Summer Shirt Ideas Using Heat Transfer Vinyl

 summer shirt

Summer is hands down one of the best times of the year. It’s warm, there are trips to the beach, and the food is fantastic. 

But having your own custom summer-themed shirt is even cooler. Today we want to share with you how to make your very own summer t-shirt designs by using stretch heat transfer vinyl. There are plenty of free templates available, or you can use your own design. Whatever seems fun. 

So get your Cricut warmed up because we are going to walk you through how to make your very own personalized summer t-shirts. 

What is Stretch Heat Transfer Vinyl?

Avance only offers stretch heat transfer vinyl. Stretch vinyl allows you to wash and dry your design normally. This type of vinyl expands and contracts with the fabric to reduce cracking. It comes in many different colors and even has glitter options. 

Want your next shirt design to hold up longer? Make sure to use stretch heat transfer vinyl. Pick some up from Avance Vinyl today.

Related: How to use heat transfer vinyl

Gather Your Materials

Here are some basic things you will need to make your summer shirt:

  • Vinyl cutter, like a Cricut
  • Exacto blade cutter
  • Grip mat
  • Scraper
  • Image 
  • Weeder
  • Household iron
  • Towel
  • T-Shirt
  • Vinyl
  • Parchment Paper

Pro Tip: Use a preshrunk shirt, so you don’t have to wash the shirt before you adhere it to the design.

Make Your Shirt 

making a vinyl shirt

Step 1: Upload to Cricut Design Space

Go into your cutters design program, upload the image you want for your shirt, and follow the prompts.  

Step 2 – Organize Your Image File

Many files need to be cleaned up before you cut out the layers of the design. These layers should be broken up by color. To do this, you must ungroup the file, select all of the layers with the same colors, and then “weld” them together. 

Life is better in flip flops with a pair of flip flops


Step 3 – Resize & Send to Cut

When making custom t-shirts, the templates tool can help you to see exactly how your design will look on the finished shirt. In the Cricut program and click on the “Templates” icon. This allows you to size your image.

Note: Be mindful of your machine’s cutting limit. For example, a Cricut Joy can’t print anything larger than four and a half inches wide. 

There may be different sizes of shirts that a template might not reflect. Most programs have an option that you can use to change the measurements of the template

Once you have the size of graphic that you want, send it to your cutting machine. 

Step 4 – Turn Mirror On

For iron-on vinyl, this is a critical step. Toggling the mirror option on will ensure that your design isn’t backward when you transfer it.  

Step 5 – Select Materials and Cut

clothing materials

If your cutting machine has a smart set dial, switch it to custom and select the material. If you don’t have a dial, you can manually select the material you are printing on through the Design Space interface.  

Step 6 – Prepare Mat, Cut & Weed

Place the iron-on mat shiny side facing down. Use your scraper to get rid of any bubbles. Then load the mat into your machine and press the start button. If you don’t have a button, you can also manually start the cutting process from Design Space. 

Once your cut is finished, you can weed your design. Weeding is just the process of removing excess vinyl from your design.

Step 7 – Remove from Mat & Repeat

Once your design is all cleaned up, bend the mat and remove your design from it. Repeat the process for the remaining colors of your design. If you have more than one mat, you can quickly weed from one mat while cutting your next color. Even if you don’t, weeding from the mat is more manageable, so be sure to try it.

Step 8 – Transfer Iron-On

Couple with custom shirts taking pictures at the park

Now comes the fun part, transferring your excellent design to your shirt. Depending on your iron, there may be some differences, but if your’s allows 315℉, set it to that. 

When applying vinyl, there is a carrier sheet. This is often heat-resistant transfer tape, and it holds the vinyl design in place when you are cutting it. Having this between the vinyl and the material will help prevent scorching. You also need to have a towel underneath the t-shirt.

Pro Tip: Preheat your t-shirt for about five seconds to remove wrinkles and any moisture.

Grab a ruler for this next part to make sure that everything lines up. Line your design up before applying heat. Once it’s in a perfect position, press it for about five to ten seconds. You’ll want to use some pressure because you need the vinyl to bind with the fabric. 

Finally, wait a few moments before you remove the backing. If the vinyl doesn’t come off clean, lay it back down and press again for five seconds. Be careful once your transfer is done. It will need to fully cool to reach its full strength.

Related: How to create a rhinestone transfer 



If Transferring Using A Household Iron

heat transfer using an iron

You don’t even need a fancy iron to make your own custom summer t-shirts. Most of the steps are the same so follow the above walkthrough. When you get to the transferring step, make sure you have a towel under the shirt and then follow these steps instead:

  • Preheat the shirt.
  • Cover your design with parchment paper 
  • Press each layer of the image for twenty seconds
  • Press from two different angles

Not every iron will be the same, so it might take a few practice shirts to get the process down. You can narrow down the temperature by getting a laser heat thermometer and taking the temp of your iron once it’s heated up. 

Related: How to start your own heat transfer vinyl shirt business

Enjoy your shirt!

heat transfer vinyl shirt

That’s it. Now you are ready to enjoy summer with fun, fresh, unique shirts. Add pops of bright colors and fun summertime phrases. Or get creative and make family shirts for a trip to the zoo. You’re only limited by your imagination. 

Are you ready to begin making high quality summer t-shirts? Avance Vinyl has everything you need to make the best designs. They offer stretch vinyl for long lasting ware in a variety of colors. Get your supplies today and start crafting!

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