Have you ever combined two materials and made something you absolutely LOVE? That’s me and glitter heat transfer vinyl + fabric! I love the results!
For this project you will need a Silhouette Cameo 3 machine, our mandala design, glitter heat transfer material (smooth HTV also works), fabric (100% cotton), iron on fabric stabilizer, a shirt and an iron or heat press. The process is simple, but the results are WOW!
I made this shirt using the mandala that was created as part of our 12 exclusive Heat Transfer Designs. When you first open the file, you will see:
This is a detailed design, but worth it if you have the patience! For this project, I needed the design to be 7 inches, so I clicked on the design and pulled the corner in until it was about 7 inches (using the grid on the digital mat is helpful):
Once I had the design sized to fit, I copied and pasted it (CTRL C then CTRL V). Let’s start with getting the fabric part of our design ready. I dragged one copy of the design off to the side of the mat then right clicked and ungrouped it. I needed just the background layer (the bumpy black circle at the bottom), so I pulled it away from the copy:
I moved the original mandala off to the side and brought the background piece up to the corner of the mat. I want to make my fabric layer ever so slightly smaller than my vinyl layer so you won’t see the edge of the fabric along the outside of the vinyl. To shrink the background down a little, select the shape and then click the offset button at the bottom of the screen (it looks like a little bullseye):
When you click on offset, Silhouette Studio will automatically put a .125 inch external offset around your design (which will make the design BIGGER). We want to make the design SMALLER, so click cancel and it will remove the default offset (leaving you with just the original piece again). To create an internal offset, click your design again and click Internal offset. I chose .039 inches for my internal offset:
This will create a smaller copy of your image inside the original. I have colored the original red and the offset blue to show you the difference here:
The offset is ever so slight, but this will hide the edge of the fabric without getting too small where it won’t be covered by the HTV. I deleted the red original copy and then prepped my fabric for cutting.
When you cut fabric with your die cutting machine, you cannot just stick the fabric to the cutting mat and cut. You need to stabilize the fabric first. I used iron on fabric stabilizer that has glue on both sides. You iron one side to the fabric and then there is a paper backing which peels off and you can iron the cut fabric to the project. The best part of using an iron on stabilizer? No sewing! I ironed the stabilizer onto the fabric and left the paper backing on to cut:
Iron on stabilizer stiffens the fabric so you can cut it with your machine. I stuck the prepped fabric to my cutting mat (fabric side up) and loaded the mat into my Cameo 3 machine:
Next I went back to Silhouette Studio to get the file ready to cut. I clicked on the design and went to the cut settings window and selected “Fabric (Thin fabrics like cotton)” from the materials list:
The presets in the machine said to have my blade set at a 3, the speed 5, thickness 33. I also selected that I was using a ratchet blade from the drop down menu. If you have a blue fabric blade, you would chose the ratchet blade (the fabric blade and the regular blade are the same, the fabric blade is just colored blue so you don’t use it on paper and fabric).
Next I sent the machine to cut:
The machine cut the fabric perfectly! I peeled off the backing sheet from the stabilizer (which now leaves me with fabric with glue on the back):
I put the fabric off to the side and then started working on the mandala. I used glitter silver heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for this project. To cut the glitter HTV, I dragged the fabric piece off the mat and pulled the full mandala back over. IMPORTANT! When you go to cut the HTV, right click on the design and click “Flip Horizontally:”
The fabric layer should NOT be flipped before cutting, but the HTV mandala needs to be because you are cutting the HTV upside down/backwards. When I designed this mandala, I tried to make it symmetrical, but it isn’t a perfect mirror so you need to flip the HTV layer before cutting or it will not line up when you go to press it.
Once the design is reversed, I selected the shape and went to the cut settings window to adjust the material. I selected “Heat Transfer Material (Glitter)” from the materials list and adjusted my blade according to the recommended settings:
The glitter HTV recommended settings were blade 5, speed 5, thickness 10. I kept the ratchet blade selected and loaded my cutting mat with the glitter silver HTV, shiny side down:
After the design was cut, I weeded it using a sharp pick tool. When weeding it was helpful to have the design pulled up on my computer so I could make sure I was weeding the correct pieces. It is also helpful to have the design colored in in the software so you can see what pieces need to be removed. In this case, you want to remove anything that is not colored in on screen:
For this design, I found it helpful to start on the outside of the mandala and do all the same pieces of the design before moving onto other sections. It was a process to weed the design, but also a little therapeutic. Here is the process sped up quite a bit:
It got a little difficult in the middle the design. You can see that I had to put the pieces back into place, but just stick them back to the backing sheet and it will be fine.
Once it was all weeded it looked like this:
Now I was ready to add the layers to the shirt. I started by pressing a line down the middle of the shirt. I folded the shirt in half and pressed it with my heat press:
Next, I lined up the fabric layer with the lines on the shirt making sure that it was centered. Once I was sure the fabric was centered, I lined up the heat transfer. Lining up the heat transfer reminded me of putting the lid back on a carved pumpkin… you have to get it just right to make it fit! Once I got the bumps to all line up, I stuck the HTV to the fabric layer. The HTV has a sticky backing sheet so this held the fabric in place and I pressed both layers at once:
Once I was happy with the placement, I pressed the design and both layers adhered to the shirt:
Here’s a video with the full tutorial as well:
Note: You can use smooth heat transfer vinyl with fabric as well, but skip the internal offset if you use smooth HTV as it might show a line in the HTV from the fabric layer which you wouldn’t want to see.