Have you ever wondered if you can use adhesive vinyl on shirts, or fabrics in general? To keep it short, you can, but there’s a lot you need to know. Traditional vinyl is usually best for hard surfaces, which are either flat or slightly curved. It sticks flawlessly and gives off a spectacular visual appeal. 

However, the material of a fabric is nothing like that. For that, there is specialty adhesive vinyl known as heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Before stepping out and purchasing this from an adhesive vinyl wholesale, sit down and go through this entire guide. It will teach you about HTV, and how it works on fabric, making your wishes come true.

The Right Type of Vinyl for Shirts 

Regular adhesive vinyl is not fit for a fabric. Why? Because it lacks the flexibility that’s needed to withstand the washing and bending a fabric goes through. Therefore, experts came up with heat transfer vinyl (HTV) for this very purpose. While we cannot straight up say that is more durable, we can say that it is better suited to withstand the wash and wear mileage that a shirt goes through. 

It can go for a longer period of time without any cracking or peeling off. These products are available in various colours and sizes. You can feel free to explore and play around with these vinyl options. And of course, you get to add your blend of creativity and personal flair to them. 

Preparing to Apply Vinyl on Shirts

Before you take up applying vinyl on shirts, there are certain steps you need to take. Before we move to the steps, you need a few essential tools, such as a heat press or household iron. 

We recommend the heat press since it is more consistent when it comes to pressure and heat distribution. Now, let’s have a look at the steps you need to follow:

Steps for preparing to apply HTV:

Choose Your Design: Start by selecting or creating a design that you want to transfer onto the shirt.

  1. Reverse your design: HTV is applied face down, so you have to reverse your design accordingly. This should be done in the cutting software before the actual cutting.
  2. Cut the vinyl: The next step is cutting, with the help of the cutting machine. Keep in mind that settings adjusted for HTV will produce the best results.
  3. Weed the excess: To get a cleaner look after cutting, you will weed out the excess vinyl from the design. The more careful you are with this, the better.
  4. Prepare the shirt: The material of the shirt also matters for the best results. Go for a cotton or poly-cotton blend shirt. Remove any wrinkles from the shirt before the vinyl application. Do this by pressing using the heat press. This makes the entire surface flat and ready to go.

So, these are the steps you need to follow before you apply the HTV to your shirt. That is, of course, if you want the design to look crisp!

Application Process 

Professional or not, applying an HTV requires a lot of care and attention. The best designs are the ones most carefully done. You’ll also have to be careful if you want to apply a design that can easily survive a few washes. Here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Preheat your heat press: First things first, you need to preheat your heat press. The ideal temperature is around 320°F (160°C). 15 seconds should be enough to remove any wrinkles from the shirt.
  2. Position the vinyl: The carrier sheet with the shiny side of the design needs to be up. Make sure that it’s arranged how you want it to be; straight and centred.
  3. Press the vinyl: Press down with the heat press for 10-15 seconds after putting a Teflon sheet over the HTV. The pressure needs to be medium, not too low, not too high. This can vary based on the vinyl.
  4. Peel the carrier sheet: After pressing, peel off the carrier sheet. Check the HTV instructions to confirm whether you need to do a cold peel or a hot peel.

Care and Maintenance

Washing with cold water helps keep your vinyl-garnished shirts alive for longer. Bleach and fabric softeners are a no go. They will only shorten the lifespan of the fabric. We don’t want that.


Learning to apply HTV can open up tons of opportunities for you. Not only do you get to use your creativity, but also cater to demands of the public if you are in this business. As a DIY specialist, you can always get your HTV from an adhesive vinyl wholesale at Denver Sign Supply. They offer plenty of options that you can happily choose from.