Heat transfer vinyl has quickly become a favorite way to customize and create t-shirts. With the popularity of personal computerized cutting machines like the Cricut or Silhouette, anyone can create a great design. But if you are new to this type of crafting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the different vinyl options currently available on the market. There are hundreds of vinyl products for people to choose from, with many falsely claiming to be better than the others. With so many options, how can you truly know which products are the best of the best?
Thankfully, our team of passionate experts at Avance Vinyl is here to help make the process easier. Below, we’ve written a guide that breaks down different types of heat transfer vinyl and what it is best for so you can choose the right materials for your projects.
What is Heat Transfer Vinyl
The first thing that you need to know is that there are different types of vinyl that you can leverage for different kinds of DIY projects, and it’s essential for you to understand the key distinctions between them.
The first type of vinyl that DIY enthusiasts should know about is heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, which is also the key topic for this article. In short, heat transfer vinyl uses heat from a press to adhere to the fabric. It is considered a permanent vinyl and should not be confused with temporary or permanent adhesive vinyl used for signs and non-clothing projects. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) comes in various colors and styles, including solid colors and glitter colors.
Alongside heat transfer vinyl, there is also adhesive or sticker vinyl. Adhesive vinyl is a flexible, thin material with pressure-sensitive adhesive. Basically, adhesive vinyl sticks to whatever materials it’s pressed against, as long as the material’s surface are hard and smooth, much like an ordinary sticker. However, this makes adhesive vinyl a poor choice for decorating clothes, hats, bags, and other porous surfaces that heat transfer vinyl can stick to effortlessly. Adhesive vinyl is also inadequate for decorating clothing because it can’t safely go through a wash cycle.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Layering HTV
What to Look for When Shopping for HTV
There are plenty of off-brand vinyl options available online. As the craze of personal cutting machines transforms the way we craft, new sellers pop up everywhere. When shopping for a quality HTV, consider features like:
- Color Selection
- Ease of Cutting & Weeding
The color selection is important because it allows for more variety in every project. Many HTV projects use layering to create dimensional designs, and a wide color selection makes it easier to create detailed designs.
The thickness is another important element. Thickness directly determines how easy cutting and weeding will be. Vinyl that is too thick will be bulky and stiff on the fabric, and vinyl that is too thin is difficult to work with and weed without compromising the design. And ultimately, when it comes to choosing a good HTV, ease of use is the single most important factor.
Avance Vinyl is a top choice for premium crafting supplies to create a wide variety of designs. We specialize in heat transfer vinyl, rhinestone applications, and sublimation transfers to give you the most flexibility with your projects. Learn more today.
Related: Summer Shirt Designs Using HTV
What Tools Should You Use When DIY-ing With Heat Transfer Vinyl?
When working with heat transfer vinyl, you’ll need to leverage a range of tools to help ensure that your clothes come out how you want them to. First, you’ll need your preferred selection of HTV colors, an HTV cutting mat or cutting machine, and an object to decorate with your vinyl. You’ll also need a vinyl weeding hook, tweezers, a craft knife, and a computer program and printer to create a mirrored version of your design and bring it into the real world.
Most importantly, however, you’ll need a decent heat source to transfer your HTV onto the object you intend to decorate. Most casual DIY-ers and people using heat transfer vinyl for the first time use an ordinary iron to activate the adhesive on their vinyl and attach it to their project. If you’re someone who enjoys a lot of vinyl DIY projects or wants to start selling customized products with HTV decals, it might be a good idea to invest in a high-quality heat press.
The Stahls’ Hotronix Fusion IQ 16” X 20” Heat Press is a fantastic option for those who want to take their heat transfer vinyl projects to the next level and even start their own business. This top-quality piece of equipment is easy-to-use and can rapidly increase the number of products you can heat transfer in a given period. It also helps prevent accidents related to burned cloth that many people deal with when using a regular iron for their HTV projects.
The Stahls’ Hotronix Fusion is currently available for only $2,575 on the Avance Vinyl website, but they only have a few in stock! Order one for yourself today if you’re ready to up your HTV game.
Top Brands for HTV
When it comes to quality heat transfer vinyl, only a few are an easy choice for professionals and crafts alike. Historically, Siser’s Easyweed HTV is an almost universal fan favorite. However, Avance Vinyl has launched its own line of vinyl that shows promising quality and has become a strong competitor for Siser Easyweed. The top choices for HTV brands include:
- Avance Vinyl HTV
- Siser Easyweed
- StarCraft Vinyl
Avance Vinyl HTV
There are plenty of iron-on vinyl options, but only a few brands are clearly at the top. Avance Vinyl HTV has quickly risen to the occasion, relying on the same outstanding brand quality that crafters have become accustomed to with their other vinyl products. But they haven’t stopped there.
Avance Vinyl isn’t content to match the quality and performance of other vinyl brands. They want to exceed them and set a new bar of high expectations for top-quality vinyl products. They’ve taken things to a new level by offering a massive selection of vibrant colors and styles, including glitter vinyl, metallic vinyl, and flock/puff vinyl.
They also offer many other essential DIY vinyl supplies, including vinyl remover, heat transfer vinyl tape, Teflon sheet protectors, and specialized spray adhesive for HTV cutting mats. When you work with Avance Vinyl, there’s no need to rely on different online shops and in-person craft stores. They can provide you with everything you need to handle anything your DIY projects can throw at you.
Where it counts, Avance Vinyl is a great choice. It works with a wide range of surfaces, including fabric and wood. It is also easy to work with, optimally designed to cut in computerized machines but easily adaptable to other brands, and easy to weed.
Avance Vinyl is a brand well-known for providing quality craft supplies. They know vinyl well, and they have an invested interest in making high-quality, easy-to-use products that work with crafting industry tools like cutting machines and heat presses.
Siser Easyweed HTV
Siser Easyweed HTV is a clear industry favorite. It is a CPSIA-certified product that is completely safe for use on clothing and accessories. And, as the name implies, it is easy to work with and durable for designs that last a long time.
Siser products are well-known for quality. They are designed to be a high-quality product and come with precise instructions for optimal machine settings across all of the most popular cutters. This product comes with a pressure-sensitive carrier sheet backing that makes it a breeze to weed and transfer designs.
Siser Easyweed is easy to work with during every step of the project. It cuts cleanly in all major machines. Weeding is effortless. And it transfers at lower temperatures compared to other brands, which means you may not need special equipment. You will always get the best results with a heat press, but it is possible to use a household iron to transfer Siser Easyweed HTV.
Another benefit of Siser Easyweed is its long-lasting durability. It won’t fade, crack, or peel when properly applied and cared for, unlike cheaper products. Siser Easyweed is 0.09 mm thick and works well with cotton or linen-blend fabrics, making it the top choice for t-shirt vinyl.
Related: How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl
We would probably recommend steering away from most of the off-brand vinyl, and value packs peddled on Amazon or eBay, but Starcraft Vinyl HTV is one of the better options on the market. Starcraft sells a printable HTV that gives crafters greater design flexibility.
Unlike other brands that come on their own carrier sheet, Starcraft Vinyl requires transfer tape. That means more materials to factor into the cost, which may make initial cost-savings less likely when the project is finished.
Starcraft vinyl is fairly easy to work with but does have some picky care instructions like turning garments inside out and avoiding bleach or ironing. As long as you follow instructions for heat press temperature and cool peeling, it is a good option for any project requiring HTV.
The Bottom Line on Choosing the Best HTV
Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is a great crafting product that allows creative DIY-ers to develop creates custom designs to put their t-shirts, hoodies, hats, handbags, and much more! on t-shirts, hats, mugs, and much more. As the popularity of personal die-cutting machines grows, the options for vinyl products grow too meaning that it will take a long time before you run out of awesome new things to try within the realm of custom vinyl design and creation.
That said, it’s important to remember that more doesn’t necessarily mean better, especially when it gives people the opportunity to flood the market with sub-quality vinyl products that are difficult to use and produce less-than-stellar results. Sadly, only a few brands offer access to a top-quality vinyl There are only a few brands that offer a quality product worth paying for.
Siser Easyweed and Avance Vinyl currently vye for the top spots, with Starcraft Vinyl lagging slightly behind in quality-vinal products. It will be exciting to see how each of the three brands will adapt to the increasing market competition and the kinds of stellar new products they’ll develop going forward.
Whichever brand of heat transfer vinyl you choose, just keep in mind that, ultimately, vinyl you choose, just keep in mind that, ultimately, any vinyl that offers a range of colors is easy to work with in terms of cutting, weeding, and transferring is worth trying out for yourself.
Final Factors for DIY Vinyl Lovers to Keep in Mind
Our team of passionate vinyl experts from Avance Vinyl hopes that the above guide has helped narrow down your choices for which brands of top-quality heat transfer vinyl to try for your next major DIY project. If you’re interested in finding out more about the different vinyl products that you should try or want access to a range of expertly written how-to guides covering all things vinyl, consider browsing through the wide selection of other stellar resources available on our blog. We also have a selection of great tutorial videos available for those just getting into the vinyl game, so be sure to check them out!
Are you searching for a top-quality source of sublimation equipment, heat transfer vinyl, and other excellent supplies to help advance your DIY projects? Check out our store at Avance Vinyl today to see our selection of expertly-made vinyl goods that you can add to your cart.