Beginner's Guide To Heat Press

Beginner's Guide To Heat Press main article image
Posted on February 14, 2021 by Emily O'Leary

Have you been interested in taking your Cricut crafts to the next level? Learning how to utilize a heat press is a great start! By learning how to heat press your Cricut design, you can decorate more items and be more creative with projects. 

In this article, you will learn what you will need to get started and get a step by step instruction on how to heat press a project. 

What you will need to heat press

First, the most important item you will need is something to press your design. There are a couple of different options, all with their own advantages.

Using an iron to heat press

The first option is using a regular iron. This option is the cheapest by far, and best for smaller designs. This is also multipurpose, as you can use it to iron shirts and other household purposes. One disadvantage to using a regular iron is it may take longer to press your design, as you will need to press it in sections to ensure you press the design effectively. I experienced this first-hand when pressing shirts in my dorm room. While it was time-consuming, it still got the job done. Another downside would be the lack of temperature control. While you could change the level of heat, most standard irons don’t tell you the degree of heat. In this case, I’d recommend having the iron on the highest heat level as possible without steam. I would recommend this option for crafters on a budget, don’t want to commit too much to heat press, or with not much storage space to spare.

Using a Cricut EasyPress to heat press

The second option is using a press from Cricut’s EasyPress line. These have been designed to be easy for any crafter to use, no matter the skill level, and come in a variety of sizes. This would seem like a better option than the iron as you would not need to press your design in sections but in one whole piece. The one downside to these may be the price. Even on sale, the smallest one costs $50, where you could buy a regular iron for less than half that amount. The standard size, commonly utilized for shirts, costs $150 on sale. The one upside to the EasyPress line is that they do have temperature control if this is important to you. So unless you are ready to commit to the heat press hobby, you may want to start pressing your designs with a standard iron.

Using a heat press machine

The third option, an actual heat press machine, I would not really recommend unless you plan on heat pressing often or are wanting to mass-produce heat press items. These machines are more expensive than the Cricut ones and can go for hundreds of dollars. I just so happen to have one because someone in my family had a heat press business and retired, and they handed it down to us. I will say that our heat press machine is very nice, has temperature control, and even has a timer. But unless you know someone who is ready to give up their machine, it is very pricey, so I would not really recommend buying one unless you are super serious about making the initial investment.

Bottom line, the first thing you need is something to press your design.

The second thing I would recommend is a teflon sheet and pillow. This will act as a barrier between the hotplate and the vinyl you are pressing so you do not risk the plastic barrier melting with your design. The teflon pillow goes underneath the fabric you are heat pressing or in the middle of a shirt.

The third thing I would recommend would be parchment paper. This is used separately from the teflon sheet. This is something you may already own in your pantry! You can also reuse the same sheet multiple times.

Step by step instructions how to heat press

The first step to heat pressing your project is to first prepare your design. You will need to cut out your design on your cutting machine or prepare your pre-bought design. 

The key thing when you are cutting out your design is to have the plastic barrier face down on your mat and to mirror the design. If you do not mirror the design, you will end up pressing your project backward. Therefore, it is super important that you remember to do this.

Now it is time to press your project! After you have your design cut out,I would recommend lint rolling your fabric before you place your design to ensure there is no debris that would affect the integrity of your design. Following that, place your design on the shirt how you want it. Then, put the teflon pillow underneath the fabric you are heat pressing or in between the layers of the shirt. Next, place your teflon sheet on top of your design that you are pressing.

The temperature to press your design will likely vary by brand of vinyl, so I would read the label or look up on the brand’s website the specific instructions. This is very important as instructions to press different types of vinyl within a brand also vary. This also goes for how long to press and if you need to peel the plastic backing off the vinyl hot or cold. If the vinyl needs a hot peel, then peel the plastic backing off almost immediately after pressing. If the vinyl calls for a cold peel, wait a few minutes until the plastic has cooled off almost completely to peel off the plastic backing.

After you have peeled the plastic backing carefully from your design, lay the parchment paper on top of your design, then press for only a few seconds. This will help ensure that your design will not lift from the fabric and will help smooth out any bumps or crinkles in the vinyl.

After you have let your shirt dry, you are done! You have successfully completed your first heat press project. If you want design ideas for your next project, make sure to check out designs on Creative Fabrica!

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