Problems Getting Heat Transfer Vinyl To Stick? Try These Tricks!

Problems Getting Heat Transfer Vinyl To Stick? Try These Tricks!

T-shirt vinyl is such a versatile material. You can apply it to most any fabric as well as wood and glass. It is so easy to work with, but if you're new to heat transfer vinyl, you may find yourself frustrated over vinyl that won't stick. That's totally okay! We've all been there, and luckily, Craftables has tons of tools and tutorials to help you out. Start by reading our Complete Guide to HTV then come back here for our best tips on how to make iron-on vinyl transfers last longer.

Tip Number One: Pre-wash

When you're working with wearables like t-shirts, onesies or even tote bags, it's always best to prewash those items before applying iron-on vinyl. Fabrics tend to shrink when washed and dried and if the shrinking occurs after you've applied the heat transfer vinyl, you could end up with wrinkled and/or peeling designs.

Tip Number Two: Preheat

Preheating your wearable or fabric items ensures a strong bond and helps to remove any wrinkles that could cause the design to have creases. Use an iron to warm the area where you plan to place the decal for several seconds beforehand. If you're using a heat press, press the blank item for a few seconds to heat the fabric.

Tip Number Three: Heat Settings

Setting the correct temperature on your iron or heat press is a crucial part of the heat transfer process. If the temperature is too low, the iron-on vinyl won't bond. If the temperature is too high, you'll end up burning or melting the heat transfer vinyl.

If you're using an iron without temperature settings, choose the cotton or linen setting with no steam.

Here's a handy heat settings chart for Craftables iron-on vinyl:

*If you're using another brand of heat transfer vinyl, be sure to check the recommended heat settings for that particular brand.

Tip Number Four: Pressure

If you followed all the tips on how to make iron-on vinyl transfers last longer thus far and it still isn't sticking, it might be the amount of pressure you're using. This can be tricky with an iron since all the pressure has to be applied by hand, but it is possible. Just make sure you're working on a hard, stable surface and use the iron to press down hard over each section of the decal for at least 15 seconds.

Tip Number Five: Cold Peel

Different types of heat transfer vinyl have different instructions when it comes to hot peel vs. cold peel. I prefer to let my items cool before peeling away the carrier sheet. If you don't have time to wait for it to fully cool, wait at least 20-30 seconds and then peel away a small corner to check. You don't want to risk peeling off the heat transfer vinyl while it's still hot. Give the adhesive time to cool off and bond with the fabric.

That's it! Follow these tips on how to make iron-on vinyl transfers last longer and you will successfully create durable projects with heat transfer vinyl. If you're looking for more guidance on how to apply heat transfer vinyl to surfaces that aren't fabric, check out our Will HTV Stick to That post. Once you've got the basics down, check out the Heat Transfer Vinyl Project Tutorials on the Craftables Blog for more inspiration!

About the Author


My name is Kayla and I’m a DIY loving mom of 3, living in North Carolina. I absolutely love creating! It doesn’t matter if it’s refinishing furniture or paper crafting, I love it all. I’m a former blogger for Silhouette America and current blogger for Cricut so I know the ins and outs of both machines and love teaching beginners all of the handy tips and tricks. Come visit my blog at or follow me on Instagram @kayla_made.

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