DIY Gifts in the DMC - Heat Transfer Vinyl Tshirts

Photo of the finished tshirts.

Need a DIY gift idea? Make a unique tshirt with heat transfer vinyl and the Silhouette Cameo cutter. Please note that the Cameo is only available when the Digital Media Center is staffed. Please check the calendar for staffed hours to plan your visit.



    Photo of the design with the pre-cut heat transfer vinyl.
  1. Create your design in black and white. If just text, you can make it in Word and save it as a jpg or png. I drew mine in Illustrator (ask about our Wacom tablets!) and exported it as a png.
  2. Screenshot of the design being mirrored in the Silhouette Studio software.
  3. Use the Cameo cutter to cut your design into the vinyl. IMPORTANT! Make sure your vinyl is shiny side down on the cutting mat. You want the Cameo to cut through the vinyl, not the clear plastic cover on top of the vinyl. All designs will need to be reversed.
  4. Photo of the corner of the vinyl being peeled away.
  5. Once the design has been cut, you will need to peel away any vinyl that is not part of the finished design from the clear plastic cover sheet. This is known as "weeding" the vinyl. Be careful because the vinyl can stretch and tear if you weed too roughly.
  6. Photo of the vinyl pick.
  7. A vinyl hook is absolutely necessary to remove small detail pieces without damaging the surrounding vinyl.
  8. Photo of the vinyl design after weeding is completed.
  9. Keep weeding until only your design is left on the clear plastic. This is the hardest part of this craft; my octopus design took me 45 minutes to weed due to the many small outlines I needed to remove.
  10. Photo of the tshirt laying flat on the ironing board.
  11. Arrange your tshirt over your ironing board so the design can fit on the flat surface. DO NOT stretch the shirt! Just smooth out the wrinkles. Preheat your iron to the highest cotton setting.
  12. Photo of the fabric being preheated.
  13. Heat the fabric by pressing the iron onto the surface. Do not glide the iron as you risk stretching the shirt.
  14. Photo of the design being placed on the tshirt
  15. Lay your vinyl down on the shirt with the clear plastic sheet on top.
  16. Photo of the design being ironed.
  17. Place a sheet of parchment paper (found in the baking section of the grocery store) over the plastic, and press down with your iron (don't glide!). The amount of time you press down is dependent on the brand of heat transfer vinyl you purchase. Mine said to press for 3 seconds before moving to another spot.
  18. Photo of the clear plastic layer being removed.
  19. When you have covered the whole design, let it cool for a few seconds, and then peel off the clear plastic layer. Do this slowly to avoid peeling off the vinyl too. If your vinyl is not sticking to the tshirt, replace the parchment paper and repeat the pressing process.
  20. Photo of the second ironing of the design.
  21. Once you have removed the plastic layer, replace the parchment paper and repeat the pressing process. Again, do not glide.
  22. Photo of the design cooling on the ironing board.
  23. Let the design cool before you remove the tshirt from the ironing board.