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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Birthday Pirate Shirt ~ A Silhouette Cameo how to (Part 3)

I wanted to share with you the steps I took to make my son’s birthday shirt. There was a few problems I had that I was able to work through.   Hopefully this will help so others won’t get stuck like I did.

In this tutorial I use my Silhouette Cameo and the Silhouette Studio DE software to make a custom shirt for my son’s birthday party.  I used graphics from Just So Scrappy‘s YoHo YoHo Pirate kit.  I used the Silhouette brand Flocked Heat Transfer Material for the skull, and Avery Dark T-Shirt Transfers for Ink Jet Printers.

Part One will be how to make the Skull & Crossbones

Part Two will be how to do the words & party hat

Part Three will be how to iron everything on and some tips.


My first tip; if you want your words to be in the correct direction I would advise you not to let your three-year old place them on the shirt.


The flocked transfer material has a clear plastic film over the top.  This is the side you face down when cutting, you want the Silhouette to cut through the transfer material but not this film.  After weeding out the areas that you want the shirt to show through, lay your transfer material with the film facing up.  I would advise ironing on one piece at a time, just to ensure proper placement.

Use a dry iron, on the highest setting (please read the directions that come with your material) and a piece of thin cotton fabric between the iron and your material.  I used a pillowcase after determining a dish towel was too thick.  You want to apply a lot of pressure for up to a minute, or more.  Again, this is where you want to double-check the instructions that come with your material.  The time can very depending on manufactures, but the main thing is if isn’t sticking, you need more time and pressure.  Try not to move the iron around like you are ironing your clothes.  Just hold for a minute, then move to another area and hold, with lots of pressure.  Have I made it clear that pressure is important?

Some material is cool peel, meaning you need to wait until the ironed on design has cooled before removing the top film.  If this is the case, wait!  You will only ruin your design if you get impatient.



The intricate cut around the words was done as stated in the previous tutorial, but I wanted to separate the words from the page and lay them on the shirt without yet removing the backing, so I just cut them out with scissors.  The Silhouette settings I used made a ‘kiss cut’ meaning it cut through the transfer material but not through the backing.  When you are ready to iron on the material you peel it off like a sticker.

After placing the elements where you want them use the same iron settings but use the piece of parchment-like paper that comes with  the printable transfers between the material and your iron.  Again using lots of pressure.  Also, make sure something is covering the areas that have already been ironed on.  If you apply direct heat to this material you could melt it.



As I have stated above I used the printable material for dark fabric and ink jet printers.  The dark fabric is like a sticker.  What is face up is what will show, this is different from the material for light fabric.  The dark fabric material also leaves a white area on the printed material where there is a white area on your screen.  With the light fabric material, where there is white on your screen the shirt fabric will show through.  This is something to consider before purchasing your transfer material.  Also it is very important for you to  know what kind of printer you will be using.  The way an ink jet and laser printer adhere the ink to the paper is different and for this type of material it does make a difference.

The first time I printed this out I used a laser printer without thinking of the consequences.


It looks fine, there wasn’t any difference between it and the one I ended up printing on my ink jet printer.  At least not until I ironed it on.


See how the hat has faded?  This is because of the toner in a laser printer.  It can come off the printable heat transfer material when heat is applied.  I had to go back and reprint everything on an ink jet printer.  At this point I also had to make the hat a little bigger to cover up  the faded one.

But the end result was still one happy birthday-boy-to-be.



If you want to see how I designed the skull check out Part one.

If you want to see how I designed the print and cut words and hat see Part Two.


Happy Crafting


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