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How to Put Heat Transfer Vinyl on Insulated Lunch Boxes and Backpacks

You know it's back to school season when you start getting questions about putting heat transfer vinyl on lunch boxes and backpacks...and not just from Silhouette users! If your kids are anything like mine they "need" a new lunch box and backpack set every year...and they "need" to be labeled with something fancier than a Sharpie. I have no idea where this mindset came from. Bahah who am I kidding?

heat transfer vinyl insulated lunch box backpack silhouette cameo

Anyway...this year my kindergartner really took the whole "vinyl all the things" to the extreme. He wanted to label everything with vinyl from his crayon box to this lunch box. I had to draw the line but I did agree to putting some HTV on his lunch box and book bag, along with vinyl on his pencil box and water bottle.

Lunch boxes and soft coolers present a challenge because of the thermal material on the inside. It's easy to melt them with heat, but since we need heat to apply HTV it can be tricky.  So what's the trick?!
The key is lower than normal time, temperature and pressure.  Start by cutting the heat transfer vinyl like you normally would in reverse.

Silhouette CAMEO tutorials beginners

I let Blake pick out the exact colors and fonts he wanted.  He also likes to help me load the cutting mat and weed the HTV.  He's a pretty good helper for five, don't you think?!

Silhouette CAMEO heat transfer vinyl tutorials

When it comes time to apply the HTV to the lunch box you want to warm up your heat press or iron to about 270 degrees.


 Place the HTV onto the lunch box and unzip it so you have a pretty flat surface.

Putting HTV lunch boxes bookbags Silhouette CAMEO tutorial Silhouette portrait heat transfer vinyl

Place a pressing pillow on the bottom plate of the heat press first or on the surface where you'll be pressing with an iron.  This will help absorb some of the heat. 

How to use a heat press htv tutorial silhouette cameo Finally, place a teflon sheet - folded over double - on top of the lunch box.

Time temperature for Heat Transfer Vinyl on thermal bags

Then apply heat for 10 seconds at medium pressure.  After 10 seconds check to see if the carrier sheet can be removed without pulling up the HTV. If so, pull the entire carrier sheet off and you should be good to go.

If you need to apply more heat do so in 5-7 second rounds checking if you can cleanly remove the carrier sheet in between each.


Applying heat transfer vinyl to backpacks works the same way - you want about 10 seconds of low heat and medium pressure. The least amount of heat, pressure and time is what you're going for when it comes to putting HTV on thermal lunch boxes and backpacks.

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By the way, if you want to get really fancy you can even use you child's own handwriting to label their items! You can check out that Silhouette CAMEO tutorial on cutting handwriting here.



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