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Listen, heat transfer vinyl mistakes happen all the time… they happen to beginners, enthusiasts, and experts alike. No one’s perfect, we’re all human. And usually, the more we do, the more mistakes pile up.
We just have to accept the fact that mistakes happen from time to time. And it’s okay.
All we can do, really, is… acknowledge the fact we’ve made a mistake and treat the mistakes as a LESSON.
Take the time to understand why it happened and how you can course-correct so they never happen again… or at least… less frequently.
So, to help you with all of this, I’ve put together a list of common mistakes people new to HTV (heat transfer vinyl) normally run into.
By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll know what NOT to do and who knows…maybe it’ll save you from a headache in the future.
Heat presses are highly complicated machines. Like many other types of equipment, in order for it to work properly you need to fine tune it first.
In this case, this means you’ll have to change the settings. This will vary depending on what kind of customization you are doing.
These settings may include time, temperature, and pressure — all of which work together to give you the best possible results.
But, it’s important to note: the settings for your printer may be different, so it’s recommended you read a user manual first before you go ahead and start working with it.
Here are some rough guidelines you can follow:
#1 Pressure – It’s important to put the right amount of pressure on your garment. You need to aim for that “sweet spot” in the middle where the right amount of pressure results in an adhered vinyl.
Too little and heat transfer vinyl won’t stick, too much pressure and it will result in an over-application.
So, what are the ideal pressure settings?
Companies that sell heat transfer vinyl may provide heat press settings that include the amount of pressure needed for different substrates.
So, there’s no guessing. You can simply look it up and use it as a reference.
And then, of course, the type of garment you’re using comes into the factor of how much pressure you should apply. So, you need to keep an eye out for that as well.
#2 Temperature – Another variable to look out for when decorating apparel is temperature. You’ll want to heat up your machine to the right temperature to make sure you don’t damage and waste the materials.
What’s great about HTV is… it adheres to garments at low temperatures. Keep in mind, you’ll probably end up following those instructions provided by the HTV manufacturer.
But, there’s something else you may want to know… And that is the pressing time.
There are lots of brands that provide heat transfer material. The list is endless. Brands compete on price, volume, quality, and many other important factors.
When you go shopping, you’ll want to buy good quality vinyl. One that’s long-lasting and doesn’t peel off or crack after you wash the garment.
Plus, you want to buy vinyl that’s specialized for the job you’re doing. Not all heat transfers are suited for all materials.
If you use the wrong combination, you may end up with damaged or wasted materials.
To avoid this, we recommend purchasing HTV directly from our supply and division site, colmanandcompany.com.
For one, we’ve tested hundreds of different vinyl. We know from testing that vinyl listed on our online store is of high quality and produces reliable results over and over again.
They’re commercial grade, meaning you can use them on shirts, mousepads, tote bags, aprons, leather, and more.
If you’ve been doing this long enough, you know heat transfer vinyl can be layered on top of each other to create beautiful, multi-color designs… but sometimes… this leads to mess ups.
What can happen is, you can accidentally layer together the wrong HTV material. For example, it’s NOT recommended to layer on top of glitter, holographic, or metallic heat transfer vinyl.
The result can be VERY inconsistent. And the likelihood of the design peeling off is WAY TOO HIGH. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when” will it peel off.
While you can technically still accomplish it, it’s not worth the hassle. You may end up wasting material… which sadly eats up your profits. So, this is something you want to avoid.
If you run into other kinds of problems, such as uneven prints, you’re most likely printing over a garment that has buttons, zippers, pockets, or bulky seams.
These are NOT the easiest areas to put heat transfer vinyl on. Because of the uneven height and texture, they make it challenging to apply an even amount of heat and pressure. And it introduces all kinds of problems like crooked transfers, transfers not adhering, the list goes on…
So, instead of placing your design over those awkward areas, try looking for a smooth area. When you have found one, place your design on and send it under the heat press.
But if your project demands that you print over those tricky areas, with extra caution, you may be able to pull it off.
To try and prevent any mishaps when working with items like this, you can use a teflon pillow and place it in between the garment.
Just slide it under the fabric, next to the buttons for instance. This will raise the print area over the buttons so that the platen of your heat press just hits the pad and transfers.
It’s not a magic formula, but it at least raises the print area without affecting the zipper, button, or seam.
In general, I wish you never make ANY of the mistakes talked about in this article…. and… experience the full consequences of those unwanted accidents.
But, if any of those common mistakes DO happen, know you’re not the only one.
If anything, it can serve you as a lesson. So, next time you work on a heat transfer vinyl project, you won’t make the same mistakes.
Remember, practice makes perfect!
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like
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