How To Use A Vinyl Cutter For T-shirts

1. Introduction and History

Are you new to the world of Cutting and Applying Heat transfer on Vinyl? And want to learn “how to use a vinyl cutter for t-shirts,” then we welcome you to the complete guide to use a heat transfer on Vinyl by our team of experts. And we hope you will be able to create your custom t-shirts by following the steps shown in this complete guide.

Vinyl Heat transfer through a vinyl cutting machine is one of my favorite methods to personalize custom shirts as a gift for friends. Who doesn’t like new fashionable t-shirts? The heat transfer vinyl is the best way to customize something special on shirts that people love to buy. The iron-on Vinyl is not only suitable for designing t-shirts, but you can also utilize it on shoes, leather notebook, tote bags, and even on wood.

how to use vinyl transfer paper


Transfer heat printing is a general term that describes any procedure where the crafted design is first printed on the non-cloth surface, and after that, you can transfer to the next one. The majority of transfer is completed with a type of Vinyl, which sealed like a sticker on the t-shirts utilizing the heat press.


In many instances, from screen printing, it’s too difficult to decide the final creation from different strategies, which is why some people wonder why we have to select switch in the first stage. At first, you will realize that this technique has an unnecessary additional step comparing to the direct printing on the garments. However, we will learn here; there are a few advantages to transferring print.

1.1. Where Does Vinyl T-shirt Printing Come From?

This technique was born in England around the 1750s and very quickly spread in the world where it caught on. Printing the t-shirts (Transfer) was firstly used on embellishing ceramics rather than clothing.

After that, a roller or metal or steel plate involved in the printed technique that used to be carved with an attractive aspect. The exterior is sheltered with ink and later pushed or rolled over the object to be elaborated. Nah.! It wasn’t a secure method you are thinking or fun in any respect, but according to hand painting, it was still faster, and the influence used to be equivalent ample.

The Thermal Transfer Printing, the kind of technique that is used widely over the world nowadays, and didn’t arise until much later. An organization named “SATO” in the US developed this method in the 1940s and the first product made by the thermal-transfer printer in 1981.

Are you ready now to create a custom design with heat transfer vinyl?

Let’s do it!

Remember: always remember that use an Adobe Illustrator to create a design to adhere to a t-shirt using a heat press. Also, this method can use for making attractive labels and laptop markers.

1.2. Materials & Tools:

If you want to know how to use a vinyl cutter for t-shirts? You have to make sure you have all the necessary equipment and tools to create designs for your t-shirts. These include:

  • Vinyl cutter (vinyl machine to make shirts)
  • Flex material or Heat transfer vinyl
  • 100% polyester, 100% cotton, or 50/50 cotton-polyester blend t-shirt
  • Sharpies, Paper, Scissors
  • Weeding tools (tweezers, Exacto knife, etc.)

You can choose vinyl paper. For sticks on fabric better than Vinyl, some user is adhering to go for flex. Additionally, the flex seems to be a little cost than Vinyl.

2. How To Use Heat Transfer Vinyl? A Complete Guide For Beginners

2.1. Prepare Design File (Brainstorm Symbol and Text)

The very first step in shaping with vinyl heat transfer is to create your design to cut by using some software on your laptops. You can scale down the HTV through hands if you don’t have a laptop such as Cricut or Silhouette.

The design you created can be text, logo, symbol, or quote, or whatever you want to show on your favorite T-shirt. Initially, you will utilize the paper and sharpie to create your logo, text, or symbol. If you’re going to write some text, then make sure that your words are not more than 30 words and ensure the large font size. If you want to exceed the word limit, you will spend more your time in the weeding process.

making t shirts with vinyl


You can create your desired logo or symbol by using the vector-based software by using the clip art in adobe illustrator for creating the design that is easily accessible online. For taking advantage of the transparent background, you have to save the image in the PNG format and then upload it to Adobe Illustrator.

Then you can add some text to your image by using the tool named “Type.” Set the font size for text, and until you are fully satisfied, play around with the design and make changes after that outline converting your sketch into vector lines for efficiently cutting and then save your project.

2.2. Cut Out the Design

When you are done with the designing process of your image, transfer it to your computer that is connected to the cutter. Add the image to your cutting software and prepare it for the cutting process. Just open the image using the software and select the mirror option that is flip horizontal by right-clicking. The mirror option will help you with clean cuts.

Additionally, for quickly weeding, you have to add a clearing box to your design. After that, now you are ready for cutting.

2.3. Place Htv On Cutting Mat

Yes, using your Silhouette, you can reduce your design directly from the roll without any mates. You can easily accessible to 12″ x12″ and 12″ x24″ Silhouette Cameo Cutting mats, you can also use the Circut Mats with the Silhouette.

There is no problem with any cloth and machine; for cutting on the matte side, just put down the HTV bright side onto your carpet. Remember, for the heat-sensitive adhesive, always do the cutting process on the backside of the Vinyl.

2.4. Adjust Cut Settings And Cut

Now, for materials you are using for the cutting, adjust the cut setting. The process is very different for all cutting machines, but you have to make sure that you have selected the right cutting set for the Heat transfer vinyl you are using (the flocked HTV cutter has very different cutting settings from smooth HTV cutter). Working with the Silhouette, always select the Heat Transfer Material, Smooth, from the menu.

We will recommend you do a small test cut, especially when you are performing the process with new material, so before attempting to cut your design, do a short test to ensure that the cut setting will work appropriately with the used materials or not.

After putting the cut settings to the cutter insert your materials with Shiny Vinyl side down to the cutter machine and start the process.

When the process is completed, advance the Vinyl and cut the design off the roll. Make sure that the design is reflected before the wedding.

3. Weeding

The next step is “weeding.” The process of reducing or removing the extra vinyl or plastic cover from the object such as logo, design, text or symbol.

vinyl machine to make shirts


By using the weeding tools such as curved tweezers, hooked weeding pick, an Exacto knife, remove the edge around the design, symbol, and text that are attached to the backing paper. Before starting the weeding your design, it is generally possible to softly but confidently pull a giant piece starting at one brink and moving through the design.

3.1. How To Avoid Wasting Vinyl When Weeding?

We recommend trimming off the extra Vinyl before the weeding process if your design for cutting is substantially smaller from the vinyl piece that you would cut it. You can reduce your design by using a pair of scissors. And the remaining vinyl pieces will be used in your next design for something unique.

3.2. Tips For Weeding Heat Transfer Vinyl

For the wedding the extra Vinyl from your design, you will require some tools. We love and recommend to you all the wedding hock from Siser, which is very sharp and works very well in removing the Vinyl from your design. You can use the Circuit Hook, Tweezers, a craft knife, Silhouette hook, or straight pin too for removing the Vinyl.

It can be difficult sometimes to see your cut lines clearly when you are a wedding. So, bending the Vinyl sometimes can help you little in this regard to see the cut lines. By holding the piece of Vinyl up to light or window for observing the cut lines clearly and it will surely help you. The Circut Bright Pad is another option that is created to help you to make the wedding easier by seeing the lines.

When you sound and see your cut lines clearly, take the hook or any other weeding tool from your kit and grab the one side of Vinyl and remove it from around your design. After that remove the remaining pieces of vinyl that are kept or remain in the letters or some other parts of your object.

Once you are done with the wedding process and removed all the Vinyl from your design, flip it over and look examine through the clear plastic carrier how your final design looks. This is an ideal movement to ensure that you have removed every single piece of Vinyl from your design that you don’t want to transfer to your final project.

4. Apply It On Your T-Shirt

After the completion of the wedding process, you are now able to paste your design on your T-shirts. Apply Iron to Graphic.

heat press designs for t shirts


Now you are ready to stick your cut and wedded design to your favorite T-shirt. You will require two things for activating the adhesive on the heat transfer, the first is HEAT, and the second one is PRESSURE, and these both we can get it from the iron. You can utilize any iron that used in the home for heat transfer vinyl, but if possible, the iron product will work best that doesn’t have on the bottom a lot of big steam holes. But if you need more heat for transfer, then you can avail it from Heat press down the road.

4.1. Where To Iron

Do not use the folding iron board for heat transfer to apply the HTV designs, because the Vinyl adhesive requires some pressure for heat transfer to activate. And this is recommended by most experts. You would not prefer to push down on your pressing board and have it breakdown underneath your weight! To avail of good results, we would recommend you use the Above Edge Magnetic Ironing Mat available on the AMAZON on the smooth table instead of as a replacement of folding iron board. A wooden cutting board can also be used for that purpose.

4.2. How To Iron

Plugin your iron and set the cotton setting with the steam turned off. Put your design with a transparent plastic sheet on your surface, and it will read the layout correctly. The thin cotton fabric or parchment paper is used to cover the plastic carrier sheet. from our experiments, we observe that it will serve you to safeguard the exterior and retain the Vinyl from overheating.

Up to 10-20 seconds, press down the iron and apply the pressure on your design to every edge and part. Some Vinyl requires more heat and time, while some Vinyl requires less heat and time, so make sure you read all the instructions about material that are to be used. A lot of people spend more time in the process after the process check the ironed design on how it’s going.

The more time under pressure and heat is not mandatory for Vinyl because it can be melt and ruin the design due to more heat. Additionally, you have some awareness about the bottom holes of your iron. Because if your iron has the steam holes on the bottom, then make sure you move the iron on every part of your design for getting the pressure and heat altogether.

When you apply the complete pressure and heat to each part of your design, start peeling the carrier sheet. If your Vinyl on the design peels up with the carrier sheet, then for more pressure and some heat, you have to change the carrier sheet.

NOTE: most HTV types are “cold peel,” which means after heat and pressure, you have to wait before removing the transparent sheet until the Vinyl get cool completely. After removing the plastic carrier, flip inside out or upside down the project to give some more heat to the backside of design for getting better results.

When the heat and pressure (Iron) on Vinyl applied correctly, the product is ready for Using, wearing, and cleaning. For at least 24 hours, allow the Vinyl (Adhesive) to cure before washing. It can be washed and dried once it has healed. Wash with cold water and hang to dry for best results.

5. Washing instructions:

  • The very first step is to turn the garment inside out.
  • Machine wash COLD with warm dishwashing liquid.
  • Don’t use the bleach.
  • Dry the washed product with atypical dryer setting used in household machines.
  • Do not try to clean it when it is dry.
  • These instructions are only for materials; it is requested that please also read the garments washing instruction.

6. Essential Tips

Before you cut, take your time to create a fantastic design because the quality of your design will define the look of your t-shirts.

  • Before placing the T-shirt on the heat-press, make sure that it has heated up well because the adhesive won’t hold well.
  • The PVC and PU work great with cotton, polyester, and cotton and polyester combinations, so always use the appropriate film for the fabric of your t-shirt.
  • Turn your designed t-shirts inside out while washing to ensure the design lasts for long. Don’t ever use the bleach, and don’t dry clean.

7. Other Uses Of A Vinyl Cutter

The Vinyl cutter is not only suitable for designing your fashionable t-shirts. The most popular use of the vinyl cutter is to employ it for advertising. If you ever saw the giant billboards on highway or on a tall building that are advertising and promoting some brands and products. Did you know? These buildings are manufactured by using the vinyl cutter. There are a lot of other ways on which you can employ the vinyl cutter to earn some dollars.

Those advertisements displayed on buses are commonly formed with a vinyl cutter. Also, they can be to make some other products, such as specialty papers and flex.

8. Choosing a Heat Press

While a vinyl cutter is primary, the heat press is also a vital bit of hardware to have. Although, you won’t have the option to move the design formate to the shirt without the heat press from the Vinyl. So how would you pick a Heat press?


You have to make sure to check all features and amount of Vinyl cutter because it is a bit pricey and too hard to find the affordable and best value for your money.

8.2.Your Goal

For what purpose you are buying the heat press? Choose the heat press according to your future goals. Are you planning to start the T-shirts printing business or want to make modified fashionable t-shirts for yourself?.


The typical values are already principled for personal uses. Look for superior heat platens with high recovering times if you are planning to start a t-shirts printing business. So, you can apply the design prints on fashionable t-shirts quicker, which will reduce the waiting time.


The class isn’t identical to the cost. Odd features are extraordinary, but you need a decent quality heat press machine with all the fundamental capacities that you need.

9. Why We Choose Transfers Over Other Techniques:

The transfer printing is the best and ideal answer to a wide-ranging of services due to its flexibility.  Furthermore, similarly as with everything throughout everyday life, it has its points of interest and inconveniences.


  • Designs that are made on paper are progressively agreeable to store away
  • Fabrication times are less than DTG
  • The procedure doesn’t require high aptitude and has low reject rates
  • Firm effects and surfaces must be created with a transfer
  • It is simpler to print complicated design structures straightforward on paper than on the surface
  • The hardware required for transfer printing can be budget-friendly
  • The machine doesn’t need much space either
  • There are mostly no arrangement costs


  • Can’t be used for large quantities
  • Not too much flexible when it comes to print on a separate type of materials
  • Each design can be cut separately

Quick Video: How To Use A Vinyl Cutter For T-shirts

10. FAQs

  1. How much does a vinyl cutter cost?

They have different price ranges according to their usage. And you can go wrong if you don’t buy such an item that doesn’t meet your requirements.

The vinyl cutter machine has the price under $300, which is ideal for home-style crafting. They can handle the lighter load and are easier to utilize for small type of business.

  1. How Do I Take Care Of My Vinyl Machine?

They don’t require much maintenance. Just clean cartridge, depending on your working environment as well as the material you are using. You have to clean the cutting mat regularly for clean work.

  1. What Should I Look For When Buying a Personal Vinyl Cutter?

Simple, budget-conscious, and small enough to place on the desktop is an ideal choice for personal and small businesses. On which you can handle the small projects easily, such as stickers, cards, scrapbooking, small decals, etc.

  1. What Can You Do With Vinyl Cutter?

The majority of t-shirts and other designers use vinyl cutters to craft their designs. But, you can use the vinyl cutter for banner design and advertising on buses, etc.

11. Final Words

The process is so simple and straightforward, and even a beginner can pull this off effortlessly. You should follow the instructions accurately and stay cautious the whole time. It’s worth repeating that the Vinyl must not move while you are peeling off the transparent plastic.

And that’s it from us! Everything you need to know about “how to use a vinyl cutter for your project” mentioned above.

We hope that this article is helpful for you, if you have any query about how to use heat transfer vinyl, please drop them in the below comment section.

Have a good time.

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