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How to Fix Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Mistakes

Mistakes happen, it's part of life and part of crafting.  When you make a mistake with HTV it can be frustrating.  I don't know about you, but I hate wasting supplies, especially heat transfer vinyl!

Three heat transfer vinyl mistakes and three fixes.  If you press something in error, you can fix it!  Here's how!

There are a few ways you can fix a mistake, let's look at some examples and some ways to fix the mistakes.

Mistake/Fix #1:

Let's take a look at these cute last day of school autograph doggies I made:

Personalized last day of school autograph stuffed animals.

Bring along a few Sharpies and collect friends signatures, it's like a stuffed yearbook!  As I was making these two, I had a slight mishap on the one dog:

Heat press mistakes happen, here's how to fix them!

Groan!  The "kindergarten" layer shifted when I pressed the design and got all kinds of messed up.  No worries, we can fix it!

The first step to fix it is to heat the design up again.  On a plush stuffed animal like this, it isn't as easy as heating up your iron and ironing it again (see below for a shirt fix).  Instead, I pulled out my trusty embossing heat tool:

A heat tool is really helpful when trying to fix a heat transfer vinyl mistake.  Heat the design up with a heat tool and peel the design up.

Heat tools (aka embossing guns) are used to melt embossing powder (for paper crafting).  My embossing gun has been used for that, but I've also used it to speed dry paint, adhere vinyl onto surfaces and, you guessed it, remove mistakes in heat transfer vinyl!  Embossing guns are like super powered blow dryers, they get VERY hot (use caution).  The idea with this technique is to heat up the vinyl in sections and then pick the design off with tweezers.  This is actually quite effective:

Heat sections of your design and use a pair of tweezers to remove the errors.

Keep the embossing gun at least a few inches away from the design and gently heat it up.  Keep the heat moving so you don't burn the stuffie.  Pick off the design with a pair of tweezers:

Once you remove the vinyl, you can start over again!

I thought I might run into trouble when I pulled up the part that overlapped the border, but it came off without pulling up the black (yes!).   Once the design has been removed, you can try that layering again:

Realign the design element and press again.  Much better!

Check out the full tutorial for these autograph dogs (and learn some tips on how to avoid this mistake) here.
Mistake/Fix #2:

Our next mistake is a little different.  I made this beautiful photo album for a friends wedding gift:

How to customize wedding gifts to make them personalized.

This album came with the gold polka dots already printed on the album, they are some type of foil (I think).  When I personalized the album with our exclusive "Mr. & Mrs." heat transfer design, I was not expecting what happened when I pulled up the heat transfer carrier sheet:

How to fix heat transfer design errors.

Agh!  When I removed the heat transfer carrier sheet, it pulled up some of the gold!  Since this was not something I added to the album, I could not just pull it off and try it again.  Instead, I opted to cover it up. This is another trick you can do to fix your heat transfer mistakes.

I measured the circles, they were 1" so I cut some 1" silver glitter heat transfer and covered that whoops up:

Use glitter heat transfer vinyl to cover up the mistakes.

I stuck the silver glitter right over the damaged circle, covered the entire design with a tea towel and then pressed the album again.  I added a few more glitter silver circles on the front and back of the album to make it look intentional.  Who says those silver circles weren't part of the plan (wink):

Fixing heat transfer vinyl errors is easy- check this out for three mistakes and three fixes.  Using HTV to cover up an error is a great solution!

Check out this tutorial on how to add heat transfer vinyl to a photo album and create custom wedding gifts.

How to fix heat transfer vinyl mistakes- cover it up!

Mistake/Fix #3:  

The last fix was a mistake on a shirt.  I missed a huge piece when weeding.  I thought the design was pretty simple so I didn't look at the design when I was weeding.  Whoops....

The technique to fix this shirt is going to be similar to the dog above.  The goal here is to heat up the design again.  I wrapped the shirt around my iron and heated the design up from behind (which will loosen the adhesive on the HTV):

Use an iron to weed out vinyl that you missed.

Hold the shirt around the iron (careful, it's hot), and work quickly.  I used a metal hook tool and picked at the design until it started to come up:

A hook tool will help you get the heat transfer vinyl off the shirt.  Be careful, it's hot!

Once I was able to get a corner of it up enough, I grabbed it quickly and pulled it off:

Wrapping the shirt around an iron will help activate the glue from behind.  You can work up a corner of the piece you missed and pull it off once it heats up enough.  Work fast, the iron is hot!

You can't even tell which petal I missed!

How to fix heat transfer vinyl mistakes. What to do if you missing a piece when you weed.

How to fix Heat Transfer Vinyl mistakes.  Heat the design up and remove with a hook tool.

If you have other types of mistakes, such as forgetting to weed layered HTV, you can cover the HTV with a piece the same color as the background and press it right over the top.  When you work with smooth HTV, and press a piece on top, you can barely see the fix.

HTV remover might be helpful with this process as well.  It will help you get off any adhesive left behind.

I hope you never have to use these techniques, but if you do, know that I've been there before too!  We ALL make mistakes from time to time.  You can totally fix it with a little know how.

silhouette-cameo-tutorial

43 thoughts on “How to Fix Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Mistakes”

  • Terri

    Can I just say the iron trick just SAVED my life! Thank you you crafty genius! You rock!

    Reply
  • Doris

    You are a genius! Thank you for the tricks!

    Reply
  • Yaz

    I don’t see any adhesive left on your flower, is that correct? How did you have no adhesive?

    Reply
    • Kala

      The adhesive just came off with the heat transfer when I heated it up. If you have reside left behind, I would recommend an adhesive remover, but in this case it wasn't needed.

      Hope this helps!
      Kala

      Reply
  • Debi

    Thank you for this tip. I am making shirts for my daughter and her soon-to-be husband for their honeymoon and had a screw up. I was about to burst into tears thinking I ruined it but your 'wrap around the iron and pull off with tweezers' worked like a charm.

    Reply
  • Dawn Gelking

    Thank you! This post was a life-saver!!! I thought I'd ruined a shirt I was gifting to someone in the morning. WHEW!

    Reply
  • Cirena

    I'm having major issues with my HTV :( I bought a cricut, and cricut brand vinyl- made a dozen shirts for disney world, and by mid-day the vinyl was already peeling off. I thought it was a fluke, and started selling the same shirts to my friends... well, guess what- their vinyl started lifting off too :( now I just look stupid!
    I'm using an iron on high cotton heat, for 1-2 minutes with moderate pressure, with a piece of fabric pillowcase in between. I'm heating up the shirt with an iron before application, AND flipping it inside out and ironing the back side too.
    Help!

    Reply
    • Ericka

      I watched a Siser video that suggested using wax paper. It works soooooo much better than the pillowcase.

      Reply
    • Rachel

      I have a heat press and I use Teflon paper to go on top of mine so maybe try that instead of the pillowcase

      Reply
  • K Trahan

    I need to know if there is any way to remove the glue left behind when removing HTV? I read to iron cotton fabric over the glue and it would remove it . That did not work. HELP

    Reply
    • Kala

      Hi K,
      The best thing I have heard of to use is adhesive remover. With the shirts and projects I did here, I didn't see any adhesive behind, but I know that can be a problem. There is some stuff called VLR that a lot of people swear by (you can find it on Amazon). That stuff apparently will also take off the vinyl so you don't have to remove the vinyl first then use it, it will just take it all off for you. I've not tried it myself, but have heard about it a lot from reliable sources. It's not exactly cheap, but you also don't use much at a time, so it lasts for a while.

      Hope this helps!
      Kala

      Reply
  • Andrea

    Since your such an expert, perhaps you can help with the issues I am having with my HTV; ) I use Cricut vinyl and I even have the Cricut Easy Press. I follow the directions to the T and there are still parts of my vinyl that do not adhere well. Especially the edges. Any suggestions how to get it to stick every time? Thanks in advance =)

    Reply
    • Kala

      Hi Andrea,
      I haven't gotten a chance to use the EasyPress or Cricut vinyl before, but my thought would be that you need either more heat or more pressure. Heat transfer tends to not stick with one of those two factors. Maybe you can try a higher pressure first, then try turning the heat up a little more to see if that helps.

      Hope this solves your problems!
      Kala

      Reply
  • Karen Cook

    Thank you! After trying to get an upside exclamation mark off a sweatshirt, I found your blog. Tried fix number 3 and OMG it came right off.

    Reply
  • Pat

    What would cause the vinyl AND the backing to melt when I ironed it on? The instructions said to leave it for 30 seconds. I thought that was waaay to long, so I held it still for maybe 12-15 seconds. Some didn't stick, and some actually melted onto the t-shirt.

    Reply
    • Kala

      I've never had heat transfer vinyl backing melt, even when pressing it for longer than I should have (like when I have the heat press going and walk away from it then have to run back over to open it when it starts beeping!). What brand of heat transfer are you using?

      Reply

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