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HTV Application with an Iron

A Work in Progress: HTV Application with an Iron


Super Friend! I was knocking in front of the door of your artistic mind a couple of times and seem you didn’t see me coming… Wait up… What’s in the look? Staring blankly in your working table? Is that a sign of full concentration? Are your thoughts roving for another super out-of-this-world idea or you’re having difficulty in pulling up your creative side? Alright... Still, you didn’t notice me... I’ll go get closer to you with my super silent tip-toed walk and I’ll awaken your floating mind by startling you… Boooooooom! 


ALAS! Finally, I get your attention. I could clearly understand what you’re feeling right now. You’re thinking about beginning a project using HTV yet you don’t have a heat press? Broken hot tools or no heat press at all?... Pick up those pieces of your broken heart for we will not fail to mend that woe of yours. Here it is! A craft session’s ace card--- IRON FOR HTV Pull yourself up now, let’s both witness how an Iron could be a great game-changer when it comes to your design and HTV application. 


Can you use an Iron for HTV?


It may sound like; heat press is the only known way where your successful HTV venture roots. But what if you’re just only starting? Would it mean that if you don’t have a heat press you can’t make it possible?  


You heard it loud and crisp; you can grab any Iron available at the comfort of your own home for the HTV application. As we test the water, remember, a great craft project always starts in a small crafty step. Meaning, an Iron is a helpful tool for beginning crafters and could also function similar to heat press. Now, let’s see what it can do for you and for your project. 


  1. Iron is very handy which almost all of us have at home. It’s easy to use and it’s compact. 
  2. It’s both practical and affordable often to beginning crafters for their heat transfer vinyl projects.
  3. Most iron (even the household iron) heats up quickly and can reach up to a temperature of 400°F that is hot enough for most HTV. Requirement accomplished!



Your tool and method are just one of your tickets for project accomplishments. If you want to make the impossible happen, your promising compassion and perseverance will fire up your powerful conviction. For a hobbyist like you turn into a driven DIY crafter another secret for a successful project is to know your material, learn the process and create future results by heart. Come…Let’s learn more together by heart! 






What is Iron On Vinyl?


           I know you’re a lot excited to hear about the process of HTV application using an Iron. This time, let’s build a seed of trust in your main material because later it’ll play a major role in the whole process of adhering design in your medium.


           Mostly, crafters who are just beginning or who love to do an experiment on their decal always wonder about the mystery of HTV. This type of vinyl comes in different varieties so sometimes people get confused even with the terms related to it. 


            HTV is easily connected with other types of vinyl that’s why sometimes we mistakenly thought that it may equally similar to others. Don’t get tangled. Usually, HTV is associated with a vinyl called “Iron-on Paper” so we wrongly consider that both are alike. The difference is just a matter of word in its term ---- “Iron-on Vinyl” (HTV) and “Iron-on Paper”


To clarify, HTV is a vinyl that comes with a plastic carrier sheet that requires heat and pressure to adhere and transfer the design to different mediums (ex. fabric, wood, mug, and so on) by means of iron, heat press, or easy press. It’s more durable and lasts longer. With that, HTV is equally known to be an “Iron-on vinyl”. While Iron on Paper is “a special paper” that can be used to transfer a design on fabrics using both heat and pressure. Oppositely, it cannot withstand wear and tear. As a conclusion, the only similarity between these materials is the way it adheres on the medium and their difference is just operational one. 


           Mystery unlocked! Surely, all is well now so you don’t have any reservation to step in the next element of our today’s session.


Learn It by Heart: General Steps in Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl with an Iron 


           As we go on to the process of HTV application using an Iron, this section talks about how HTV may be applied generally to a different medium. Standard steps are provided to keep your mind focus on your tasks and on the medium you are working with. 



Some HTV has a variety of settings in accordance with their heat-absorbing capacity and where it’ll adhere. Normally, A standard HTV is employed with a “linen setting” in a hand iron which is equivalent to 445 °F. (Or “cotton setting” which is equivalent to 400 °F). For best Iron pressing, find and use an Iron with the evenest base, heftiest, and WITHOUT steam feature. If in case your available iron has holes on the bottom, move evenly as your press to assure each part or your design receives an equal amount of heat and pressure. 



Step 1: Workspace Ready for pressing HTV with an Iron

  • Always check if your work area is free from clutter and if it’s well ready for craft production. Avoid any unnecessary materials that will unexpectedly touch or draw near your iron and to your medium. Use a flat heat-resistant surface instead of using an iron board which isn’t suggested for pressing HTV. 


Step 2: Preparing and Scaling Your Design

  • Create your design using machine software. 
  • Measure your design proportional to the size of your medium’s surface. 


Step 3: Flip Your Design

  • Mirroring gives the assurance of your design is in the right position upon application in the final surface and even when you start to cut and weed. 


Step 4: Cutting Your Design

  • When cutting, you either cut it by hand or by using a cutting machine to make it easy and quick. Cut the backside (heat-sensitive adhesive side) of the HTV while the clear plastic sheet (the other side) will keep your design in place until it’s applied to your surface.


Step 5: Weeding Your Design

  • Remove any extra HTV all over your design to prevent transferring unnecessary things to your final product.


Step 6: Priming and Pre-press

  • In any type of HTV application, preheating helps discharge moisture on the surface of your medium (esp. for soft surfaces) and for your iron, it helps your tool to pre-level the temperature gradually according to your need upon the start of the application.


Note: If you stick your HTV on a soft surface, priming removes any wrinkles in your fabric that might cause negative adhesion. Pre-heating until your medium is free from any creases makes your application smooth on a dry surface.


  • After, apply pre-press for about 5 seconds to 10 seconds to avoid unwanted sticking of your decal. With pre-press, it gives you the go signal for you to start the total adhesion process of your decal going to your medium.


Step 7: Iron 

  • Once your design is prepared, transfer it to the desired position on the surface of your medium. Apply the heat and pressure according to the need of your material for its adhesive activation. Using an iron with less or no steam holes will give even heat and for heat protection use parchment paper. Press and apply pressure for about 10 seconds to 20 seconds to each part of your design. 



-      There is a variety of HTV that needs more or less heat, time, and pressure. Be sure to check the settings required for what type of vinyl you are using and what type of medium you are adhering to.

-      In withstanding force upon applying pressure, a sturdy table or wooden cutting board is much better to use. 




Step 8: Peel

  • In peeling the carrier sheet, you have two options according to the type of HTV that you use: Cold Peel (meaning the carrier sheet is totally cooled down before peeling) or Hot Peel (transfer paper is removed hot after the transfer is applied).
  • If some of your HTV did not adhere well you may repress. 


Grasping every step for the HTV application helps you create a good friendship to pressure; temperature; and time for these three are the key factors in a successful adhering process. In order to place extra TLC for your project, here below is a comprehensive guide for HTV Heat Setting with an Iron. 


 Heat Setting: Length of Pressing Time of HTV with an Iron












Note: For visual comparison, the table shows the heat requirement of HTV aligned with the heat volume and descriptor of an Iron. It enables the crafter to set an estimated setting required for the HTV since an Iron won’t represent the exact temperature’s measurement,  unlike heat press. Heat setting may vary according to the vinyl and medium used. 

Best Shield for HTV Design: Parchment Paper for Iron-On Vinyl


              Heat transfer using iron can be delicate for your HTV. There are types of this that are highly sensitive to heat same with the type of medium used in adhesion. In any adhering process, it’s always recommended to use a cover sheet like parchment paper. For Iron-on Vinyl (HTV), it offers a layer of protection between the design and to heat-sensitive mediums (like fabrics – where HTV is mostly attached) against the tool’s hotness. It releases heat quickly; it’s heat resistant and non-sticking. With this, the priority of securing both materials from any damage is achieved.

              What we learn a while ago is a perfect finish for your project! Let’s put a more exciting twist that will give a fresh spin on your design. 


Add Life to Your Decal: Layering HTV with Iron


HTV isn’t only for monotony and unicolor of designs. Actually, HTV is like butterflies that could give a touch of transformation and brilliance towards your finish output. 


Layering is a method showcasing the metamorphosis of your usual routine of HTV application. Using this, allows you to give dimension to your design and use various combinations of colors.


Most average varieties of HTV can be used in layering however the exemptionnot all types will do. Regular HTV (e.g. Smooth HTV, Metallic HTV) is used to be a bottom or based layer as your constant to secure surface where other vinyl is to adhere to. It can be layered up to 4 layers. Meanwhile HTVs like glitter, holographic, flocked, and foil, are known as Specialty HTV function as a top layer that can only be layered over regular HTV. 


Using regular and specialty HTV are your combinations (base layer plus top layer is equals to successful layering). We can’t go on layering if your material is both glitter HTV or flocked over flocked because it might give an unwanted reaction over the heat application process. With that, a regular HTV used as a base for specialty HTV can be layered up to 2 or 3. 

This is how layering shouldn’t be stressful anymore!


General Steps in Layering HTV using an Iron


Step 1: Set Your Base

  • For beginners, start limiting your layers up to 2 or 3 so you won’t be overwhelmed by the process (though the numbers of layers depend on your design and combination to be used). 


Step 2: Design Preparation and Filling

  • Create your design using a design studio available in your machine. 
  • After fill your layout to change each design color and assure your color combination is a balance or not psychedelic to the HTV you‘re using. As you visualize the stance of your final design and start lining up your image. 


Step 3: Mirroring and Cutting 

  • Stacking up helps mirror your design while resizing without losing proportion even in the cutting process.
  • Cutting will be easy once you organize and group your cut file well (by color, by size, by what layer according to the HTV you’re using) to easily identifying every part of it. 


Step 4: Weeding

  • Eliminate extra vinyl from the carrier sheet that is not a portion of your layout.


Step 5: Ironing

  • To preheat, set your iron between “cotton or linen setting”. Gradually place the advisable temperature for the type of HTV you’re using. Pre-press for about 2 to 5 seconds to create an initial bond. In this, you can check the amount of heat is desirable for you to apply to your final design. 
  • Next, press evenly for about 10 to 15 seconds, medium to firm pressure with an optimal temperature of 305 °F to 310 °F
  • Iron each layer but start with the topmost layers. Note that the initial layers should not be given much heat because they’ll still be heating up when applying the next layers. Remove the plastic then apply the next part. 
  • To protect the design that you had previously applied from the iron, cover it with parchment paper. Repeat the process until you apply all the layers. 


Getting intimidated with layering and application? I hope you still find it simple. I know you have to remember the combination formula of layering and adhering details on HTV with an Iron. But don’t worry, if an emergency situation arises catch these tips, and tricks for the best shield in your project and effort.


Craft Hacks: Removing HTV with an Iron


           You’re not alone. We’ve been there also. Accidental or mistaken application of HTV to the medium you’re using makes you think stars are not aligned for you. This isn’t a game over for you! Even if how patient or extra careful you are, this kind of situation sometimes inevitable as it's part of the process. The good news if this happens; you can still save what you have started. Get ready to believe that mistakes can still be corrected

Here’s a humble way to eliminate undesirable HTV stick on the medium you’re using and even on your layered surface. 


Removing HTV by means of Heat and Steam


Disclaimer: This technique only works with the iron, not on a heat press. Majorly, HTV removal with an iron entailed for designs adhered on a soft surface. In contrast, HTV removal on hard surfaces different technique is applied (mostly involves chemicals for removal). 


Generally, set your iron to its hottest temperature. If you’re removing HTV on a soft surface, use appropriate settings intended to avoid melting in the decal and your medium (such as fabric or garment). Place the backside facing the iron’s hot surface. An alternative, using steam iron helps also come up with the HTV. Apply a wet towel over your design with the iron’s highest heat setting. When HTV comes off, gradually pull the chunks using a tweezer or X-acto knife. If peeling is a little bit challenging and the HTV doesn’t shed that much, Goo Gone or petroleum jelly will help loosen up the extra residue of the vinyl.


Final jump off! We want to make sure that you’ll arrive safely at the finish line. For you not to stumble on the way while proceeding to the run watch out for these red flags.




Signs of Unsuccessful HTV Application with Iron: Not Sticking and Wrinkling


HTV’s Root Cause of Not Sticking      


  1. Using the wrong Iron - Irons with a steam feature is probably useful when removing HTV rather than adhering. It releases minute molecules of water making your decal not stick or won’t add any effect in your material’s grip. Equal pressure and heat aren’t guaranteed for the hole in its base causing you to miss a lot of spots in your adhering process. A heavy-weight dry iron, a total opposite of it doesn’t have holes in its base and can give much pressure and even heat distribution needed for pressing.


  1. Distributing heat unevenly – Unfortunately, even if iron is a great choice of tool, it never gets the three key features of a heat press could always offer. Though it has a setting available, the exact temperature can’t be really sure and can’t be locked up. A varying temperature distributed along the iron’s plate may get colder or hotter so it may compromise the design’s grip and may end up into tedious mind-numbing work to complete. 


Pro Tip! To catch accurate measurement of heat released by your Iron, 

      an affordable laser heat thermometer could help you do the             readings. 


  1. Incompatible medium makes HTV won’t adhere – Since, HTV comes in a range of types, make sure it serves the purpose of your design and to where medium you will adhere it. Even if how well you press to transfer design, it’ll give you an experience of real trouble for achieving the best results. Unsuitability plus mismatch HTV to your medium will only give your material an effect of ripping off, chipping away, and curling up. Therefore, misuse won’t help save your supply, money, and effort.


  1. Uneven surface – Lumps, bumps, or bulges prevent the application of even pressure for proper adhering of HTV to your medium. A sturdy flat surface helps you stay even when working out the process of application. 


  1. Forget to do Pre-heating – Pre-heating allows you to warm up the heat, first to your iron and second to your medium. When heating an iron, it helps you to prepare the amount of heat that is gradually needed by your HTV until adjusting for the right temperature needed to your decal and medium. Skipping pre-heating cause’s unwanted amount of temperature applied in your material resulting in burning or warping. For medium-like fabrics, it removes moisture in between the surface that affects the proper adhesion of your HTV. 


  1. Incorrect time for peeling – Patience is also applicable when it comes to waiting for your project to cool down. You need to understand that there are some HTV possible to peel off right after you iron it and there are some that need a complete-time to cool off before removing the plastic carrier sheet. Peeling the HTV in not so right time will wreck your design.


Reasons for HTV’s wrinkling


            As you're excited about your output’s final look, the unexpected result happens. Unwanted lines before or after the application erase your excitement. In any medium where your HTV will be adhered with iron, over pressing and too high temperature both causes shrinking to your HTV creating stressed lines at the look of your output. Learning the basics of your HTV is your foundation even if how well you know other HTV works. Distinguishing the HTV’s proper properties especially if you are layering, materials must be combined accordingly to its function. An incorrect combination will make your design pucker on your medium. Lastly, peeling up the plastic backing too early will make your HTV crumple.


This is it! It’s a sigh of relief for you, my super friend. Our artsy heart-to-heart talk brings peace back to you. HTV with an Iron truly fetches the life in your craft session. The impossible made possible. A final word for today, whatever your tool or material, right time, temperature and pressure are where successful HTV applications rely and all about. It’s a matter of trusting and being resourceful for your craft. Good job!

           Cheers for this big celebration!... Till we meet again!