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.
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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. People have asked me why not Cricut brand, since I use a Cricut machine. Personally I just do not like the way the Cricut vinyl cuts or weeds. I think you should find the brand you love and work with that product. Test things out for yourself. Sometimes it is just a personal preference like how some people would rather have Pepsi products over Coke products.
So once you find your brand of vinyl, where should you buy it? If your favorite brand is sold at the local craft store, then you are lucky in the fact that you can pretty much garantee that you can run to the store and pick up vinyl when ever you need it.
For me, Siser was not always sold in the stores, as it is now, so I had to get it from online retailers. Again, this is where you can either go with your personal preference of stores or go where the best deal is. One day the best price might be at one store, and then the next week it might be from a different retailer. We all do this when we sometimes pick up toliet paper at the grocery store, but then we also get it at Target when it is on sale.
I also love that I can order large rolls or small sheets when ordering Siser online. 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. Because of that, I will always share all of the different resource I am connected to and you can choose which one is best for you!
When I first started this site, I had not even heard of MyCraftSource, and now I am an influencer for them! Since all of their inflencers have a special coupon code, that means when you shop at My Craft Source you can get an extra 5% off your order just by using coupon code ShawnMosch at checkout!
Heat Transfer Warehouse is another supplier that I love, and they are actually somewhat close to me. Their headquarters are in North Dakota and I am in Minnesota. They even have their own line of vinyl, and they are partnering with other companies to really bring you a wide variety of products.
You may have noticed that there are a lot of retailers that only ship to places in the United States. This is because shipping prices can really add up. I want to be able to help my followers find their products no matter where they live and that is why I was happy to find some retailers that ship world wide! That is where the next two compnaies come in as options.
Let me introduce you to Expressions Vinyl. When you go to their site, make sure to check out the rewards program. This way you can earn points as you purchase products! Then those points can be redeemed on future purchases.
Another retailer that I work with is Vinyl and Tulle. Use coupon code SHAWNMOSCH to save 10% off your order!
I cannot forget my Canadian followers! Madame Blanks is located in Winnipeg Use coupon code SHAWN10 to save 10% off your order of StarCraft products! If you click on the link and it does not work, just know that the owners are taking a little break but hope to have everything back up and running soon! In the meantime, you could follow them on social media!
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.