouette tutorial, Silhouette Studio


PS. Not sure what's going on with her hair...haha

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!


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32 comments

  1. Hello was wondering which htv vinyl you recommend for monogram tshirts/sweatshirts? I literally just pulled my cameo out of the box and i am starting from knowing absolutely nothing about this. I noticed that there are several dif htv to choose from. I want to purchase the right one as when I do get good at this I want to sell Monogram tshirts etc to keep up my nasty little monogram habit! lol! anything you can tell me or show me is so appreciated. Thank you!

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  2. Is the top of the vinyl you use sticky when you remove the backing?

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  3. How do you make use of all of that extra HTV? Can you stick it back onto the backing and cut again? Thanks!!

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  4. TEST CUT!!! grrr! Should have totally made test cuts! I just wasted about 1 sqft of HTV because *I* failed to make a test cut. I guess that a blade setting of 2 (on my blade) isn't enough. I too must have a dull blade -- whomp, whomp!
    Wish I read this first. But that's what I get for diving in head first into another project, yet again. :-\

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    Replies
    1. You sound like me....exactly like me. Lol

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  5. I opened a brand new blade for my first heat transfer project and I had to set it to 7 to get the right cut. It's not about dull blades or new ones, the pre-loaded settings just aren't enough for the material.

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    1. You're right! This was first time doing this and I put in a new blade. Had to set it to 6. Maybe it has something to do with quality of the vinyl...Silhouette's vs. others. I used Easy Weed.

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  6. Thank you for all your help! This was got me started :)

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  7. nice information is shared. this Heat Transferpress has made excellent look of the T-shirt.

    i did not know before, how stickers are pasted on T-shirt which appears a bright look on Clothes. by this blog, i came to know this work.

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  8. Hello, I'm new to the group. I'm trying to find a tutorial on subtracting a picture to fit inside of an ornament for a print and cut Any help would be appreciated.

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  9. I'm having issues with my HTV staying on after a wash. I don't have a heat press, just an iron. I press it under a thin towel (think flour sak towel) and then after it's good and stuck I peel off the backing and press it again. All seems well and good and then you wear it and wash it and the vinyl starts peeling up. You can re-iron it but it will only stick until the next wash. Any ideas?? I feel like I am pressing hard and long enough and on the hottest setting. People always ask me to make them shirts but I don't want to make someone something and have the vinyl peel off after a wash. I would be embarrassed by my work.

    I don't know if it's acceptable but anyone who may have info is free to email me personally at shellielatham@gmail.com. I don't know if I will get a notification from this forum. I have avoided working on my project to-do list because of this issue.

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    Replies
    1. I have heard pre washing without fabric softener using clean and clear All detergent helps and to make sure you press VERY hard with the iron on a firm surface my ironing board is too squishy. It takes longer to iron by hand, also you could try using parchment paper instead of a towel it may transfer the heat of your iron better.

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    2. I tried ironing from the inside with the last shirts I did so we will see if that helps. I will try the pre-washing and see if that helps as well. I plan on buying an actual heat press within the next couple months so hopefully this will no longer be an issue. Thank you for your reply.

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    3. I started my t shirt printing with an iron and as well as you the quality was bad I than bought a heat press and the rite transfer paper and I come up trumps for more info on this topic please visit http://wwwfranklinehan.blogspot.com.au

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  10. The issue that you raised in your blog is really very serious, and most of people lose the quality and integrity of such subjects, when they try to pen it down. But, your job is well done.

    Thanks
    start school

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  11. This was a HUGE help!!! Thank you so much!!!!

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  12. I just got a Cameo Silhouette and I have not been very successful. Im using HTV and it has ALWAYS cuts right though the backing! I dont know what to do! the recommended settings dont work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you checked your blade to make sure you are not cutting on the wrong setting? Like I use a 1 for regular HTV and a 4 for glitter. If you are using a higher number than necessary it will cut thru your backing, and your mat too!

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  13. just got my silhouette and I'm eager to try EVERYTHING! I've been on several blogs over the last week and I just had to leave a note that your how to is nicely written and easy to understand . good work!

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  14. silhouette HTV doens't need additional transfer paper?! I just bought a roll of transfer paper for HTV projects!! oh my! Also, for HTV projects do I always want to mirror my image to the wrong side so when I apply, it applies the right side? Hope that makes sense. I just ordered my first order of HTV!!!

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  15. If the design has 2 colors, do you cut the entire design in both colors or is there a way to separate the design?

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  16. Can you tell me the transfer sheet, can you tell me how to determine the top from the bottom. Because I put mine the wrong way and messed up some previously layered vinyl. I looked at the transfer sheet and really couldn't tell up from down. HELP any tips would be wonderful.

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  17. One of many tips I will read before unboxing my cameo. Just got it yesterday, still in the box. I am too afraid to get started! Silly right?

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    Replies
    1. How is it going? I am still researching to determine which machine I want. I am leaning towards the Cameo but am kind of scared. Any tips you can share? Email me at JBUCK161@aol.com. Thanks!

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  18. I'm finding that parts of my image are cutting just fine, others aren't going through the HTV and other spots are cutting completely through the backing as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've found that a well-used mat can cause that. Also, the black strip on the machine under where the blade travels can cause that too. If that strip is worn or cracked at all, it should be replaced. It's an easy fix.

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  19. thank you for this blog! I feel I am much more comfortable with HTV and this is where it all started!

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  20. Thanks for sharing all of your helpful tips! I recently discovered your blog and it has been so helpful to me as I am just starting up my silhouette-based home decor business. My daughter can't wait for me to try out my HTV on a new T-shirt for her. :)

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  21. I am new to the Silhouette Cameo I received for Christmas, and here it is August, and I am still trying to figure out why, when I cut with HTV Easy Weed vinyl, the mat slips around and it is being cut, and ruins the entire cut. What is odd, the first two smaller cuts went perfect, but when I need to cut out a larger object, the mat twists and turns and ends up cutting all over the place! I am beyond frustrated with this entire ordeal...help, please.

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  22. Am I crazy? I can't find a check box for using the cutting mat....

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    Replies
    1. The cutting mat option isn't in the 'cut settings' window, it's in the 'design page' window. Also, it's not a check box, it's a drop down line menu because you have to choose which size cutting mat you're using.

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