Cricut Infusible Ink on Cotton and Hard Surfaces
Most seasoned Cricut crafters have heard of Cricut Infusible Inks, but I am still so surprised at how many don’t use it. I have read complaints that it is more difficult to use, more limited in color availability, more expensive and most of all, it severely limits the products that you can use it on compared to heat transfer vinyl. Well, I have found a way that you can use Cricut Infusible Inks with more than just the base materials that Cricut has to offer. Keep reading for full details.
- What is Cricut Infusible Ink?
- Cricut recommended materials for use with Cricut Infusible Ink
- How to use Cricut Infusible Ink
- Using Polycrylic to treat Cotton for use with Infusible Ink
- Using White Glitter Vinyl layered with Cricut Infusible Ink
- Wood with Cricut Infusible Ink and polycrylic
What is Cricut Infusible Ink?
Cricut Infusible Ink is a product designed to mimic sublimation. Sublimation is the art of transferring an image to a product using ink and heat. The image that you cut with your Cricut is adhered to your blank material at high heat to turn the ink into a gas that bonds with the fabric. As the project cools, the gas solidifies and becomes a permanent transfer, leaving a bright, flexible, crack- and peel-proof image that will last a long time. What I love about Cricut Infusible Ink on a shirt is how seamless and professional it feels. The colors and the shirt become one. Heat Transfer Vinyl, on the other hand, is a product that is attached on top of your base material using heat but over time can peel or flake off. HTV also feels heavy, especially if it is multiple layers are used.
Cricut recommended materials for use with Cricut Infusible Ink
One of the downsides to using Infusible Ink is that you are limited on what types of materials that you can adhere the ink onto properly. Cricut offers a variety of products for purchase that are compatible with Cricut Infusible Inks, such as tee shirts, baby onesies, tote bags, coasters, and mugs. Most of these products offered by Cricut are more expensive than competitors, but some products, like wood, are not even recommended with infusible ink, until now! Infusible Ink works best on fabrics that have a high polyester count because the dyes in the sublimation ink are able to bond with polyester molecules, allowing you to transfer your designs with the highest quality. Infusible ink also works best on white or very light-colored fabrics.
Infusible Inks require different steps to create a final product that is vibrant and long-lasting and it is critical to make sure that the proper steps are followed to ensure that you get the best results.
- Cut your image on mirror
- On your mat, make sure that it is liner side down (ink side up)
- Set your machine to “Custom” and Select “Infusible Ink Sheet” setting
- Cut, weed, and trim excess transfer sheet
- Set your base layer on a Cricut EasyPress Mat and press your project for 15 seconds at 385 degrees
- Position white cardstock between layers of a shirt to prevent bleed onto the other side
- Lint roll to remove fiber and debris (do not skip this step!)
- Put your image onto your project base, colored side down, and cover with butcher paper
- Press for image (check here for proper temps and times)
- Let it cool before removing the butcher paper and transfer paper with tweezers
Using Polycrylic to treat cotton for use with Cricut Infusible Ink
I’ve recently discovered that if you pre-treat your surface with polycrylic, it acts as the polymer needed to successfully transfer Infusible Ink to your project. This allows you to be able to use Infusible Inks on so many more materials, like wood, metal, cotton, and lower-polyester blended fabrics. Now, personally, I love HTV for most of my wood and metal projects, but the feel of Infusible Ink on fabric is what makes it worth the additional steps that it takes versus using HTV. My passion is creating personalised baby onesies and clothes and nothing is worse on baby soft skin than thick layers of vinyl. That is what makes this product so special for Cricut crafters like me! You can create something with your machine and Infusible Ink without investing in a sublimation printer and ink, which is a several hundred-dollar investment.
I got a small squirt bottle and filled it with 4oz of water and 10ml of polycrylic, and shook it really well. This concoction will not spoil quickly and you will have some leftover, so you can reuse it for another project. Make sure to label the bottle so you know what it is! Spray the mixture over the front surface of your shirt and let it dry. I slid a piece of butcher paper between the shirt layers before I sprayed. Let it dry for 24 hours. Then your surface is ready to go! Follow the steps above for cutting and adhering your Infusible Ink. If you need some inspiration for images, check out free SVG files for crafters.
Honest Review: Cotton Shirt with Cricut Infusible Ink using polycrylic technique
When I did this project I had high hopes, but I was disappointed with the end result. The image and color did transfer over evenly and beautifully, however, the shirt was left feeling very stiff and starchy from the application of the polycrylic to the shirt itself. There was even a faint ring around where I had treated the cotton shirt. I washed the shirt on delicate wash inside out to see if that helped remove that demarcation line and made the material softer and less starchy, and it did help but not completely. I also noticed that the image faded a fair amount after one washing, which it doesn’t do when using a 100% polyester shirt. In my opinion, if you are in a pinch and you only have cotton to work with or can’t get polyester for some reason, this technique certainly does work, but I would go with Cricut’s recommendations here and stick with high polyester count fabrics for the best transfer quality.
Using White Glitter Vinyl layered with Cricut Infusible Ink
This is a technique that has been around for a while but I have never had to opportunity to try it until now. I used a shirt with a poly-cotton blend, but you can use any shirt material, as this technique is applying infusible ink to the white glitter HTV, not the shirt itself. What I did was cut my image mirrored on the HTV white glitter and on the Cricut Infusible Ink. Then I placed my HTV first and pressed it at 385 degrees for 15 seconds, warm peeled, and (carefully) aligned my Infusible Ink over the top of it and pressed it for 40 seconds. I used tweezers to lift the Infusible Ink transfer sheet, and voilà! The coloring was vivid and sparkly and looked wonderful.
Honest Review: Cotton Shirt with Cricut Infusible Ink using white glitter vinyl layering technique
I actually really loved the way that this came out! It is sparkly, beautiful, and vivid. It was simple to create and even after washing, the color was still bright and true. This technique would work best on a large image that you want to see the pattern details more or on a darker fabric since the color is popping against the white HTV. The downside to this technique is that it is much more costly, as you are using both glitter heat transfer vinyl and Infusible Ink. But you can effectively put it on any material and it looks gorgeous.
Wood with Cricut Infusible Ink and polycrylic
Since I had a piece of wood that was untreated leftover from a previous project, I was able to compare using Infusible Ink on one side that was untreated and the other side that was treated with polycrylic. I painted one side with a thin layer of polycrylic and let it dry for a few hours. Then I repainted it again in a thicker layer and let it dry a full day. I did nothing else to prep my surface except lint roll the front and back of my wood. On the side that I applied the polycrylic, I pressed the image (this little Cricut Cutie was from Cricut All Access) for 60 seconds at 385 degrees. I laid down butcher paper over the image before I pressed. (Note: don’t confuse butcher paper with freezer paper, they aren’t the same and I accidentally grabbed freezer paper and some of my image stuck to the wood). Oops! Once that cooled, I flipped it over and did the same thing with a different Cricut Cutie, but made sure I was using butcher paper this time! 😊
Honest Review: Wood with Cricut Infusible Ink using polycrylic technique
This technique absolutely worked. The color transfer of the treated wood was much more vivid than the untreated wood, so depending on the look that you want to achieve, you may want to leave the wood raw or treat it.
I am so glad I got to do these projects because I learned so much and it was fun to try new techniques. I hope this inspires you to try new techniques too.
If you want some video resources for using Infusible Ink on non-Cricut blanks, check out the following videos:
Cricut Infusible Ink Experiment with Non-Cricut Substrates
How to Sublimate 100% Cotton Tshirt
Infusible Ink on a Black Bag