How to Distress HTV (Without Tedious Weeding)
Distressed fonts and shapes are so on trend. While you can always buy pre-created distressed fonts and shapes, learning how to make your own in Silhouette Studio will give you artistic freedom (and it’s easier than you think).
I wanted to create a distressed design for my newest reusable shopping bag. It was just a plain bag and it needed something on it! Here’s a peak at the finished project:
To create this bag, I used the “U.S. Map” design which is part of the 12 Exclusive Heat Transfer Designs I created for Craft-e-Corner. When you first open this file, you’ll see the entire U.S. Map:
The design comes grouped together for ease of use, but if you want just one state, right click on the the design and select “ungroup.” This will ungroup the states so you can work with just the state you want:
If your state has several pieces, (Alaska, Michigan, Hawaii, New York, Maryland or Virginia) the pieces for your state are grouped together so all the little pieces move together. If you (for some reason) wanted to move a piece of the state, click on the state and ungroup again and move the pieces around:
We are located in the frozen tundra, so I am going to work with the Wisconsin state shape. To grab just Wisconsin, I clicked on the state and pressed CTRL and C then CTRL and P (copy and paste). I have colored the copy of my state red (below) so you can see the difference between the original and the copy:
Yes, you could work with just the original state, but I like to keep the map all together and make a copy when working with one piece of a design in case I need to go back to the original for some reason. I moved the copy off to the side and then regrouped the map to keep all the pieces together:
Next, I moved the map out of the way and sized the state copy to fit my project. To finish up my design, I clicked on the text box and typed out my words:
Once I had the words arranged, I selected both the words and the shape then Right Click->Flip Horizontally:
This reversed the design so it was ready to cut from HTV:
Before cutting my design, I considered my options to achieve the distressed look I wanted. There are several ways one can distress vinyl, a few options:
Option #1: You can use a distressed style font or pre-distressed shape, but I don’t like to rely on what is already out there. I like making whatever I want.
Option #2: Build the distressed pattern into your design for your machine to cut. I think this technique would work, but it would take forever for the machine to cut all those little details and then there would be tedious weeding afterwards. Plus, it’s too predictable if you wanted to make more than one of the same project. I like that distressing is random!
I decided on Option #3, distressing the vinyl manually after the machine cuts the undistressed design. I had my Cameo cut the design and then before I weeded anything, I used a PedEgg (a pedicure tool) to take random chunks out of the heat transfer vinyl (I use this PedEgg for this purpose only):
Test the technique out before you go full tilt into it and make sure you are achieving the results you like. I found that holding the vinyl over the edge of the table made it easier for the file to take small pieces of the heat transfer vinyl.
Note: This is red heat transfer vinyl, but the backing of it (which is facing up in the photo below) is white. Most HTV has the same color on both sides, one is usually shiny and the other dull, but that is not always the case:
Make sure you go all the way through the vinyl to the sticky clear carrier sheet. If all you do is scuff the back of the vinyl, it will not give you a distressed look.
Once I felt like I had enough random chunks taken out of the vinyl, I weeded the design. You could weed the design and then distress it, but the carrier sheet is sticky and all those little bits you are removing will stick to the carrier sheet. I didn’t want extra little pieces on the inside of my letters or around my state, so I waited to weed until I was done distressing to keep all those little bits from becoming part of my final project.
Once I fully weeded the design, I pressed like normal and the project was complete:
Check out that distressing:
Don’t have a PedEgg? No problem- you can use other “distressing” tools. All you need is something with “teeth” to scrap pieces of the vinyl off. A cheese grater would be a good alternative. You could probably find all sorts of tools to use for this purpose, experiment on a scrap piece of HTV to see what gives you the look you like most!
You may also like this project with the same design (click for a full tutorial):
Do you think you’ll give this technique a try?
Have fun experimenting!