How To Use Vinyl

 HOW TO USE VINYL

Expressions Vinyl has some great beginner 'How-To' videos that can step you through everything you need to know to apply both adhesive and heat transfer vinyls. You can find all of our videos HERE, but in the meantime, here's a rundown on the basics of using vinyl!

ADHESIVE CRAFT VINYL APPLICATION STEPS:

  1. Clean your surface- The first thing you will want to do is make sure the surface that you are planning on applying the vinyl to is clean and dry.  The smoother your surface the easier it will be to transfer your vinyl onto, but rougher surfaces like wood, textured walls, etc. will still work.
     
  2. Cut your design- You can cut your design by hand or use a craft cutter. After your design is all cut, remove the excess vinyl from around your image/lettering (this is called weeding).
     
  3. Apply your transfer tape- This is the step that a lot of vinyl beginners are unaware of, and yet probably one of the most important in order to not have a stress meltdown when adhering your vinyl to your surface!  Simply place your transfer tape over your vinyl, then take something flat and hard (i.e. credit card, scraper, popsicle stick, etc.) to smooth out any bubbles and to make sure it is securely fastened to the vinyl.  Next you will carefully pull off the backing paper from the vinyl being careful to make sure that the vinyl has transferred to your tape.
     
  4.  Adhere design to new surface- With your surface prepared (step 1) you are ready to align your image. Carefully position it onto your project;  once you have it in place, firmly press down and use your scraper to smooth out any bubbles.  Always make sure to start from the center and work out towards the edges, this will press out any bubbles instead of pushing them in.  Once you have your vinyl securely adhered to your surface, take one corner of your transfer tape and slowly pull downwards at an angle.  Run your scraper (credit card, etc.) over the vinyl once applied to get out any remaining bubbles and help secure it to the surface.
 
TIPS & TRICKS!
  • Try not to lay all of the vinyl down at once as it may stick to your new surface at the wrong angle, and while it is possible to slowly pull up sections and reposition, the vinyl will stretch out of shape if you move it around too much...and noone wants that!

  • While you want to try and smooth out any bubbles before removing your transfer tape, but sometimes the vinyl has other plans. If you find that with the tape removed you have some pesky air bubbles, simply prick them with a needle and press down until it no longer shows.

  • Even though many of our vinyls are water resistant, we still recommend hand washing all items with vinyl on them. The combination of detergent, heat and agitation that a dishwasher provides can be an unfortunate combination to even the toughest adhesive vinyls.
 

HEAT TRANSFER VINYL APPLICATION STEPS:

  1. FLIP!- After you have selected your design, you will want to make sure to flip your image before cutting. Since you are going to be placing it face down on your fabric to iron, if it is not flipped, your design will be backwards. When you're ready, cut out your design. 
     
  2. WEED!- You can cut your design by hand or use a craft cutter.  After your design is all cut, remove the excess vinyl from around your image/lettering (this is called weeding).
     
  3. PRESS!- Every type of Heat Transfer Vinyl has its own recommended press time, temperature, and pressure settings (see our Machine Settings Page), but make sure to do your homework to ensure you don't scorch your adhesive. Hotter is NOT always better, if you apply too much heat the vinyl will not adhere properly...not to mention you do not want to damage your fabric either!
     
  4.  PEEL!- You also need to make sure to check whether or not your vinyl can be peeled hot or cold. This is referring to the removal of the clear carrier sheet, and whether you can do this directly after pressing (hot peel) or if you need to wait until it has fully cooled and the adhesive has had time to set (cold peel). Definitely make sure to check before anxiously pulling off that carrier sheet, you don't want all of your hard work going down the drain. 
 
TIPS & TRICKS!
  • Our heat transfer makes weeding a breeze, but if you're ever struggling, laying your vinyl on a low-heat griddle, clear (carrier) sheet down, for just a few minutes will help release the adhesive and make weeding lines more visible. We also recommend purchasing a weeding tool...it really is almost a necessity if you don't want to rip your hair out by the end of an intricate project, and it works great for both heat transfer and adhesive vinyls. 

  • NEON Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl glows under black lights!

  • The clear carrier sheet will keep your fabric protected if you are only doing one layer of vinyl, but it is strongly recommended you purchase a reusable sheet of mulit-use paper if you plan on layering the vinyl. Also, after pressing for the full recommended time, if you remove the carrier sheet and press the vinyl for 1-2 seconds (with the paper on top of the vinyl) it will help set the vinyl to the fabric.

  • You do NOT need a heat press, a traditional home iron will work perfectly. Your cotton-blend setting will typically put you in the ideal temperature range, remember that hotter does not equal better adhesion. The key to lasting application is PRESSURE! An ironing board has too much give in it to provide adequate pressure during application, especially for Glitter Heat Transfer. A countertop or other hard surface is ideal and remember to really put your back into it! :)