If you’re just getting started working with heat transfer vinyl (HTV), you’re probably wondering how to cut it. Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through the three different ways to cut heat transfer vinyl so that your next project turns out perfect!
Related: Best T-Shirt Printing Methods
Three Different Methods for Cutting Heat Transfer Vinyl
There are three ways you can cut HTV:
- With a Cricut machine
- Using a Silhouette cutting machine
- By hand
Here’s how to cut heat transfer vinyl:
How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl With a Cricut Machine
Using a Cricut machine to cut heat transfer vinyl isn’t too difficult. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cricut design software
- An SVG or design you want to use. You can use the software listed above to search for images and create your design.
- A Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore
- Your heat transfer vinyl
- A cutting mat
- A Weeding tool
Step 1: Load your design. First, you’ll open the Cricut Design Space and load up your design. You can either:
- Upload your own SVG or JPG.
- Search the images in Cricut Design Space (you can filter by “free” if you don’t want to spend money on the design!).
- Create your own design in Design Space using the provided shapes and fonts.
Step 2: Adjust your design. Next, you’ll want to resize your chosen image to fit your project. For example, a 9” wide decal typically fits a standard t-shirt well. Then you’ll want to click on “Color Sync” to ensure that there are no issues with the coloring. Once it looks good, click on “Make It” to move on to the preview screen.
Step 3: Don’t forget to mirror the design. This is an important step that’s easy to forget. If you don’t mirror it by clicking on “Mirror,” it won’t transfer to your project correctly.
Step 4: Select the material. After everything looks right, Design Space will connect to your Cricut machine, and you’ll need to select the material. For Cricut Makers, you’ll select heat transfer vinyl from the menu. If you’re using a Cricut Explore, you’ll choose HTV on the dial on the machine.
Step 5: Prepare the vinyl. Place the HTV on your cutting mat (shiny side down). Next, smooth the vinyl with a brayer or your fingers.
Step 6: Insert the cutting mat into the Cricut machine. Push the up and down button on the machine and then hit the “C” button to begin cutting. Sit back and watch the Cricut machine do its thing!
Step 7: Weed the vinyl. Once the cutting is finished, press the up and down button again to release the cutting mat, and then it’s time to weed, which is removing the excess vinyl. Use a weeding hook to remove all of the vinyl that’s not part of your design. Once you’re done, you can transfer the design to your project, whether it’s a t-shirt, coffee mug, or anything in between!
How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Using Silhouette Cameo
Another way to cut heat transfer vinyl is by using a Silhouette cutting machine. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Silhouette Studio
- A Silhouette cutter
- Your heat transfer vinyl
- Thin cotton fabric like a Teflon sheet
- A Silhouette cutting mat
- A Weeding tool
Step 1: Choose a design. Open up Silhouette Studio and find the design you want to transfer. Next, you’ll want to click on “Page Setup” and ensure that the page size is set to “Automatic - CAMEO” or “Automatic - Portrait.”
Step 2: Rearrange the design. Sometimes your design will be grouped together, and you’ll need to rearrange it—You can do this by selecting your design > right-click > Ungroup. Now you can move each individual shape around to create the perfect design.
Step 3: Mirror it. Like using a Cricut machine, you can’t forget to mirror the design before printing. In Silhouette Studio, select your design > right-click > Flip Horizontally.
Step 4: Printing. Click on “Send” and select “Heat Transfer Vinyl, Smooth” from the material list. You can set the tool to either Autoblade or Ratchet Blade. It’s also important to ensure that your designs now show bold red lines around the border.
Step 5: Cutting. If you’re using a ratchet blade, you’ll need to adjust the blade depth before cutting. Put your heat transfer vinyl onto the cutting mat with the shiny side down. Next, put the cutting mat with the HTV on it in the SIlhouette cutting machine and click “Load” or “Load Mat.” Then you’ll hit “Send” in Silhouette Studio.
Step 6: Weeding. This is the same as using a Cricut machine—Use your weeding hook to remove the excess vinyl. Now you’re ready to transfer the design to your project!
How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Without a Machine
If you don’t have a machine to cut for you, you can simply use scissors to manually cut the heat transfer vinyl. You can draw a pattern right on the HTV and cut it out with a sharp pair of scissors, or you can print off images and use them as an outline to cut out the design. It takes more work than using a cutting machine, but you can still achieve some amazing results!
Related: How to Remove Heat Transfer Vinyl
Tips for Cutting Heat Transfer Vinyl
We’ve mentioned it twice already, but do not forget to mirror the design before cutting. It’s a mistake that happens to all of us now and then, but it’s easily avoidable. If you don't mirror the image, you’ll have to scrap the vinyl—It’s not going to turn out right.
Ensure that the shiny side of the HTV is facing down on your cutting mat. When you transfer the vinyl with heat, you’ll want the shiny side up.
While they vary based on different blades and models, here are some general settings for Cricut and Silhouette cutting machines:
- Blade: Standard
- Mode: Iron on+
- Blade: 10
- Speed: 5
- Force: 5
- Passes: 2
- Material: Smooth
That’s it! Now you have everything you need to get started cutting heat transfer vinyl for your next project, whether you’re using a Cricut machine, Silhouette machine, or just a pair of scissors!
Don’t forget—To get the best results, you need to use the best materials. Stop by Avance Vinyl and find the perfect HTV for your next project!
Related: Buying the Right Heat Transfer Paper