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Iron on vinyl is a great tool for making custom t-shirts, bags, pillows, and more – but it can be tricky to work with. Here are my best tips for how to use iron on vinyl – specifically with Cricut machines, but these tips can be used for any and all iron on materials!
Vinyl Iron-on Cricut
One of my favorite things to do with my Cricut is making t-shirts!
I made these gender reveal ones when we announced that Oliver was going to be a boy:
And then we made these fun Disney shirts when we went to Disneyland:
And today I made this fun t-shirt to show off my proud #boymom status:
So, I thought this would be a great first tutorial to share with all of you. In fact, I even did a video tutorial – sorry it’s not the greatest quality!
If you aren’t a video person, though, here is a picture/text tutorial instead 🙂
Iron-on Vinyl Tips
T-shirt, pillow, or other fabric
Cricut Machine (I use the Cricut Explore Air in this post, but I also have a Cricut Maker).
Iron or Heat press – Cricut recently released the EasyPress, which makes this process SO much easier. It’s small, portable, and works amazingly with heat press items! Here is a comparison of the EasyPress, a traditional heat press, and an iron!
Create your design in Cricut Design Space – I recommend using a thicker font and pictures that are fairly simple.
I LOVE using the Canvas feature in Design Space for iron on projects. They have so many options. For this particular project, I selected the “V-Neck T-Shirt” option. It made it so I got the correct size and could visualize my project easier. The set canvas button is in the bottom left of the screen.
Determine if you want to use the same color vinyl for your project or multiple. If all of the parts of the project will be the same color, select each item (on a PC, hold down CTRL as you select each element; on a Mac, press command) and then select “weld” in the layers menu.
If you will be using different colored vinyl for different elements, just proceed on.
Press “Go”. You will be taken to a page where you can review the items about to be cut. If your elements aren’t welded together, you’ll see multiple cuts shown.
At this point, you will want to select “mirror image (for iron-on).” This is very important – unless you don’t mind your design being backward on whatever you are putting it on 🙂 Then press “Go” again.
Now, you are ready to cut! You will want to change the dial on your machine to “Iron On”.
One of the hardest parts when I first started cutting with iron on material was knowing which side to place down. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard, but it was a serious struggle! With iron on vinyl, there is a clear, smooth sheet on one side – this goes face down on the mat.
Put your mat in the machine and load it in. Once it’s loaded in, press the flashing Cricut button on the machine, and let the magic happen!
Once the machine is done cutting, cut off the piece of the cut vinyl. Then, weed out any small pieces from the design (carefully weed with thin fonts) and then pull the rest of the excess material up.
Now it’s time to iron the vinyl on! Make sure that you’ve pre-washed that material you will be adhering the design to.
First, you will “preheat” your material by ironing for about 15-20 seconds over the area that you will be adding the vinyl to. Your iron should be on the cotton/linen setting.
Place your vinyl (vinyl side down) onto the preheated area and flip over your shirt. If you are ironing on to a pillow, you can place a piece of a thin fabric over the vinyl. Iron over the back of the shirt (or fabric) for about 20-25 seconds.
Let the vinyl cool for about 20 seconds before flipping it back over. Very carefully remove the plastic from the vinyl. If you find that pieces are coming up, try and iron a bit more.
Iron on vinyl rolls for Cricut are some of my favorites to work with. You can easily learn how to make iron on projects with the Cricut Explore Air 2 by following all of the advice in this post. If you are looking for tips for iron on vinyl – this post should definitely help you – make sure you read this post about Iron on Vinyl FAQ to learn even more!
Other Cricut Posts You May Enjoy:
- What Vinyl to Use for Craft Projects?
- How to Layer Heat Transfer Vinyl
- How to Use Cricut Foil Iron On; And a Few Things NOT to do!
originally written in Feburary 2017; updated in February 2019.