Making shirts with your Cricut can be easy, once you know the steps. If you are new to making shirts with your Cricut then you are in the right place. This tutorial will help take you through all of the steps, and there will be a video at the end so you can see all of the steps come together.
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Materials Needed for making shirts with your Cricut
- a shirt
- HTV/iron on vinyl
- For this project I am using Siser EasyWeed – Color: Sun
- a heat source (I like to use a Heat Press)
- parchment paper or a light towel
- weeding tool
- Cricut Design Space software
- Cricut cutting mat (I use the green mat)
- cardboard shirt cut out (optional)
First, we need to pick an image that we are going to put on our shirt. You can use one from Cricut Design Space, use a SVG file, or upload your own image. For this project we are going to use an image that my daughter designed in Adobe Illustator. Here are the images that she created, one for the front of the shirt and one for the back.
Since these were created in Adobe Illustrator, my daughter was able to save them with a transparent background. This means that when I upload the image into Cricut Design Space I will only see the yellow parts of the image. Everything that is white will show up in Design Space with a checkerboard pattern, which means it is transparent. It will be like the white area is not even a part of the image. If you were using an image that did include a white background, you could use the Cricut Magic Wand tool to clean up and remove that white background. I have a tutorial about cleaning up an image HERE.
Important – Save as Cutting Image
When you upload an image to Design Space, this screen is really important. You can save your image you have two choices. You can save it as a print then cut file, or you can save it as a cut only file. I created a video HERE that shows the difference between a print then cut project and a cut only project. For this project we want to save it as a cut image, which is the choice on the right.
Size and Color
Once the image is in Design Space, then next step is to make the image the correct size for the shirt. To resize your image, you can click on it and then type in the exact height or width that you want the image to be in the top panel of Design Space. You can also use the double arrow in the lower right corner of the image to resize, but this will not be as exact as entering a height or width.
If you own a shirt already that has an image on it I would recommend using that as a guide. You can measure how big the design is as compared to the shirt and look at it for design placement. Sometimes I have even cut my design from card stock first so that I can hold that up to the shirt and make sure I like the size.
This is also when you can choose the color of the image. Because this is an image that I uploaded, when it came into Design Space it was all gray. Click on the image and in the top panel there is a square that allows you to choose the color you want. The true color will be the color of the material you put on the cutting mat, but this is a nice visual piece to help you see how your project will look.
Flip or Mirror
Once you have your image the size you want it you are going to want to flip or mirror your image before you cut it from the HTV/iron on vinyl. See the images below for where to find the Flip or the Mirror button.
The reason to flip or mirror your image is because you will be cutting on the back side of the vinyl. There is a clear carrier sheet on the front side, which covers the vinyl and makes it easy place your design on the shirt. You do not want to cut through this carrier sheet. I like using the Siser EasyWeed Vinyl and I cut it on the Iron-On settign on my Cricut. If you are using a different brand of HTV/iron on vinyl, I suggest doing a small test cut of a basic shape like a heart or star to make sure that your blade cuts all the way through the vinyl, but not through the clear carrier sheet.
Time to cut the vinyl
Now you are ready to start cutting your vinyl. Place the vinyl on the cutting mat with the shiny carrier sheet side stuck to the mat. There are grid lines on the cutting mat, so make sure to place the vinyl inside of these grid lines. The Cricut will start cutting 1/4” inside of that grid line. This is a buffer that is built into the Cricut system to make sure that nothing cuts too close to the edge of the material.
When you load the mat into the Cricut hold on the the end of the mat. This helps the Cricut to really catch the mat and for it to load all the way in. You will know if the mat is fully loaded if the point of the blade is over the vinyl. Once the mat is loaded, the C button on the Cricut will blink. Press that to start the cutting process. Once the Cricut is done cutting the load/unload button on the Cricut will blink. Press that to unload the mat.
Next up – Weeding
Now it is time to weed the vinyl. Weeding is the process of removing all of the vinyl from the negative space from the image and exposing the sticky side of the carrier sheet. If you cut letters, you would be removing the center of the letter O or the little piece inside of a R. You can either do this process while the vinyl is still on the cutting mat or you can remove the whole piece of vinyl from the mat. I prefer the second method. I use the point of my weeding tool and just peel back and pick off the parts I want to remove.
Tip: If it is hard to see the cut lines, you can put the vinyl on a light pad. The light will shine through the places where the Cricut cut, which will help you more easily determine what areas to weed away.
Time to press
Since every heat source and vinyl will have slightly different recommended times and temperatures for pressing, I recommend that you review the information for the specific products you are using. I have found that I personally get better results when I started using a heat press instead of a standard home iron. When I first got my heat press I did some tests on some fabric I had. This allowed me to experiment with the time, temperature and pressure until I found a setting I liked.
Another tip that helped me is purchasing a cardboard shirt cut out. I can place my shirt on there, then figure out the image placement while the whole project is on my craft table. Place the image on the shirt, with the sticky side of the carrier sheet touching the shirt. Since the cardboard cut out is firm it is much easier to pick that up and move the shirt to the press and not have to worry about the image moving around.
Once you place the shirt inside of the press, place a piece of parchment paper or a light weight tea towel over the image. This protects it so that the heat source is not directly touching the carrier sheet. Some vinyl recommends that you peel the carrier sheet off while the vinyl is still hot, right out of the press. Some will say to let it cool before you peel the carrier sheet off, so read the directions for your vinyl.
Removing the Carrier Sheet
Next is removing the carrier sheet. I like to peel it back slowly so if any of the vinyl looks like it is not sticking I can stop, and then go back to the press and press the shirt a second time. I also like to look at the image after the carrier sheet is removed and see if there are any edges of the vinyl that look like they are not all the way down. If you find any, put the shirt back in the press, place a sheet of parchment paper over the vinyl to protect it since there is no carrier sheet on it, and then press again.
I always recommend that shirts that have vinyl applied to them are washed on gentle, inside out, no fabric softener and air dried. This helps to protect the vinyl. The one time that I did not give someone these care instructions they put the garment in the dryer and the vinyl started to peel off.
I hope that this tutorial cleared up any questions that you had about the steps and process for making shirts with your Cricut. If not please let me know and I can add some more details to this post. I have also included a video of this entire process from start to finish for you. Sometimes it is nice to see all of the steps come together.
I cannot wait to see pictures of the shirts you create by following this making shirts with your Cricut tutorial!
Make sure to check out my shirt tutorials from the links below, including
Making a Shirt with your Cricut
Layering Vinyl on a Shirt
Multi Colored Layered Vinyl on a Shirt
Print than Cut Image on a Shirt
All HTV/iron on vinyl projects
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 order when shopping at Heat Transfer Warehouse.
I have also ordered from Expression Vinyl. Sorry, no code for that one. 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.