Best Fabric for Heat Transfer Vinyl: Garment Printing 101

Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) or iron-on vinyl is a special type of vinyl used to print on garments and different fabrics. But what is the best fabric for heat transfer vinyl? HTV adheres well to cotton, polyester fabric, poly/cotton blends, canvas, and denim.

In this crafting guide, you’ll learn about heat transfer vinyl on fabrics, the supplies needed, the proper temperature, and everything there is you need to know about heat transfer printing using HTV. Remember, when it comes to heat transfer printing the temperature, time, and pressure matter. 

Best Fabric for Heat Transfer Vinyl

TeckWrap Craft Snowflakes pattern vinyl printed on a t-shirt

When it comes to the combination of the right temperature, time, and pressure, this will depend on the type of fabric and vinyl you plan to use. To give you an idea, here are the heat transfer vinyl products available at TeckWrap Craft and the proper temperature and time required when printing.

 

TeckWrap Craft Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat Press Temperature

(in ℉)

Time

(in seconds)

Colorful Camouflage Heat Transfer

300-315 ℉

10-15

Flock Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-315 ℉

10-15

PU Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-315 ℉

10-15

PU Rainbow Stripes Heat Transfer Vinyl

266-284 ℉

8-12

Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-315 ℉

10-15

Colorful Splash Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-315 ℉

10-15

Galaxy Heat Transfer Vinyl

266-284 ℉

8-12

Glow In The Dark Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-320℉

8-12

Snowflakes Pattern Heat Transfer Vinyl

300-315 ℉

10-15

Supplies Needed for Heat Transfer Printing using HTV

  • Fabric of your choice
  • HTV of your choice
  • Heat press machine (EasyPress, Cap press or Logo Press)
  • Weeding tool
  • Parchment paper or thin teflon sheet
  • Lower heated element like rubber pad (usually comes with the heat press machine)
  • Cutting machine (Cricut or Silhouette)

Best Types of Fabric for Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing

If you want to enter the apparel industry or start your clothing line, you should knwo the best fabrics for heat transfer printing using vinyl. Here at TeckWrap Craft, we have gathered the best types of the fabric where you can print heat transfer vinyl.

Ring-Spun Cotton Fabrics

 

Best Fabric for Heat Transfer Vinyl

PU Heat Transfer vinyl printed on 100% cotton shirt

The easiest and most common printable fabric is cotton. 100% cotton shirts require high-temperature settings in order for the HTV to adhere properly. In the photo seen above, PU HTV from TeckWrap Craft was used for the shirt.

Don’t confuse yourself with the tumbler. Permanent adhesive vinyl was used for that. Is there a recommended brand of shirts? It doesn’t matter regardless if you use different brands of t-shirts as long as it’s made of 100% cotton.

Cotton for HTV

Image from TeckWrap Craft Facebook Page

Other than ring-spun cotton shirts, you can also print on other materials made of cotton like aprons, bedroom slippers, or pillowcases. Although you have to be careful to use the right settings. For the bedroom slippers above, since the cotton fabric is thinner than the usual cotton t-shirt, avoid using higher heat to avoid scorch marks.

Polyester Shirts

polyester for htv

Image from Wikimedia by Bearas

Polyester T-shirts, most commonly used for sportswear can also be used for heat transfer vinyl printing. Polyester is a more delicate fabric and a low temperature material, hence, it requires lower temperature and medium pressure.

Thus, it’s recommended to use regular heat transfer vinyl. Unlike cotton t-shirts, you can use specialty vinyl. Polyester is the best fabric for block sublimation migration or sublimation printing. Polyester is also called sublimated fabric.

Denim

htv on denims

PU Heat Transfer vinyl from TeckWrap Craft printed on 100% cotton and Denim Jacket

May it be a denim jacket or jeans, yes you can apply HTV on denim. However, the challenge when it comes to denim is not having a smooth and flat surface. When it comes to heat transfer vinyl printing on denim, print on a flat or smooth surface only.

Canvas

Yes! You can print vinyl on canvas fabrics too! May it be a canvas tote bag, wallet, apron, or pillowcase. How much heat you need depends on the type of vinyl you use, so make sure to check out the guide above.

using htv on canvas
using heat transfer vinyl on canvas

Galaxy Heat Transfer vinyl printed on a pillowcase

how to use heat transfer vinyl on canvas
heat transfer vinyl on canvas
how to use htv on canvas
how to use heat transfer vinyl on canvas

Hoodies and Sweatshirts

 

cotton sweater with heat transfer vinyl

Galaxy Heat Transfer vinyl printed on a sweatshirt

Another common apparel sold for heat printing are hoodies or sweaters. Most of these apparel are made of 100% cotton or ring-spun cotton with significantly less stray fibers and a tight weave, thus applying HTV with high heat application settings will be successful.

Hats

 

how to put htv on a baseball cap

Image from Pixabay by Mediamodifier

Yes! You can print heat transfer vinyl on baseball caps or bucket hats too. However, the biggest challenge when it comes to these types of merchandise is not having a flat surface. That’s why a flatbed heat press machine won’t work for this type of printing.

A mini EasyPress or cap heat press is recommended to transfer print on this apparel. Caps are made of different types of materials like cotton, nylon, or polyester. If the hat is made of linen, be extra careful as it’s one of the most heat-sensitive materials.

Mittens

 

mittens and htv printing

Mittens printed with PU Heat Transfer Vinyl from TeckWrap Craft

Oven mittens are usually made of polyester and cotton, both compatible with heat transfer vinyl printing. One thing to remember when printing on an oven mitten is to use hard pressure since the fabric is thick.

Tips When Printing on HTV on Fabrics

  • Use parchment paper or a Teflon sheet to avoid scorches on the fabrics or heat press boxes.
  • Use a lower heat press platen for fabrics with uneven surfaces like denim. A lower heat press platen is placed under the garment.
  • If the HTV is not sticking properly on the garment, try to repress it again.
  • When peeling the carrier sheet, always check if the HTV is a cold peel or hot peel (check the product instructions of the vinyl).
  • Always pre-press the garment before printing the design itself. Pre-press for 5 to 10 seconds to wick away the moisture.
  • When applying HTV, use the right time and pressure.
  • Use mirror settings when sending the HTV it to the cutting machine.
  • It is recommended to use a heat press rather than iron on it.
  • For HTV, the shiny side is the carrier sheet. The dull side is what faces the blade on the cutting machine.
  • Fabrics made of cotton blended with other material like polyester is also compatible with HTV printing.
  • Always stick to the recommended temperature. Temperatures lower than the recommended heat may cause the vinyl not to stick properly.
  • Heat press ppressure when it comes to fabrics is usually medium to hard.
  • Nylon is a heat-sensitive material, but yes you can print HTV on it. It is recommended to use a lower temperature when printing HTV on nylon fabric. When printing on nylon fabrics, make sure to always test print first and use parchment paper to avoid scorching.
  • You can layer different colors of HTV, read this guide How to Layer Vinyl on a Shirt Like a Pro: A Step-By-Step Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Pre-wash My Fabric?

If you have the time, it is recommended to pre-wash the fabric. The three reasons to pre-wash a fabric is to pre-shrink it, eliminate chemicals, and prevent the colors from bleeding especially for t-shirts.

What Kind of Shirt Is Best for Heat Transfer?

The best kind of t-shirt for heat transfer are cotton, polyester, or cotton/poly blends. Regardless of the type of HTV you use, vinyl will have a good bond with the fabrics mentioned.

Can You Heat Transfer 100% Cotton?

Yes, you can apply HTV on 100% cotton. However, if you’re into the sublimating process, 100% cotton does go well with sublimation transfer paper. For sublimation printing, polyester shirts are recommended.

What Fabric Can You Iron-on Vinyl?

You can use iron-on vinyl on fabrics like cotton, polyester, or cotton and polyester blends. You cannot use a heat press on synthetic fibers like acrylic because they might melt under the heat.

What Is a Heat Transfer Cover Sheet?

A cover sheet is used as a top heated element. Due to the high heat of the heat press, you can place a parchment paper as a cover sheet to protect the fabric from scorching on the finished side.

What if I Want to Make a Vinyl Craft Not on Cloth?

If you want to make a vinyl craft not made of cloth, you can use adhesive vinyl. Blank merchandise like mugs, tumblers, and cups are customized using permanent adhesive vinyl. If you want a craft vinyl with strong adhesive, check out the products offered at TeckWrap Craft.

There You Have It!

These are the best fabrics you can use to print heat transfer vinyl. At this point, you’re pretty much ready to start your own clothing brand. Whether you plan on printing on a t-shirt or a bag, guaranteed, TeckWrap Craft’s heat transfer vinyl products are your best partners in customizing high-quality garments.

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