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Whether you are tackling HTV for the first time or looking to brush up on your skills, I have a complete step by step guide helping you learn how to layer iron on vinyl or HTV. It took me a years to polish my skills, so I’m gathering all of my knowledge and tips in one place to share with you to help speed up your journey. 

What is HTV and how can you use it?

Heat transfer vinyl or iron on vinyl is vinyl with an adhesive backing that adheres to fabrics when heated. The vinyl comes on a carrier sheet (clear backing).

Manufacturers normally recommend HTV be used on cotton, polyester, cotton poly blends and leather. Unofficially I’ve also used it on notebook covers, wood, canvases, glass, etc. The discovery of the century was when I found out you can use it on paper (only a mild exaggeration). 

My favorite brand of HTV is Siser. It’s easy to cut and weed and has never let me down. They currently have over 16 different types of htv on their website including glitter, glow, holograhpic, metallic, twinkle, etc. 

Shop Siser HTV Here

The Basics of Layering HTV

  • You can layer up to 4 layers of vinyl.
    • If you use more than 4 layers of vinyl, the design tends to feel and look too thick and heavy.
  • You cannot layer on top of certain types of specialty vinyl.
    • You can only use specialty vinyl such as glitter and holographic vinyl as the top layer. If you layer on top of them the HTV won’t adhere well due to the textures of these vinyls. But not all specialty vinyls are not layerable. The manufacturer’s website should tell you if you can layer each type of vinyl. 
  • Use the manufacturer’s website to look up recommended application of their HTV.  The key pieces to know are:
    • Application temperature (how how to make your press)
    • Amount of time to heat the vinyl
    • Peel temperature (hot, warm, cold) – this is the temperature that the vinyl should be before you remove the carrier sheet.

Video Tutorial

If you prefer visual instructions, watch the video, otherwise keep reading!

Sizing Your Image in Cricut

You will want to make sure you size your design to the correct size before you send it to be cut. What is the perfect size? I never stick to guidelines. I size to what I think looks best for that particular design and garment. I usually lay out my garment, take out a ruler and roughly estimate the size I want it to be. But guidelines can be nice to give you a starting place when you are new. I’ve created this cheat sheet for you to use.

HTV Sizing and Placement Cheat Sheet

Cutting the HTV in Cricut

If you are using a Cricut Design Space image, make sure it’s an image that is set to Basic Cut. If you are pulling in a file from outside Design Space, make sure you are grabbing the SVG file. That cuts in layers.

As you might’ve noticed, HTV isn’t cheap. So there are three key things you must do to ensure your HTV cuts out correctly and vinyl isn’t wasted. 


Mirror your image.

You must mirror your mat


Once you select Make It, the prepare page with all your mats on it appears.

Under each mat you have to toggle the mirror button on.  The mirror button flips your image.

You have to mirror because you cut your image on the backside of your HTV.

I go through and mirror all of my mats before I start cutting any of them, so I don’t forget.






Change your Cricut setting to the appropriate Iron On setting.

    •  Cricut Air Explore – Turn your dial to Iron-On. If you are using specialty Iron-On, turn your dial to Custom  scroll down to the Iron-On section and find your matching vinyl type.
    • Cricut Maker – Browse materials and scroll down to the Iron-On section. Find your matching iron-on vinyl type.

Place your HTV shiny side down on the mat.

    • The carrier sheet is the shiny side. You want to cut into your HTV and not the carrier sheet.
    • I have had HTV where it’s hard to tell which side is the shiny side. If this happens, you can pull a little piece of the vinyl back and then you will easily see which side is clear plastic and which is vinyl. 

Place your HTV shiny side down on the mat.This is just for illustration purposes. Don’t pull it back this much.  But you get the picture. 

It is recommended to use the standard grip mat (green) for cutting vinyl. If your specialty vinyl is peeling up, use painters tape to keep it down. 

Weeding the HTV

Now that your HTV has been cut you need to weed out or remove the unwanted vinyl from your design. 

Weeding the HTV


  • Place the carrier sheet (shiny side) down. 
  • Remove the vinyl that isn’t part of your design using your weeding tools.
  • Double check those small pieces that need to be weeded out. It’s awful once you have ironed the design on and you realize you missed the small little piece inside the “o”. It throws your whole design off. Ask me how I know. Lol!

Favorite weeding tools:

Weeding Suction Cup

Cricut Weeding Tool


Which Iron / Press Should I Use?

You have three main options for heating the vinyl and activating that adhesive to make it stick.

Personally, I prefer the Cricut Easy Press over the household Iron. I have never used a heat press because I don’t have room for one, and I don’t make large quantities of items. For beginners, I would recommend the iron or Easy Press. Once you find out it’s something you love or want to start/expand a business then I would invest in a heat press at that point. 

Depending on which item you are using, the application instructions will differ slightly. Remember at the beginning when I said check the manufacturer’s website? Well, Siser provides application instructions based on which iron and material you are using. 

Example of Applications Instructions for Siser Easyweed HTV (regular HTV)

Home Iron

  • Set Iron Dial between cotton and linen
  • Cover design with non-stick cover sheet
  • Place on flat, hard surface (ironing board not recommended)
  • Press iron with medium/firm pressure for 10-15 seconds
  • If area lifts after application, cover and press for 5-10 seconds
  • Peel carrier sheet hot or cold

Cricut EasyPress

  • Cut in reverse and weed excess material
  • Pre-heat garment for 2-3 seconds
  • Apply design at 335 degrees F
  • Use medium pressure for 10-15 seconds
  • Peel carrier sheet hot or cold                                       

Heat Press

  • Cut in reverse and weed excess material
  • Pre-heat garment for 2-3 seconds
  • Apply design at 305 degrees F
  • Use medium pressure for 10-15 seconds
  • Peel carrier sheet hot or cold

Remember this is not a one size fits all. Reference the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions for your exact type of vinyl for best results with your press. 

Prepping Your Garment

To Pre-Wash or Not to Pre-Wash?

There is no right answer to this question.  But many people are in the not to pre-wash camp because they sell their garments after making them.  If you send the customer a garment that has already been washed, it has a used feel to it. Just make sure your garment is clean by going over it with a lint roller if needed and you will be fine.

Centering Your Design

Fold your garment in half and press it to create a crease.

Centering Your Design

Gently fold your bottom layer of vinyl. Do not crease.

Centering Your Design

Line the crease and fold up and you are centered!

Pre-Press Your Garment

Pre-press your garment where your design will go at the recommended temperature for about 5 seconds. This gives you a nice smooth surface to work with and gets the moisture out.

Layering the HTV

We have our HTV expertly cut out and weeded. Our garment is pre-pressed, our iron is set to the right temperature, we know how long to press and when to peel. We are ready to go, right? Not yet!!! Step away from that iron. This next step is a very important one. It’s how we apply the layers and is called short presses. 

Short Presses – The Key to Perfection!

Short presses are where you quickly tack each layer on and then giving a full press at the end.  What issues do short presses help prevent?

  • Prevents layers of HTV from shrinking and not lining up correctly.  (This was a huge issue for me.)
  • Prevents carrier sheet lines being pressed into the exposed vinyl below.  
  • Prevents bottom layers from overbaking. If you think about it, if you are only supposed to press HTV for 10-15 seconds and you have 4 layers, that bottom layer will end up being pressed for a minute. Why is that a problem? Overbaking vinyl can lead to the adhesive either leaking out from under the vinyl or not being as effective and having the vinyl come apart in the wash just like if you don’t press long enough.

A Few More Pressing Tips

  • The carrier sheet goes face up when pressing the garment. The vinyl should always touch the garment.
  • Always use a protective sheet. Use either a piece of parchment paper (the same kind used in the kitchen for baking) or a teflon sheet. This is important because it protects any vinyl that no longer has its carrier sheet on it from sticking to the iron. It also helps protect heat sensitive garments. These sheets go in between your vinyl design and iron / press. 
  • When layering different types of vinyl, always use the lowest of all recommended temperatures.
    • For example if we are layering regular vinyl (335 degrees F) and glitter vinyl (350 degrees F), we would layer all layers at 335 degrees F.

Let’s Layer HTV Together

So now we have all of our information. Let’s walk through an example pressing our vinyl step by step together. I have three layers I want to press.  Don’t forget your protective sheet. Here is a link to the popsicles SVG in case you want to make the same design.

  • Bottom Layer = Pink Siser Easyweed HTV 
  • Middle Layer = Blue Siser Easyweed HTV 
  • Top Layer = White Siser Glitter HTV 

Step 1: Pink bottom layer. 3 second tack at 335 degrees with a hot or cold peel.

Step 2: Blue middle layer. 3 second tack at 335 degrees with a hot or cold peel.

Step 3: Top glitter layer. 3-5 second tack at 335 degrees with a warm peel.  Remember, we go with the lowest temperature when we are layering different types of HTV. So, why 3-5 seconds instead of 3? Because I personally find it takes a second or two longer for the glitter to tack at the lower temperature. It’s not an exact science, but if you stay in the ballpark you will be fine.

Note: Always slowly peel the carrier sheet back. If the vinyl isn’t sticking to the garment, put the carrier sheet back down and press just a second or two longer.

Step 4: Final press. All layers together. No carrier sheets. Use a protective sheet. Use medium pressure and press 10-15 seconds at 335 degrees F. 

Step 5: Just when you thought we were finished… I like to turn the garment inside out. Place the teflon or parchment paper inside the shirt against the vinyl. Press again for 10-15 seconds on what is now the back of the design. And we are done! Congratulations you made it!

Garment Care

Wait 24 hours to launder the garment. Wash inside out (if you can remember). I never do and I haven’t lost a shirt yet. If you want to be extra cautious, you can air dry the garment. But of course, if I cannot remember to turn mine inside out, I’m definitely not going to be line drying them. I always throw them in the dryer and they are just fine. 

And that is it. Take your new knowledge and go create something amazing!


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