How to Test Cut in Cricut Design Space + Free Cut File

Reduce your HTV stress with test cutsIt’s happened to all of us. You create a great design in Cricut Design Space and decide it’s destined to be on a t-shirt. You send your Siser® heat transfer vinyl through the cutter and do a happy dance as you unload the material. Your happy dance is cut short by groans of frustration when your HTV does not weed easy. Sometimes the blade did not cut deep enough which results in parts of the design peeling up with the excess. Other times the blade cuts too deep which results in a ripped carrier sheet and a complicated weeding process. Before you bust out your Stress Reduction Kit check out this guide for an easy way to get good cut lines every time!

Save yourself the headache and yards of wasted material by utilizing a nifty tool called a test cut. A test cut helps you find the ideal settings for the blade and material you’re working with. A well used blade will need higher cut settings than a fresh, new blade. Additionally, different colors of the same heat transfer vinyl may require different cut settings. You may not detect the slight variances between colors, but your test cut may clue in. This is why it’s important to do a test cut every time you change the HTV on the mat.

While the Brother ScanNCuts and Silhouette Cameos have built in test cut functions, the Cricut cutters do not. Don’t worry though, I’ve made up a test cut file that you can save in your Cricut Design Space and use to your heart’s desire!Test Cut file in Cricut Design Space


While having the file is nice, you’ll also need to know what to look for in a good cut. A good cut slices through the heat transfer material, but not through the clear carrier on the face of the material. The shiny side of the material is the clear carrier. The carrier holds the heat transfer vinyl pieces in place so they’re always properly aligned. The carrier side goes face down because we need it to stay intact for heat application, so we cut through the duller adhesive side of the material. During heat application the carrier side will be face up. This is why you must always mirror your image and text in your designs before cutting.

When the HTV is on the mat, load it into the Cricut and select “Iron On” on the dial as a starting setting for your test cuts.

Placing Green Apple EasyWeed carrier side down on cutting mat

After you send the test cut design to your Cricut, weed the shapes and ask yourself these 3 questions:

Can I see cut marks on the carrier sheet? Do the corners connect and make sharp points? Is the circle smooth and complete?

Good test cuts from the Cricut Explore Air

Visible cut marks, a completely smooth circle, and sharp corners. This is a good test cut!

If you can say yes to all of those, then it’s probably a good test cut. However you’ll need to check one more thing. Feel the smooth carrier side of the test cut. If you can feel the cut lines then your cut is too deep and you need to switch to a lower setting. Sometimes your cut may be so deep that it cuts through the carrier. This is definitely not the cut we want.

A bad test cut because of deep cut marks.

I can feel the cut lines through the carrier. This is a bad test cut.

Cricut blade cut through HTV carrier

If the carrier is cut through then the cut setting is too high.







If you can’t see cut marks at all you may have already known it was a bad test cut from the weeding process. When the cut setting is too low the shapes aren’t fully cut and your circle and square may still be attached to each other. Choose a higher setting and try another test cut.

A bad test cut because there are no cut marks

I can’t see the circle cut mark at all. This is a bad test cut.

The blade didn't cut through the HTV enough

If your shapes are still connected then your cut setting is too low.







Occasionally, you may find the “Iron On” setting is not quite enough and the “Light Cardstock” setting is too much. In these cases, you’ll need to use the “Custom” setting on the dial to choose a material that’s in between the two. Cricut explains how to use the Custom setting here.  Finding the best cut settings for your material only takes a few minutes but saves you hours of frustration. You can save the free test cut file to your Cricut Design Space account by going here.


Did you upgrade to the Cricut Maker? Check out this post instead!


New to HTV? Still want to reach for that Stress Reduction Kit? Check out the HTV Basics for Beginners. 


If you have any questions about this post feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

If you liked this post, please pin the image below to Pinterest.

Before you make your first cut, read these beginner tips from the Siser Blog. Plus get the free test cute .svg for Cricut Design Space. Soon you’ll be cutting Siser heat transfer vinyl on your Cricut Explore, Air 1, or Air 2 like a pro!

By |2019-01-17T12:17:07-04:00September 1st, 2016|Informational|18 Comments

About the Author:

Lily is Siser's go-to crafter. Her ideas and abilities to incorporate HTV into her projects is inspiring. Well versed in Heat Transfer Vinyl, Lily embraces the methods and materials to deliver creative content week after week!


  1. […] How to Cut Siser Heat Transfer Vinyl with the Cricut Explore Air […]

  2. beverly shaw September 22, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Not sure which cutting blade for the Holographic HTV on the Cricut Explore Air 2. I have the basic that came with the machine and I bought the German blade.. Tried cutting the HTV and it didn’t cut deep enough. Help

    • Lily September 25, 2017 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Beverly, sorry to hear you’re having troubles! The standard blade for the Cricut is able to cut Holographic HTV, but you may need to use a higher setting on the dial than what we suggest. Since Holographic can be tricky, we’ve made a post just for tips on cutting it.

    • Debbiehall December 29, 2017 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      I used the fabric option and it cut the holographic vinyl perfect?

  3. Vinyl CM. November 3, 2017 at 7:38 am - Reply


  4. Vinyl LV December 6, 2017 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Nice tutorial. But i’m really new about this. 1 question please. The Cricut Design Space software can use for all Cricut machines or it can use specific model?

    • Lily December 6, 2017 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Thank you!
      Cricut Design Space can be used for the following machines: Cricut Explore, Cricut Explore Air, Cricut Explore One, Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Maker.

  5. Shannon R Carpenter December 26, 2017 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    My blade just cut through the glitter htv and straight to the mat can my design be salvaged or is it ruined now?

    • Lily December 27, 2017 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Hey Shannon! The HTV pieces can still be applied, however now you’ll need to align them individually on whatever surface you’re decorating. It’s as if you’re working with hand cut pieces.

  6. Desirea April 17, 2018 at 5:05 am - Reply

    Hi, so I have the cricut maker and there is no dial 2 set material you go on a list and choose your material, well when ever I try to cut iron on vinyl it cuts all the way through both layers? Please help

    • Lily April 17, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Hello! I’d suggest going into the Custom Material Settings window and either selecting a pre-set with a lower pressure or manually editing the Iron On setting until you find an ideal pressure. A small test cut can help you make these adjustments without wasting a lot of material.

  7. Ronnie June 19, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    When cutting letters with sisser glitter HTV, it seems to lift the access flaps which then get in the way of my cut path…I was at the highest pressure already on my cricut air…how do i prevent this from happening? I was on custom settings for glitter iron on…should I be using another setting?

    • Lily June 25, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Hi Ronnie! Our suggested setting for Glitter HTV on the Cricut is Iron On+. If you have to increase you pressure to the highest setting in order to cut Glitter then it’s likely time to consider replacing your blade. Before that though, I would try cleaning your blade and housing. A scrap of material may be stuck in it and could be catching the Glitter HTV and causing the lifting during the cutting process. Another possibility is your cut file is too small and/or complex to achieve with Glitter HTV, so you may want to try cutting it out with EasyWeed®. If you’re still experiencing issues after these troubleshooting tips, please email for additional help.

  8. Binnie Baumgartner September 18, 2018 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    I am cutting a design out of glitter HTV. There is a lot of excess glitteron the carrier sheet after I weed my design. I don’t want this on my finished product. What do I need to do?

    • Lily September 19, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Good question, Binnie! The excess glitter on the carrier sheet doesn’t have any adhesive attached so it actually will not transfer to the fabric. The excess might stick to any HTV that’s already been applied, but it can usually be brushed off after application. If that’s also a concern for you though, you can avoid it by pressing for 5 seconds, peeling the carrier and pressing with a cover sheet for the remaining 5-10 seconds. This pressing method prevents excess glitter the most.

  9. Devonna Gomez December 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am a first time user of the buffalo plaid htv and wanted to know which side a place down side on my cutting board do I put the plaid side down to cut or face up to cut. Help!!!

    • Lily December 10, 2018 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Hi Devonna! If you’re cutting EasyPatterns®, then the pattern side goes face down on your cutting mat and make sure to mirror your design. However, if your pattern HTV comes with a clear mask then you’ll cut pattern side up and do not mirror your artwork. After cutting, you can weed the excess and pick up your HTV with the mask for heat application.

  10. Vinyl Cut December 11, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing

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