15 Tips on How to Weed Iron on Vinyl Like a Pro

To weed iron on vinyl, you need to have the right tools, follow the correct settings and have good lighting. But if you want to do it like a pro, you need to know these tips on how to weed iron vinyl like a pro. 

Weeding heat transfer vinyl may be challenging at first. You may encounter problems like the vinyl not separating from the carrier sheet easily. Or the intricate designs are a real struggle. But with practice and following these tips you’ll be weeding vinyl like a pro in no time. 

glow in the dark vinyl

15 Tips on How to Weed Iron On Vinyl Like a Pro

Weeding is the process of removing the unwanted vinyl you don’t want to be transferred to your design. Just by reading that, it sounds easy. That is if you follow the right tips and tricks. 

So before your next t-shirt printing project, better learn these tips for weeding so you won’t stress yourself out. These tips are not only applicable for heat transfer vinyl, but for craft adhesive vinyl as well. So check this out! 

1. Don’t Forget to Mirror the Design

Before doing anything else. Even before the weeding process, what you do in your Silhouette or Cricut’s design space matters. Because you know what? The settings in the design space matter and will greatly affect the weeding process. 

In the Cricut Design Space, the ‘Prepare Screen’ is where you mirror the iron-on vinyl. While on the Silhouette Studio, you have to click the entire design, click Object, and Flip. 

So the first thing you want to do, when working with heat transfer vinyl, is to mirror the design. There’s a reason why Cricut or Silhouette reminds you when hitting the ‘Cut’ button because it’s a simple mistake anyone can make. Just a simple reminder every time you work on iron-on vinyl so your whole project won’t go to waste. But, do not mirror removable or permanent vinyl! 

2. Use the Correct Setting

Have you mirrored your design for the heat transfer material? Great! Let’s go to the next tip: always choose the right settings. Now this will truly affect your weeding process later on. In your cutting software, there’s an option where you can change what kind of material you’re working on. 

how to weed htv like a pro

Check out this screenshot of the Silhouette Studio. From the Material setting, you can choose from the drop-down list what kind of vinyl you’re working on. Specifically, what kind of heat transfer vinyl you’re about to cut. 

Once you select the type of heat transfer vinyl you want to work on, the blade depth passes, and force and speed will automatically change as well. These are the recommended cut settings for that particular type of HTV. From there, you have something to work on. You may adjust these settings as soon as you do a test cut. 

3. Use a Weeding Box

Another tip, before sending the material to cut, try to use a weeding box. A weeding box serves as a boundary for your whole design. By creating a weeding box around your design, it will be easier for you to find the corner where you want to start the weeding. Additionally, it confines your whole design, so as not to waste any material as much as possible.

This tip is very helpful for every cutting machine project. But this really comes in handy especially when you’re working on texts, intricate designs, and smaller vinyl projects. Take a look at the image below. Both the Silhouette Studio and Cricut Design Space have this setting. 

how to weed iron on vinyl

4. Trace the Design Well

Another tip you should remember before you cut vinyl on the cutting machine, is you have traced the design well on your Silhouette or Cricut Design Space. There may be instances that the tiny pieces (like inner cavities) may not cut well, and that’s because it was not traced well on the design space. 

how to weed vinyl

The purpose of tracing the design on your cutting machine’s software studio is to determine which parts of the vinyl need to be cut. Just like the photo above, everything in yellow is where the blade of the cutting machine will cut the vinyl. 

You can adjust the settings on the Trace feature to ensure all parts will be cut by the cutting machine. Of course, don’t forget to mirror your image! 

5. Always Use a Cutting Mat

Another tip that many crafters would take for granted is the use of a cutting mat. Why use a cutting mat? The weeding process is much easier while the plastic backing (sticky side) of the vinyl is still stuck on the cutting mat. 

While weeding vinyl with the cutting mat still attached, this helps the vinyl to be steady in place thus an easier weeding process. Also, using a cutting mat always helps with the fine point blade of your cutting machine to stay sharp. 

how to weed vinly use a cutting mat
TeckWrap Craft Cutting Mat

6. Test Cut: Heat Transfer Vinyl and Adhesive Vinyl

Once you've ensured that you've mirrored the image, used a weeding box, and have selected the right material that comes with the right settings, it's better to do a test cut.

By doing a test cut, you’re making sure you’re cutting with the right depth and speed. Performing a test cut is recommended for both heat transfer vinyl and adhesive vinyl. 

During the test cut, when the vinyl easily separates from the carrier sheet, then you’re using the right settings and you’re good to go. If it’s the other way around, then you have to change the depth and speed settings on your Silhouette Studio or Cricut Design Space. 

cricut design space

7. Work on a Flat Surface

It’s easier for you to weed vinyl when you’re working on a flat surface. If you’re working on a wide HTV decal, make sure to work on a flat surface.

That’s why it always helps when you have a clean workshop and a dedicated table for weeding and doing all other craft projects that you have. 

8. Use a Proper Weeding Tool

Using a weeding tool is a must-know information every crafter should know. But the question is, are you using the proper weeding tool? If you find yourself struggling every time you weed heat transfer vinyl, you may not be using the proper tool. 

So what are the weeding tools you can use? Have a weeding pen, tweezer, and weeder on standby in your workspace. If you can have all three, the better. 

Why? Let’s put it this way, the weeding pen and weeder are best used for intricate designs or for the cavities (the inner excess vinyl). Using a tweezer would be easier when you’re removing the bigger unwanted portions of the vinyl. Other than the tools mentioned, others would use a craft knife as well. 

  • Tweezer
  • how to weed vinyl

  • Weeder (Weeding Hook)
  • how to weed vinyl

    9. Make Sure You Have Good Lighting

    If you have trouble seeing the weeding lines, then you need good lighting in your workspace. You can try either one of these options — a light box table or a lamp shade. If you’ve got the funds to invest in a lightbox table then great! 

    You can also resort to using a Cricut BrightPad if a light box table is not on the cards. A Cricut BrightPad is a product with the specific intention of weeding vinyl.

    It illuminates the project surface while weeding so you can easily see the cut lines. Other than easy crafting, a Cricut BrightPad also helps in reducing eye strain. Bottom line is — bright light matters! 

    how to weed iron on vinyl
    YouTube Source: Weeding Test: Bright Pad vs. No Bright Pad - Do I Really Need a Bright Pad? By Makers Gonna Learn

    If a lightbox or a Cricut BrightPad seems too expensive, you can use a desktop lamp or a lamp shade. All you want is good lighting so you can see the cut lines easily. If you need to extend the desktop lamp close to your project, then do so, it helps!

    10. Weed Vinyl Starting on the Upper Corner

      It helps if you start weeding iron-on vinyl on the upper corner. If you’re right-handed, you can start weeding in the upper left corner. If you’re left-handed then start with the upper right corner. You can actually do this even without a weeding tool. Some only do it by hand. Starting at the bottom may not be a good idea. 

      You can start weeding on the design itself, but it would help if you’ve removed the big chunk of the design. This way, you know where to work, what to work with, and with good lighting, you can already visualize what the design should look like. 

      11. When Weeding the Inner Cavities

        As soon as you’ve removed the bigger chunk of excess vinyl, you can now start with the inner cavities. What are inner cavities? Those are the inner excess vinyl that needs to be removed. When weeding lines of the inner cavities, this is where you’ll need to use the proper weeding tools because you can’t do this by hand anymore. 

        how to weed iron on vinyl

        During this step, you’ll appreciate the good lighting in your workspace. While weeding, there may be a build-up of scrap vinyl on your weeding tool, so make sure to pause once in a while and remove the scrap vinyl. 

        12. Weed Slowly

          Now this is a tip many crafters take for granted — weed slowly. Weeding vinyl is a process of patience. If you rush the process, you might end up removing the parts that should not be removed. 

          Take your time! You may encounter moments where the vinyl stuck on your weeding tool are the actual parts of the design. Chances are, you can mistakenly remove them. Make sure to look at the soft copy design on your computer, which leads us to the next step. 

          13. Follow Your Reference Design

            When weeding vinyl, you may find yourself in a rush that you haven't even looked at your reference design. As a result, you may not remove the parts that need to be removed. Or worse, you’ve removed the parts that shouldn’t be removed.

            So while you weed slowly, make sure to look at the reference design on your computer. By looking at the reference design from time to time, you’ll know exactly which parts of the vinyl to remove and which part needs to be transferred on the shirt. 

            14. Warm up the Iron-on Vinyl before Weeding

              If there comes a time that the vinyl won’t separate from the carrier sheet that easily, try this trick — warm up the iron-on vinyl before weeding it. Warming up the iron-on vinyl, on low heat settings, and for a short time softens the adhesive.

              As a result, the vinyl pulls away from the carrier sheet easily, with less resistance and less material breakage. With this trick, be careful not to use high heat settings and a longer time in the heat press. 

              Use the lowest heat settings of your heat press and warm up the iron-on vinyl for 5 to 10 seconds only. Make sure the shiny side is up, and use a Teflon sheet above and underneath the iron-on vinyl. 

              15. Always Double-Check

                Last but definitely the most important tip is to always double-check the weeded vinyl. Were all the excess vinyl removed even up to the last detail? Are all the parts of the design still intact? Before pressing the design onto a garment, always double-check! It won’t hurt! 

                iron on vinyl
                Image from Instagram page @teckwraphtv (creation by madludesigns

                Heat Press Tricks

                So when you’re done weeding the vinyl, you’re ready to print the design onto the shirt or garment you have. So here are several heat press tricks when printing iron-on vinyl: 

                • Follow the right settings on the heat press (time, temperature, and pressure). The heat press settings differ on the type of HTV you used. Make sure to check this crafting guide from TeckWrap Craft: Heat Press Temperature Guide for Vinyl: The Ultimate Guide
                • Pre-press the shirt to remove the moisture on the garment — this is an essential step. Pre-press the garment for 10 seconds using the recommended heat of the vinyl you used. 
                • Use a heat press machine rather than a regular household iron. Although you can use a household iron, the work wouldn’t be the same as it doesn’t have the same pressure and heat settings as that of a heat press machine. 
                • Center your designs properly by creating a center crease. Fold the shirt lengthwise then press for 5 to 10 seconds. Use the line as your reference point on how to center the design.
                • Another heat press trick is to use a cover sheet, either a Teflon sheet or parchment paper. Using a cover sheet prevents burn marks or yellowish stains when pressing on a garment.

                Frequently Asked Questions

                Why is it so hard to weed my vinyl?

                It may be hard to weed your vinyl because you’re cutting too deep. Make sure to check your settings on your cutting machine’s software, and lighten the pressure and the force. If the cut is too deep, even the backing paper of the vinyl gets cut. Thus, the whole project may get ruined. 

                What can I use when weeding vinyl?

                When weeding vinyl, use proper tools like a weeding pen, tweezer, or weeding hook. Some also use a straight pin when weeding vinyl. Also, make sure to have good lighting in your workspace when weeding vinyl. 

                Do you use transfer tape on iron-on vinyl?

                No, you do not use transfer tape on iron-on vinyl. Transfer tape is used on adhesive vinyl (removable or permanent vinyl). The vinyl decal using adhesive vinyl is transferred on the transfer tape, then printed onto the merchandise. 

                How do you weed small pieces of HTV?

                For easy weeding of small pieces or small letters of HTV, it is super helpful to use weeding tools and have good light in your workspace. Also, when working on an intricate design, weed slowly and methodically. 

                Summing It All Up!

                Yes, it can be frustrating when weeding iron on vinyl, especially when you’re just beginning. But with the 15 tips mentioned above on how to weed iron on vinyl, you’ll be a pro in no time.

                Summing it all up, make sure to use the correct settings on the cutting machine, have good lighting while weeding, and use the right weeding tools. One last thing, just take your time and don’t be in a rush! Enjoy and learn from the proces!

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