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The Ultimate At-Home Heat Transfer Vinyl Guide

The Ultimate At-Home Heat Transfer Vinyl Guide main article image
Posted on November 10, 2022 by Naomi Garcia
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If you’re looking to get into the world of heat transfer vinyl (HTV), you’ve come to the right place! This heat press guide will teach you everything you need to know about HTV, from the different types and sizes to how to cut and apply it. 

HTV is a great way to personalize any project. Think t-shirts, tote bags, and even wood signs. With so many different types and colors of HTV on the market, the possibilities are endless! 

What is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

Before we get into the actual heat press guide, let’s talk about what heat transfer vinyl is. Heat transfer vinyl, also known as HTV, is often referred to as iron-on vinyl. It has an adhesive on the back of the material that is activated by heat.  toddler outfit featuring flock htv, patterned htv, and everyday htv

How Do You Apply HTV?

Because the adhesive is activated by heat, you need a heat source.  Although it is possible to add HTV to an item with a household iron, a heat press is preferred. The advantage of a heat press is that you can set it to a specific temperature. Additionally, a heat press is designed to hold the temperature evenly across the entire surface, or platen. Finally, you can adjust the pressure so that you get firm and constant contact with the item you are pressing.

Where Can I Apply HTV?

Depending on the kind of HTV material you are using, it can be applied to a variety of surfaces. You can add it to cotton, polyester, or other fabrics, faux leather, wood, and even cardstock. Later in this heat press guide, we will elaborate on these.

What Kinds of HTV Are There?

There are several types of heat transfer vinyl. For this article, we’ll focus on just seven:

  • Standard regular/ everyday
  • Stretch 
  • Patterned
  • Foil/ metallic 
  • Puff
  • Glitter
  • Flock

Depending on the project you are doing, you will likely choose a different type of iron-on material. For example, if you wanted to apply a logo to a cotton polo shirt, standard, everyday HTV would work. But if you wanted to add that same logo to a swimsuit, you’d want to choose a stretch HTV.

Let’s dive into the seven HTV types. We’ll discuss what each is used for, what it can be added to, the pressing temperature and time, and then some examples of each in action.  

While we’ll be giving you an approximate range that we’ve successfully used, brands of HTV and heat presses can vary. Please be sure to read the instructions from the manufacturer for your heat press as well as for the brand of HTV you are using.  Also, pay special attention to whether the vinyl is a hot, warm, cool, or cold peel.

Moreover, if you are using Cricut iron-on vinyls, you can get suggested temperatures and times by referring to the interactive Cricut Heat Guide.

Standard HTV

teal Siser Easy Weed HTV on a white apron

The most basic type of heat transfer vinyl that most of us start with is a standard HTV. Cricut calls their brand “Everyday Iron-On” and Siser’s brand is “Easy Weed.”  

  • What it’s used for:  Most commonly used to add a simple or layered design to clothing.
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester, blends (not suitable for nylon), cardstock lower time and temperature)
  • Pressing temperature: 305-315 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time: 10-15 seconds
  • Tips: mirror your design; Siser can be peeled hot or cold
  • The example above features Siser Easy Weed HTV and used this design file from Creative Fabrica.

Stretch HTV 

royal blue Siser Easy Stretch on a pair of whit socks

Stretch HTV is a thinner kind of material. It’s softer to the touch and is made to stretch with the pull of the fabric.

  • What it’s used for: Swimsuits, performance wear
  • Materials it can be added to: lycra, spandex, cottons, polyester, and blends
  • Pressing temperature: 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time:  pre-press for 3 seconds, then apply design and press for 20 seconds
  • Tips: mirror your design
  • The example above features Siser Easy Stretch HTV and used this design file from Creative Fabrica.

demonstrating the stretch of Siser Stretch HTV on socks

Patterned HTV

patterned htv and Siser Easy Weed on toddler pants

Patterned HTV can add a nice accent and make any project stand out. This kind of HTV usually requires a mask (a type of film or backing) since it doesn’t come with a liner.  

  • What it’s used for: backpacks, shirts, hoodies
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester, blends
  • Pressing temperature: 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time: 15 seconds
  • Tips: For Siser: DO NOT MIRROR- add mask to back of material and cut patterned side up; for Cricut material is mirrored and cut pattern side down
  • The example above features Siser Patterns HTV and Siser Easy Weed HTV and used this font from Creative Fabrica.

Foil/Metallic  HTV

DecoSoft Metallic rose gold on a jewelry box

Add a special flair to any project with foil or metallic HTV. Siser markets their metallic HTV as “Electric”.  One of my favorites is DecoFilm Soft Metallics.

  • What it’s used for: logo shirts, decorative clothing, accessories
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester, blends, leather
  • Pressing temperature: 305 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time: pre-press for 3 seconds; press 15 seconds with design
  • Tips: mirror your design; Siser can be peeled hot or cold, however, DecoFilm is a cold peel material
  • The example above features DecoFilm Soft Metallic HTV and used this design file from Creative Fabrica.

Puff HTV

WalaKut Puff white on a black shirt

Puff HTV is a super fun and dimensional material that is sure to bring your project to life.  It adds a raised finish to your item, which creates a fun effect and textured feel.

  • What it’s used for: bags, clothing, accessories
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester, blends, (not for nylon)
  • Pressing temperature: 275-305 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the vinyl)
  • Pressing time: 10 seconds
  • Tips: Mirror design to cut; be sure to determine the right side and cut liner side down; peel hot; do not over-press
  • The example above features WalaKut Puff HTV and used this design file from Creative Fabrica.

close up of WalaKut Puff HTV

 

Glitter HTV

Siser Glitter HTV on cardstock

Glitter HTV has got to be my favorite of all the decorative HTVs. Just like loose glitter or glitter cardstock, glitter iron-on brings a nice dazzle to your work. A bonus is that some of the white and light colored glitter HTV can also be used as a base for sublimation. This makes it possible to add a sublimation design to a cotton garment.

  • What it’s used for: great for any project and for layering designs
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester blends, lycra, linen, wool, and even wood
  • Pressing temperature: 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time: 15 seconds
  • Tips: mirror your design; if layering a design, use glitter as the top layer
  • The example above features Siser Glitter HTV.

Flock HTV

Baby Bear red Siser strip flock on a black toddler shirt

Flock HTV is another excellent choice for adding texture and dimension to your heat press projects.  It has a soft, suede-like look and is raised once applied.

  • What it’s used for: shirts, hoodies, jackets
  • Materials it can be added to: cotton, polyester, blends, leather
  • Pressing temperature: 311 degree Fahrenheit
  • Pressing time: 10-15 seconds (re-press for 10 seconds if needed)
  • Tips:  This can also be layered on to top of itself; mirror your design; on Cricut, my best results have been using the glitter iron-on setting with more pressure
  • The example above features Siser Strip Flock HTV and used this design file from Creative Fabrica.

Strip flock htv close up

A Few More Things About Heat Transfer Vinyl

For most of my HTV projects, I do a second press. You can either do that by turning the item over and pressing from the back, or covering with a teflon sheet and re-pressing.  

I’d also recommend waiting 24-48 hours before washing any clothing you add HTV to. When I wash my projects, I like to turn them inside out, just for a little extra protection.

So there it is. These seven are some of the most-used heat transfer vinyl materials. As mentioned earlier, be sure to check the directions for your heat press and the brand of HTV you are using. You can usually find that information on the website where you purchased the product.

Did any of these types of iron-on pique your interest?  Give it a try!  Let us know if you do.  Tag Creative Fabrica and EJ’s Fun Crafting on your posts. We love seeing your creations.  Happy pressing!


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