Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (2023)

T-Shirt Vinyl - Everything you need to know about printing your own t-shirts at home using heat transfer vinyl

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (1)

Have you ever wondered how to print t-shirts with vinyl? Read on to find out everything you need to know about printing your own t-shirts at home using heat transfer vinyl! Whether you are looking to create something unique and stylish for yourself, or would like to make a special gift for someone else, custom t-shirts are the perfect solution! With this tutorial, you will learn everything you need to know about printing custom designs onto t-shirts with vinyl. We will cover all of the basics from selecting your materials to preparing and applying the design. Plus, we provide some valuable tips on how best to achieve lasting results. So get out your tools and let's dive into the world of vinyl t-shirt printing!

Do I need a Cricut machine to use HTV for T-Shirt printing?

No, you don't necessarily need a Cricut machine to use HTV. However, a cutting machine like a Cricut will make the process much easier and more precise. If you don't have a Cricut, you can still cut HTV designs by hand with a pair of scissors or a craft knife. This method may require more time and effort and may not produce as precise results as a cutting machine. So, while a Cricut machine may not be essential, it can certainly be a helpful tool to have when working with HTV.

Overview of the tools you need to create custom t-shirts with vinyl

Creating custom t-shirts with vinyl is a fun and creative way to unleash your inner artist. The process involves using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to transfer designs or letters onto shirts.

  • Heat Transfer Vinyl: You'll need high-quality heat transfer vinyl (HTV) that can withstand heat without peeling or cracking. (read our complete guide to HTV here)
  • Digital Cutting machine: A cutting machine like the Cricut Joy, Cricut Maker 3, or Cricut Explore 3 can make cutting designs easier and more precise than using scissors.
  • Weeding tool: A weeding tool is used to remove any excess vinyl from the design before the vinyl is transferred.
  • Transfer tape: Transfer tape is used to pick up the vinyl design and transfer it to the t-shirt.
  • Iron or heat press: You'll need a source of heat to transfer the design from the vinyl to the t-shirt. An iron or heat press can be used for this purpose.

With the right tools in hand, you're ready to let your creativity flow and make unique t-shirt designs that will impress everyone around you. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using the tools to ensure best results.

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (2)

When it comes to tools, a Cricut machine can be a game-changer for beginners, as it allows precise cuts and saves time. Other items you may need include a weeding tool, transfer tape, and an iron or heat press. With these tools in hand, you can let your imagination run wild and bring your designs to life on a t-shirt.

Step-by-step guide on how to apply vinyl to the t-shirt

Making personalized vinyl t-shirt designs has never been easier. With the right materials and tools, you can create a professional-looking t-shirt that suits your style. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you apply vinyl to a t-shirt:

  • Cut your design out of the vinyl using a cutting machine or scissors.
  • Weed the excess vinyl off the design. This will leave only your desired design on the backing paper.
  • Preheat the area of your t-shirt where you'll apply the vinyl for a few seconds. This helps remove any moisture or wrinkles and provides a flat surface.
  • Position the design on your t-shirt with the backing paper facing up. Use tape to secure the design in place.
  • Use a heat press or iron to apply heat and pressure on the design. Make sure to follow the recommended time and temperature settings for the vinyl and t-shirt material. After pressing, let the t-shirt cool for a few seconds.
  • Gently peel off the backing paper while the vinyl is still hot. If some vinyl comes up with the backing, put the backing back down and press it for a few more seconds.
  • Once the backing paper is completely removed, inspect your vinyl design. If it looks good, your vinyl t-shirt is complete!
Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (3)

How do I choose the right design for my custom vinyl T Shirt

Designing your own T-shirt can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be overwhelming with so many options and techniques available. One popular method that has gained a lot of attention in recent years is using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) with a cutting machine, such as a Cricut. HTV allows for intricate designs and vibrant colors that can easily be applied to your shirt. However, before you start creating, it's important to consider the style and purpose of your shirt. Are you designing for a special event or just for everyday wear? Will your design be on the front, back, or both? These details can help guide your decision when selecting the perfect design. With a little creativity, some HTV, and a cutting machine, the possibilities for your custom T-shirt are endless!

What design software do I use with a Cricut machine?

Cricut has its own design software called Design Space that you can use with your Cricut machine. It's a web-based program that allows you to create your designs, customize existing ones, or upload designs from external software like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape. Design Space comes with a library of pre-made designs and fonts that you can use or customize according to your preferences. Additionally, you can access Design Space through the Cricut mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.

(Video) Cricut Iron-On T-Shirt Tutorial - Beginner Friendly!

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (4)

How do I pick the best colour htv to use on a custom t-shirt?

  • Consider the base colour of the fabric: Depending on the colour of your t-shirt, some HTV colours may not show up as well as others. For example, a light-coloured vinyl design may not be visible on a white t-shirt. If you're working with a light-coloured t-shirt, consider using a darker HTV shade, and vice versa.
  • Contrast: Choosing a colour that contrasts well with your t-shirt can make your design pop. For example, a black vinyl design would stand out on a white t-shirt, while a white vinyl design would stand out on a darker-coloured t-shirt.
  • Personal preference: At the end of the day, you want to choose a colour that reflects your personal style and tastes. Consider what colours you like and what will look best with your design.
  • Nature of the design: If your design has a specific theme or purpose, like a sports team or charity organization, you may need to use specific colours for the design to be recognizable.

Ultimately, the goal is to choose a colour that complements your design, and makes your t-shirt look great.

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (5)

How long do you need to wait for the vinyl to properly adhere?

If you're a crafting enthusiast, you might have heard about the magical properties of vinyl transfers. They can turn plain t-shirts into statement pieces, personalize everyday objects like mugs or phone cases, and decorate walls with intricate designs. But once you've cut and weeded your vinyl, how long should you wait before applying it to the final project? The answer is: it depends. Different types of vinyl have different adhesive properties, and other factors like temperature or humidity can also influence the outcome. In general, though, you should strive for a clean and dry surface, and allow at least 24-48 hours for the vinyl to properly adhere. That might seem like a long time when you're itching to see your creation come to life, but trust us - patience pays off in the end!

Can I reuse the vinyl sheet if I don't use all of it?

Yes, you can typically reuse the vinyl sheet if you have extra material left over after cutting out your design. Simply cut a fresh piece of vinyl from the roll or sheet and place the unused sheet back onto the protective backing. It's important to keep the unused vinyl clean and free of wrinkles or creases. Make sure to store the unused vinyl sheet in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight or moisture to ensure the best results. However, keep in mind that the quality and adhesion of the vinyl sheet may diminish after repeated use or prolonged storage.

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (6)

How do I keep my vinyl t-shirt looking good?

Here are the best ways to take care of your custom-printed t-shirts. To ensure the longevity of your custom-printed t-shirts, it's crucial to take proper care of them.

One important way to care for your t-shirts is to wash them inside out with your washing machine set to a low temperature and only with similar colors. You should also avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as they can cause damage to the printing.

When drying your t-shirts, opt for a low heat setting or air dry them to prevent shrinkage or stretching. Lastly, when ironing, avoid going over the printing and instead iron the shirt inside out. Following these simple steps can help preserve your custom printed t-shirts and ensure they remain vibrant and in good condition for a long time.

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (7)

Guidelines on what kind of vinyl works best for different types of fabric

When it comes to DIY fabric projects, the vinyl you choose can make all the difference in the overall appearance and longevity of your creation. With so many types of vinyl available, it's important to know which ones work best for each type of project. Here's a guide to help you choose the right vinyl for your next DIY fabric project.


Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)

Heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, is specifically designed for use on fabrics and can be applied with a heat press or iron. HTV works best on cotton, polyester, and cotton/poly blends. It's ideal for creating customized t-shirts, hats, and bags.

The heat from the press or iron activates the adhesive on the vinyl and bonds it to the fabric, creating a permanent bond. HTV comes in a variety of finishes, including matte, glossy, and metallic.

Self Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl, also known as permanent vinyl, is best used on hard surfaces like glass, ceramics, or wood. Adhesive vinyl is not designed for fabric, as it will not adhere to the fabric in the same way that HTV does.

However, it can be used for creating stencils for fabric painting or as a decorative element on a fabric project. Adhesive vinyl comes in a range of finishes, including matte, glossy, and textured.

Removable Vinyl

If you're looking for a vinyl that can be easily removed and repositioned, then removable vinyl is the way to go. This type of vinyl is not as durable as HTV or adhesive vinyl but can be a good option for temporary or low-wear projects.

Removable vinyl can be used on fabrics like cotton, but it's important to note that it may not have the same level of longevity as HTV. Removable vinyl also comes in a variety of finishes, including matte and glossy.

In conclusion, choosing the right vinyl for your DIY fabric project depends on the type of project you're working on and the level of durability you're looking for. With this guide, you can make an informed decision on which type of vinyl will work best for your next project and ensure that your creation lasts for years to come.


You now know how to create the perfect custom t-shirt with vinyl. With the right tools and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create your own unique look that’s sure to turn heads wherever you go. Don’t forget to check out our collection of vinyl, HTV and Cricut machines and Cricut supplies for all your crafting needs. And if you ever have any questions or feedback, feel free to get in touch with us. Here at CraftStash, we take pride in our products and customer service so don’t hesitate if you need any help. We can't wait to see what amazing designs you come up with!

Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine (9)

At CraftStash, we take pride in being an excellent one-stop-shop for all Cricut machine users. Our site is always up-to-date with the newest and most popular heat transfer vinyl (HTV) varieties, colour options, and finishes. We feature a wide range of HTV colours, including solid colours, metallics, glitters, and holographics, and we offer various sizes and types of HTV rolls and sheets.


(Video) How To Start A T-Shirt Business With $300 (Cricut + Heat Press Machine)

Our vinyl material is durable and easy to work with, and it adheres well using a heat press or iron, your designs will hold up well even after repeated washes.

At CraftStash we offer a Best Price Guarantee. We believe in providing cost-effective HTV and other crafting materials to our customers, and we promise to match or beat any competitor's prices.

Related Products

  1. £99.99RRP£115.49Save £15.50

    (Video) How to Use Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl with Cricut | Printable HTV Tutorial

  2. Creative Craft Products A4 HTV Vinyl Vinyl Speciality | 20 Sheets


  3. Creative Craft Products A4 HTV Vinyl Matte | 20 Sheets

    (Video) Best Introduction to Cricut Maker! How To Make T-Shirts!



Custom Vinyl T-Shirt Printing Guide using HTV and a Cricut Machine? ›

Heat transfer paper can also use the same type of ink that you use on regular printer paper, so no special or expensive inks are required.

Do I need special ink for printable HTV? ›

Heat transfer paper can also use the same type of ink that you use on regular printer paper, so no special or expensive inks are required.

How many layers of HTV can you do? ›

Yes! You totally can. Smooth (sometimes called regular or basic) htv can be layered up to four layers.

Can you print directly on heat transfer vinyl? ›

Printable HTV is the easiest way to achieve multi-color graphics on your garment. Print images using a standard inkjet printer or a sublimation printer and transfer them onto dark or light t-shirts, sweatshirts, mouse pads, leather, and other garments.

Can I print my own heat transfer vinyl? ›

Oh yes, you can! Printable HTV is perfectly applicable on shirts and other garments.

What printer do I need for heat transfer paper? ›

Overview: Best Inkjet Printer for Heat Transfer in 2023
  • Budget Pick: Epson Expression Photo HD XP 15000. Budget Pick. ...
  • Also Great: Canon Pixma IP8720. Value Pick. ...
  • My Pick: Epson SureColor P700. My Pick. ...
  • Also Great: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300. Also Great. ...
  • Art Studio Pick: Epson SureColor P900. Art Studio Pick.
Jan 14, 2023

What kind of Cricut vinyl to use for shirts? ›

What Type of Cricut Iron On Vinyl Works Best On Shirts? For cotton and polyester, Cricut Everyday Iron On will be your best choice for “regular” vinyl, and almost all of Cricut's specialty vinyls like glitter and foil will work as well.

What do I need to print on HTV vinyl? ›

Supplies Before You Start:
  1. INKJET Printer (this won't work with a laser printer)
  2. Printing Substrate (i.e. T-Shirt, Canvas, etc.)
  3. Iron or Heat Press.
  4. Hard, Flat surface.
  5. Parchment Paper.
  6. Printable HTV.

What kind of printer do I need for printable heat transfer vinyl? ›

Inkjet and laser printers are the two main types of printers used for printing on printable vinyl. Inkjet printers use liquid ink to produce high-quality images with rich colors. They are a popular choice for photo printing, and many models offer the ability to print borderless photos and have a high resolution.

What is the difference between heat transfer vinyl and HTV? ›

Adhesive Vinyl can come in all kinds of colors and finishes, but it will always have a paper backing and be sticky to the touch when that backing is peeled off. Heat Transfer Vinyl, on the other hand, does not have a paper backing. Instead, HTV, has a clear plastic carrier sheet that covers the top of the vinyl.

Why is weeding vinyl so hard? ›

Solution: You are cutting too deep. Try lightening up your pressure of your cut. If you cut too deep, the blade cuts a very thin layer of the backing paper along with your vinyl. So, when you go to weed your vinyl, its easier for the paper to rip off with the vinyl than for the vinyl to detach from the backing.

What is the difference between HTV and vinyl? ›

Adhesive vinyl comes in all kinds of colours and finishes, but it always has a paper backing and is sticky to the touch when that backing is peeled off. Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), on the other hand, does not have a paper backing.

What happens if you use too much heat on HTV? ›

When applying HTV, there are 3 variables: temperature, press time and pressure. If you have too much of one or more of those you overheat the adhesive, which weakens it. That means that it's going to cause adhering issues in the long run.

What temperature and how long should HTV be on a shirt? ›

HTV requires higher temperatures and more pressure when printing on cotton. A good rule of thumb is to use 380 degrees Fahrenheit for upwards of 15 minutes. HTV applied to a cotton garment should only be peeled off before it cools.

How long does printable HTV last on shirts? ›

HOW LONG WILL HEAT TRANSFERS LAST? With proper care of your garment (wash inside out on a cool wash, dry inside out on a washing line and iron inside out - no tumble drying or dry cleaning) the manufacturer recommends around 50 washes for the vinyl heat transfers, which do eventually crack and fade.

Why is my printable heat transfer vinyl not sticking to my shirt? ›

This usually happens due to a lack of pressure at the time of pressing. We usually adjust the time and temperature correctly but increase the pressing time if the HTV doesn't stick. Instead, we should increase the pressure. The heat press works by adjusting the time, temperature, and pressure.

Do you need transfer paper for printable vinyl? ›

Printable vinyl does NOT need transfer tape—in fact, transfer tape will ruin your project. So make sure your printable vinyl projects are not too intricate. You'll need to pick up the label like a sticker and transfer it to your project by hand.

Can my regular printer print on vinyl? ›

As stated above, almost any printer will print on vinyl paper. But some are better than others. Canon printers seem to be a favorite of crafters. They can handle a variety of paper thicknesses, which makes using printable vinyl sheets easy with no risk of paper jams.

How long does printable vinyl last? ›

On it's own, inkjet printable vinyl is rated to last outdoor for one year, but when you add a laminate overlay, it will last for 4-5 years.

Do you need special paper for heat transfer? ›

Heat transfer paper is a specialty paper that you print on and the image can be transferred to a garment or hard surface with a heat press. There are two types of heat transfer paper: inkjet and laser. For each paper type you need its respective printer type.

Do I need special paper for thermal printer? ›

Thermal printers require special media because the thermal printing mechanism prints images and text without ink. Thermal media is different from regular paper in that the media is coated with a mixture of dyes and chemicals.

What are the three methods of T-shirt printing? ›

This article will review the various types of t-shirt printing options so you can make the right decision when you order your shirts.
  • Screen Printing. Also known as silkscreen, screen printing is the most popular t-shirt printing method. ...
  • Direct to Garments (DTG) ...
  • Heat Press Printing. ...
  • Dye Sublimation.
Nov 4, 2021

Do I need to copyright my T-shirt design? ›

Being a t-shirt designer, you must get copyright so that no other person or organization can illegally use your designs for any commercial activity. It is tempting to use an attractive image, shirt quotes, or graphics as part of your design. But any illegal use can land you in legal trouble later.

How much profit does a t-shirt printing business make? ›

Average T-Shirt Profit Margins

Average custom t-shirt industry markups tend to fall between 30% to 50%. For example, if your total printing and shipping costs add up to $20 and you decide on a 30% profit margin, the retail price will be $20 + ($20 x 30%) = $26. Making your profit $6.

Can I make money selling printed T-shirts? ›

Selling T-shirts with your art, words or anything else printed on them is a great way to exercise your creativity and make money. A T-shirt business can make you a small profit on every unit you sell, which can add up to a great source of extra income.

Is selling printed T-shirts online profitable? ›

Selling T-shirts online is one of the most profitable business ideas due to the ever-growing global industry. The business is also versatile, as a single T-shirt store can target different demographics.

Which Cricut is best for t-shirt designs? ›

If you're interested in creating T-shirts at a commercial level, your best choice is to go with the Cricut Maker 3 for cutting materials and the Cricut EasyPress for heat transfer designs.

Which Cricut is best for vinyl decals and shirts? ›

Cricut Explore Series

The Cricut Explore machines are perfect for crafters looking for simplicity & value. The Explore machines are a great choice for you if you want to cut popular materials like vinyl to make stickers, iron-on to make t-shirts, and paper to make greeting cards and party décor.

What is the best t-shirt material for heat transfer vinyl? ›

The best kind of t-shirt for heat transfer are cotton, polyester, or cotton/poly blends. Regardless of the type of HTV you use, vinyl will have a good bond with the fabrics mentioned.

Do you need transfer paper for HTV vinyl? ›

So do you need transfer tape? In short, probably. You can move vinyl from its backing to another location without transfer tape, but if there are any spaces or intricate details it will be very difficult. If you're new to using transfer tape, we have a great video tutorial!

What format do you print vinyl? ›

If you are looking to print in large format or cut vinyl, Vector files (such as Vector PDF's or . EPS files) would be a good choice.

What file do you need for vinyl printing? ›

Files for vinyl cutting must be supplied as vector/outline files i.e.: (EPS or Adobe Illustrator format), with all text converted to outlines. PDF files may also be used if all text has been converted to outlines.

How do you seal printable heat transfer vinyl? ›

For the Mod Podge, brush on a thin layer. You want to coat not only your heat transfer vinyl design but go over the edges a bit as well to seal all the way around. This will help it adhere well to the material. The Mod Podge will look a little bit milky when you apply it, but it will dry clear.

What is better sublimation or printable HTV? ›

With HTV, you're essentially bonding a layer of vinyl to the surface of the fabric with heat and pressure. With sublimation, you're actually dyeing the fabric itself so that the design becomes part of the garment. This makes sublimation more durable and longer-lasting than HTV.

Do you need special ink for printable HTV? ›

Heat transfer paper can also use the same type of ink that you use on regular printer paper, so no special or expensive inks are required.

What is the best ink for heat transfer? ›

Ink – there are a few different types of inks used in heat transfer printing to achieve different finishes. Inkjet ink is the most commonly used because it is the most affordable and accessible ink type. Pigment ink is also used for fade resistance and sublimation ink is used for dye sublimation printing.

Can you put heat press directly on vinyl? ›

The heat pressing machine can work with the entire vinyl of all types, including reflective, self-adhesive, and even clear vinyl.

Can you use Cricut iron on vinyl with a heat press? ›

You can use a regular household iron, the Cricut EasyPress, or any other heat press to apply the vinyl to a t-shirt (or any other material).

What temperature do you heat press vinyl on cotton? ›

Cotton. This popular fabric is commonly used for shirts and is an excellent option for heat transfer vinyl. HTV requires higher temperatures and more pressure when printing on cotton. A good rule of thumb is to use 380 degrees Fahrenheit for upwards of 15 minutes.

Why is my Cricut vinyl not sticking to my shirt? ›

Not Enough Pressure

First things first, the most common reason your HTV may not be sticking to your shirt, sweater or whatever else you're applying it to may be because you're not using enough pressure. And pressure is important. Without it, your HTV projects may not be as long lasting as you would like.

Why is it necessary to heat vinyl before pressing? ›

If you choose not to preheat, the transfer process will convert excess moisture into steam, which will likely displace pigment and result in unwanted effects. Once your blank is prepped, you're ready to press! Follow instructions in the Cricut Heat app to apply and press your design.

What temperature should HTV be on a shirt? ›

Heat Vinyl

The ideal temperature for HTVRONT htv vinyl is 315°F. Apply strong pressure for 10-15 seconds to get a vivid and perfect design. In fact, preheating the fabric before pressing decals will make the design on the shirt better.

What all do you need to start a heat press tshirt business? ›

Along with a heat press, you'll need a computer for designing, various tools such as scissors, a cutter, heat tape to keep the transfer in place during the pressing process, a printer, ink and transfer paper. If you are operating an e-business, you will need shipping supplies as well.

What is the difference between Cricut iron-on and heat transfer vinyl? ›

Both types of vinyl need heat and pressure to transfer an image to fabric. However, there are a few notable differences between the two. Iron-on is a special paper that is lightweight than HTV and can be applied in one layer. HTV is more effective with large designs and using a heat press is recommended.

What setting do you use on Cricut for iron-on vinyl? ›

Iron On Vinyl with the Cricut EasyPress

For Everyday Iron On, the settings are 315° for 30 seconds. Before you place your decal on your bodysuit, do a pre-press with the EasyPress for about 5 seconds. This pre-press helps flatten the onesie and starts the adhesion process once you add your decal.


1. How To Use Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl | Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl Tutorial | Cricut Tutorial
(Eva's Car Freshies)
(Kayla's Cricut Creations)
(The Craft Scraps)
4. Cricut Iron-On Tutorial for Beginners *EASY*
(Mr. Crafty Pants)
5. How To Make Layered Heat Transfer Vinyl Tshirts with a Cricut
(Kim and Garrett make it)
6. Make Print Then Cut T-Shirts with Your Cricut the RIGHT Way!
(Jennifer Maker)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated: 17/06/2023

Views: 6459

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.