How To Press A Shirt In The Heat? Update 06/2022

Ever thought to yourself, “That would make a great t-shirt!” after finding the ideal Grumpy Cat meme on the internet? Now that you’ve got your own heat press, you can transform that meme into a hilarity in minutes. This guide will teach you the basics of how to heat press a shirt, whether you want to start your own t-shirt business or just make a grumpy cat shirt for yourself.

A heat press seals a transfer onto a piece of fabric by applying heat and pressure. Designs cut from vinyl with a Cricut machine, as well as screen prints on transfer paper, are also common methods of transfer. The vinyl or transfer paper’s adhesive is activated and sealed to the fabric by the press’s controlled temperature.

A heat press is explained in detail in this page. You’ll learn how to use your heat press in seven different ways. Finally, we’ll go over some pointers for getting started with the necessary supplies.

How To Heat Press A Shirt

What is a Heat Press and What Does It Do?

Fabric, porcelain, or other materials are sealed with ink or vinyl using a heat press, which uses precise temperature and pressure settings. T-shirts are a frequent application for a heat press. To cure and set screen print designs into the shirt fabric, a heat press can, for example, permanently adhere HTV cuts to a shirt or bond sublimation transfer prints to a shirt.

You can use a heat press at home or at a small business to transfer vinyl and transfer paper prints.

With heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, you may start making t-shirts right away. A digital file is sent to an electronic cutting design once your image is created in a computer application. This is where a heat press comes in.

There must be an exact balance between pressure and temperature when applying heat transfer vinyl to your shirt so that it adheres effectively without burning your shirt.

A unique type of paper with a heat-activated adhesive on its back can be used to produce multi-colored graphics using screen printing or other printing methods. The glue is then sealed into the cloth with a heat press, giving the illusion that the garment has been printed directly onto it!

Clamshell presses are the most typical shape for t-shirt heat presses. On the top of this model, you will find a pressure control knob, which is frequently connected to a temperature control panel as well. Teflon-coated heating plates are held in the upper half of the clamshell while the bottom or base is referred to as the platen and is normally covered with heat-resistant silicone.

Assemble a clamshell over your shirt and push down with your hand for a period of time to let the heat and pressure to do their work. Then, remove the clamshell and press down on your shirt for another period of time.

It’s possible to find speciality heat presses, such as a type of press built exclusively for applying HTV to coffee mugs, in addition to the standard flat platens used in most heat pressing machines. Depending on your needs, you may be able to purchase attachments for your heat press, such as a baseball cap attachment or a cup attachment.

Commercial heat presses can cost as much as $1,000 for the most basic models. Temperature and pressure may be precisely controlled using a wide range of digital choices. High-end heat presses often have far more robust bodies and can handle heavier materials than cotton t-shirts, making them ideal for printing on a variety of materials.

There are a wide variety of sizes available for presses as well. It’s possible to find little Cricut Easy Presses and huge commercial presses of all shapes and sizes, as well as anything in between.

Using heat to adhere a decorative element to your shirt is a basic operation that will be carried out by any press, simple or complex.

How to Heat Press a Shirt

Heat Press a Shirt Step By Step

You can apply a transfer paper design to your shirt or seal vinyl cutouts onto your shirt with a heat press. On the other hand, the heat press is an excellent instrument for printing intricate screen printing or sublimation printing jobs, as well as for applying a simple logo to a garment.

As a last step in your t-shirt design process, the use of a heat press is critical! Getting the hang of it isn’t difficult, but it does take a little experience and can have an effect on the final appearance of your shirt.

1. Heat Press a Shirt Step By Step

For each project, the basic procedures of pressing a shirt with heat remain consistent. However, certain characteristics like shirt kind or temperature may need to be adjusted.

  1. Prepare a stable, flat platform for the press to sit on. It doesn’t matter how little your press is! You don’t want the press to slip and collapse on you at any moment.
  2. Setting the temperature and pressure on your heat press is always the first step in the process. It’s best to stick to the instructions in your press’s user manual or the HTV package’s material if you’re new to pressing with vinyl. A temperature chart is included at the end of this article for your convenience. What is the significance of temperature? When it comes to temperature, different textiles such as polyester and cotton can handle it. In addition, the temperature requirements for each type of transfer paper and HTV are varied.
  3. You should give your press a few minutes to heat up before you begin pressing. This usually only takes a few seconds.
  4. Before applying the HTV or transfer paper, you’ll need to prepare the shirt by pressing it for a few seconds. A smooth, wrinkle-free surface can be created by pressing it down on your cutouts or transfer paper. Once you’ve laid the garment out, seal the heat plate down on it for around five seconds to begin prepping it. As a hint, place the shirt in such a way that the sleeves, neckline, and hem do not touch the platens. The heat plate may not be able to completely adhere to the cloth because of the shirt’s larger sections.
  5. Open the press, but keep the shirt on the lower platen. Afterwards, remove the shirt. Using HTV cutouts or transfer paper, place your decorative components on the shirt exactly where you want them. You must take care not to get burned by touching the hot upper platen!
  6. You may need to apply a Teflon sheet over the design in some circumstances. Please consult your HTV plan to find out if this is required. Cover sheets can also be used for this purpose.
  7. The handle of the heat plate should be used to seal the plate in place on top of the clothing. The time specified in the press’s user manual or on the HTV package must elapse before the press can be reopened.
  8. The backing may need to be immediately peeled away from some vinyls. Before you touch the clothing, it’s best to let it cool down.

2. Logo on a Shirt

Your company’s logo is one of the fastest methods to personalize shirts for employees. The logo of a corporation is usually small and straightforward.

Screen printing, a vinyl cutout, or a printed transfer can all be used to put a logo on a garment. In fact, you can use your heat press to seal in unique embroidery patches that you’ve had done for the shirts!

While the essential processes for using a heat press have already been explained, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • The secret to designing a personalized shirt that looks polished is to get the logo perfectly positioned. Most of the time, you’ll want a huge logo located between the left and right side seams around four to six inches below the neckline. It is most customary to place a small logo in a horizontal position to the right of the centerfold of the shirt, seven to nine inches from the shoulder seam, on the left side.
  • You can just place the little logo on the top of the pocket if your shirt has one.
  • Thermo tape can be used to keep small logos in place while you close the heat press. That way, there will be no last-minute shifting.

3. With Vinyl

When it comes to t-shirt customization, using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) with a heat press is hands-down the easiest and most rewarding method. HTV is an unique kind of vinyl with an adhesive backing that is activated by heat.

It is possible to purchase HTV in a variety of exotic finishes, such as glitter, matte, or metallic. Aside from that, it’s available in every hue imaginable.

If you prefer a screen-printed, raised pattern, you can print directly onto vinyl instead of transfer paper and then cut out the shapes to stick to the shirt.

Using HTV cuts in most circumstances is the simplest and most effective way for beginners.

  1. The shiny side should be facing down in your cutting machine when using HTV. This is critical in order to preserve the cutout shapes and their backing paper.
  2. Make a copy of your design by cutting it out.
  3. Negative space HTV is removed from the design by peeling it off the carrier paper and discarding it.
  4. You may get a smooth, flat surface by pre-pressing the shirt in your heat press.
  5. Assemble the HTV design on the shirt and wear it! The carrier paper will ensure that any text or design elements are not lost or damaged during shipping.
  6. A Teflon sheet placed on top of the design is recommended for most types of HTV.
  7. Use the suggested heat press settings for the HTV you intend to use. In the case of ordinary HTV, the temperature setting is 315 °F.
  8. It’s up to you whether you want to close the press, or use a Cricut Easy Press on top of the design. Some types of high-tech vinyl (HTV) may require a lengthier pressing time than others.
  9. Remove the top layer of carrier paper from the design. It’s possible that the adhesive didn’t attach to the fabric well enough to begin with, in which case you should reapply the heat press.

4. With Cricut

Preparing HTV cutouts to design your shirt has never been easier than using a Cricut. Other well-known brands, like as Silhouette, are available, as are many low-cost off-brand cutting machines. It doesn’t matter whether kind of HTV cutter you use; the process is the same.

  1. Creating a digital design is as simple as downloading one or starting from scratch in a design tool of your choosing. Adobe Illustrator is a better option if you want to work with more complicated fonts.
  2. Mirror the image in your design program. As a result, everything in the image will appear to be mirrored in the mirror. To preserve the carrier paper, you must cut the vinyl with the glossy side facing down in the cutting machine.
  3. Then you can use your electronic cutting machine with the digital cutting file you have downloaded.
  4. To apply vinyl to a shirt using a heat press, follow the techniques outlined in the preceding section!

5. Screen Print Transfer

Using a heat press for this purpose is a common one, as well. To this day, logos and pictures are almost exclusively printed using screenprinting techniques.

For sublimation printing, you can use an inkjet printer to print onto transfer paper or a sublimation printer.

In some situations, you may wish to outsource the screen printing transfer to a third-party provider. Your shirt will be ready to wear once the transfer has been applied.

You’ll need the following tools and supplies to do this:

  1. Place the transfer where you want it on the shirt. A screen print transfer does not necessitate the use of a protective coating or Teflon sheet.
  2. Allow the press to warm up by preheating it. The most common temperature range for screenprint transfers is 350°F to 375°F.
  3. For seven seconds, hold the press down. You’ll need a lot of force here!
  4. Peel the transfer paper off one corner at a time. Using the heat press again for three seconds might help remove the paper from the fabric if it seems to be sticking to it.

6. Both Sides of a Shirt

There are two ways to put a design on both the front and back of a garment.

To begin, cover the design you do not intend to press with a Teflon sheet. It’s easy to protect the back design from overheating by placing a Teflon sheet inside if you press the shirt’s front first. After you’ve finished with the front, flip the press over and use it to heat press the other side.

Inserting cardboard inside the shirt and then using your heat press to heat both the front and back at once can also be an alternative method. It is also important that the cardboard does not allow any ghosting or ink leakage from one side to the other.

7. Shirt with an Iron

To apply graphics to your shirt without the use of a heat press, you can sometimes use an ordinary iron. Ideal for little HTV cutouts, like a logo. This technique works wonderfully. Transfer paper designs, on the other hand, will not adhere well to an iron.

If you decide to use an iron, you’ll have to deal with two issues. There are a few things to keep in mind when using an iron to produce a picture that covers the entire front of your shirt. With an iron, it will be difficult to exert adequate pressure.

If you insist on ironing your shirt, by all means do so. Try the following:

  1. Iron on the “linen” setting. This is the closest you can go to a real heat press’ precise temperature settings with most home irons. It is possible that you will need to experiment with other varieties of HTV, such as magnetic or flocked vinyl, if you use this setting on plain HTV.
  2. Pressing cloths or tea towels can be used to press the cutouts onto the garment.
  3. Do not repeatedly push the pressing cloth with a hot iron. Instead, concentrate your effort on a single area and hold for around 30 seconds, pressing down as firmly as you can. Repeat this motion until the entire design is covered.
  4. Try pulling off the carrier sheet with a little touch. Applying the iron again is necessary if the HTV is included.

Materials for Heat-Press T-Shirt Printing

For either HTV or printed transfers, you’ll need a few basic supplies. Beginner-level equipment is often available at a lower price point than more expensive commercial-grade options. Even though you can save money by purchasing HTV in bulk, if you only need a few sheets for personal use, you’ll probably want to get them from your local craft store instead.

To get started with heat pressing HTV designs, you’ll need the following items:

  • A heat press Depending on the machine’s quality and capabilities, these can cost anywhere from $100 to well over $1,000.
  • Cuts with precision and speed thanks to an electric blade. Two of the most popular home-use cutting machines are Cricut and Silhouette.
  • Make some sort of computer program. Your electronic cutting machine comes with a simple design application, but you can also use a graphic design program like Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator to create more complex designs.
  • Vinyl with a heat transfer. At your local craft store or online from places like Amazon or Etsy, you’ll discover a wide variety of HTV options. If you plan to make a lot of shirts, you can buy rolls of heat transfer vinyl (HTV) in quantity from various internet retailers.
  • T-shirts, of course, are a must. HTV graphics can be applied on cotton, polycotton blends, and polyester shirts. However, polyester may necessitate lower heat press temperatures.

Instead of using vinyl for your project, you’ll need a slightly different set of supplies:

  • A heat press is still required. Depending on your needs, you can choose from a variety of different types of press machines, from a tiny one for personal use to a commercial-grade equipment capable of producing and selling numerous shirts at a time.
  • You’ll need a printer to do this. With a home office inkjet printer or a complex screen printing equipment, this process can be as simple as printing onto transfer paper, or it can be more involved.
  • As you’ll see in the next section, there are numerous varieties of transfer paper to choose from. Make sure you buy the right type for the job at hand.
  • T-shirts are also required. In general, while working with printed transfers, only 100% cotton should be used. When using this method, you can use extremely high temperatures without worrying about damaging synthetic materials like polyester.

Heat Press Transfer Paper

Using heat press transfer paper is a straightforward technique, but getting the proper paper can be a challenge at first!

Most craft stores have a wide selection of transfer paper. These are some examples:

  • Printed on with an inkjet printer, inkjet paper is specifically designed for this purpose. White tees can be transferred using this type of paper, but the image must be mirrored and the transfer paper must be placed upside down for white fabric.
  • Screenprint transfer paper for use with plastisol ink, or hot-peel transfer paper. The ink is stenciled onto the transfer paper using a mesh screen and this type of paper. This is done by laying down a piece of transfer paper on your shirt, pressing it in place using a heat press, and then peeling the transfer paper off while it’s still hot.
  • The freezer paper equivalent, cold-peel transfer paper, can be used in certain circumstances. In this situation, after utilizing the heat press, you leave the screen print design to cool and then peel away the paper. On top of the fabric, this process creates a more plasticky print.
  • Paper for sublimation transfer printing aids in the gasification of ink, making it an intriguing material to work with. However, this procedure can only be used on polyester cloth.

As a last step in your project, you will need to choose between dark and light transfer paper. You’ll need light transfer paper if you’re printing on a white or light-colored shirt, such a yellow or pink one. Dark transfer paper is typically used for garments that are black or dark in color.

How Long Do You Leave a Shirt on a Heat Press?

Temperature and pressure in the heat press affect how long you should leave a shirt in there, depending on what kind of vinyl or transfer you’re using and what kind of garment you’re pressing.

Heat press timings are usually included in the instruction manual for the press. Some materials, like vinyl or transfer paper, come with specified pressing times if you’re interested in using them.

These general rules should help:

  • In most cases, ten to fifteen seconds of press time is all that is needed for HTV. Using a specialized sort of HTV, on the other hand, can alter this. A lower press temperature is recommended for flocked vinyl, which should only be in the press for roughly fifteen seconds.
  • Pressure for roughly 20 seconds should be applied for printed transfer designs.
  • Depending on the design’s thickness, screen-printed transfers can take anywhere from ten to thirty seconds to dry.
  • A polyester shirt in your heat press should only be in there for ten seconds at most, or it will scorch or melt.

Heat Press Temperature Guide

Fabric, vinyl, and transfer paper all require their own unique set of temperature requirements. In many cases, the owner’s manual for your heat press or the product box will list the suggested temperature ranges.

Listed here are the most frequent heat press temperatures:

Light-colored cotton350℉
Dark-colored cotton320℉
Plain white 100% cottonUp to 380℉
Regular HTV315℉
Glitter HTV320℉
Inkjet transfer paper325℉
Screenprint transfer350-375℉


The possibilities for embellishing t-shirts with a heat press are nearly endless. Using heat transfer vinyl cuts, you can quickly and easily create professional-looking logos and text. Printed transfers from a screen printer or a home printer can also be applied with your heat press.

In order to employ HTV designs, you’ll need a heat press that generates exact temperatures and pressure. Also, it has the correct settings for permanently affixing printed transfers to the surface of the fabric. You can use your iron to apply vinyl cutouts, but you won’t be able to adequately seal printed transfers with your at-home iron.

what are the designs you’ll be making with your new heat press? Is it better to use HTV or printed transfers? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

Please consider giving this post a star rating of at least one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.