How to make custom shirts with Cricut and iron-on vinyl
I’ve got a new craft machine! It’s exciting because you can create sooo many beautiful things with it.
One of my favorites is to design and make my own shirts, and the Cricut Maker is the perfect tool for that.
If you ever wondered how they make those cute custom designs on shirts, this post is for you.
I created this tutorial for beginners like myself, which means it is super easy and will be using only 1 layer of iron-on or HTV vinyl.
What do you need to make vinyl shirts?
Here is the supply list I used to make my shirt.
What Cricut vinyl to use on shirts
What type of T-shirts is the best for this project?
Try to use 100% cotton or 100% polyester shirt for iron-on projects. A 50/50 blend will work fine too.
How to make a shirt with Cricut step by step instructions.
Let’s walk through the instructions. If you prefer to see the video I attached it here.
Some of us like to visualize then read the instructions. I hope this little video will help you too!
1. Setting up to cut in Cricut Design Space
If you are new to Cricut, you might wonder how to set up your design to cut.
Cricut has its own software called Cricut Design Space. That is where the magic happens before you cut or print out your new creations.
Download the app and open Cricut Design Space. If you need help with setting it up, you might want to check out this tutorial.
After saving your file on your computer, open up Cricut Design Space.
- Click on New Project.
- Click on Upload an image.
- Click on Browse and look for the sunshine SVG file you downloaded from my library or any SVG file you saved on your computer for this project.
- Click on Save.
Your SVG file is uploaded in the Design Space, and you are ready to resize it and make some adjustments if needed.
This new image will appear under “Recently uploaded images.”
- Click on the uploaded sunshine image and click on insert images. You’ll find it in the lower right corner. (This will bring you to a new window with the mat and your design).
Now that you are in the Canvas area, you can resize the design or make any adjustments you want.
Since I wanted to make this tutorial as easy as possible, my sunshine design has only 1 layer, and the whole design is already attached. You only need to resize it to fit on your T-shirt.
- Click and drag the design to the left upper corner of the canvas.
- Adjust the width and height in the edit panel area. (upper portion on the screen)
If you chose a design with more than one layer, you want to attach them. This will keep the design in the same order as you see it right now on the canvas.
- Select all and click on Attach on the bottom right corner of the screen.
Extra tip: Use a template to see how your design will look like on a shirt.
- Click on Templates and browse the style of the shirt.
- Click on it, and it will insert the template on your Canvas.
- Resize your design for the desired look.
Other than the template you can choose the perfect decal size for your project by checking out my helpful article.
We are almost ready to cut our design.
- Click on make it in the upper right corner. It will bring you to the cut canvas screen.
- Turn on the mirror image. This is important when you work with iron-on vinyl because you’ll cut the iron-on or HTV material upside down.
2. Cutting instructions for HTV on Cricut
Your Cricut Design Space is still open, and the design is ready to be cut.
- Make sure you turned on the “mirror image” button.
- Choose Iron-on material. If it’s not in your favorites yet, click on Browse all materials and choose Everyday iron-on or glitter or foil, depends on which type of vinyl you chose for this project.
- Make sure that the fine point blade is installed in your Cricut.
3. How to cut vinyl on Cricut for shirts
Let’s prepare our vinyl to cut.
- Place the iron-on vinyl or HTV on the mat. Remember you will print upside down?
Make sure that the shiny side, which is the carrier sheet, faces down on the mat. The carrier sheet is transparent, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which side is which.
Follow the shine! That is your carrier sheet, and you won’t need it later.
- Use the roller to smooth out the vinyl on the mat. This will avoid bubbles between the vinyl and the mat.
- Load your mat into the Cricut. The arrow on your machine will blink. That’s when you tap on it.
- Press the make it button.
- Cricut Design Space will tell you when it finished the project.
4. Peel off the vinyl from the mat
To avoid your vinyl to curl up, keep the mat on the top and slowly peel it away from the iron-on or HTV.
5. Weeding your design
We made it this far. This is where your design will come to life.
Weeding is the process where you remove all “negative” pieces we don’t want to transfer to our shirt.
- The easy way to do this is to peel the vinyl away from one corner and the edge first.
- Once you removed the edges and the bigger pieces, you might need some weeding tools to remove the little more stubborn bits.
- Open your image on the computer and use it as a guide to make sure you remove the pieces you really don’t want.
6. How to transfer vinyl to the shirt
So I decided to buy a Cricut Easy Press because a home iron doesn’t get hot enough, and they heat unevenly. The Heat Presses are too big for me, and I need a little portable machine.
I used an iron before, and the vinyl stuck to the material. However, the design didn’t less too long. After a few washes, it was gone.
So if you can get an Easy Press or any heat press of your choice:
- Determine the time and temperature that you need. If you use Cricut vinyl and Easy Press, you can follow this guide. It will tell you how long and what temperature to use for your project.
- Set your Easy Press for the correct temperature and let it warm up.
- Place the heat press mat under the shirt to protect your work surface.
- Once the Easy Press is at its temperature, press it on the shirt for 3-5 seconds. This will remove moisture and wrinkles.
- Place the design on the shirt.
- Place the protective sheet on the vinyl.
- Press the Easy Press on the design for the indicated time. Mine is 15 seconds.
8. Peel off the sheet
The vinyl you bought should tell you if it’s a warm or cold peel.
Mine indicated that I could peel off the carrier sheet once it cools off. So I waited…
- Follow the instructions on your vinyl.
- Once you are ready to peel off the carrier sheet, start with one corner and remove it gently.
How to make a shirt with Cricut Q/A
Q: Do I have to purchase a heat press machine or an Easy press?
- You can use your household iron if you want. Make sure you set it to the highest temperature possible.
- However, keep in mind that an Easy Press or Heat Press will provide even heat, and it warms up to higher temperatures, which is ideal for working with iron-on vinyl.
Q: Can I use parchment paper to protect my vinyl while heating?
- Yes!. My iron-on pack came with a protective sheet, but parchment paper works perfectly.
Q: Can I use a towel instead of the heat pad?
- Yes. A towel will work fine to protect your table or work surface. I have the pad because it came with my Easy Press, but there is no need to purchase one.
Q: How I position my design on the shirt?
An easy trick is to fold the shirt in half and then fold it again at the armpit line. This way, you got the center. The top of the design should be 2-4 inch down from the collar. The vertical line helps to keep the design centered and doesn’t end up on the sides.
Use the template in the Cricut Design Spaces as your guide when you are ready to transfer your design to the shirt.
Q: How big should my design be?
This is probably a little hard to answer. I will write a guide on the subject. I ended up with an 11 inch wide sunshine on my Medium size shirt and used this article to help me.
Q: Why is the vinyl pulling away from the material when I try to peel the carrier sheet?
This happened to me because I couldn’t wait until the vinyl cools off completely. So I suggest making sure you are following the instructions on the iron-on vinyl. Some will tell you to peel the carrier sheet while it is still warm; some say you have to wait until it is cold.
Another reason is that it wasn’t hot enough. Heat the design a little longer.
Q: How to take care of my new iron-on shirt?
To ensure your new design’s long life, allow 24 hours after applying your vinyl before washing. Once you are ready to wash it, make sure to turn your shirt inside out before washing. Avoid bleach at all costs.
How to make a shirt with Cricut experience
This was fun! Making a shirt with Cricut was one of my long time dreams.
There are so many Free SVG files you can use, or if you are creative, you can design your own unique iron-on shirt.
I think it is important to use quality products to succeed and give a long life to your custom made shirt.
- Choose cotton or cotton-blend shirt.
- Choose a good quality iron-on vinyl.
- Use a good source of heat. Easy Press or Heat Press instead of iron.
Follow the steps and you’ll be done in no time:
- Choose the right decal size for your shirt.
- Upload Design to Cricut Design Space
- Resize, and “Make it” with “Mirror ON”!
- Load the mat with iron-on vinyl and fine point blade
- Remove cut design from the mat and weed.
- Transfer the design to the shirt and peel.
- Wait 24 hours before washing.
I hope you got inspired and you got all the information you need on how to make a shirt with Cricut!
Are you ready to use your Cricut for other projects?
Here are some other ideas:
- Choose the perfect decals size for your shirts.
- Make festive banners for any important dates.
- Organize your kitchen and closet with labels
Don’t forget to PIN it and come back for the step-by-step instructions.
I know I answered a couple of questions but leave yours in the comments, and I will update this article. Happy crafting!