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3 Uncommon Ways to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl

3 Uncommon Ways to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl main article image
Posted on February 12, 2021 by Katie Jones

Heat Transfer Vinyl Basics

What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

If you are familiar with the crafting world, you may have come across the term “heat transfer vinyl” or HTV for short. It is especially popular with those who specialize in custom t-shirts and other fabric materials. It is an easy way to make a unique item and doesn’t take too much skill to master. 

Heat Transfer Vinyl

HTV is a specialty vinyl polymer and is bonded to compatible surfaces through evenly applied heat. It has two separate sides – the first side is the vinyl itself and the second side is a heat-protected liner which is usually shiny. It comes in many different colors and patterns. It is also a popular way to create dazzling special effects as HTV can be:

  • Glitter
  • Flocked
  • Holographic
  • Glow-in-the-dark
  • 3D puff

Depending on the type of vinyl, it can be layered to create personalized designs. The possibilities are endless with HTV and with a simple Google search, you can find projects to try that range from beginner to expert levels. Creative Fabrica is an excellent resource to get high-quality scalable vector images or SVGs to use to create HTV designs. It is probably best to start with picking designs that can be done with the inventory you have on hand.

How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl

To create flawless designs, it is necessary to have a vinyl cutter. The two most popular vinyl cutters on the market are Cricut and Silhouette. They both come with design programs that communicate with the cutting machines. All the hard work of cutting intricate pieces is taken out of the equation and once the machine is finished, with the help of some weeding tools, you have a completed, cut design.

As mentioned earlier in the article, to properly use HTV, you must evenly apply heat for the material to stay on its intended surface. You only want to apply heat to the side that is shiny or has the liner; however, you do not want to directly put heat onto the liner. The liner is heat-protected to an extent, so it will and can stick to your heating surface. The use of Teflon sheets or parchment paper is very important as those act as barriers between the heating surface and HTV.

Since there are so many different kinds of HTV, temperatures and application times will vary. It is recommended to go by the instructions usually given with HTV but it all boils down to your equipment. With time, you will know the best settings for the type of projects you want to complete.

3 Uncommon Ways to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl

T-shirts, hoodies, blankets, oh my! Those are the most popular mediums in which HTV is used for but did you know that it can be used on much, much more? Let’s explore all the fun ways you can use HTV to create amazing projects!


Heat Transfer Vinyl on Canvas

Buying framed art can be expensive and finding the right kind of piece to fit your home decor can be even harder. By using HTV, you can have a custom canvas creation with a minimal amount of work involved. Below you will find easy-to-follow steps so that you can try this method right away!

  1. Choose your canvas. If it is on a frame, remove the canvas with an Exacto knife or rotary cutter from the backside. You can also remove the staples. If it is not on a frame but is a panel, you can work with this type of canvas with ease as well.
  2. Create your design with your design software. Don’t forget to mirror it before cutting the vinyl. Weed out the excess vinyl that isn’t needed for the design.
  3. Press or iron your canvas to remove excess moisture and to have a smooth, flat surface.
  4. Place your HTV design on top of the canvas surface. Line it up accordingly and it is optional to secure it with heat-tape.
  5. Cover the HTV design with a Teflon sheet or parchment paper. Place all materials under your heating source.
  6. Press or iron over the Teflon sheet or parchment paper for the time listed for the specific HTV you are using.
  7. Read the HTV instructions before peeling back the shiny liner because some are a hot peel or cold peel.
  8. Frame your finished piece, if desired. 

As you can see, the finished product has amazing quality and it is an incredibly easy way to add flair and personalization to any decor.


Ever find yourself with scrap pieces of wood or wanting to buy those pretty ones found in crafting stores but not knowing what to do with them? Well, with a little patience, you can use HTV to make gifts or home decor. Follow these steps below:

  1.  Choose a wood piece that has a smooth surface. If it is too rigid, the HTV may not adhere correctly.
  2. Create your design with your design software. Don’t forget to mirror it before cutting and remove the excess vinyl.
  3. Preheat the wood surface with an iron. Since heat-presses are not as easily controlled, using a home iron for this type of project is best.
  4. Place HTV design along with a Teflon sheet or parchment paper on top of the wood.
  5. Use even pressure all over the design to adhere the design to the wood.
  6. Peel back the liner according to the HTV instructions.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to using HTV on wood so broaden your creativity and create something unique.

Glass and Ceramic

Heat Transfer Vinyl on glass

A lot of people and crafters alike don’t realize what kind of amazing art they can make using HTV with glass or ceramic. Use these steps below to practice and make something amazing!

  1. Begin with a semi-flat or curved glass or ceramic piece. For example, a bowl, coffee mug, or candle.
  2. Use your design software to create a design. Make sure to mirror it before cutting and remove any excess vinyl.
  3. Apply heat to your surface using a home-iron for roughly 5-10 seconds to remove any oils and to warm the surface so it isn’t too cold for HTV application.
  4. Place your design onto your glass or ceramic piece. Heat tape may be useful if you are working with a curved surface.
  5. Put parchment paper over the design and apply even heat over your design.
  6. Peel back liner according to the HTV instructions.

As mentioned above, using a home-iron for glass or ceramic pieces is ideal; however, a heat gun may also work in the application of HTV when it comes to curved items.

Don’t be afraid of using heat transfer vinyl with your projects! It may become one of your favorite ways to create amazing projects. Don’t forget to share what you’ve made below in the comments!

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