Here at Aaliyah Couture we love to personalise our children's clothes and accessories using heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Its benefits from being easy to use, and is a strong long lasting material.
If you new to HTV, this is our to beginner's guide to use heat transfer vinyl with either a heat press or a normal iron
Prepare cut file
The first step when using heat transfer vinyl is to prepare your chosen design to be cut using the cutting machine software that you are using. If you do not have a cutting machine, heat transfer vinyl can be cut by hand using scissors
What is a cut file?
A cut file is the design that you wish to cut from vinyl to be used when personalising you item. The most common type of cut file is SVG. Which is what we use here most of the time as its compatible with most cutting programs.
Scale you design
Once you have your design ready to be cut and surface ready to print on you will need to determine how big you need the design to be in order to fit correctly on your surface.
We just you a ruler to get a general idea of how high and wide we need the design to be on our printing surface.
Once you know how big you want to cut your design, open up the cut file in you cutting software. Next you will need to scale the image to the right size. Just click on the design and use the handles in the corners to scale down to the size you require.
Next, you will need to mirror or flip your design horizontally. The reason that you need to mirror you design when working with HTV is that you cut the design out from the back side of the vinyl. HTV has a plastic carrier sheet that covers the top side of the vinyl. and the other side is where the heat sensitive adhesive is. You cut your design on the adhesive side, and then the clear plastic sheet on the other side holds you design in place until its applied to you printing surface. So to make sure that our design looks right when its applied to the final print surface we first need to mirror or flip the design. This is really easy to do, to mirror a design click on the design to select it then choose from the drop down menu the mirror option or use the flip button to flip horizontally .
Cut Design From Heat Transfer Vinyl.
Next, we are now ready to load our HTV on to the cutting machine. You will need to adjust your cut settings depend on what material you are using. The process will be a bit slightly different from machine, to machine. So just make sure to choose the correct setting for the type of HTV you are using. Its a good idea to preform a small test cut first when working with new material to ensure that the cut setting are working well with the material
When your happy with your cut settings its time to load your HTV into you cut machine, facing vinyl shiny side down. You are now ready to preform the cut.
Weeding Out Excess Vinyl
The next step is called weeding, this just means getting rid of the excess that we do not require after the cut. We recommend using a weeding tool, there are different styles of tool available. We use the hook ended tool as its really easy to pick the vinyl with.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see you cut lines on you vinyl, depending on what material you are using to personalise your clothes. We bend the vinyl material to see the cut lines more clearly, this helps.
Once you have found your cut lines, use the weeding tool to grab one of the edges and lift up the excess vinyl and peel away from the carrier sheet. I find it easiest to start by removing the vinyl from around the design first and then remove the remain bits of excess from inside the design.
once you have all the excess removed its a good practice to flip the design over and double check from that side that all the little bits of excess have been gotten.
Now we are ready to transfer our cut and weeded design to your printing surface. To activate the adhesive on the HTV, you will need to things: heat and pressure, both of witch you can create using a heat press or iron. We are using a heat press to personalise all of our children's clothes.
Start off by pre heating your press, the heat depends on what material you are you. We always follow recommend settings from product supplier, next position your design on your print surface with the plastic carrier sheet on top, so that the design now reads correctly. Once you the design read to go we normally use a protective sheet in between the press and your carrier sheet this is to protect the vinyl from over heating and warping.
Press down on the press to lock it in position depending on the heat setting it should take anywhere from 15-30 seconds for the vinyl to bond to the print surface you have chosen. Some HTV will require more or less heat and time, so always wise to check manufactures instructions before use.
Now that our design is printed on to chosen print surface, all that's left to do is peal the carrier sheet away from the print surface, to leave you with your printed design on your print surface.