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How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl with Silhouette Cameo

How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl with Silhouette Cameo

Heat transfer vinyl happens to be most people’s material of choice to use with the Silhouette Cameo. That’s because it is extremely handy and comes with a range of colors.

Then again, it sticks to polyester, cotton or a blend of the two. That means that you can decorate just about any fabric you might have. I will take you through the process of heat transfer vinyl with Silhouette Cameo.

What you’ll need:

  • Heat transfer material.
  • A silhouette cutting machine.
  • An item to decorate, like a t-shirt, a pillow case or any garment you might have.
  • An iron.

Get a design to cut out of the heat transfer vinyl. Of course, you can use whatever design you like, just as long as the Silhouette can cut it. If you’re doing this for the first time, I recommend starting out with a simple design.

Cutting the Heat Transfer Vinyl with Silhouette Cameo

You need to flip the heat transfer material to a mirror image before you cut. When you load your design to the Silhouette’s studio software, click the graphic button and hit the replicate icon located at the bottom of the toolbar. Select “mirror left” or “mirror right”.

After doing so, you’ll have a mirror copy of your design. You can delete the original design to avoid cutting out a non-mirror copy accidentally.

Now, load the heat transfer vinyl into the Silhouette. You can load it directly or on a cutting mat. If you are loading it directly, be sure to adjust the width of the rollers so the vinyl fits perfectly.

Position the material on your Silhouette and choose “load media” on the Silhouette’s screen. The plastic backing needs to be facing down. Press Enter to load the material.

In case you’re using a small piece of the vinyl, you might want to stick it on a cutting mat to secure it. Place the vinyl on the cutting mat with the plastic backing facing down and choose “load cutting mat”. Select Enter on the screen to load the mat.

Click the cut settings icon (located at the top toolbar) and from the menu, select heat transfer vinyl. Be sure to choose the right mode for your material. If you are using smooth vinyl, select smooth. Select flocked for flocked or glitter heat transfer vinyl.

Adjust the blade depth to the specified setting and hit cut. When the cutting process is completed, unload the mat or the media.

How to Heat Transfer Vinyl for Cameo

Cut down the vinyl close to your design, trimming through both the material and the plastic backing. Then, pull off the extra vinyl off the plastic backing. The Silhouette hook can help you in weeding out small pieces of the vinyl.

Once you’re done with that step, place your material on the project with the plastic backing facing up. It’s now time to heat the vinyl.

Turn on the iron, increase the temperature to the highest level, and turn off the steam. Position a clean piece of cloth on your design and press the iron onto it for around one minute, without moving it. It’s crucial that you apply consistent pressure all along. The cloth might get scorched a bit, so be sure to use one that you don’t intend to use for other purposes.

Withdraw the iron and slowly peel of the plastic backing from the project. The backing should peel off effortlessly but the vinyl should stay attached to the project.

If you’re having a hard time peeling off the backing, allow the project to cool down for 20 to 40 seconds, place the cloth on the design again and press your iron onto it for an extra 40 seconds or so. This issue depends on the material you’re printing. Some materials will need you to repeat the heating process several times before the vinyl can stick fully on them. 

After peeling away the backing, it’s all done.

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.