When you get into crafting you will quickly learn that there are a lot of terms that you will have to learn. One of them is Heat Transfer Vinyl, also called HTV. This is the exact same thing as iron on vinyl. It simply means that you have to use heat to transfer your vinyl design on to your project.
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Most people own a household iron, and when they hear the term iron on vinyl they assume that they can do these projects with that same iron that they press their shirt for work. This is not always the case. A heat press will get you better and more consistent heat and pressure. I give you more information on heat presses HERE.
This project will show you how to use images found in Cricut Design Space, along with both solid colors and patterned heat transfer vinyl to create your own custom looks. I am using mine for Minnie Mouse pajamas.
Designing Minnie Mouse Pajamas
For any project I make, I like to start off with the design phase. I do this even before I purchase any of the needed materials. I do this because sometimes I will find that the materials I think I need, and what I really end up needing by the end of the design process are different. Let me show you what I mean.
I knew I wanted to use an image of Minnie Mouse, so I started off by clicking on the Images button in Cricut Design Space. Then I typed Minnie Mouse into the search bar to review the results of the images that already existed in Design Space. These images are available for you to use for personal projects. Make sure you understand the rules around copyright for licensed images. I have more information on that HERE.
I found an image of Minnie Mouse’s face that I wanted to use for the front of the pajamas I was making. Since I did not just want a giant Minnie Mouse face floating on my shirt, I started to play around with some different shapes to place behind her face. I finally settled on this circle shape that I saw in the background of an existing design in Cricut Design Space.
Since I only wanted the circle background shape from this image, I went to the Layers Panel on the right side of the screen and clicked on the layer that contained the words Below Zero. I have this indicated with a blue arrow in the image above. By clicking on the layer directly from the Layers panel, this allows me to select just that one single layer. I can either click on the eyeball icon which I have circled in blue, to turn off or hide this entire layer or I can delete the layer by clicking on the Delete button that is circled in purple in the image above.
Next I changed the color of the large circle piece by using the color selector on the top panel by the section called Operations. That would be the first circled item you see in the picture below. You can select from some basic colors, or use the Advanced section to pick any color in the rainbow. Then I adjusted the width of the circle by typing that information into the Size area that is indicated by the second blue circle
Because I knew I wanted to put this image of Minnie Mouse on a pair of black pajamas, I inserted a square from the shapes button, made it really big and changed the color of it to black. I put that behind the Minnie Mouse images to see how the design looked. This is when I started to think about the fact that a large portion of the Minnie Mouse image was already black. If I planned things out and layered the image correctly, instead of using black iron on vinyl for Minnie’s face I could have the black of the shirt be that portion of the image.
In order to do this, I am going to slice the black layer of the Minnie Mouse face from the pink circle image that I am using as a background. Don’t worry! I will walk you through the process for using Slice. I also have some videos specifically about using Slice on my YouTube channel HERE.
Using Slice in Cricut Design Space
I like to tell people to think of Slice like using a cookie cutter. It allows you to cut away one piece/shape from another. You can only have two things selected for Slice to work. This is why I like to really look at the items on the Layers Panel when I am using Slice. If you look at the layers panel on the right side of the picture below, you can see that I only have two layers selected. These two layers are indicated with the blue arrows.
In order to select items right from the Layers Panel like I did in this image below, click on each layer while holding down the shift key on your keyboard. For this example we want to slice the black layer of Minnie Mouse’s head from the pink circle. Hold the shift key and click on those two layers, and you will see that now the Slice button in the lower right corner is activated. You can click on that now.
Now that you have sliced, your image will look like the one in the picture below. We need to delete the pieces created by the Slice function that we do not need for our Minnie Mouse pajamas. To make those pieces that you need to delete easier to find, I marked them all with a blue arrow on the image below. When you are working on a project with your own design, you can also click on those little eyeball icons to turn them on and off. This sometimes helps you determine what you need and what you do not, before you just delete it.
Once you delete the layers indicated in the picture above, your Minnie Mouse image will look like the one on the left below. She looks kind of strange when she is missing the black pieces. In order to check that I did everything correctly, I put that same black square behind the image again. Remember, we are using this black square to represent the color of the shirt we are pressing the Minnie Mouse design on to. You can see in the picture below on the right, once the iron on vinyl is cut and pressed onto a black shirt, Minnie Mouse will look perfect!
Cricut Tip! Using Color Sync
I wanted to show you a little tip. This is a function of Design Space that I really do not hear a lot of people talking about, but it can be really helpful on a project like this. I want to cut the tongue out of the same shade of pink as the large circle. Instead of using the color button in the Operations section of the top panel, like we did earlier, I am going to use the Color Sync function.
When you click on the Color Sync tab, which I have circled in the picture below, you will see a line for each color in your project. Within that line, you will see a small preview of each piece of the design that will be cut out of that corresponding color. From the Color Sync tab I can just click on that tongue piece and drag it down to the same line as the circle.
Adding Minnie Mouse’s Signature
Last, I wanted to add Minnie Mouse’s signature under the image. I just clicked on Images again and did a search for Minnie and there was already an image for her signature. Once I had the signature under the existing design, I decided to just use the word Minnie, but to get rid of the Mouse at the end. First, the whole signature has a second layer behind it, so I am going to locate that on the layers panel and delete it. Remember, if you click on things right from the Layers Panel on the right side of the screen you can easily select the pieces you want.
One way to remove the Mouse from the signature is with Contour. Contour allows you to hide, or turn on and off, the different sections of an image. To do this we will click on the Contour button in the lower right corner of the screen. I have it indicated with the blue arrow in the image below.
Once you click Contour a new window opens up. In this new window you can see each separate piece of the layer. I am going to click on the sections for the word Mouse from the preview images on the right. With some designs you might have to click on some things, and then close this window to verify that you turned off the correct pieces. Then if needed you can go back in to Contour and turn additional things on and off. Do not worry, you will see all of this in action in the video I have a little further on in this tutorial.
After you close the Contour window, you can resize the word Minnie and then you are ready to start to cut all of these pieces from the iron on vinyl.
Before we look at how to cut the iron on vinyl, take a minute to look at the video below that goes over all of the steps that I outlined for you above. I think that seeing the process happen after you have just read the tutorial really helps in the learning process.
Minnie Mouse Design Video
Since I know that everyone learns differently, I like to do both written tutorials and videos for a lot of my projects. If you want to be notified when I post a new video, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel! Below is the video for how I designed my Minnie Mouse pajama’s in Cricut Design Space.
Using Solid Colored Heat Transfer Vinyl
The majority of the project will be cut from heat transfer vinyl (HTV), also known as iron on vinyl. When using iron on vinyl you want to first look at the material and feel it. There is one side that will typically have a clear shiny plastic looking surface. This is called the carrier sheet. The opposite side is the actual vinyl material that you are going to apply to your project. I feel like the vinyl side has a sort of waxy feel to it. It reminds me of the feeling of a melted crayon.
When you place the vinyl on the Cricut cutting mat, you are going to want to put that shiny carrier sheet side down on the mat. When you cut the iron on vinyl, you only want to cut through the actual vinyl layer, and not the clear carrier sheet. There is a special setting on the Cricut specifically for this, called the iron on setting. You will use your standard Cricut blade for this.
Remember to Mirror Iron On Vinyl
Since you are technically cutting from the back side of the vinyl, you will want to mirror your image. If you do not mirror your image, when you take the sheet of iron on vinyl off the cutting mat and flip it over to press it on, all of your words and images will be backwards. One thing I love about using iron on vinyl is that the clear carrier sheet is already attached to it. I do not have to add anything to the vinyl in order to move it and place it on my shirt.
After you have cut your iron on vinyl the last step before pressing it on the shirt is to weed away the excess vinyl. I like to start off by removing the centers of any letters like the e in Minnie. Then I typically will use my weeding tool to get a corner of the vinyl to lift up and then peel it away at an angle. If you have a good clean cut, the design should stay attached to the carrier sheet as you peel back the iron on vinyl.
I prefer to use Siser brand vinyl for my iron on projects. I feel that is the best quality brand of iron on vinyl out there, and it weeds the easiest. For permanent vinyl I like StarCraft vinyl.
Over the years I have gotten Siser vinyl from a variety of places, including My Craft Source. When you shop at My Craft Source be sure to use code ShawnMosch to get 5% off your order!
I have also ordered from Expression Vinyl and Heat Transfer Warehouse. All of these stores carry Siser brand vinyl and I love that I can order large rolls or small sheets. This can give you a larger variety of choices and allow to to save money on larger orders. To make sure you are getting the best price for your vinyl, make sure to check out my Vinyl Buyers Guide.
Using Patterned Heat Transfer Vinyl
Here is the tricky part about using patterned iron on vinyl . . . you are going to place it on the cutting mat the opposite of how you just placed the solid color iron on vinyl. With patterned heat transfer vinyl you will place it on the cutting mat with the patterned vinyl facing up at you. You will also NOT mirror your images with the patterned iron on vinyl.
Remember to NOT Mirror Patterned Iron On Vinyl
You will still cut the patterned iron on vinyl with the standard blade on the iron on setting, but this time you do not want to mirror your image. This is because you are cutting through the front of the material. You will be cutting through the part where the design is printed. The piece behind the patterned vinyl is just a backing sheet. It will not be a part of the process of pressing the design.
Once your patterned iron on vinyl is cut, you will weed away the excess pieces that are not a part of the design. If you are ever in doubt of which pieces to weed away, and which to leave alone, look back at your design in Cricut Design Space and follow the outline of the pieces. I find that having a weeding tool and a weeding pen is very helpful.
After you have the patterned iron on vinyl weeded, you will add a masking sheet over the top. This is similar to a the carrier sheet that was on the solid colored iron on vinyl. This masking sheet will allow you to pick up and move the patterned iron on vinyl and place it on your shirt, while ensuring that none of the pieces move. I like to smooth my masking sheet with a craft squeegee to make sure that it is fully adhered to the vinyl. Then you flip the whole thing over and peel the backing off of the vinyl, leaving just the patterned iron on vinyl on the masking sheet. I did a video HERE showing this process.
Also, if you like the patterned iron on vinyl that I used for my Minnie Mouse pajamas, you can purchase it at MyCraftSource.com. This pattern is part of my exclusive line of patterned vinyl! Remember to use code ShawnMosch for 5% off your order at MyCraftSource.com!
Layering Heat Transfer Vinyl
Now that the heat transfer vinyl is all cut and weeded, it is time to apply it to the pajamas. This process is called layering. Think of layering like making a sandwich, and each color in the design is a different ingredient in that sandwich. First you will want to place the layer that covers the largest surface area for your project. This will help you position the image and place the other layers.
For my Minnie Mouse design, the largest piece would be the pink circle piece. If you are not sure about where to place your image on your shirt, there are places that sell shirt alignment tools. When I was getting started making shirts, I just found a shirt that I already owned and measured how far down the design was from the neckline. Anywhere from 2 or 3 inches down from the neckline is pretty typical.
Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the design, and then you are ready to press it. The parchment paper helps to protect everything and reduce the risk of melting. If your project has any seams in it, you can also use a pressing pillow inside the shirt so you do not see the lines of the seam in your iron on vinyl.
I pressed this first layer of heat transfer vinyl onto the shirt using my heat press. Since we will be adding more layers to this design, and we do not want to burn our first layer of iron on vinyl when we are placing the second or third layer make sure to only press it for a short time. I like to go about 5 or 10 seconds and then check to see if the heat transfer vinyl adhered enough that I can remove the clear carrier sheet.
After you remove the clear carrier sheet, I like to let the design cool down before I apply the next layer of heat transfer vinyl. If the shirt is too hot, the second layer of iron on vinyl might start to stick to the shirt before you are ready.
Next I placed the cream colored iron on vinyl for the face of Minnie Mouse, since placing that will help me place the eyes and tongue. I repeated the same process for pressing the first layer. For the third press I was able to place both the white of the eyes and the tongue at the same time, since neither of those pieces overlapped each other.
Lastly, I placed the patterned iron on vinyl bow and the Minnie, since those two pieces would not overlap each other at all on the design. Since these were the last two pieces for this design, I did press them for the full recommended time. Make sure to read the packaging of your iron on vinyl for the correct time and temperature. It does vary between brands.
I even did a smaller version of Minnie Mouse’s bow with the patterned iron on vinyl on the pajama bottoms. As a reminder, if you like this pattern as much as I do, make sure to check out all of my exclusive patterned vinyl at My Craft Source! Make sure to use coupon code ShawnMosch at check out to save 5% off your order!
And now my new Minnie Mouse pajamas are ready for Christmas Eve! For me that means time with my family, probably watching a Christmas movie.
I hope that you enjoyed this post, and that you stop back every day from now until Christmas to see what other Disney Christmas crafts I have planned for you! I am doing 25 Days of Disney Christmas Crafts to inspire you to add more Disney to your life while using your Cricut for crafting. If you want to see the whole line up of crafts you can go HERE.
Also, even though tomorrow is Christmas day, I hope that you will stop by because I do have a special gift for all of you that have been following me and supporting what I do! It is my little Christmas gift to you, but you have to wait until tomorrow to find out what it is!