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. Click here to save the free test cut file to your Cricut Design Space.


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!

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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!