How To Layer Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)

How To Layer Heat Transfer Vinyl (aka HTV) on One Design

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In this post, I will walk you through how to layer heat transfer vinyl (aka htv) on one design.

In my opinion, one of the best things you can make with a Cricut, Silhouette or ScanNCut machine are heat transfer vinyl designs that you can use to make your own t-shirts, pillows, onesies, etc.

But, layering multiple colors of HTV in one design can be intimidating and if you heat them incorrectly, can result in failure of the HTV to stick to the t-shirt, pillow or whatever surface you are applying it to.

So, how do you avoid that? Well, check out the video tutorial or blog post below to learn the step-by-step method for successful multi-layered, multi-colored HTV designs.

Check out my Print Then Cut Holiday Stickers with HTVRONT video here.

Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:


Use a Solid Layer as Your Base Shape

When creating a multi-layer cut file that will use multiple colors, I highly suggest that you start with a solid base layer that is basically an outline of the whole design.

For my Santa Mickey design, my base layer is black vinyl that provides a base on which the other colored layers will be added.

Solid Color HTV Base Layer

Having a solid base layer to build on top of makes adding the additional layers much easier. Especially if you will be eyeballing the layer placements.

Fit All the Layers Together Before Heating

After each layer has been cut and weeded, layer them together while they are still on their backing sheets.

Heat Transfer Vinyl Layered on Backing Sheets

This allows you to then heat set them one at a time without losing their placement in the stack. You’ll get it in a minute…

Prep the Shirt for HTV

Set up your heat pressing area to get ready to create your shirt. I have my EasyPress 2 on one side with my EasyPress Mat under my shirt. I also put a towel under my mat to protect my glass work surface (not necessary for everyone).

To prep the shirt BEFORE heat pressing it, there are a few things you must do:

  1. Heat the area of the shirt where you plan to place the design for 15 – 20 seconds to remove any excess moisture trapped in the material. Excess moisture can interfere with the HTV’s ability to adhere to the shirt. I used my EasyPress 2 while it was in the process of heating up to iron the area for 20 seconds.
  2. To help with center placement, you can fold the shirt in half by matching up the seams and then ironing the center crease in place for about 20 seconds. I again used my EasyPress 2 while it was heating up to do this. You can then use that crease to better eyeball the placement of your vinyl in the center of your shirt.
    Press Center Crease into Shirt
  3. Run a lint roller over the center of the shirt to remove any debris that may have gotten on the fabric. In my case, that’s probably dog hair – lol.

    Use Lint Roller on Shirt
    Lint roller in action

Once those steps are complete, you can move on to adding the vinyl to the shirt. Yay!

Place the Entire Layered Stack on to Your Shirt

With all the layers stacked together, place them on to your shirt (or whatever you are applying the HTV to)  in whatever position you are going to heat set them in. In my case, I placed them in the center of my t-shirt. Then, press down with your hands to temporarily adhere the base layer to the surface.

HTV Layers on Shirt

Peel Off All of the Stacked Layers Except for the Base Layer

Once the design has been placed correctly on your shirt (or whatever blank you are using), peel off all of the stacked layers except the bottom one. Keep the stacked layers together, just peel the whole stack off of the bottom layer.

Base HTV Layer Before Heated

Tack Down the Base Layer with Your Easy Press 2

I used Siser EasyWeed Heat Transfer Vinyl and a couple of pieces of Siser Glitter HTV for my design. The first three layers are cut from Siser EasyWeed. The first (aka base) layer is Black EasyWeed, so to just tack it on to the shirt, I set my EasyPress 2 to 315 degrees.

Place a teflon sheet or a piece of parchment paper over the base layer and then press the fully heated EasyPress 2 on top of it for 2 – 5 seconds only using medium pressure.

Heat Base HTV Layer for 5 Seconds

I just counted the seconds to myself and then removed the EasyPress 2 from the shirt. If you need to, you can set the counter on the EasyPress 2 to five seconds and use that to count down the time. DO NOT exceed 5 seconds of heating.

Since Siser EasyWeed is a warm peel, peel off the backing sheet from the base layer. The vinyl should stick to the shirt (or whatever blank you are using) and the backing sheet should peel right off.

Base HTV Layer Tacked Down

If the vinyl pulls away from the shirt with the backing sheet, you need to reheat it for another 2 seconds max to get it to stick to the shirt.

Line Up the Stacked Vinyl Layers on Top of the Tacked Down Base Layer

Now take the stack of layers that you peeled off earlier and place it back down on to the newly tacked base layer, lining up the design by eyeballing the placement.

Placing Next HTV Layers Over Base Layer

In my case, the black seemed to have shrunk a bit so the layers didn’t completely line up correctly. So, I lined up the top layers with the body and then peeled off the red and glitter layers leaving just the white layer in place on the black layer. Then I trimmed off the white hat ball from the body pieces.

Cutting Apart HTV Layer to Fix Placement

Then I simply repositioned the ball on top of the hat to correct the placement issue.

Second HTV Layer Ready for Tack Down

Once the white layer was in place, I repeated the tack down procedure by covering the design with a teflon sheet and pressing it with the heated EasyPress 2 for five seconds. I then peeled off the backing sheet from the white layer.

Repeat the Previous Steps with Remaining EasyWeed Vinyl Layers

My last EasyWeed layer was red, so I repeated the process:

  • Lined up the stacked layers with the now tacked down white and black layers
  • Trimmed off the red vinyl hat section and repositioned it correctly
  • Covered the design with the teflon sheets
  • Pressed the red layer in place for 5 seconds with the EasyPress 2
  • Peeled off the red layer’s backing sheet

Third HTV Layer After Tack Down

Modify the Settings for Siser Glitter HTV

The last two layers in my Santa Mickey design were cut from Siser Glitter HTV. To tack it down, increase the EasyPress 2 heat setting to 335 degrees.

PLEASE NOTE: Glitter vinyl as well as other specialty vinyls like holographic MUST be the final layer(s) that are set with any design. You cannot layer anything on top of glitter vinyl although you can layer different colors near each other (like the leaves and the berries here).

While the EasyPress 2 heats up, place the glitter layers on top of the tacked down EasyWeed layers. Peel away any extra layers leaving the first glitter layer. In my case, this was the green glitter holly leaves.

Positioning First Glitter HTV Layer

Repeat the previous tack down procedure by covering the design with the teflon sheet and pressing in place with the EasyPress 2 for five seconds using medium pressure.

Peel off the green glitter backing sheet.

Complete the Layered Design and Heat Thoroughly to Set It

My last layer on my Santa Mickey design were the small red glitter berries. So, I pressed them in place on to the now tacked down layers of the Mickey design.

Final Glitter HTV Layer Ready for Tack Down

Once again, I covered the design with the teflon sheet but this time, I heated the design for the full 20 seconds to set the entire heat transfer vinyl design on to the shirt.

Press Final HTV Layer for Full 20 Seconds
Press final layer for the full 20 seconds

Once the design had cooled just slightly, I removed the backing sheet from the red berries to reveal my completed t-shirt. Yay!

Completed Multi-Layer HTV Design

Why So Many Steps for Layered Heat Transfer Vinyl Designs?

The reason you have to do a series of short heat pressings with each layer of a multi-colored HTV design is the glue that holds the vinyl on to the shirt (or whatever blank you are using).

If you overheat the vinyl layers, the glue will basically melt off of the heat transfer vinyl into the blank making it impossible to adhere the vinyl to the blank.

In other words, if you were to fully set every layer for 20 seconds, by the time you set the last layer, the base layer in this Santa Mickey Design would have been heated for 100 seconds (20 seconds x five layers) and the glue would be long gone by that time. So, the entire design would just peel right off the shirt.

That’s why you have to tack each layer down for the very short 5 seconds each to just barely get it set but not enough to melt the glue off. Then you only fully set everything once all layers, except the last one, have been tacked down.

I hope that makes sense and helps you create your very own multi-layered HTV designs!

Multi-Layer HTV Santa Mickey Tee

Questions or Comments?

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon. Want to just tell me how much you loved this tutorial? Please leave me a comment below – lol!

Suggestions?

I would also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas Workspace) and any suggestions you may have on projects to create with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!

 


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2 Comments

  1. Albiy c says:

    I’ve been trying to layer a number for a jersey have my base white and silver for top but everytime I peel the carrier sheet the silver bubbles what do I do?

    1. elenaa3 says:

      Hi! This is usually caused by overheating the HTV which causes the glue to start to melt off the vinyl creating bubbles. I suggest lowering the temp when adding the metallic layer and the amount of time you are pressing it in place. This may take some experimentation, but I would reduce the time from say, 5 seconds to 3 seconds and see if that works. Without knowing the brand of metallic HTV you’re using, I hesitate to recommend a temperature. As I mentioned in the post, you have to be really careful to cut the time way down with layers so that the total time you press all of the layers down doesn’t exceed the total time you would normally use for any one layer when not layering because of the potential for the glue to overheat. I hope that helps. – Elena

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