The Beginner’s Guide to Siser® Heat Transfer Vinyl

Welcome to the creative world of Siser® Heat Transfer Vinyl! If you don’t know the HTV basics, don’t worry- you will by the end of this post! I was a beginner not long ago, and I’m not going to lie, it was pretty overwhelming at first. HTV, CPSIA, weeding? What are these people talking about? Now that I’m fluent in HTV lingo, all I can think about are the thousands of creative project possibilities! So let’s dive into this list of terms that will help any beginner start creating quicker.

HTV Glossary of Terms

  • Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) is a material that’s easily applied with a combination of heat, pressure, and time because of the specially formulated carrier. HTV can be applied with a heat press, home iron, Cricut EasyPress, flat iron, and other styles of irons!
  • Carriers are the plastic backing that comes attached on HTV. It’s the part of the material that is revealed as you weed away excess. There are sticky carriers that are tacky and static carriers that are smooth.
  • CPSIA certified means that the materials passed a lot of tests in order to be safe to use on children’s garments and other items. Most Siser HTV qualifies as CPSIA certified. You can learn more about CPSIA in this blog post.
  • An Electronic Cutter is the machine that will take a plain sheet of vinyl and carve a design into it with a small, sharp blade. These range from wide/large format to smaller desktop/hobby machines. Our favorites are of course Romeo™ and Juliet™.
  • An SVG is a Scalable Vector Graphic and is one of the most compatible files for use with electronic cutters.
  • Weeding is the process of removing the extra material after a design has been cut out.
  • A Siser EasyWeeder® is the stainless steel hook tool with a rubber grip that allows you to pick out cavities and weed excess easily and comfortably.
  • Cavities are the centers of an image or text. Like the inner triangle of a capital “A”.
  • A Heat Press is the machine that sandwiches the vinyl and the material it’s being applied to while applying pressure and releasing heat.
  • Pressure is the amount of force used when you push down a heat press or home iron on top of the vinyl to adhere it to a fabric. It’s so important we wrote a whole blog post about proper pressure and even made a video!
  • Heat Transfer Pillows are used to correct uneven pressure. Uneven pressure can be caused by seams, collars, buttons, pockets, and so much more! A pillow can be used to raise the application area above those obstacles, or it can be placed under them to allow them to sink in and out of the way. Pillows are also very important, so we made another video!
  • Heat Transfer Cover Sheets are used to protect your fabric from scorch marks and ensure the HTV (and the adhesive underneath) adheres to the fabric and not the upper platen of your heat press. Cover Sheets can be made of  multiple  materials. Here are a few different types of Cover Sheets:
    • Multipurpose Paper can be used as a cover sheet or it can be used to store weeded designs for future use.
    • Parchment Paper (not to be confused with wax paper or butcher paper which will melt!) can be a cost effective cover sheet that’s especially useful for heat sensitive fabrics as it’s the cover sheet that retains the least heat. However, it’s not as long lasting as other cover sheets and should be discarded and replaced when ripped.
  • Scorch Marks or Heat Marks are permanent discolorations of fabric due to high temperatures. It’s most clearly seen on red and black heat sensitive fabrics such as polyester.
  • Heat Sensitive means the garment is likely to discolor from a high application temperature. This most commonly happens with fabrics like polyester and nylon. Luckily, all Siser HTV has a work around application method outlined in this post.

Tip #1: Always Mirror Your Image

Your design/text should appear backwards in the software before it’s ready to cut. The only HTV that does not require mirrored artwork is our EasyPatterns® and Digital Media.

Tip#2: Place The Carrier Side Down For Cutting

The carrier is placed face down, so you’re cutting through the adhesive side of the HTV. A good cut is achieved when you can see the cut lines on the carrier side of the material, but the carrier isn’t punctured or torn…basically anyway. If you want to know all the specifications for quality cut lines check out any of these posts: How to Cut on Juliet™How to Cut HTV on Silhouette Cutters, How to Cut HTV on the Cricut Cutters, or How to Cut HTV on Brother Cutters.

Tip #3: Try the “Heat Press Trick” For Sticky Carriers

Heat up the lower platen on your press for 10 seconds. Lay your EasyWeed® (or any other HTV with a sticky carrier!) on the lower platen and weed your design. The heat from the press will slightly activate the adhesive and allow you to weed the design more easily! See the heat press trick in actionFor more weeding tips, read this post. 

Tip #4: Place The Carrier Side Up For Heat Application

In this step of the process, your design should look the way you want your finished product to look just with the carrier still attached. Your design should be in the correct direction and all words should be right-facing.

Tip #5: Use a Cover Sheet

A cover sheet of some kind (whether it’s teflon, multi-purpose paper, or parchment paper) is always recommended to be layered on top of HTV during application. It acts as a protective barrier between the direct heat and your garment. Also, it’s especially important to use a cover sheet when layering and applying on top of material that no longer has a carrier attached. Otherwise, you could end up with adhesive or HTV stuck to your heat press’ upper platen.

REMEMBER: Every Type of HTV is Unique!

While some share a variety of similarities, not all Heat Transfer Vinyl weeds the same, nor do they all require the same amount of time, temperature, and pressure. Double-check the product specifications to ensure that it is being optimally applied. You can find our suggested settings for each material under “Application Instructions” on every product page of our website. OR view them in the Siser North America app which is available for download in the App Store and Google Play.

Now that you know the HTV basics, you’re not a beginner anymore. So, go ahead, give it a try! Make sure to tag us when you share your project using the hashtag #SiserNA. We’d love to see your creativity!

Your go to guide for all things HTV! Siser brings beginners everything they need to know when starting out with heat transfer vinyl in this quick blog post.

P.S. Looking for more tips? Check out our Top 10 Tips for HTV!