How to Create Multi-Colored Shirts with Heat Transfer Vinyl

Getting started with garment decorating can be a headache at first, especially when presented with so many heat transfer options.That’s why we are showing you one of many solutions for creating an intricate design with screen-print softness using heat transfer vinyl on a 100 percent cotton shirt.

Follow along as we show you how to use Xpress Cut heat transfer vinyl, one of our favorite vinyl brands for T-shirts. Xpress Cut is also a great product for new businesses due to its easy weeding capability with a sticky backing. This vinyl can be cut with any cutter but in this case, we are using the Graphtec CE6000 24″ vinyl cutter. Our Graphtec line of cutters are perfect for small and large jobs alike! They are incredibly fast, quiet and easy to set up.

In this tutorial, we are using Graphtec’s Cutting Master 3 plug-in for Adobe Illustrator CC. If you already have your design ready, feel free to skip to step 2!

Step One: preparing the design for cutting

Here we have our finished design in Adobe Illustrator CC. Illustrator is our favorite tool for creating vinyl designs, but Corel Draw and Graphtec Studio are alternatives. We chose to color the design to match the vinyl we are going to use. Doing this can save you headaches when it comes to cutting and applying the vinyl. Now it’s time to send our design to Cutting Master!

Open Cutting Master through Illustrator by going to File and clicking on Cutting Master 3 (or the version of Cutting Master that you have installed). This will open your design in a new program.

The Cutting Master plug-in pulls the design from Illustrator in its original vector format with the separate colors we previously set. The program automatically recognizes that there are two different colors and makes it incredibly easy to toggle between them. Not every program can do this. That’s why we love Cutting Master! Now it’s time to cut!

Tip: Don’t forget to mirror the design (flip horizontally) because heat transfer vinyl is always cut on the back side and later placed upright on the garment. This can be done in Illustrastrator or inside Cutting Master. In Cutting Master 3, go to Page Window and select your Mirror setting from the drop down under the Orientation section.

Step Two: time to cut!

Before sending the design to the vinyl cutter, we need to set the blade depth and speed correctly for this specific vinyl media to get optimal results. We used the following settings for Xpress Cut on Graphtec CE6000:

Speed: 20 cm/s
Depth: 14

Load the vinyl with the back adhesive side (usually the duller matte side) facing up.

Tip: Perform a test cut if your machine allows it prior to sending your design to the cutter. Over time, the cutting blade can dull and the depth setting may have to be increased.

Step Three: weed away

Grab your favorite weeding tool (here’s ours) and weed away the excess vinyl. This stage can be sometimes the most time-consuming part of the process.

Tip: When designing, the more connected your lines are with each other, the easier it will be to weed.

Step Four: Pressing Stage

Xpress Cut is easy to layer and requires little time and low temperature, making it a great heat transfer vinyl to use on cotton, polyester, rayon and other blends. We are placing our design on a dark 100 percent cotton shirt.

We are applying the orange vinyl first because it outlines the entire design and makes it easy for the next layer to line up. Set up the heat press machine to 305 – 310 F° when using 100 percent cotton shirts.

Use the following settings to press the design:

  1. First layer – Three to five seconds with medium pressure, peel hot
  2. Second layer (final layer) – Ten seconds with medium pressure, peel hot

For the best pressing settings for your material, visit our Xpress Cut support page!

Helpful Tip: Use a foam pillow underneath or inside your shirt to raise the transfer area for a smooth, flat surface. Seams, zippers, wrinkles and other imperfections can throw off the pressure and cause the vinyl to peel later on.

Finished!

After pressing the design, wait 24 hours prior to washing. The finished garment is ready to be worn for many years to come!

Order some Xpress Cut vinyl today and start making custom vinyl shirts with screen print-like softness. 

Do you have awesome creations you want to share with us? Use #InspireMeCoastal and tag us (@coastalbusinesssupplies) on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our channel!

Top 10 Back to School Products For Every Occasion

Summer is almost over and the back to school frenzy is in full blast. Stock up on these great products – they are a must for the new school year! From backpacks to socks, we have you covered.

1. Backpacks

These hot items can be personalized for any age and fashion sense and are highly functional during the school year. Our unisex sublimation backpacks (pictured on left below) come with a full white flap cover for either partial or full sublimation. Already have a backpack that you bought from a store but can’t sublimate on? Heat Transfer Vinyl may be what you are looking for, which is perfect for lettering, logos and school mascots (pictured on right below).

backpacks_friends

2. Drawstring Bags

Our drawstring bags provide a different option besides a backpack and are fully dye-sublimation friendly made from 100% white polyester (both one sided and two sided bags are available). These would be a cool accessory for sports teams and after school activities, but can be used to make a fashion statement too! They are ideal for middle school students and older as they are somewhat large for a small child.

drawstring bag

3. Vinyl

We can’t forget our vinyl which can be applied to cotton, polyester and blends along with other fabrics that can withstand heat of up to 320F. Our vinyl comes in many colors and textures, from standard matte to specialized glitter and flock materials. Add letters, school mascots, quotes and logos to any shirt that can match and even outshine the school spirit clothes offered at the school bookstore. Go a step further and create designs inspired by current trends: animals, motivational quotes, and personal hobbies!

Backtoschool-14

(Vinyl used in photo: Easyweed Silver)

4. Water Bottles

waterbottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pick from two styles of waterbottles: stainless steel straw-top and regular removable cap, available in a natural silver/steel finish and glossy white to achieve your desired look. These are ideal for sublimation in a mug press or an oven with a silicone wrap. They are easy to carry from one classroom to another or to any after school program.

andrew_bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Socks

100% white polyester socks for front and back sublimation are perfect for youth and adults alike. These come in different sizes as well as lengths. Crew socks, tube socks, knee high socks: we got all the socks for you! For better results, we recommend using a straight jig or a hockey jig, which stretches the sock and allows for sublimation ink to dye maximum surface area, however that is not necessary with the black interior socks (pictured below).

socks

 

6. Bookmarks

Never lose another page with our custom bookmarks! These are a must, and they are made from durable aluminum and come in a longer 1.5 x 5 in. size (pictured below) as well as 2×3 in. size. The ultra white glossy side is made for quality sublimation results. The days of dog-eared book corners are over!

bookmark

7. Compact Mirrors

compact_mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty AND useful: our beautiful mirrors are truly compact at only 2.25 inches and can fit in purses and even smaller pockets. There is a regular mirror on one side and a magnifying mirror on the other and the top cover comes with a separate glossy white sublimation insert that is easy to attach. Square and round shapes are available. Middle school to high school girls would love this great addition to their makeup kit for a midday touch-up or getting ready for a school event.

Backtoschool-3

 

8. Headbands

products-5

 

 

 

 

 

Headbands have become a must-have accessory for everyday use to keep those stray hairs away. Our headbands have a satin white finish and a black velvet interior for comfort and slip resistance.The satin finish results in excellent image clarity and vibrancy. The adjustable elastic back allows them to fit most ages from elementary all the way to college. To sublimate, simply unclip the back and lay them flat on the press. Easy and beautiful!

9. Cuff Bracelets

cuffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the finishing touches to any outfit with custom bracelet cuffs! These Chromaluxe bracelets promise a vibrancy that is equivalent to the gallery worthy photo aluminum panels made by the same company. This year, we have added many more styles and finishes to the list. Now there is a choice between white, gold and silver finishes and multiple shapes and thicknesses.

The bracelet cuffs arrive flat for perfect sublimation and then are curved using our form tool.

Backtoschool-4

 

10. Arm Sleeves

Vapor’s arm sleeves are still fairly popular, especially among students who play sports but with the right design, these can be worn by just about anybody, regardless of age. They are available in a range of youth and adult sizes for the perfect fit.  Their dual function of protection and fashion placed this item on our top 10 list.

Backtoschool-10

 

The Hows & Whats of Decorating Apparel

There is a huge range of different decoration methods available to the average user to create their own custom printed and designed apparel. What decoration method is best for you and your print shop? See some creative examples below with an explanation of the production process behind each to get some new ideas and inspiration!

Commercial methods

  • Sublimation– A digital printing process that transfers special sublimation dye-based ink printed designs onto garments using high heat and a commercial press. This process works only on white/light polyester garments or polyester coated items and is the most permanent transfer since the dye ink becomes part of the garment. It literally dyes the fabric, therefore there is no weight or texture to the transfer. No limitation on design: transfer photographs, full color designs, bright or light colors and gradients.

sublimation tank top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Heat transfer paper– Process in which the design is printed on a transfer paper through inkjet or laser printer and then pressed onto a shirt. Designs are easy as print and press for transfers onto white/very light colored garments, and with the addition of a vinyl cutter, transfers for dark or color fabrics can also be done with a very professional quality after contour-cutting and weeding the excess white background! Plus, with new technology, laser printers now allow for self-weeding transfer papers which only transfer the design on the shirt with no need to cut it out!

transfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOREVER Laser Dark  No-cut printed with White toner OKI printer and transferred on black shirt.

 

  • Heat transfer vinyl– This is a simple process of cutting designs out of heat transfer vinyl, a one-color/one-material on a roll and liner, weeding away the material that you do not want in your transfer design, and simply pressing them onto a shirt! There is a huge variety of vinyl, far beyond just standard colors: sparkly glitter, soft flock, shimmery metallic, and more! Vinyl transfers are great for lettering jobs and simple clipart/graphic designs, as there is no printing involved and the only machine needed is a vinyl cutter and computer software.

vinyl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitter flake transfer vinyl in silver and black

  •  Solvent printing– Digital printing process that requires a special solvent printer (generally wide format) which then prints on specialty solvent-design paper or vinyl. This is often the process used for water proof or weather resistant signage, car decals, stickers, wallpapers, window decals, but is also used for t-shirt transfers. It is highly durable and very rarely results in fading or cracking.
  • Direct to garment– This is the only process that involves a printer directly printing on the shirt. The printer has a flatbed on which the shirt is placed and using a computer software, the design is printed directly on top of the flat fabric surface. Dark color t-shirts are coated with a special pretreatment coating that allows for bright vibrant prints onto dark colors.

DTG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Silk Screen printing– The old school and proven stencil method that uses a mesh screen which is coated with a light sensitive solution and exposed to light with a stencil that results in open areas of the screen through which the ink is pressed onto the garment with a squeegee. Each color is run through its own screen which can be a lengthier process however this works great on any color or material shirt since the ink is opaque and sits on top of the fabric. Since multiple screens must be set up for each color, the limitation of this tried and true printing method is that it’s not best for true photographic or full-color output, and smaller orders are nearly impossible to make profit on after set-up time is considered.
  • Rhinestones– Add sparkle and shine to your designs by using rhinestones that look like small diamonds. A cutter with a vinyl software equipped with rhinestone tools and design cutting capabilities is required. Sizes and colors of rhinestones vary giving you freedom to create, mix and match, and with custom bling designs, a huge profit potential is possible with your ability to deliver a truly one-of-a-kind product!

rhinestone DSC_0158

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Embroidery– Using a needle and thread/yarn on an automated machine to decorate garments. Other materials could be incorporated into the design such as beads, but the process in general involves stitching the design. While embroidery can be done on nearly any and all apparel products and fabric types or colors, investment and learning curve in this process can be huge!

Handmade methods

  •  Cyanotype– a photographic process that uses a light sensitive solution that can be coated on most porous materials and results in a cyan/blue print. For photographs, s greyscale image is printed on a transparency and then is laid on top of the coated garment and pressed with a glass to flatten it, then left out in the sun (bright, mid- day is best) for roughly 10 minutes or until blue coating becomes very light and faded. Then the garment is soaked in water so the non-exposed areas wash out. Other techniques include laying out leaves or other shapes to block out the sun from areas of the garment. Different colors can be achieved by using different additives or chemicals in the cyanotype coating. Print fades over time.

cyanote cyanotype2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: Pinterest/ freestylephoto.biz

 

  • Stamping– a method that uses a hand-made stamp to transfer an image/design. Stamps can be carved out of wood or rubber or objects can be used as stamps such as one’s own hands or just everyday objects. There are variety of inks or paints out there to experiment with and create textures or images on garments.
  • Fabric markers– for those who love to draw, there are markers and pens with inks designed for garments! This creates unique, 100% hand drawn apparel.