How to Put Vinyl on a Hat with a Heat Press Like a Pro
Who says embroidered patches are the only way to custom print on a hat? You can put vinyl on a hat using a heat press machine. How to put vinyl on a hat with a heat press? To put vinyl on a hat, you’ll need of course heat transfer vinyl, a vinyl cutting machine and a heat press.
Printing vinyl on a hat is not as easy as printing on a shirt. A t-shirt has a flat surface, meanwhile you have to deal with the curved surface of the hat, which is the challenge for this project. That’s why you need to read further to learn how to put vinyl on a hat with a heat press.
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Hats and Heat Transfer Vinyl: What You Need to Know
Let’s talk about the obvious — hats do not have a flat surface. Hats are curved in shape with a firm top surface, that’s why the printing process using a heat transfer vinyl, requires a whole new skill set.
With a good strategy, the right design, by picking the right kind of hat, and practice, you’ll be customizing hats like a pro in no time. But the question is, what kind of vinyl can you use to print on hats? Any kind of heat transfer vinyl from TeckWrap Craft can be used.
What to Remember When Choosing a Hat
Here’s a disclaimer and probably an important tip before starting on this project — choose the right kind of hat. There are many hats available, unfortunately, not all of them are compatible for heat transfer vinyl printing.
Heat transfer vinyl adheres to fabric, and well, not all hats are made of fabric. For instance, straw hats are made of straw, so that’s one hat you should take off the list. What you need to remember for this project is to choose a cotton hat.
When printing on a hat, avoid printing on its surfaces with buttons or eyelets and panel linings because this will be a challenge. Also, avoid printing near the visor or brim area. You want to print on a hat with a flat surface. Check out this image below to know the anatomy of a hat.
Here are several hat options you can print on with a heat transfer vinyl:
- Baseball cap
- Trucker hat
- Bucket hat
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Put HTV on Hats
By following the right steps and a dash of your creativity, you can create hats to give to your friends or perhaps start a clothing brand. If investing in a hat press machine seems not to be on the books as of now, that’s okay.
You can use an EasyPress Mini heat press machine or a regular household iron. Before starting on this project, start by gathering the materials you need. Ensure you have a clean and wide workstation to enable you to do the job properly. If this is your first project, pay attention and take down notes.
- Vinyl cutting machine (Silhouette Cameo or Cricut)
- Cap heat press machine, Mini heat press machine or regular iron
- Your choice of TeckWrap Craft heat transfer vinyl or iron on vinyl
- Parchment paper
- Thermal tape
- Weeding tool
- Cutting mat
- If you don’t have a cap heat press machine, you’ll need a form of cap molder like a big bowl or rolled beach towel.
Step 1: Prepare Your Design
First of all, think of the design you want to put on the heat transfer vinyl. Do you want to put your name initials on it? Perhaps a company logo? Once you’ve figured out the design you want to print on a hat, look for a high-resolution copy, a free SVG document or a downloadable vector.
Upload the design on your cutting machine’s design software (Silhouette or Cricut Design Space). Don’t forget to mirror the design or to ‘Flip Horizontally’ since you’ll be using a heat transfer vinyl. Also resize the print so it’ll fit perfectly on the hat.
The desirable print size on an adult hat is between 2 to 4 inches. That is if you want to print on the center portion of the cap. To be sure, make manual measurements on the hat using a ruler or tape measure to ensure the print size fits well.
Step 2: Set-up Your Cutting Machine
Once you have the correct design size, it’s time to set up your cutting machine. This includes collecting the vinyl you need. Just so you know, you can use multiple vinyl and layer them. Prepare the image for cutting on your cutting machine, here are the steps:
- Using your scissors, cut vinyl a size bigger than the desired print size
- Place the heat transfer vinyl on the cutting mat
- Place the HTV with the colored side facing the cutting mat
- Change the settings on your cutting machine’s software on the type of material used. Make sure you set the material into ‘heat transfer material’ so the blade settings will automatically change.
- Once you’ve ensured the right settings, proceed with test cutting the vinyl. Always test cut!
- Once the test cut and weed is successful, proceed with cutting the designs.
Step 3: Weed the Vinyl
Gather your weeding tools, and remove the excess vinyl surrounding the and the inner cavities of the design. If you need to reference back from the original image so weed the vinyl properly, do so. What needs to remain in the carrier sheet is the design alone.
Step 4: Ensure Flat Printing Surface of the Hat
As mentioned, you can press HTV on a hat using a cap heat press machine, Mini heat press machine or a regular household iron. It’s tricky to use a Mini heat press machine or a regular iron, but this is doable!
When preparing the hat for pressing, your goal is to ensure the printable area of the hat is completely fat. This is to ensure the HTV adheres well on the firm surface. Here are tips and tricks to ensure a flat printing surface of the hat.
If you’re using a cap heat press machine, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Place the front panel of the hat on the curved bed of the cap press machine.
- Cap heat press machine usually comes with a locking mechanism for the hat, found beneath its curved bed. Lock in the hat so it won’t keep on moving.
If you’re using a Mini heat press machine or regular iron:
- Roll towel or use a big ceramic bowl to serve as your ‘cap molder’. The goal is to flatten the print surface and many DIYers live by these tricks.
- You can ball up the beach towel inside the hat so it has that nice and flat print surface.
- If you want to use a bowl, make sure it’s glass, ceramic or metal. Do not use plastic bowls.
- If you’re using a bowl as your cap molder, make sure the bowl is the same size as the hat. Turn the bowl upside down, and place the hat over it.
Step 5: Use the Right Settings
Once you’re sure the printing surface is flat, it’s time for the heat transfer vinyl application. You want to set the right temperature, time and pressure on the heat press machine. The heat press settings may vary depending on the HTV used and the material of the cap.
If you’re using a cap heat press machine, follow these recommended settings:
- Temperature: 320 °F
- Pressure: Medium setting to firm
- Press time: 15 to 20 seconds
If you’re using a Mini heat press machine or regular iron:
- Temperature: Highest setting (around 300 °F to 310 °F)
- Pressure: Firm
- Press Time: 25 to 30 seconds
TeckWrapCraft Mini Press
Step 6: Apply Heat Transfer Vinyl
Wait for the heat press machine to finish heating up, then you’re ready to apply the heat transfer vinyl. Make sure once again that the hat has a flat printing surface. Then here are the next steps:
- Since you’re working on a fabric, don’t forget to pre-press the hat for about 5 to 10 seconds to wick away any moisture and for the HTV to adhere well.
- Place the entire design, with the carrier transfer sheet facing up.
- Place it in the desired location. With the tips in mind that you should avoid stitches, the center seam, eyelets and the brim.
- Place a thermal tape (heat-resistant tape), around the edges of the vinyl, to ensure the design won’t move while pressing.
- Place a Teflon sheet or parchment paper on top of the vinyl design.
- You’re ready to press!
If you’re using a cap heat press machine, the process is straight forward. Press, lock, wait and you’re done. However, if you’re using a Mini heat press machine or regular iron, you have to put in the extra effort to ensure the vinyl adheres well.
If you’re using a Mini heat press machine or regular iron, start pressing in the center of the logo, then move your way around to ensure you press each section. Make sure to apply firm pressure when you do so. If you want to press multiple layers, start ironing the base vinyl, then continue with the next vinyl.
Step 7: You’re Done!
Wait for the heat transfer vinyl to cool off before removing the carrier sheet. The same rule applies for pressing multiple layers of vinyl. After pressing, there may be a few visible wrinkles after pressing but that’s perfectly normal. After a few times you wear the hat, the wrinkles won’t be visible.
Photo by Tobi from Pexels
Hat Press, Mini Heat Press or Regular Iron?
There are plenty of heat presses out there, how do you pick the right one? For cap printing, it is best to use a cap heat press machine. It’s the specialty equipment recommended for cap printing. If you’ve got the budget and plan to print more caps in the future, it is recommended to invest in one.
A cap press machine comes with a curved hot plate, a curved ironing bed, a curved rubber pad, handle, timer, and stretcher handle, specifically designed to print on caps. Much like there’s a mug heat press machine for the purpose of printing on mugs or tumblers alone.
If you want to achieve quality prints, convenience, and easy customization, it is recommended to use a cap press machine. The production is always faster and easier so you can print bulk hats, and who knows can sell them in the future.
Is using a Mini heat press machine for cap printing good enough?
If you use a regular iron or mini heat press machine for cap printing, the print quality is still good enough. The process takes a little longer and may require a lot of effort, but it still does the trick. It’s recommended to use a Mini heat press machine or regular iron if it’s for one-time projects only.
However, as you print more caps in the long run and as more orders come in, you’ll realize that the jobs get done easier and faster if you use a cap press machine. If you’re doing a project, always aim in the doing the recommended process, not the alternative.
Photo by Craig McKay from Pexels
How to make HTV prints last on a hat?
The secret to making sure HTV prints last on a hat for years, is proper handling and care. Unlike our bodies, our heads don’t change size, that’s why a hat with proper handling and care would last for years.
For HTV-printed apparels, by far, the greatest challenge is to preserve the integrity of the HTV print. What exactly should you do? First of all, hats that last for a long time start with the proper printing process. As long as you followed the step-by-step instructions above, then that’s a step in the right direction. Secondly, the aftercare matters the most.
Here’s the washing instructions for caps printed with HTV:
- For apparels printed with HTV, specifically hats, it’s highly recommended to hand wash them.
- You can use a soft bristled brush to take off the dirt. If you do so, avoid the HTV print as much as possible. It doesn’t mean it’ll come off when brushed, however it’ll be prone to peeling and cracking in the future upon continued brushing.
- Also use cold water when washing your cap with HTV. Hot water may cause the vinyl to loosen up the vinyl’s adhesive, and may lead to the removal of the heat transfer material.
- Also, avoid using the dryer or hairdryer to dry your hat. It’s recommended to let them air dry. The bottomline is, avoid exposing the hat to heat when washing or cleaning in order to protect the adherence of the heat transfer material.
- Do not use harsh cleaning chemicals or detergents when washing your hat. This may cause discoloration and peeling of the print.
- As much as possible, let the hat soak in water for a short period. Prolonged soaking of the hat on water may cause the design to peel off in the long run.
- If you want to simply remove dust, use a soft bristle brush.
Also, it’s important for you to avoid crashing, crumpling or folding your hat, especially on the print surface. If the hat is repeatedly squished, the design is squished too, which may cause cracking or peeling.
In case it rains, protect your hat at all costs. As much as ironic it sounds, because one of the purposes of hats is to protect your head from the rain, however you have to protect your hat from getting wet if you want the HTV print to last longer.
If you forgot to remove your hat in the rain, that’s okay. Just make sure to wobble the excess water as soon as possible and let it air dry. When it comes to hat care, the bottomline is, limit exposure to heat, water and harsh cleaning ingredients.
Photo by Muhammad Alawi from Pexels
Tips to Remember When Printing Heat Transfer Vinyl on a Hat
If you want to avoid errors when printing HTV on caps, here are tips you should remember:
- When picking a design to print on a hat, it is recommended to pick a less complicated and simple design. Thin letters and small graphics may be a challenge when you apply heat transfer vinyl.
- Avoid the lowest part of the hat upon heat transfer vinyl application (above the brim part). This is the hardest portion of the hat to apply heat transfer vinyl because of the interior flap.
- Use a lint to roll away dusts and debris to ensure the iron on vinyl adheres well to the surface.
- Cut the carrier sheet of the HTV close enough to the edges of the design. This will make it easier for you to place the design properly.
- If you’re using a Mini heat press machine or regular iron, make sure to glide or move around when pressing to avoid scorch marks on the hat. A gliding motion with firm pressure also ensures the HTV adheres well in place.
- It is highly recommended to use Flocked HTV, Glitter HTV or thick HTV when pressing on hats. Although wrinkles after pressing will go away after continued use, using regular HTV is thinner, causing the wrinkles after pressing.
- Always use a heat tape to keep the design in place. Don’t use any ordinary tape as this may melt under the heat press, and may leave scorch marks on the hat’s surface.
- As you apply heat transfer vinyl, use a Teflon sheet or parchment paper as a barrier between the heat plate and heat transfer vinyl. These protective barriers will protect the HTV design from warping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will heat transfer vinyl stick to hats?
Yes, heat transfer vinyl will stick to hats. You can use a hat press machine, Mini heat press or regular household iron, to stick heat transfer vinyl to hats.
What kind of vinyl is used for hats?
The kind of vinyl used to print on hats is heat transfer vinyl. Adhesive craft vinyl won’t adhere to fabric, so never use that to print on hats. It is recommended to use thicker types of heat transfer vinyl when printing on caps such as Flock and Glitter HTV.
How do you print hats?
You can print on hats by custom-printing heat transfer vinyl, transfer paper or through sublimation printing. To print on hats you’ll need a heat press machine, Mini heat press machine or even a regular household iron.
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Capping It All Up!
There you have it! With the knowledge you learned above, you all have the knowledge and skills you need to know when printing HTV on a hat. In no time, you’ll be printing vinyl on hats like a pro!
Don’t forget to check the collection of TeckWrap Craft’s heat transfer vinyl products. You can order online and have them delivered right to your doorstep! Aside from heat transfer vinyl, TeckWrap Craft also has other supplies you need when printing on hats such as Mini heat press machine and weeding tools. Make sure to check them all out!