Patriotic Bag for July 4th
Ready to show off your red, white, and blue this U.S. Independence Day? I’ve got some ideas that will have you looking hot to trot and patriotic!
Today, we’re going to use a Cricut Maker, a heat press, an SVG, canvas bags, and heat transfer vinyl, (or HTV).
First, let’s get some lingo out of the way.
Pronounced cricket – like the insect – Cricut is a brand of cutting machine that so many crafters love. Depending on your machine type, you can cut vinyl, wood, paper, and more. You can also etch glass and create stickers. The machines range from $160 USD to $400 USD. There is also a Cricut mug press for all you DIYers who love to create pretty mugs. There are other cutting machines on the market … Silhouette Cameo and Brother Scan and Cut. I won’t go into details on those, because I have only used a Cricut.
SVG stands for scalable vector graphic and it’s what you use with your cutting machine’s software to create your designs that you plan to cut. This site you’re on right now, Creative Fabrica, has thousands of SVG files for you to purchase, all of which come with a Commercial License. Some are free to download, and others require a fee. No matter what, you’re bound to find more than enough to fit your needs.
What’s a heat press?
A heat press is basically a big iron. They come in many types. Cricut has a few that are handheld and great for hobbyists. More serious crafters might want to look into clamshell or swing away presses that have metal plates at the top and bottom. You use the heat presses to attach HTV to your items, such as a tote bag or t-shirt.
HTV stands for heat transfer vinyl. This is what you use when you want to put your design on fabric, like a canvas tote bag, clothing or towels, etc. HTV has a special glue that bonds with fabric when it is heated and pressed. One thing to note, when working with HTV, you have to “mirror” the image before you cut it. Basically, it is printing in reverse so you can attach it to your substrate. Follow the directions for your HTV for heat temperature, amount of pressure to apply, and how many seconds to press. The other type of vinyl often used, is adhesive vinyl, which is for things like decals, cups, etc. Adhesive vinyl will not work for iron-on items.
Ready to start!
Now that the terms you need to know are out of the way … let’s get to crafting!
I’m going to explain how to make this patriotic tote bag for your next picnic, barbecue, or beach day.
The first thing I did was to browse Creative Fabrica’s SVG files for one I liked. I chose these lips with the stars and stripes.
After paying for the SVG, I downloaded the file to my computer, then uploaded it to the Cricut design space so I could manipulate the sizing and send it to the machine to cut.
The next step is to place your HTV on the cutting mat. HTV has a shiny side and a dull side. The shiny side is the carrier sheet and that goes face down on the mat.
I’m often asked where I get my vinyl, and my favorite online shops are Happy Crafters and JPI Blanks. I’m partial to Siser (pronounced SEE-zer) Easyweed because it’s easy to weed! This is probably the most widely used brand. You can also get HTV at local craft stores, like Michaels or Joann Fabrics, as well as big retailers like Amazon.com but I find the better prices are on mom-and-pop webstores.
After cutting the file, it’s time to weed! Weeding can be relaxing or frustrating, depending on who you ask. Weeding refers to getting rid of the negative space in your design, so you can press it on your substrate, in this case, a canvas tote bag.
For those who want a nice source for bags, I shop at Tote Bag Factory online. The prices are better, the more bags you purchase.
I used a black canvas bag because it is a gift and the person likes black … so the stars won’t be white in this case. I preheat my heat press to the desired temperature for the bag and HTV. I highly recommend putting your bag on the press for a few seconds to get any moisture out of it. Place the design on the bag, shiny side up, and use a Teflon sheet over the design.
Some HTV doesn’t need the sheet, so follow the instructions for your particular vinyl. Place the bag on the bottom press plate. I like using a pressing pillow in the bag, to help the vinyl adhere better. Press the bag for the time required. Siser has an app that can help you if you’re unsure how long to press. Heat temperature, time pressed, and pressure are all equally important. You don’t want to press too long and burn your product, you don’t want to press too little or apply too little pressure, and the vinyl falls off after the first wash. Too much pressure could smash your vinyl into something you don’t want. You know the pressure and temperature are perfect when you can see the fabric fibers through the vinyl on your finished product.
Let your piece cool, if the vinyl calls for it, before peeling off the shiny carrier sheet. Please note: some vinyl is a hot peel, meaning you peel off the carrier as soon as you take the piece off the press. So again, it’s very important to follow the directions for your vinyl.
Because I’m impatient, I purchased a cooling block, which is a hunk of marble, from Heat Transfer Source. You run it over the hot carrier sheet and it cools the vinyl down faster than just waiting. This is a timesaver when you’re making several items in one crafting session.
Now, you have the steps you need in order to create your own patriotic tote bag or t-shirt for Independence Day! These steps are really the same, no matter the fabric substrate you use.
Enjoy your holiday!