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How to Make a T-Shirt Using a Vinyl Heat Press

If you have been cutting vinyl for any length of time, you’ve surely given thought to creating your own t-shirts. Purchasing a heat press is obviously step one. But once you have it, do you really know what to do with it? Keep reading to learn how easy applying vinyl with a heat press actually is.

The first (and most important) step is to make sure you have the right vinyl. It must be a heat transfer vinyl or it simply will not work. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) comes in as many colors as you could possibly need as well as metallic, glitter, flocking, etc. Also, when you are cutting out your design, be sure to reverse it. This is imperative. If you do not reverse the design prior to cutting it, it will be backwards when you apply it to your t-shirt.

After all the designing and cutting is done, turn your heat press on and let it warm up while you are weeding your design. Some models take longer than others to preheat and you want to be sure that yours is good and hot when you go to press your shirt. Refer to the instructions that came with your HTV regarding temperature settings, how long to press and the appropriate pressure, which you will also need to set on your heat press.

When your press is preheated, place your t-shirt on it and press it for 5-10 seconds. This will remove any moisture from the shirt as well as any wrinkles, giving you a smooth surface to press on. After you have placed your design where you want it, cover the shirt with a large piece of silicone paper (your press may have come with one of these) or parchment paper. Press for the recommended period of time and release. Your HTV’s instructions will also tell you if your vinyl is a hot or cold peel. If it is a hot peel, remove the carrier sheet right away, peeling from a bottom corner diagonally upwards. If your vinyl is a cold peel, wait at least 10-15 seconds before removing the carrier sheet. If, when you begin to remove the carrier sheet, any part of the design attempts to lift with it, just place it back down and press it again. If you are applying multiple layers of vinyl to your shirt, only press each layer for 1-2 seconds to tack them into place. When you apply the top layer, press for the full time. You should always wait 24 hours before washing any freshly heat-pressed garment.

Using a heat press to apply vinyl to a t-shirt is not only simple, it is fun! Once you start making shirts, you will find the possibilities are limitless. Whether you are looking to start your own business or just want to make t-shirts for friends and family, a good heat press will definitely make the job much easier!