Making a shirt with a custom design on it can be a fun crafting project. Let me show you step by step how to do with with Siser heat transfer vinyl and the StarCraft Solo machine. And really, we are not making a shirt from scratch. We will be using the StarCraft Solo machine to cut Sister heat transfer vinyl and then apply that to the shirt to decorate it.
By the way, this post contains Affiliate Links to companies I have partnered with, such as Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for shopping with my links!
I have shown you the process of t shirt making in the past, but then I was using my Cricut machine and Cricut Design Space for the process. With this design we will be focusing on how to complete these steps in the StarCraft CREATE software and cut it with the Solo machine.
Supplies for Making a Shirt
- Blank shirt – It does not matter what type of shirt you purchase. Just make sure it says that it can be ironed/withstand heat. You do not have to worry about how much cotton or polyester it contains. Any rules you have heard about having shirts with a high polyester count ONLY apply to sublimation projects, so do not worry about that for this project. Honestly I have people just pick out plain shirts they like and make sure it is not out of a fabric that will melt under heat.
- Heat Source – I like to use my Planet Flame Heat Press
- Parchment Paper
- Retro Runner SVG File
- StarCraft Solo machine
- Siser Heat Transfer Vinyl – I will list the colors I used from top to bottom below
- Texas Orange
- Pastel Yellow
- Bright Teal
- Beach Blue
Info on Siser Heat Transfer 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!
Heat Transfer Warehouse is another great source for your vinyl needs. I also have a coupon code you an use there! Use code SHAWN5 to get 5% off your first order when shopping at Heat Transfer Warehouse.
Another retailer that I work with is Vinyl and Tulle. Use coupon code SHAWNMOSCH to save 10% off your order!
I have also ordered from Expression Vinyl. Sorry, no code for that one, but if they are having a sale or are the only place that you can find that has the item you want, at least you know they are a trusted retailer. 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.
StarCraft Solo Blade Exposure
If you are new to using a machine like the StarCraft Solo that allows you to have more control over your blade, I highly recommend downloading and using the Blade Exposure Guide from Sandy McCauley that you can download HERE.
When using the Solo to cut vinyl you only need a very tiny part of the blade to be exposed from the blade housing. This is why I would recommend starting off with a vinyl project like this t shirt making project!
Honestly this was a bit of a process to me, since I am not used to having that much control or ability to manually adjust the blade exposure. I did a lot of playing around and testing on this one until I felt like I got it perfect.
Use SVG files with the StarCraft Solo
One feature of using the StarCraft Solo and the CREATE software that I love is how easy it is for me to organize my SVG files within the software. I use SVG files for a lot of my projects, and I even have a list of places where you can get free SVG files HERE.
Instead of just uploading each SVG file into the CREATE software one at a time, you can actually organize them and drag them into sub folders under the CREATE library. Let me show you how.
On your computer locate where all of the folders related to your StarCraft CREATE software are located. The image below shows you mine.
There is a folder called My Designs. This is where you can organize all of your SVG files! For me, I created subfolders by theme or topic, since normally when I am working on a project I am focused on a certain theme or topic.
Since this project uses an image of a runner, under the Sports subfolder I created another folder called Running, and I placed the SVG into that folder. The image below shows the runner svg in the subfolder location on my computer.
If you would like to purchase this same SVG file you can find it by clicking HERE.
Are you ready to see how this shows up in the CREATE software?
Now I can click on the Library button on the top of the screen, which I have indicated with a large blue arrow in the image above. This will open up the full CREATE library of images for me to choose from. All of these images and designs are free for me to use.
But the part I really wanted to show you was the section called My Designs. If I click on that little plus sign in front of the words My Designs it will expand that folder.
Once the My Designs folder is expanded, you can see all of my sub folders that I created! Inside of each of those are my SVG files. So now I no longer need to worry that I cannot find the SVG file I wanted to use. I can organize them into common themes to make them easier to find.
Another bonus is that to the right there are small previews of the designs. In the image below I am showing you how when I went down to my Sports subfolder, I could then see my Running folder and there is the runner svg that I will be using in this project!
If you purchase a large SVG bundle and they will all be going into the same subfolder you can even drag and drop them all in there at once. This is a real time saver!
Cut By Color
This shirt design has seven different colors in it. Please do not let designs with multiple colors frighten you! First, when you use a high quality SVG like I did, then the colors will already be broken into separate layers for you. The designer of the SVG has already done the hard work for you!
After you have inserted the SVG, made it the size you want it to cut and verified that you mirrored your image since you are cutting this from heat transfer vinyl you can click the large CREATE button in the upper right corner of the screen. This will open up the Cut Settings window, which I am showing in the image below.
You will notice right at the top it says Cut Settings. Under that there are two tabs that say General and Cut By Color. Let’s take a look at both of those, starting with the one marked General.
I have already set up a custom setting for Siser EasyWeed. Please take the time to play around with some scrap pieces of each product you like to use. Find the blade exposure, force and speed that work best for you by doing some test cuts before you start making actual projects. This was probably my biggest mistake when I transitioned to using the Solo. I was trying to get tutorials out there for people too quickly and I did not take the time needed to really understand this part of my Solo machine.
Now we will click on the tab that says Cut By Color, which I am showing in the image below. This tab shows each color broken down with a small preview. You can see to the left of each color there is an image that looks like a little blade. You can click on that blade icon to turn it on or off and essentially hide the different colored layers.
I will often use the Check/Uncheck All box, which I have also circled in the image above, to quickly uncheck all of the colors and then I will go back in and just turn on the one color I want to cut with my Solo. Once you have the color selected that you want to cut and have the cutting mat with that color loaded properly into the Solo you can click the CREATE button that I have indicated with a large blue arrow in the image above.
IMPORTANT! The Solo will start to cut as soon as you click that CREATE button in the Cut Settings screen so make sure you already have your cutting mat set up and positioned correctly.
Making a Shirt Video
If you want to see this full process come together you can check out the video below, or on my YouTube channel.