Beginner Nightshirt Project with Cricut Infusible Ink
Have you ever applied Cricut Infusible Ink to a fabric not specifically made for that purpose? That's what I did with my very first attempt at using infusible ink. Usually, Infusible Ink is applied to white sublimation blanks. However, white is too boring for me, so I decided to take a risk on something a bit more challenging.
I did some research first to see if other people had tried using infusible ink with colored fabrics, and I found quite a bit of information. I read a post that showed attempts with several different fabrics and how each one turned out. I made sure to buy a nightshirt that was mainly polyester with no cotton in it. I got a pastel pink instead of a dark colored shirt, so the ink would show up better.
While doing this project, I found that it was very similar to using Iron-On Vinyl. I created my design pretty much the same way and cut it out the same with my Cricut. However, there were a few differences in the whole process, and I have included tips for those differences.
Nightshirt (or other shirt/blank) - sublimation shirt or all/mostly polyester
Cricut Infusible Ink
Butcher paper (comes with infusible ink)
Cricut Maker or Explore
Standard Grip Mat
Cricut EasyPress 2
Cricut EasyPress Mat
Cricut Portable Trimmer (optional)
Heat Resistant Tape
I used a combination of three different Cricut Patterned Transfer Sheets that I had on hand, Galaxy, Animal Brights and Pink Lemonade. I wanted a certain look with a variety of colors. The Pink Lemonade is not shown, but I only used part of one sheet from that package.
Tip #1 - Infusible Ink comes rolled up in a box and is covered with black plastic to protect the ink. Once it is out of the box, it is best to wear gloves to protect it from any oil or dirt on your hands. Otherwise, you risk marring the ink and ruining your project.
Now I was ready to create my design. I started looking up images in Design Space for sleep, sweet sleep, moon and stars and then night owls. I had seen some crescent moons with an owl sitting inside them, and I liked that idea. When I couldn't find one I wanted to use, I decided to create my own design.
I found a crescent moon image I liked and inserted it into my Canvas. It seemed like a good shape to place another image inside of.
However, it was facing the opposite direction from how I wanted it, so I flipped it around, using the 'Flip' option above my Canvas and chose 'Flip Horizontal."
Next, I sized the crescent moon to fit on the shirt, increasing it to six inches square. I first used the arrow icon on the bottom right corner of the image to enlarge it (by dragging it), but then I used the dimensions above my Canvas to get it to exactly six inches. Here is how it looked flipped and sized.
Then I looked for owl images I liked. I wanted multiple colors instead of a single color, which would require layering. I looked up how to layer Infusible Ink online and learned that designs with colors that DO NOT overlap are easier to use. So that's the type of owl image I would choose. I came up with two different images that I really liked, so I inserted them both into my Canvas. Aren't they cute?
It was hard to decide which one to use, so I tried placing each one inside the moon image to see how they would look, first the purple one, then the blue one.
That didn't really help much. I still liked them both, but I think the blue one got me because of the crossed eyes and the multiple colors. Once I had decided on the owl, I deleted the purple owl from my Canvas by clicking on it and then clicking on the little 'X' icon on the top corner of the image.
Once that was done, I created some text. I had already chosen the theme of 'Night Owl', and my images reflected that. Next I chose the font, Candice Regular.
The text was originally underneath the moon and owl images, but I wanted it above them, so I moved it up there. I also changed the color of the text to black to match the moon. There is a small box next to the Operation drop-down above the Canvas to click on to choose colors.
Now I wanted to add some stars to make it look more like nighttime, and I found a single star image I liked and inserted it into my Canvas. I right-clicked on the star and duplicated it twice to end up with three stars.
I arranged the stars to the right of the moon where I wanted them. Here is how my design looked so far.
I wanted more to my design, so I typed some more text to go along with my 'night owl' theme. I chose three phrases that are often used as excuses for not going to bed as early as we should. I used the Candice Regular font for these phrases, too, but I sized the letters smaller to fit better on the shirt. I would use the other multicolored pattern of infusible ink that came with the Galaxy set for these phrases. I grouped the three phrases together and used the 'Align' button to center them horizontally.
Now that I had my design complete, it was time to prepare to cut everything out with my Cricut Maker. The first thing I did was to change the colors of my design components, so they would be cut on separate mats.
I made the moon, the words "Night Owl", and the owl's eyes one color. I would use the black Galaxy pattern for those. The multicolored pattern from the Galaxy set would be used for the three phrases. Then I changed two other colors on the owl to match the solid colors in the Animal Brights pattern I would be using. Lastly, I used a small portion of the Pink Lemonade transfer sheet for the stars and the owl's feet and nose.
I moved the owl out of the moon and grouped and attached the moon and the matching words. I wanted them to be spaced exactly how I had them on my Canvas. I chose to use a very small piece of the Galaxy pattern to cut out the owl's eyes separately, but I could have cut them together on one transfer sheet.
I also grouped the star images together to cut them on one piece of Infusible Ink.
Since my owl image had four different colors, I would need four layers and would have to separate them for cutting. That would require four copies of the image, so I duplicated it three times by right-clicking on the image and selecting Duplicate for each one.
For each duplicate image, there is a corresponding section in the right panel of Design Space that shows each layer of the design. When you click on one image on the Canvas, the section for that image in the right panel will be highlighted. You simply click on the small eye symbol for each layer you want to hide in that section. Then you move on with the same process for each copy of the image, leaving a different layer showing for each one.
Here are all four layers separated out.
Tip #2 - When layering a design, I often use a registration mark to line up all the layers before applying them to the blank. However, I did not do that for this image. It would be easy to place each piece where it went. Also, registration marks would not work because you can only iron the infusible ink one time, and the individual pieces would not stick to each other.
To prepare for cutting, the Infusible Ink transfer sheets had to be cut to size. I used my Cricut Portable Trimmer for the bigger pieces. The transfer sheets liked to stay curled up, so it was easier to cut those pieces that way. However, it would be possible to cut them with a scissors. Remember to wear gloves!
Once I was ready to cut the components of my design, I stuck the Galaxy patterned transfer sheet onto my mat and loaded it into my Cricut.
Tip #3 - You always place infusible ink transfer sheets on the mat with the patterned (inked) side up.
I always use my brayer to smooth it out on the mat and ensure it is adhered well. The photo below shows me doing that with the transfer sheet from the Pink Lemonade pattern. It would be a good idea to make sure your brayer is clean before doing that.
I loaded my material on the mat into my machine for each color. Once I clicked on 'Make It', Design Space showed the different mats the design parts would be cut on.
Next, I selected my material.
Tip #4 - The name for this material is Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet, and it is listed under Iron-On in Design Space instead of having its own category. It makes sense because you iron it onto your blank the same way.
Before I cut each part of the design out, I had to edit each mat to mirror the images because I didn't do that before choosing my material. This needs to be done with Infusible Ink the same as with Iron-On. If you do this before selecting your material, you only have to do it once.
Tip #5 - Your design must be mirrored when working with Infusible Ink, just like when you use Iron-On.
When my designs were cut, I turned the mat upside down each time and pulled it off the transfer sheets to avoid them curling up. This is common practice for me when cutting any material.
Now it was time to weed. This process is a little different with infusible ink transfer sheets, which leads me to my next tip.
Tip #6 - Using a weeding tool is NOT recommended for infusible ink. The transfer sheets are more like a thick paper, and it would be too easy to poke a hole in your design, which may ruin the whole project. Just use your fingers and a tweezers, if needed.
I started weeding the biggest design pieces by pulling the extra infusible ink off of the transfer sheet while it was still adhered to the mat. It was too difficult to do this with gloves on, so I was careful not to touch any of my design with my fingers. Some small pieces did not want to come off, so I used a tweezers for those.
Tip #7 - The transfer sheet for infusible ink is sticky just like a carrier sheet for Iron-On Vinyl.
After my design was weeded, I pulled the transfer sheet off the mat. Here is how the moon with the text and the owl's eyes looked. The transfer sheet still wanted to curl up, so I had to tape it to the desk to take this photo.
Then I proceeded to cut all the other components and layers of my design using the same process, switching out the infusible ink colors/patterns each time. Below you can see one layer of the owl design after I weeded it. I love the big eyes. It makes me think of wide open eyes, which I sometimes have at night when I should be sleeping.
I had to use a tweezers to remove some of the smaller pieces from the transfer sheet. When all the pieces of my design were weeded, it was time to put them together.
I left the transfer sheet with the crescent moon image upside down, sticky side up. Then I proceeded to place each individual piece of the owl on the transfer sheet where it belonged with the ink side facing up. I again used a tweezers to avoid touching the ink.
Here is the moon and owl design with all pieces in place. It was kind of fun placing each piece on and watching the design come together.
Next I cut part of the transfer sheet away from the moon image so I could fit in the stars. I had them on one sheet and was able to place them where I wanted them quite easily.
Now I was ready to iron on the Infusible Ink. I was a bit nervous because I didn't want to mess this up.
I heated my Cricut EasyPress 2 using the Cricut Heat Guide, as usual. I chose 'Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet' as the Heat-Transfer Material, and for the Base Material, I chose 'T-Shirt.' There was nothing more specific.
The Guide showed that I needed set my EasyPress to 385 degrees. I needed to preheat my shirt for 15 seconds and apply heat onto the shirt for 40 seconds with light pressure.
Tip #8 - A few extra steps are necessary when preparing to apply Infusible Ink to your blank. The Cricut Heat Guide lays this all out for you, which is quite helpful.
1. Place a piece of white cardstock inside your blank (shirt) to prevent the ink from going through to the back of the shirt.
2. Use a lint roller to remove any dust or dirt from your shirt.
3. Place a piece of butcher paper bigger than your Easy Press on top of your design before preheating it.
Tip #9 - Each package of Infusible Ink comes with butcher paper to use in the iron-on process.
After preheating my shirt for 15 seconds with the Easy Press, I removed the butcher paper and placed my design face down on the shirt. Then I placed the butcher paper back on over the top of the design. You can barely see the design pieces underneath the butcher paper.
The hardest part after heating the shirt with the design on was waiting for it to cool. I removed the butcher paper, and I could see a bit of darkness underneath the design pieces. That told me that at least some of the ink transferred to my shirt.
You can see that I used a bit of heat resistant tape to keep my design from moving around on the shirt during the transfer, just like I would do with regular Iron-On.
Finally I could remove the transfer sheet from my shirt to see how it turned out. Here it is.
I was pretty happy with my nightshirt, but there were a couple things that weren't perfect. I kind of expected that for my first attempt.
I must not have completely covered the design with my EasyPress when I ironed it on, as a part of the moon was not transferred. I will be more careful about that next time. Good thing my first attempt was a nightshirt for myself, and nobody will ever see me wear it besides me and the hubby.
Tip #10 - Make sure that your design is completely covered by the EasyPress before heating your blank. Once you have applied the Infusible Ink, you should not heat it again.
The other thing that wasn't quite perfect was that the colors were probably not as bright/dark as they could have been had I used a white sublimation shirt. That was minor to me, though, as I could still see the colors, and the design showed up well.
Here is the transfer sheet after I removed it from the shirt. You can see that there is still ink on it. It is normal to have some ink still on the transfer sheet. I was told it doesn't usually come off completely white, but I think more of the ink could have transferred onto my shirt. However, I expected this, so it wasn't a huge disappointment.
So here it is again, all done. I was so excited to wear it for the first time.
Tip #11 - It is recommended that you machine wash your completed shirt inside out and either air dry or machine dry it.
My nightshirt washed up beautifully and looked exactly the same as before it was washed and dried (by machine). All in all, I am quite pleased with the result, even though I did not use the recommended sublimation shirt for it. I might not make a gift for someone this way, but you never know.
Do you think you would ever try using Infusible Ink with anything other than sublimation blanks? If I did it my very first time, you could do it, too.
All this talk of nightshirts is making me sleepy. I want to go put mine on and lounge around in it. See you next time!