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Top 10 ways to ruin your iron-on vinyl project
Want to get great results with your heat transfer vinyl (also known as HTV, or iron-on vinyl)? Too bad. I’m going to show you all the things you should be doing to make sure you ruin your HTV projects. But, I guess I’ll also explain how to fix the problem so you can get great iron-on results if that’s your thing.
1. Put the iron-on down on the mat wrong.
FIX: Remember shiny side down because you’re cutting on the back side of the mat and leaving the plastic carrier sheet intact.
2. Don’t mirror your image.
FIX: Since you’re cutting on the back side the design needs to be backwards when it cuts.
3. Cut the material on the wrong setting.
FIX: In Cricut Design Space there are multiple settings for cutting iron-on. If using a basic iron-on (Everyday, Lite) just choose the Iron-on setting. Otherwise, search for Glitter, SportFlex, Foil, Patterned, to make sure you get successful cuts. When in doubt, try a test cut! In my experience, it’s best to avoid the HTV setting.
4. Weed the wrong part of the design.
FIX: It’s so frustrating to realize that an important part of the design has been weeded by mistake. Start with the outside edges, then work your way in. Don’t forget the insides of letters. This helps keep track of which parts stay in the design and which parts go.
5. Don’t preheat the material.
FIX: Preheating gets rid of moisture that could be in the shirt, or whatever you’re ironing on to. This can cause issues and make the iron-on peel up later. Also, you will be able to tell if the heat causes problems, without also ruining your cut design.
6. Put the design with the adhesive side facing up.
FIX: Since the design was mirrored when it was cut, flip it over to put it down on the material. Now plastic carrier layer is on top, and the adhesive side is down, against the material. The design should look correct also, nothing is backwards now.
7. Layer iron-on over the carrier sheet of another piece.
See how the pink “h” is on top of the carrier sheet of the gold “o.” Then the glitter “ll” is on top of the carrier sheet for the pink.
FIX: The iron-on vinyl will always stick to what is right underneath it, even if it’s the carrier sheet of another piece of vinyl and not your actual project. Avoid this by trimming away some of the excess carrier sheet. If that’s not an option, press one layer down for a few seconds, peel, and then position the other piece.
8. Layer the wrong kinds of HTV.
FIX: Know the properties of the iron-on you’re using. Certain kinds of iron-on need to be the top layer because the adhesive won’t work great on top of them. Glitter, foil, holographic, patterned and flocked should all be a top layer. Try the slice trick to get the look of layered glitter HTV, for layering any of these top-layer types.
For layering basic iron-on, or stretch HTV, keep the types the same. Meaning, don’t try to layer stretch or SportFlex iron-on over a regular iron-on, because their amount of flex is different and could cause the vinyl to wrinkle, pucker or peel. Finally, use a protective sheet to protect any layers that have the plastic peeled off already.
9. Don’t press it long enough.
FIX: Check the iron-on settings guide for temperature and time recommendations for various HTV and base materials. Not pressing long enough can result in adhesive that isn’t activated enough to give the longest lasting results.
10. Move the EasyPress or Iron around while pressing.
FIX: Keep the EasyPress or Iron stationary while pressing down on the design. If you are doing lots of designs that have a large area, consider the large size EasyPress. Or make multiple presses. But, moving the press will cause the iron-on to squish and wrinkle on the fabric.
*One exception here is the EasyPress mini. It’s been specially designed to actually move around a bit while you’re pressing. Learn more about the EasyPress mini here.
BONUS: Misplace another piece of iron-on and adhere it to the back of your project (like a shirt!) This is one of my favorite ways to ruin an iron-on project because you nearly lose your mind for a few minutes trying to find that missing piece – and then when you do, major face palm.
FIX: Carefully keep track of all iron-on pieces while working. Don’t leave them where the sticky carrier sheet may accidentally get stuck where you don’t want it.
Did I miss any of your favorite ways to mess up iron-on vinyl projects? Share in the comments, or if you’re nice, maybe give some iron-on vinyl tips for success.
How to Use Iron On Vinyl
10 best tips and tricks for getting the best results with your iron on vinyl (htv) projects.
- Iron on Vinyl (also called Heat Transfer Vinyl)
- Iron or EasyPress
1. Put the iron-on vinyl shiny side down on the mat so you're cutting the back of the vinyl and not the carrier sheet
2. Mirror the image in the design program before cutting - otherwise when you flip the vinyl, the cut will be backwards
3. Choose the correct cut setting as different HTV can be different thicknesses - make some test cuts if you're not sure
4. Carefully weed away the pieces of vinyl that aren't part of the final design - it helps to work from the outside and move in
5. Preheat the material to remove moisture and wrinkles
6. Place the vinyl design so the plastic carrier sheet is face up and any letters should read correctly
7. If pressing more than one piece at the same time, make sure that no vinyl overlaps the clear sheet of another piece by accident
8. Know which kinds of iron-on can be layered over, and which kinds need to be on top
9. Press the iron-on for the amount of time recommended to ensure a strong bond and long-lasting design
10. Prevent wrinkled vinyl by keeping the iron or EasyPress still while pressing. (The exception is when pressing a smaller design with the EasyPress Mini - it was designed to slide while pressing)
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Now you’re ready to try some of these popular iron-on projects:
Custom baby bibs
Iron-on vinyl decorated cork
HTV wood sign
Iron on vinyl on a hat
I was so excited to use my foil iron-on for the first time. I did make a few cutting mistakes that you mentioned above -If only I had read your article first!! I don’t own an easy press and so my challenges came in using my iron. I followed the instructions and pre-ironed but my image was bigger than my iron. What to do? So I ironed 1/3 of it and systematically did each section. Except that the foil crinkled (is it suppose to do that?). For my second t-shirt I decided that I would seek to run my iron back and forth over the whole image to see if that would make it more even in appearance. It was worse. In fact it seemed like certain sections pulled in more than others (the ones in the middle). So now I am left wondering how in the world you use a regular iron on an image that is bigger than it. -Can any one help?
Yes, you can do dffierent sections of your design with the iron – but as you noticed, foil iron-on is particularly finicky. Even when I use my EasyPress and can do it all at once, when I peel off the carrier sheet, or after I wash it, it still gets kind of crinkle-y. You can press from the back side when you’re done to kind of even out the texture again – but the foil is getting pressed into the fiber of the shirt and never really keeps that totally smooth mirror-like finish. So it’s nothing you did wrong there, it’s just how I’ve found the foil to be. Hope that helps some!
That is reassuring. This was my first time with iron-on vinyl so you always wonder what’s “normal”. Thanks!
HI! Thank you so much for this post! It has been a life saver! Question though: What should I do when I am ironing on both sides of a t-shirt? If I do the front first, do I leave the plastic on while I do the back or do I peel the plastic off the front before staring the back ironing? I’m just worried that while I am ironing on the back the front vinyl will stick to my table! LOL Thank you so much for the help!
Keep the plastic on. It keeps the vinyl from sticking to anything else. I found that it worked best when I let the image cool for 2 mins and then tested a corner to make sure it was ready to come off. Sometimes they need another 20-30 sec pass.
I purchased an iron on vinyl from a store and in my excitement to use it, I put my parchment paper down and started to iron…and then realized I forgot to remove the backing. Of course, when I tried to pull it away, it was already stuck to the backing. Is this fixable or do I just need to own up to my good?
Like, you didn’t remove the extra vinyl that wasn’t part of the design? Some people have had luck with heating up the area again and peeling away the iron on while it’s hot – but it didn’t work when I tried it. Plus, if you’re trying to keep some of the iron-on there still it might be trickier.
I Made A Mistake And Put My Vinyl To Cut On The Wrong Side. Can I Turn It On The Correct Side And try Again Or I Have to Buy Brand new HTV?
Oh no! Yes, it happens to the best of us. You can try it, but most likely the clear liner has been cut all the way through, so when you cut the correct side and try to weed, the carrier sheet won’t be able to hold everything in place. But it can’t hurt trying – if it doesn’t work, you’re no worse off, and will just have to cut a new piece correctly. Let me know if you have luck with it!
Angelina Gummel says
My vinyl keeps sliding when I use my easy press. Is there any tips to make it stay? It leaves a glue residual on the outline of my vinyl
That must be so frustrating!I’m not exactly sure why it’s doing that – are you using a heat press, EasyPress, or an iron?One thing that might help is to secure it down with some of the Cricut heat resistant tape – http://shrsl.com/242ps
It should hold in place and not let anything shift.
Carrie Taylor says
Hi, I am attempting to iron a design onto a T-shirt. I have been mirroring the image, cutting with the vinyl side down, weeding the design and then flipping it over and using the recommended settings with my Easy Press for the type of iron-on material and shirt that I am using. I have done this multiple times and when I flip the image over to iron it on my shirt, the backing of the vinyl sticks to my Easy Press and nothing sticks to my shirt. The design is pretty detailed. It has 4 different types of video game controllers and says “Totally In Control”. I purchased it from Cricut for .99 cents. I have no idea what I am doing wrong, but I was planning on making these for my grandsons for Christmas and time is fast approaching for that. I would appreciate any ideas or comments.
Carrie in KY
You mentioned the image is sticking to the iron, so it sounds like you might be cutting the vinyl sheet wrong side down in the machine? You need to place iron-on vinyl shiny-side DOWN on your cutting mat & then mirror the image for cutting. This way, when you weed the excess, you’re left with your image adhered to the plastic sheet. When you go to iron on, you flip the vinyl over, so that the plastic sheet should now be “Up” (between your shirt and your iron)… then when you apply heat, the vinyl sticks to your shirt (not the iron) and the plastic sheet comes off when you’re done. Hope that helps!
i was pressing my design and first part was no problem. The next section if different vinyl seemed to melt out around the lines of the lettering but the actual lettering wouldn’t come off carrier sheet. It left stains on my project. In hindsite should have tried to cover with more vinyl but tried to remove stains, totally ruining project. Any ideas of why that happened? It was a new one for me!
Ps: how can you tell which vinyl is cold peel if you no longer remember?
If I can’t remember warm or cold peel – I usually test a small corner while it’s still warm. If the carrier sheet it peeling up nicely and the vinyl is stuck, I keep going. If it looks like the vinyl is pulling up from the fabric, I give it another quick press, then let it cool and try peeling the carrier again.
You can look at the Cricut easy press heat guide! It’s awesome… tells you which heat setting, for which materials, and which vinyl, and then gives you instructions for how long and cold or warm peel.
My iron on vinyl cut right through to my mat which has never happened before! I had the shiny side down, had it set to custom material and chose everyday iron on. I just changed my blade, do you think it was too sharp? Has this happened to anyone? I’m nervous to re-cut in case it happens again because I wasted a significant amount of vinyl 🙁
Did you have any luck? I was able to weed the design and get it on transfer tape, but now I need to transfer again so the right side is up.
Wendy H Hoban says
I can’t get my Cricut Everyday Iron on (sample rolls 3″) to come off the carrier after applying heat. I’ve pre heated tee, start out using easy press directions for material, etc. I have pressed it several times increasing the heat more and still it will not come off carrier. Then it left a glue spot. Any ideas…this has happened with two different colors and ruined two shirts.
Oh no, so frustrating! Sorry that’s happening!
My first thought is to try letting everything cool off to room temperature.
I know that the everyday says to use a “warm peel” but I have had that problem where it lifts up from the fabric. So try a “cold peel” and see if that lets you remove the plastic carrier sheet after the adhesive has set.
Let me know if that works or not!
This was helpful as a mofo. Thank you! I literally just took my cricut out of its packaging yesterday and I have never used one of these things before, so if you have a link to a “super basic, you’re a brand new user with no prior vinyl skills what so ever-ever” please share.
Loved the “too bad” in the beginning.
It’s nice to to see a craft blog/site with some personality for once.
So glad you liked it, and that it was helpful too!
This post is a good one to start with. https://craftingintherain.com/cricut-is-easy-to-use/
I am new to the Cricut world. I have made some projects; and they came out nice. I bought new vinyl from Amazon, not reading the type of vinyl. In my haste, I tried to apply it like Cricut’s iron-on vinyl. It was a heat transfer vinyl. Unfortunately, some of the letters did not stick and some did. Some of the letters crumbled up and would not lay flat; no matter how many times I tried. Now I am apprehensive of using the HTV. I do not own a Cricut Easy Press.. Please help.
That’s so annoying when that happens – I feel your pain!
Unfortunately, not all Amazon products are created equal, and some HTV (which should be the same as iron-on) will not work as well as others.
I have had good luck with the Cricut iron-on and the iron-on vinyl from Expressions Vinyl.
Normally, if iron-on isn’t sticking well, I suggest a hotter temp – but since you said some of the letters were crumpling, that makes me wonder if it was too hot.
Bottom line though, I suggest giving it a try with Cricut iron-on or Siser brand – both at Michaels (and often one of them is on sale!)
Sharon Green says
I started my first project which has four layers on top of each other. The first one went on beautifully. The second layer slid down a little and the third layer slid even more and then wrinkled. My t-shirt was 100% cotton (now in the bin). What might i be doing wrong? NB. Using an iron.
Shoot, I hate when it doesn’t go right! Did you press each layer for 30 seconds? It could be that they got too hot by being pressed too many times.It could also be that the iron was too hot.
Here’s what I would try for next time:
1) Try pressing the layer for only about 15 seconds, then see if you can peel up the clear plastic (go slowly, and you might have to wait til it cools some.)
2) Wait for it to cool completely before adding the next layer. And again, only press 15 seconds – or less if it will stick.
3) Wait for each layer to cool – before adding the next. Then, on the last layer, go ahead and press the full 30 seconds.
Hope that helps, and that you get great results the next time! You could try doing something similar, maybe with some scrap pieces, and the back of the ruined shirt? Just to try it out before going again on a new shirt?
Pam Outt says
I tried my first HTV applying with an iron to canvas. The carrier sheet crinkled and the HTV melted and smeared in some sections. A total mess. Help
Sorry that happened! my guess is that the iron was too hot. If you try it again, set the iron to a lower temperature than the first time. Then, test a sample piece of vinyl on the canvas that is already messed up. At least that way you can tell if it will work before you try it on a new one!
Brenda McAfee says
My iron on vinyl cut through to the mat! I had the shiny side down, had it set to custom material and chose heat transfer (not Cricut). I was able to weed it in the mat, and get it in transfer tape, but now I need to get it onto another piece of transfer so that it will be shiny side down to iron in to my t-shirt. Any ideas?
Sandra Lackey says
I tried to download the ‘iron vinyl’ cheatsheet. Not able to get it. Help. I would really like to have it.
This is my first time using the foil heat transfer vinyl. The machine ended up cutting through the carrier, and then the carrier stayed on my cutting mat when the vinyl peeled off. Will it still work to iron the foil on to the shirt without the carrier? I tried using another transfer tape I had but the design wouldn’t lay right and kept getting stuck in the wrong position.
Alexia Johannes says
Thank you for this and for responding to so many questions! I just tried Sportflex on a canvas pouch, using an iron. I followed the instructions and waited to do the “cool peel”. My decal remained fully attached to the carrier sheet/lining (as if I never ironed it at all). . Nothing I’ve tried will secure it to the canvas pouch. Any ideas? =(
Ozmen Ozdemir says
Amazing tips to use heat press machine and vinyl, thanks for sharing.
Aviva Dallas says
Thank you for showing us this information.