I Tri and Craft

thoughts from a mother of boys, a marathoner, a triathlete, a crafter, a wife, and a scientist

Tips for Printable Heat Transfer Material


I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love the print and cut feature on my Silhouette Cameo.

Well, I am going to bring it up again.  Only this time I will be using a Heat Transfer Material to make a gift.

There are other brands out there that sell this kind of material, but I use Avery, because I can buy it just about anywhere.

Here is the concept, you print something out on your computer, cut it out and then iron it on to something made of fabric.  And viola! Your very own custom shirt, coat, bag, pillow, blanket, etc.

I wanted to make a six-year-old girl a bag with her favorite Monster High Character.   I could have made one by layering colored heat transfer vinyl (HTV) but the characters from Monster High have sooo many coloring shades, that it would either too much work (& too munch HTV) or it wouldn’t give me the same look I was going for.

Lagoona Blue Tote Bag



I have used this material in the past, so I am very familiar with it, but as with all projects, I ran into some trouble.  I figured it would be beneficial to others if I shared my snafu, so you will not make the same mistake.

Here are a few tips for using the printable heat transfer material:

  • Know your printer.  Printer inks are different and behave differently.  If you have an ink jet printer, get the material designed for ink jet printers.  If it is a laser printer, there is a different material for that, as well as the other inks, like UV.  If you choose the wrong type your ink will not set and will either run or fade.
    • Print a test page on regular paper to see how your image will fit, and line up.  You don’t want to waste any of the transfer material.Print a test page first
  • There are two different kinds of transfer material.  One for light-colored fabrics and one for dark.
    • The one for light-colored fabrics is an actual ink transfer material.  It will transfer the ink on to your shirt, so the places in your design that are white, will be transparent, meaning the shirt will show through.  The material that it is printed on will adhere to the fabric, so there is a protective layer between the ink and the outside world.  You must also remember to flip your design on the horizontal plane when using this material.
    • The one for dark-colored fabrics is like a sticker.  It is a white material and so the white areas in your design will remain white.  Plus, there is no need to flip the design.  It is the one I like to use the best.Dark Fabric Material
    • Weed carefully, this material can tear easily.  But it is not sticky, so you can do it in sections.
    • Don’t use the shade of fabric alone to make the decision on which one to use.  Think about what you want your project to look like in the end.  I use the material for dark fabrics all the time, even on light-colored fabric like this tote bag.Light colored bag, but using dark fabric transfer material
  • Your iron must be hot and dry.  If you use this to iron out the wrinkles in your clothes, dump out the water.  Set your iron to the hottest setting.  It is also not recommended you not use an ironing board.  This could be because you don’t want an uneven surface, but it is also because of the reflective heat material under the cover.  Heat on the bottom of the material may interfere with it bonding to the fabric.  I place a folded, ironed sheet on my kitchen counter.MSS_HTM_MHbag09
  • Cool removal or not?  Some heat transfer material requires you to wait until the design has cooled before removing the transfer plastic.  If it does and you rush it, you can peel off your design with the transfer plastic, so be patient.Sometimes you have to wait for it to cool before removing protective/transfer layer
  • Don’t be discouraged when it takes longer to adhere than the instructions say.  I have held the iron in place for minutes, when the instructions say 45-60 seconds.
  • Apply constant high pressure.  You are not ironing out the wrinkles, so don’t move your iron around.  You can mess up your design, as I did.What can happen when you move your iron around
    • But not all is lost if you do.  Here is something you might not know: the heat that put it on, can take it off.
      • Apply heat back to the design and quickly use something to scrap away the design before it cools.  I first used my weeding tool to pull the design, but that was taking too long.  I then thought of my scrapping tool (a used Sil gift card), when the design was still hot I just scrapped it off.  You have to keep applying heat to small areas and scrapping, and repeating.  The scrapping doesn’t take too long, and within 10 minutes, it was gone.  There is a slight bit of ‘glue’ left, it’s not really glue, but there is a residue, it’s kind of like a shiny outline of your design.  MSS_HTM_MHbag07
    • That’s OK, because you are going to reprint your design and reapply.  This time, not moving the iron around.MSS_HTM_MHbag08


It turned out just the way I wanted it to, and the birthday girl was happy.



The bag went perfectly with the personalize Monster High water bottle & Lagoona Blue card I made.






Happy Crafting

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4 thoughts on “Tips for Printable Heat Transfer Material

  1. I need to try this!!!!!

  2. MOST HELPFUL article I’ve read on HTV – thanks especially for explaining the differences between them! I’m feel ready to take on my projects now! =)

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