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Basic Guide to Heat Transfer Vinyl

you’ve probably wondered how the T-shirt vinyl process works and what you need to get started decorating apparel. Wonder no longer. We’re here to give you the scoop.

For simplicity’s sake, this article will deal with CAD cuttable T-shirt transfers, otherwise known as “T-shirt vinyl” or “heat transfer vinyl”.  These are the ones you can create with a vinyl cutter.

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There are digital print options too, including solvent printable films, dye sublimation, and ChromaBlast cotton decoration. But to keep it simple, this article will focus on heat transfer films you can use with your vector software and vinyl cutter.

T-shirt Vinyl Hardware: almost the same as for vinyl sign making:

Since both sign making and CAD T-shirt graphics are vector-based processes, the essential hardware for making T-shirts is almost the same as that for making vinyl signs. You’ll need a personal computer, a cutting plotter or vinyl cutter, and some vector software.

As an old Haitian friend of mine used to say, “almost chicken is not soup!” Meaning, there is an important difference in the list of essential tools for making T-Shirt graphics.

In addition to a vinyl cutting plotter, PC, and software, you’ll also need a heat press. If your production goals are modest, you can begin with a small inexpensive starter press like the EnduraPRESS CS15.

Creating and applying letters on a T-shirt or jersey is almost the same process as making vinyl graphics.  Almost. Before you send a design job from your vector software to a vinyl cutter, the file must be reversed so that it’s a mirror image of the original design.