Hello and welcome to The Old Summers Home. Today I’m going to teach you the basics of how to heat press apparel. This tutorial will cover the basics so that you can use our techniques for other posts within our blog, like our men’s boxers (coming soon!). Please note that this is my method of how to heat press apparel items and your results may vary. If you have any questions please drop them in the comments below.
If you are new to heat pressing then this tutorial is perfect for you. I’m going to use the assumption that you already know how to create a design.
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- Cricut, Silhouette or another cutting machine.
- Computer with cutting machine software
- Cutting mat (Cricut 12X24 standard grip Is my favourite)
- Heat press
Once you have your design chosen choose your colour of vinyl that will stand out on your apparel of choice.
I like to use a Cricut mat when I’m cutting, they are more affordable and with a bit of trimming they fit perfectly into my silhouette cameo.
Mirror your design and size it appropriately, cut out a piece of vinyl so that you have no waste and place it onto your Cricut mat following the grid in your program. Make sure there are no bubbles underneath your vinyl. Feed it into your machine.
A self-healing mat and rotary cutter with a quilting ruler make trimming vinyl so much easier. When I was producing shirts for my business these items were absolutely essential and sped up the entire process!
I use a 24x 36-inch self-healing mat to allow me plenty of room when cutting out large image designs off of a roll of HTV. My heat press can handle a design up to 15×15 without needing to be repositioned. So a big mat really helps when cutting 15-inch squares off of a roll.
Set your blade accordingly to machine settings for HTV smooth (or whatever vinyl choice you are using).
Always make sure to mirror your image when using HTV. If you don’t your image and text will be backward when pressed onto your apparel.
Make sure that the mirror image is on. Send it to the cutting machine.
Once it is done cutting, remove the mat from the cutting machine. Sometimes I like to keep my vinyl on the mat so that I can keep it nice and flat when working with it.
Weed your design
Using a pick, weed out the smaller pieces between the font. Once you have the smaller pieces weeded out then remove the larger background piece of vinyl. You can do it the other way but for fine details, this way works best.
I love to use a mechanical pencil with the lead removed and a pin inserted as a pick.
Use a light pad to help make weeding easier on the eyes! To do this remove cover sheet and vinyl from the mat.
If you are having difficulty weeding and it is cut appropriately then warm up your sheets by placing them on your heat-press for a few seconds (DO NOT PRESS).
Repeat steps for any and all layer colours.
How to Heat Press Apparel
Preheat the heat press
Follow temperature guidelines according to the HTV manufacturer’s instructions. I use Siser EasyWeed, therefore, my heat press is set to 305°F/150°C.
I always pre-press my item to get out any wrinkles or moisture before applying my vinyl to the product. This will ensure the design goes on nice and smooth and that it will hold securely once pressed. Most people recommend 2-3 seconds, I go a full 15 seconds, personal preference.
Ensure you are using a sufficient amount of pressure. I use a commercial heat press that is adjustable.
A good way to test your heat press is by using the dollar bill pressure test (5 dollars if you are Canadian haha).
Once pre-pressed apply your design in the preferred position. Make sure that your design is straight and centred.
Once your design is perfectly in place, place the item on to the rubber pad on the heat press.
Cover your design with a Teflon sheet, most heat presses come with one.
I use magnets to hold my Teflon sheet to the heat press top plate.
Firmly close your heat press. Once the timer goes off (I use 15 seconds) open the heat press. Remove the cover sheet, then press again.
Remove the item from the heat press and check that you can see the fibres of the fabric in the vinyl. If not return to the heat press and press again using more pressure.
I also test by stretching the item to make sure it heat-pressed well.
Important note when heat pressing certain items
When pressing items with large seams like boxers and baby onesies it is essential to use a pressing cloth or pressing pillow of some sort.
Cricut makes some really great pressing pillows that help to eliminate moisture.
I prefer to use a regular facecloth or folded piece of scrap flannel.
The stitching and ribbed areas will make it more difficult to get a perfect press so use it between layers to ensure it is even with the higher areas of the fabric.
How to heat press apparel- Care Instructions
- Never prewash items prior to heat pressing
- Do not wash pressed apparel for 24 hours
- Turn the item inside out to wash
- Wash with cold water
- Do not wash with fabric softener
- Dry on low heat
- Do not dry clean
I hope this tutorial has helped you learn how to heat press apparel. If you need further assistance, please drop a comment below and I will do my best to help you.
Thank you so much for coming to The Old Summers Home. Now go heat press like a boss!
Until next time;
The Old Summers Home