How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl

I made something new yesterday and it took me under 30 minutes and I love how it turned out! It’s so easy. I want to teach you how to use heat transfer vinyl and show you some ideas for projects you could do with it.

Here’s what I made yesterday-can I get a Go Cougars?!!?

How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl {plus cute ideas of projects to do with it!}

This was just with a shirt that he had already-I just added the logo of our favorite school. (He loves it! He plans to be Cosmo, the mascot someday.)

Make Your Own Heat Transfer Vinyl Shirt

Here’s another project you can do with heat transfer vinyl. This one is done with the glittery kind! (Love glitter!)

Personalized Kids Messenger Bags

How to Personalize a Messenger Bag

Oh how I love that little bag. The tutorial for that bag is coming soon, but for now let’s talk about how to personalize it.


How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl:

Supplies Needed:

Heat Transfer Vinyl: There are several varieties-smooth, flocked (sort of fuzzy) and glittery. I got mine here.


Some way to cut your vinyl-I used my Silhouette machine. You can use scissors or an exacto knife if you need to.

Something to transfer your vinyl onto



Start out by cutting your design. **Make sure you mirror image your design. It will transfer backwards from what you cut.**

You want to cut with the shiny side of your vinyl down. I tried to take a picture of this but my camera couldn’t catch the shiny. Just trust me on this-you will see that one side is shiny. Put that side down and cut on the other side.

Once you have your design cut, begin to peel off the pieces that are NOT part of your design:


You can use a sharp tool like this Silhouette hook to help if needed:





Peel until you have everything removed EXCEPT what you want to transfer:




Now, get out your iron and turn it to the cotton setting. Lay your transfer on your item you are transferring to:


Lay a piece of fabric over it:


And iron for 60 seconds.


Let it cool for a few minutes and then gently peel it off. And you’ve got a finished product! I love it! Seriously, it’s so easy and fun!


And my kiddo loved it:

BYU Shirt

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Hey there! I'm Amber, mom of 4 crazy boys, wife of 1 and non-stop, always busy, crazy project doer. (There's a reason why we call it *Crazy* Little Projects.) I love chocolate, reading, sewing and being with people!

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  1. Stephanie says

    I was wondering if you could use some of these products with the Cricut machine? Or if you knew of any other sources for heat transferred vinyl? This is a great project and so versatile. Thank you

    • says

      Yes, definitely-with a Silhouette, a Cricut or even with scissors or an exacto knife. I’ll add some more sources for the vinyl next week so check back. :)

  2. Mandy says

    I have done this with my cricut for years, but I feel like it’s hit or miss. About 70% of the time it works great, but if you iron too long it melts and warps your design, and if you don’t iron long enough your design will peel and not wash well. Any helpful hints for that, or is it just me? :)

    • says

      I had a few problems too. I noticed that I needed my iron to NOT be on the highest setting. More of a medium setting. Then I could iron for longer without it warping.

  3. Jenny says

    Hi Amber,
    What a fun project! Can you tell me where I can purchase the “Y” logo? I can’t find it in the silhouette store. Thanks!

  4. Tisha says

    Do you know if heat transfer vinyl will work on other surfaces if you use a heat gun? (i.e. acrylic tumblers, glass, etc.)? I’ve only been able to find animal print vinyl in heat transfer not regular adhesive. Thanks for the tutorial!!

  5. Libby says

    Great tutorial thanks so much!!
    Does this really last long without peeling? Can you wash and dry these clothes like normal?
    Also what brand of vinyl do you use?


    • says

      You know, I have never had problems with it before, but did for my first time last week. I think that I didn’t iron long enough on what I was using though because I think it usually works better than it did that day. I get mine from Expressions Vinyl-the link is in that post.

  6. Jamilah says

    Great tutorial! Thanks. Can you share the type of software you used where you were able to print/cut any design that you found on the web?

  7. Nancy says

    I have the glitter heat transfer but my Silhouette isn’t cutting it. I’ve tried changing settings and blade depth but still nothing. It seems to be just making an impression but not cutting. Last tried with blade depth of 6. Any suggestions!

  8. Jessica says

    Hi Amber! I’m making a dress from Crushed Panne Velvet fabric and was wondering if the heat-transfer vinyl would work on it? The fabric is 100% polyester but it says to ‘Press on wrong side only and Steam only’. Could you help me?

  9. Lorrie says

    I like the bag did you pre wash it Before ironing the transfer on. I have a bunch of canvas totes that I was planning on doing as gifts and was wonder if I need to prewash them before applying transfer.

    I did do a test of a prewashed one and it shrunk a little. But it got super wrinkled and took for ever to get them out. So I am trying to avoid ironing 30 before applying transfer.

  10. Amanda says

    Would the vinyl work with a heat press machine? (On a low setting?) I know I have seen several places, it is just iron ons. Also, how do they hold up after they are ironed on. I’ve done the iron ons in the past and always been disappointed that they didn’t even last wash or 2.
    Thanks guys for educating me.

  11. Judith says

    Hi Amber! Thank you for the tips and pointers you gave here!
    I have a question about cutting EasyWeed brand Vinyl WITHOUT a Silhouette or Cricut Machine…I am needing to cut some numbers (approx 8″x 6″ and 4″ x 2″) and want to use scissors to cut them out.

    Because there will be no edges of extended tacky clear area surrounding the numbers, How do I ‘stabilize” the numbers so that they don’t/won’t shift during the heat application (using a household iron)?

    Could I maybe use a mylar transfer sheet on top of the clear backing on the EasyWeed, I’m thinking this may help stabilize while I apply the heat with the iron, but wonder if I’ll need to increase the timing to compensate for the added layer (mylar)?

    Hope I’m clear in my description of my uncertainties! :-)

    Thank you and anyone else who may be able to offer me suggestions or answers!


    • says

      I have done it without having the backing and just laid the letters in place and then just carefully ironed over it so as not to move anything and it worked. You just have to be really careful!

    • says

      I get mine at Expressions Vinyl (I think I linked to it in this post). And yes, I have had some problems with peeling off but only with the glitter kind. I have found that if I prewash whatever I am going to add the vinyl to that it helps it stay on better.

  12. Kimberly says

    I am looking at using the heat transfer to label some of my daughter’s sports jerseys on the inside. Can you see the transfer from the inside of the shirt if it were inside-out?
    I know…random question!


  13. zee says

    I have everything together but any suggestion on afterward. Its like a 1 time shirt after the wash it the design comes off….

    • says

      I have had that problem a few times too. The things I have found that have helped are to prewash the shirts and then to iron straight on the vinyl after you have it all in place. Like a final setting. It depends on the type of vinyl too. I think the glitter and fancy kinds are more prone to falling off than others.

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