I don't make many hats, but wanted to create a custom one for "hat day" at school, without investing in anything more than heat transfer vinyl and the hat. No fancy attachments, no special tape... I didn't have to pick up anything special for this project, but it turned out great!
If you want to skip buying extra attachments or specialty equipment too, follow on!
Adding heat transfer vinyl to a hat is completely doable with a regular flat heat press or household iron, you just have to find a way to support your project so you can get enough pressure on the vinyl. I don't plan on making a lot of hats, so buying a special heat press just for hats was totally out of the question for me. I also didn't have time to buy special heat press tape, "hat day" was tomorrow and this project couldn't wait! I winged it without anything other than the glitter heat transfer vinyl that I already had on hand and a hat we picked up on clearance.
This project highlights the owl design that is part of the 12 Exclusive Heat Transfer Vinyl Designs that I created for Craft-e-Corner. When you open the file, you'll see this cute little owl:
I measured my hat and sized the owl to fit. Next, I flipped the design and checked the cut settings to ensure that I was ready to cut glitter heat transfer. Here are the cut settings I used:
Glitter heat transfer is a completely different animal than smooth heat transfer. It's much thicker so you have to crank your blade all the way up to a depth of 10. I adjusted my blade and then made the cut.
Note: For hats, glitter heat transfer or flock heat transfer are recommended. I didn't go over any seams with this project (just because the size of the owl fit within the seams), but if you did go over seams, glitter or flock heat transfer would hide the seam better than smooth HTV.
Once the owl was cut, I weeded the design:
I heated up my heat press and grabbed a towel. The type of towel does not really matter, I grabbed this beach towel because it was colorful (truth). Fold the towel in half once or twice length wise and then roll it up towards the middle. I opted to roll it from both ends, but you can do whatever works for you:
I put the hat on the towel and and lined up my design:
Since I did not have any specialty tape to hold the design in place, I held one edge of the design while I pressed the other end. I pressed the hat right to the top plate of my heat press and pushed up on the towel to get enough pressure to transfer the design:
I slightly rolled the design while heating it. If you do not have a heat press, you can use a regular iron as well with similar technique.
Next, I wanted to add "I'm a real hoot!" to the bill of the hat. I lined up the design:
and relied on the sticky carrier sheet to hold it in place while I pressed. I used the towel to press it against the top plate of my press again. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my daughter would say!
You can use this technique for just about any awkward item you want to add heat transfer to. The important thing is to keep your hand protected. Heat presses get over 300 degrees, as long as you protect your hand, you can hold just about anything to the top plate of your heat press, apply pressure and transfer the design!