Want a T shirt with your favorite quote on it? Well, with Cricut you can make it in no time. I have done DIYs before using store bought stencils, hand drawn templates and then colored them with fabric paint. Its a long and heedful process but they do work well. The main drawback is that it has design restrictions to it. Its really hard to make intricate stencils manually.
With Cricut machine, first thing I tried was to customize a T shirt with Heat Transfer Vinyl. It came out so well as its machine cut. The process is very simple and easy to make in no time with just your home iron. This tutorial is to help you to try your own. I will explain my mistakes too in this blog so that you can avoid them in yours.
What is HTV?
HTV means Heat Transfer Vinyl. It is a material that can be fused with the fabric or wood or leather to create custom permanent patterns. This is one of the easy & cost effective method to customize your Tshirts on your own without the need of screen printing. Here is a tutorial on how to print your own T-shirts using HTV, home iron and Cricut machine.
I experimented with cricut brand HTV and another HTV brand from amazon. Both did well and had unique shades. In this particular project, I used only cricut brand’s HTV (everyday iron on) since I liked their gold and silver better than the others. Anyway, I will provide an update on its quality after multiple washes.
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- Blank T -shirt
- Heat transfer vinyl (any color of your choice)
- Cricut machine + Standard grip mat + fine point blade
- Home Iron
- Weeding tool
How I chose the blank T-shirt:
I researched a lot on this. There are so many brands in the market that sells blank t shirts in different styles and colors. Eventhough they had good reviews on quality, I hated their designs. They were more standard and was not sure about their sizing. I din’t want to waste money on trialing them. If you are custom printing for your company or crew in bulk, then its worth buying from these brands in bulk to save money. But not for my personal use. So I hunted to find blank T shirts from stores like kohls, rue21, aeropostale etc.. Since we frequently buy from these stores we are familiar with their brands, material and sizes.
In this project, I am using Medium Men’s size Base ball T-shirt.
How to print your own T-shirt using HTV
Step – 1 : Design
Open new project in Cricut Design space and create your design. Tutorial on how to design in cricut space itself is a huge topic. So, I will try to cover that in another blog. Anyways, I made this design on illustrator and uploaded into the cricut design space.
Important points to remember while designing:
- Remember to weld the shapes or letters of a word together. This way, you will avoid overlapping cuts and wasting material. I forgot to do this many times during my newbie cuts and regretted with ruined material 🙁
- For design sizing, refer this guide.
- ‘Attach‘ Objects/layers/text that is going to be cut in same color and if they need to be in same alignment (refer below example). This will save you time and would’t mess with alignment & spacing while transferring to fabric.
Tips to choose the right color :
I follow these two steps to see how the colors will look on the chosen T-shirt background color.
- First thing is to change the design canvas color to the color of your T shirt color. To do this, find the ‘Blank canvas’ on bottom right corner and click on the color square. Now, you will be able to chose color you want on top panel. Also, Turn off the grid. For this, you have to open the settings on top left corner.
- 2. Next, you can peel a little on one corner of the material and place it on top of your Tshirt to see if you like it. (I had two shades of gold. This technique helped me chose the right one)
Step – 2: Cut
Once your design is finished, click ‘Make it’. It will take you to the screen with mat setting. Check the positioning of the objects and TURN MIRROR ON before making.
Material setting – Everyday Iron on & fine point blade.
Repeat the same for cutting for next color.
Step – 3: Weed
After cutting, lets peel the material. I prefer to peel the mat off rather than the material (to avoid damaging the vinyl).
Next, cut and weed it carefully.
Step – 4: T-shirt prep
Before we start to iron, clear off all the things on your table. Use a hard surface top table or kitchen counter top. Do not use the normal ironing board or bed or anything soft underneath. Also, do not use a cutting mat or crafting mat underneath unless it is heat resistant. My cutting mat was totally ruined (warped) during my first attempt. 🙁
Lay down the Tshirt and iron on it to get rid of the wrinkles if any.
Step – 5: Aligning HTV & Layering
Place your design 3 to 4 inches below the neck line and at exact center of the Tshirt horizontally. Use a ruler to guide your placement. Don’t worry about messing it up. You can easily peel and re stick until its centered.
If you have multiple colors in your design, you can place them now based on your visual judgement of spacing. Peel and re stick until you are satisfied. Just don’t let the second layer of vinyl design overlap with the layer of protection sheet underneath.
In my case, I have to add the ‘sun’ design later as second round of ironing.
Step- 6: Iron
Once you are satisfied with the placement, its time to iron over it. Turn on your home iron and keep at its maximum setting. Turn off the steamer setting(if it has one).
Place a towel or teflon sheet on top of the design.
Set the countdown timer for 30 seconds. You should not iron over the design like we do our clothes. Here we need to put uniform firm heat over the design constantly for 30 to 45 seconds (depends upon the iron heat). Since the iron cannot cover the whole design at a time, it should be done in parts. So, place the iron on one end of the design and let it stay still for 30 seconds. Move your iron to next part after the countdown ends.
If you see tiny bubbles under the sheet, then its working. Let the fabric & transfer sheet completely cool off before peeling. If you see vinyl still not sticking to the fabric then repeat the ironing for 15 more seconds.
Since I could’t exactly position the iron just over the ‘sun’ design, it left some wrinkles on the vinyl around that area. You can see the little wrinkles if you see close. So lesson is “Try to avoid over ironing over the already transferred Vinyl”
Step – 7: After the Transfer
Before you start to wear, turn the t-shirt inside out and put in your dryer under heat. This will strengthen the bond between vinyl and fabric.
Here is the final outcome! 🙂 It turned out really great. Naveen loved it!
Below are some of the other projects using cricut that you might be interested. Have fun making !