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How to Use Transfer Tape

How to Use Transfer Tape

If you work with vinyl decals, it is a good idea to have some transfer tape on hand to make your work easier. If you have never worked with transfer tape, or are not sure what it is, transfer tape is a sticky sheet that you can use to properly place your vinyl decals.

This should be one of the most important items in your crafting arsenal if you really want to give your work a finished and professional look. Today we are going to take a look at how to properly use transfer tape so you can place decals perfectly every time, and offer up a few tips on how to make the job even easier.

What is Vinyl Transfer Tape?

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Basically, transfer tape is a type of material that has an adhesive on one side, and the adhesive is removable. There are many types, but the most popular are made using paper or a type of plastic film. There are some varieties that have a paper backing.

When you are working with vinyl decals, this material helps you to perfectly place the decals every time so your work doesn’t end up looking bad. No matter what type of transfer tape you use, it’s going to do pretty much the same thing.

Transfer tape comes in a variety of sizes, depending on whether you choose to get rolls or sheets. There are also two types of transfer tape, opaque and transparent.

Many crafters, particularly those who are new to using transfer tape, prefer to use the transparent because it makes it easier to see the decal and make sure everything is properly lined up before placing.

If you are just starting out, it is best to get a sheet rather than a roll. If you end up not liking it, you would be stuck with a roll of transfer tape that is never going to be used, which is just a waste of money.

Another thing to look for is transfer tape that has gridlines. This is going to make it a whole lot easier to line your work up so everything is straight and even, and your finished project will have a more professional appearance.

Some people prefer not to use tape with gridlines, but if you are new to vinyl decals and transfer tape, they can really help until you are more sure of what you are doing.

How to use transfer tape

Using Transfer Tape on Vinyl

The first step in the process of using transfer tape is creating the design. Once you have your design on vinyl, you will need to cut it from the adhesive vinyl to get rid of any excess. With any luck, your cutting machine will allow you to do what is known as a “kiss cut.”

This is when the blade cuts the vinyl but not the backing paper. It makes it a lot easier to peel off the vinyl decal to make it ready for placing with transfer tape.

Once you have the design cut out and the excess peeled off, cut a piece of transfer tape that is about the size of your decal. Place it over the vinyl decal, and smooth out any bubbles on top.

Lift the transfer tape, and the decal will come with it, peeling away from its paper backing. Now you can transfer the decal to whatever surface it is meant for.

Tips for Using Transfer Tape With Vinyl

Until you know exactly how you want your decal to be placed, it’s a good idea to not take all of the backing off right away. Instead, just fold a bit back, make sure that you have the decal placed properly, stick that one part in place, and then peel the rest of the backing off and place the decal.

This is going to keep the decal from being stuck in place before you have it just where you want it.

Cut Larger Than Necessary

While you don’t want to waste transfer tape, it is always best to cut the tape a bit larger than the vinyl decal you will be working with. This just makes it a lot easier to peel back the transfer tape. If you are worried about wasting too much tape by doing it this way, check out the next tip.

Reuse and Recycle

Did you know that you can reuse your transfer tape? You can, and you can even use the same piece a few times. Some crafters say that they can get as many as three or four uses from each piece of transfer tape, which saves them a lot of money. Don’t throw away a used piece of transfer tape until it is no longer sticky.

Snip for Curved Surfaces

You are not always going to be working with flat surfaces, and there will be times when you need to place a vinyl decal on a curved surface.

How do you do this without having any bubbles or creases in the decal? A trick to remember is to make little snips in the transfer tape. That way, it will fit over the curved areas, and your decal won’t end up looking wrinkled.

Just make sure that you only snip through the transfer tape and not the decal. Also, get into the habit of smoothing all of your work out with a flat-edged tool to make sure there are no bubbles, whether the surface is flat or curved.

Use the Right Vinyl Transfer Tape

There are different types of transfer tapes, and some are much better to work with than others. For instance, Silhouette and Cricut tend to have quality transfer tape that has a strong grip. Some of the less expensive brands are not as sticky.

It is true that in many cases, you do get what you pay for. On the other hand, if you use tape that has too much of a grip, it may make it difficult to get the decal off. Look for a transfer tape that is plastic, which is flexible and clear so you can see what you are doing while you are working.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.