Heat transfer vinyl is probably my favorite material to use with my Silhouette Cameo. It’s incredibly versatile, it comes in tons of colors, and you can find it in smooth, flocked, or glittery. Plus it sticks to cotton, polyester, and cotton/poly blends, so you can decorate pretty much any fabric items that you want!
If you’re new to your Silhouette cutting machine, this “How To Use A Silhouette Cameo” series is perfect for you! Today we’re covering how to use heat transfer vinyl, so pull up a chair and learn more about this awesome crafting material!
Heat transfer vinyl is perfect for decorating t-shirts, canvas bags, baby onesies, etc. And it’s super easy to use!
How To Use A Silhouette Cameo: Heat Transfer Vinyl
Here’s what you need: (affiliate links below)
- a Silhouette cutting machine
- heat transfer material
- something to decorate (a shirt, a baby onesie, a canvas bag, a pillow case… anything!)
- an iron
The first thing you need is a design to cut out of your heat transfer vinyl. You can use any design you want, as long as your Silhouette can cut it out. But if this is your first time using heat transfer vinyl, I suggest starting with something simple!
If you like the Dr. Seuss quote that I used, you can find it here: Silhouette Studio file
How to cut heat transfer vinyl
Heat transfer material needs to be flipped to a mirror image before cutting. Once you have a design loaded into your Silhouette studio software, click on the graphic, click on the Replicate icon in the toolbar at the top, and choose Mirror Right or Mirror Left.
This will create a mirrored copy of your design; feel free to delete the original design so you don’t accidentally cut out the non-mirrored version!
Once you’re ready to cut out your design, load your heat transfer vinyl into your Silhouette. You can load the material directly into your Silhouette, or you can load it on a cutting mat. If you’re loading the material directly, set the width of your rollers to accommodate the vinyl, place the material on the Silhouette, plastic backing side down, select “Load Media” on the screen of your Silhouette, and push the Enter button to load the material.
If you’re using a smaller piece of heat transfer vinyl, you can stick it on your cutting mat to hold it in place. Place the material on the cutting mat, plastic backing side down, select “Load Cutting Mat” on your Silhouette screen, and push Enter to load the cutting mat.
Then click on the Cut Settings icon in the top toolbar, and choose Heat Transfer Vinyl from the menu. Choose “Smooth” if you’re using smooth heat transfer vinyl, or “Flocked” if you are using flocked or glitter heat transfer vinyl.
Change your blade depth to the indicated setting and click “Cut”. Once your Silhouette is finished cutting, unload the media or cutting mat.
How to apply heat transfer vinyl
Trim the heat transfer vinyl close to your design, cutting through both the plastic backing and the material. Then start weeding away the extra vinyl by pulling it off the plastic backing.
You can use the Silhouette hook tool to weed out smaller pieces of vinyl.
Once you’re done weeding the extra heat transfer vinyl away, place the material on your project with the plastic backing side up. Thanks to mirroring the design before you cut, your image or text should now be facing the correct way!
Now comes the “heat” part of heat transfer vinyl! Turn on your iron, all the way up to the highest setting, and turn off the steam. Place a clean dishcloth over your design and press the hot iron into the design for 45-60 seconds without moving the iron. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important that you don’t move the iron and apply constant pressure the whole time. (This may singe the dishcloth a bit, so use an old one you don’t care about!)
After 45-60 seconds, lift up the iron and gently peel the plastic backing away from your project. The heat transfer vinyl should remain attached to your project and the backing should easily peel away. If the vinyl is still slightly stuck to the backing, let your project cool down for about 30 seconds, then place the cloth over the design and press the iron into the design again for another 30 seconds or so.
On cotton or polyester, 45-60 seconds should be enough, but if you’re using something else (like the burlap I used on this project), you may need to repeat the 30 seconds cooling, 30 seconds heating process a few times before the vinyl fully sticks to your project.
Once you peel away all the plastic backing, you’re done!
If you need more project ideas, check out all of the other projects I’ve done with my Silhouette Cameo by clicking here!
Disclosure: The links in this post are Silhouette affiliate links. Any purchases you make through those links help me to keep this blog running, and Silhouette’s affiliate program is what lets me offer you guys awesome discounts!