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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.

Personalizing kids school bags lunch boxes vinyl silhouette cameo tutorial


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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17 comments

  1. Cute boy and great tutorial! Perfect for back to school season.

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  2. The Name looks good on his things, and what a great name It is, my grandson is Blake, Cheers Anna.

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  3. I had the most difficult time getting vinyl to stick to a plastic pencil box. It kept pulling up. Any trick to preparing the surface? I was using outdoor vinyl.

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    Replies
    1. Was the plastic smooth? It should definitely not be an issue on plastic especially if you use 651/permanent vinyl. A scraper to burnish is helpful and so is removing some of the tack from the transfer tape.

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  4. Not a comment on the method, but on the actually putting kids names on things such as backpacks and suitcases. It is very easy for a 'stranger' to approach your child and call them by name. "Hello, Blake". The child is distracted because the person is someone who seems to know him/her. There is the possibility the child would be willing to go with the 'stranger'. Names on books, pencil cases, etc - no big deal. Just saying - a cancerned grandma

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    Replies
    1. Sadly, I agree with Ann. I do backpacks, but the names are on the underneath side for this reason.

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  5. Wish you would talk about using an iron not everyone has a heat press. But good info and will help me apply info to using an iron.

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    Replies
    1. Pretty much all the same rules apply for using a heat press or an iron :) You just need to make sure you are applying a lot of pressure when you are using an iron.

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  6. Monogram, ok. Full name on the outside, a bad idea. https://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/psc_english_02/page3.html

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  7. Oh....if I would have had this two weeks ago! We've got several years of school left so I'm so glad to know how to correctly do this. By the way, I understand the safety concerns, however, my daughter is a car rider so her being seen in her personalized backpack and lunchbox is only in school and the short walk from the building to my truck accompanied by a teacher. Thanks again for the tutorial!
    Signed, melted thermal :)

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  8. Oh....if I would have had this two weeks ago! We've got several years of school left so I'm so glad to know how to correctly do this. By the way, I understand the safety concerns, however, my daughter is a car rider so her being seen in her personalized backpack and lunchbox is only in school and the short walk from the building to my truck accompanied by a teacher. Thanks again for the tutorial!
    Signed, melted thermal :)

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  9. I did a lunch box the other day. I had a silicone oven mitt that I such on the inside of the lunch bag to prevent it for sticking and melting. Worked great!

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  10. Hey Melissa! This is great info! I can't wait to try it out on some things I've been hesitant to in the past. Thanks so much!

    What is the neat organizer that you have to the right of your cameo? Whatever it is, I think I need it!

    Tammy

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  11. When posting the temp. It would be nice to say Farenheight or Celcius. When I bought my second press I didn't realize there was a difference. Nice tutorial.

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  12. I use a Janome presser. This has the same heat designations as a household iron. i.e...cotton, linen,silk,etc. It would be so helpful to know how these relate to actual temperatures.

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  13. I wish I had seen this BEFORE I melted the plastic lining of a small bag I got at HL that I carry all the stuff I use with my colored pencils like paper stumps, a sharpener etc. (Ever the frugal crafter, I cut the melted lining out and lined the inside with patterned duct tape so as not to waste the fabulous glitter HTV I put on the outside.) Although I have a small heat press, I don't have a pressing pillow but after reading your post, I think I'll check into getting one. TFS!

    ReplyDelete

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