Heat Transfer 101: The Basics of Iron-On Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat Transfer 101: The Basics of Iron-On Heat Transfer Vinyl


Iron-On (also known as Heat transfer Vinyl or HTV) is used for adding vinyl to fabric surfaces.  From custom t-shirts to bags to shoes - if you can iron it - you can embellish it with heat transfer vinyl!  Let’s make a shirt and I’ll show you all about iron-on heat transfer vinyl (HTV).

all i need is a whole lot of crafting and a nice glass of wine shirt

One of the easiest beginner projects for Heat Transfer Vinyl is to make a shirt. We’ll make a shirt today using one of the 12 Exclusive Heat Transfer Vinyl Designs I created just for Craft-e-Corner.

12 HTV designs

For my shirt, I am going to choose the saying, “All I need is a whole lot of crafting and a nice glass of wine." I don’t know about you, but I have felt this way more than once! 

svg design


Follow these steps to import the SVG design into Cricut Design Space. Open a New Project and select UPLOAD from the left sidebar menu.



Select UPLOAD IMAGE and then BROWSE to the file location where you saved the cut deisgn on your computer.

Upload image



From the Prepare to Upload screen, you can give the image a name and add some image tags. When you're ready, choose UPLOAD located at the bottom right corner of the screen.

prepare to upload

Now the image is available to you in Design Space for this and any future projects. Select the image and ADD TO CANVAS using the button at the bottom right on the screen.

recent uploads


I decided to make my design about 12 inches long, which required resizing the design a little. When you click on the design, a box will appear around the design. Drag the arrows at the corner of the box to make your design larger or smaller without distorting the image.

cut design


Make the project. Select MIRROR on the Prepare to Cut screen to reverse the cut design for cutting.



Now that our file is ready to cut, let’s look at the heat transfer vinyl more.

Heat transfer vinyl (usually) comes on a carrier sheet.  The carrier sheet is sticky and holds the vinyl in place while you cut.  It also helps you transfer the iron-on to your project surface.  The SHINY side of the iron-on is the carrier sheet; the dull side is the adhesive.  When cutting iron-on cut SHINY side down.


Some heat transfer vinyl has a white (or other color) adhesive side, but it is usually the same color as the vinyl, just duller in color.  If you are uncertain which side is the vinyl and which side is the carrier sheet, you can peel the corner of the sheet and see which side is clear plastic when you peel the two layers apart. The clear plastic side is the carrier sheet and it should always be face down when cutting (facing your machine).

Select Iron-on from the materials list in Design Space or using the Smart Set dial (available on Explore Air 2). Smooth the iron-on onto your mat, shiny-side-down, and load it into your machine. 

After the design has finished cutting, unload the mat. Next, you'll need to remove the excess vinyl, not part of your cut design, in a process known as weeding.

Weeding heat transfer vinyl.

A hook or pick tool is helpful when removing smaller details.


Once you have the entire design weeded, you should be left with your design on the sticky carrier sheet.  Fold the carrier sheet in half and make a small crease in the middle at the top and bottom of your design.  It’s okay if you fold the vinyl too, it will flatten when you iron it.  Make sure you fold the NON-sticky sides together.IMG_6859

Next, fold your shirt in half length wise and iron it down the middle, creating a crease.  Line the notches in your carrier sheet up with the line you ironed on your shirt.

iron middle

Adhere the iron-on to your t-shirt using a heat press or a household iron. Cricut offers an excellent Heat Guide that let's you know exactly how long and at what temperature to heat the iron-on for a successful transfer. Whether you are using a heat press or a dry iron, preheat the t-shirt about 15 seconds before apply the iron-on. Then lay the iron-on, shiny liner side up (the design will not be reversed) on the shirt. 


Next, press the design.  I am using my heat press:


If you do not have a heat press, no worries!  Crank your home iron up basically as hot as it will go and make sure you do not use steam!  Once the iron is heated, cover your design with parchment paper or a thin cloth and press down firmly on your design.  Hold the iron in place for 10 seconds then move to the next section.  Continue the process until you have ironed over the entire design. Once your design has been pressed, you can peel off the carrier sheet.

Peel off carrier sheet.

Note: Some heat transfer vinyl is cold peel and some is hot peel.  That means that some iron-on requires that you let the design completely cool before removing the carrier sheet.  If you’re not sure what type of heat transfer vinyl you have, you can try peeling the edge of your design and see if it adheres to the shirt.  If it does not, let it cool completely.  Once it has cooled, try peeling it again.  If it still does not release from the backing sheet, try pressing again.  

Iron-on heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is great for personalizing your own shirts, bags and more.  It is a versatile material!  I love my new shirt!  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! - Kala

Craft-e-Corner team member

Thanks so much stopping by! The Craft-e-Corner team loves to make things and we want to share that love with you! Whether you're browsing for inspiration or in need of technical assistance, we're here to help. Contact Us for personalized assistance from one of our craft experts.

Back to blog


Love it

Rickey L Barber

Hi there! Just an odd question. Say a friend wants me to just give her the iron on and she’ll iron the image onto her shirt. Unfortunately, if I have to weed anything, it’ll obviously be sticky. What can I cover the sticky side with so she can just pull it off when she’s ready to use it?

Cathy Poe

My question is, if you are not using a whole sheet to do your project. How do you go about cutting the image without it cutting through to the protective film sheet? I have an older cricut expression and not the new ones yet. Was wondering how to go about it. Thank you


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.