Learn how to make an easy T-shirt with a Cricut! This is a great project for beginners and I show you how to do it step by step.
One of the reasons many people buy a Cricut is to be able to make T-shirts! And it’s easy to see why — the Cricut is perfect for T-shirt making, as it cuts out iron-in vinyl design like a champ. My Print Then Cut Iron on Transfer T-Shirt tutorial is a big hit and my heart mandala shirt also draws a big audience! These can be a little challenging for beginners. So I want to dial it back a bit and do a very easy tutorial on how to make a T shirt with a Cricut for you!
A couple of months ago I did a full-color Print Then Cut Iron on Transfer T-Shirt tutorial which was a big hit, but print then cut can be a little challenging for beginners. So I want to dial it back a bit and do a very easy tutorial on how to make a T shirt with a Cricut with you!
For this project, we’ll be working with iron on vinyl, also known as heat transfer vinyl, or HTV. Iron on vinyl is a special type of vinyl that has a heat sensitive adhesive that will stick to fabric and other surfaces when pressed down with a heat source like an iron or an EasyPress. I will show you how to use BOTH in this video.
Now the cool thing about the Cricut is that you can cut out a design or name from iron-on vinyl of various colors, patterns, and textures to create a uniquely personalized design. And if you do it right, your shirt can be machine washed up to 50 times before you start to have issues. I will show you the RIGHT way to do it in this video so you get great results the first time!
Because the thing is, there’s a bunch of things that can go wrong the first time you make a shirt. You need to remember to mirror, or FLIP, the design, put the vinyl on your cutting mat with the right side up, weed the right part of the design, preheat your shirt first, set your temperature right, press long enough, and remove the carrier sheet at the right time. The good news is I’ll be right here with you while you make your shirt to make sure you do it right!
Here is a full step-by-step video tutorial on how to Make an Iron-On T Shirt with a Cricut:
Let’s start with the supplies you need and then I’ll show you how to prepare an iron-on vinyl T-shirt design! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Materials Needed to Make an Iron-On T-Shirt with a Cricut
- A cotton T-shirt
- Iron-on vinyl
- Weeding tool – the Cricut basic tool set is my favorite one to use for projects like this
- StandardGrip cutting mat
- Cricut TrueControl Knife or craft knife
- A way to press your vinyl onto your shirt, such as an EasyPress, household iron, or heat press
- A way to cut your vinyl (I used the amazing Cricut cutting machine!)
- Design #151 – My free craft heart SVG cut file (available in my free resource library—get the password at the bottom of this post)
How to Make an Iron-On HTV Design for a T-Shirt with a Cricut
Step 1: Find or Make Your T-Shirt Design
Go to Cricut Design Space, click on New Project, then click on Templates in the upper left corner. Choose “Classic T-Shirt” and pick a style, size and color. The template will help you size your design so it looks good on your T-shirt.
You’ll find many designs for iron-on T-shirts right in Cricut Design Space. Click on Images and browse the Image library for ideas. If you’re a beginner, I recommend you stick with simple, one-color designs that do not have lots of small detail.
If you want to use my free Craft Heart design I used in this tutorial (Design #151), you can download the free SVG cut files from my free resource library. It’s available as both a PDF (for hand cutting) and an SVG/DXF (for machine cutting). If you’re going to cut it out on your cutting machine, upload the file to your design software. If you’re not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this helpful video training series I made.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re not sure how to upload an SVG file to Cricut Design Space, or you’re having issues (such as getting a message that says “unsupported file”), please watch my free training series, SVGs Made Simple. It will help you SO much!
Here’s what my “Craft” design file looks like uploaded to Cricut Design Space:
You can resize the image to fit the T-shirt by using the resize handle in the lower right corner — just click and drag.
When you are ready, click the green Make It button in the upper right corner. You must then toggle the MIRROR to on (green) — all iron-on designs must be mirrored before cutting!
Step 2: Cut Out Your Design in Iron-On Vinyl (HTV) on Your Cricut
It’s super important you put your iron-on vinyl SHINY SIDE DOWN on your cutting mat. Learn how to tell which side to cut iron-on vinyl in my tutorial here!
Step 3: Weed Your Iron-On T-Shirt Design
It’s now time to weed our iron-on design. So weeding means to remove all of the vinyl that we don’t want transferred to our project when we iron it on or use a heat press. So that means we remove all the extra little bits.
To get started, you want to begin peeling the vinyl away from the edge. Alas, the vinyl never really wants to come free very easily. So what I do is make a small knick in the corner with my craft knife. You don’t want to cut all the way through. Just cut through the iron on vinyl layer on the matte side (the cut side). And then it’s easier to peel off once you’ve made that cut, I find. So I have just knicked the corner right here:
And now I can get my fingernail under the edge of the vinyl easier because of that little knick. If you have any problems, you can use your weeding tool to kind of pull it away like this. Once you have it started, you just continue to pull it away from the carrier sheet. And your design will stay on the carrier sheet and the part that you do not want will pull away, just like this.
Now if you look at it your iron-on design, you’ll see that not all of it has been removed, right? So we’ve got the parts inside the heart and the wings, and the letters as well.
Tip: Always keep your little scraps off to the side, away from your work area so that they don’t get mixed in with other things.
You just be patient and if you need to, you could use your tweezers to get the little bits off without hurting the letters. Here we have weeded our whole design.
Step 4: Transfer Your Design to Your T-Shirt
First, if you are using a Cricut EasyPress, refer to the Cricut EasyPress Interactive Quick Reference Guide which will tell you how to prep your material and EasyPress, how to apply and how to care for the finished product. This takes the guesswork out of the process. You can view the guide at jennifermaker.com/easypress.
If you are using an iron, you’ll want to preheat your iron to the cotton setting or the appropriate setting for your material.
Position your design on your shirt. For this project we want to center it on the front. To find the center of your shirt, fold it in half by matching up your sleeves. Using your EasyPress or iron, put a little crease on the fold. Now, when you open your shirt you know exactly where the center is because there is a crease. Just line up the center of the heart with the crease. I also choose to put the design in the top half of the shirt.
Preheat your t-shirt, then put your design in place.
Heat the design using your iron using medium pressure or for the EasyPress apply gentle pressure.
If your transfer sheet is sticking to your iron, you can cover your design with parchment paper to protect the surface of your iron.
For this project, my design was larger than my EasyPress. So I had to slide my EasyPress over to heat the design in two sections.
Per the EasyPress Heat Guide, I had to turn the shirt over and apply pressure to the back.
Wait and let the design cool to a warm temperature. Then pull the carrier sheet off your design.
Please be sure to check the Cricut website for the application instructions for your material. For Everyday Iron-On, view the settings here.
Step 5: Take Care of Your New T-Shirt
To learn the proper way to care for your new shirt, allow 24 hours after applying your vinyl before washing. Turn your shirt inside out before washing without bleach. This design should least at least 50 washes.
You can view the care guide at jennifermaker.com/easypress.
Answers to Your Questions About Making Iron-On T-Shirts
Q: Why is my vinyl design pulling away from my shirt when I try to peel the carrier sheet?
A: This could happen for a couple different reasons. First, it could be a little too soon to pull it away and you’ll want to let the design cool down a little bit more and then try again. If that still doesn’t work, heat the design a little bit more. Those are typically the two reasons it isn’t working.
Q: I heard that I’m supposed to see the texture/fibers of my shirts through my iron on vinyl; is this correct?
A: From my testing, the only time that I can get the fibers to show is when I applied too much heat. My research shows that you don’t always have to see the texture for it to be applied correctly. If my vinyl is applied correctly, I can feel the texture of the fabric when I run my hand over the design, but I cannot see the texture.
Q: Is it bad to overheat my design?
A: Yes, too much heat will harm the adhesive and cause your design to peel after you wear or wash it.
Q: Can I combine and layer colors of vinyl or different vinyls?
A: Yes, you can! Just so long as you don’t try to put anything over Glitter, Mesh or Flocked Vinyl. I have a tutorial on layering iron-on vinyl if you’re ready to take your projects to the next level. Read my Layered Iron-On Vinyl Tutorial and learn to make a Cute Totebag.
Q: Is there another way I can design my t-shirts so it lasts longer?
A: Yes, I suggest using Infusible Inks if you want a longer lasting design. I have a Cricut Infusible Ink T-Shirt tutorial you might enjoy!
Get my free “Craft” SVG cut files for your T-shirt
If you make a shirt with your Cricut, please share a photo in my helpful Cricut Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.