If you are designing apparel and decorating them with cool prints, then we are sure that you must have come across heat transfer vinyl. Now, although it might be cool to use HTV on polyester, it needs a little extra care in comparison to cotton or any other material.
But that does not mean that it is impossible. All that you need is a bit of extra care. We have all made mistakes while using HTV on polyester but having learned from our mistakes, and we have decided to share with you 14 tips you should keep in mind the next time you use heat transfer vinyl on polyester.
Let us begin!
1. There Are Different Types of Polyester
The thing about polyester is that there is no single composition of polyester, unlike cotton. There are different types with different compositions, and each needs a separate setting with the HTV. So, do not be disheartened if you nail the art on one polyester t-shirt but fail with the other.
It is not your fault, and maybe you are just dealing with a different type of polyester material. To ensure that you do not make any mistakes, always check the tag of the t-shirt to check for the material type and composition before using the HTV on it.
2. Use A Heat Transfer Cover Sheet
To avoid burning up the material and saving it from excess heat, you can also use a heat transfer cover. While this cover works well for any material, it is way more important for sensitive materials like polyester and materials you are dealing with for the first time. Using a heat transfer cover will prevent the material from coming in direct contact with the hot plate. In case you do not have A heat transfer cover, you can also use parchment paper in its place.
3. Do Not Pre-Was Your Material
People often ask this question that if they should wash the shirt or outfit, they are trying to use HTV before starting the process. The answer is no. We have not come across any manufacturer that mentions that you need to pre-was the material before using HTV or any outfit that comes with a pre-washing instruction on the tag.
It is better to keep it trying to ensure that the HTV adheres properly to the material. Keep the material dry and smooth is very important for using HTV on polyester. It is recommended to pre-heat your material instead (this will be discussed later in details)
4. Have A Backup Plan Ready
Let us say you have picked out a material on which you want to try out a new design. The first thing you should do is read the tag carefully. Sometimes, it is mentioned whether you can use heat press on that material because sometimes it can lead to discoloration of the material (especially if it is too sensitive).
The discoloration can be temporary as well as permanent. Before you use HTV on polyester, make sure you have read the tag correctly. Also, let us say the tag says that using heat press can damage the material, but you still want to try and see how it works out, then make sure you are only risking something you can afford to lose, or at least you have a backup or duplicate for that material.
5. Increase the Time for How Long You Press
Did you know that the adhesive activation temperature in your heat transfer vinyl is much lower than polyester? If you want to make sure that you do not damage the material while using HTV on polyester, you need to press the material at a lower temperature but for a longer time.
As people often do, they sometimes press it for a shorter period and check if it has adhered properly, and if not, they press it again. Although there is no serious harm in it, it is better if you get it done correctly on the first try so that when you put it in the washing machine for cleaning, it has a good bond with the material.
5. Pre-Heat Your Polyester Material
As we discussed earlier, it is recommended to pre-heat your material before using the HTV on polyester. Pre-heating does not just open the pores of the fibers that ensure a better result with the HTV on the material but also helps in evaporating any slight trace of moisture that might be there on the piece of cloth.
Also, pre-heating ensures no wrinkles on the piece of cloth, and it is all smooth and ready for the HTV. As we have already mentioned earlier, smooth and dry material is essential for ensuring a good result.
6. Know the Material
You might be thinking, and we have already discussed this, then why are we talking about it again. We have discussed polyester being of different types and compositions, but what if the tag on the material is not entirely correct? Often it happens that the information provided on the tag is wrong, and what says itself to be a 100% polyester could be something else as well, i.e., a mix of other material, so what do you do in a condition like that?
Well, you must be extra cautious. Start with testing it on a small patch of the fabric, or start with a lower temperature with a longer press time and slowly working up your temperature. Just take precautions so that you do not end up burning your material. Also, that brings us to the next topic.
7. Test Your Fabric
Since you might not be aware of the accurate composition of the fabric you are using, it is safer to test your fabric first. Either on a small patch or a cut-out piece so that even if you end up ruining the entire garment. Also, it is essential to check the effect of HTV on polyester and see how well it stays after putting it in a washing machine.
So, there are two things that you need to check: first, if your material is discolored when you are using the heat, press on the material if the paint is peeling off the material when you put it inside the washing machine.
8. Choosing the Right Kind of Heat Transfer Vinyl
Choosing the right kind of heat transfer vinyl is essential, so the first thing that you should do is avoid the cheap ones. You should find the long-lasting one, which has a strong adhesive and comes with different finishing.
It is not recommended to switch between different brands for different designs because that will only increase your cost. Also, do you know the benefit of using one type of HTV? You do not have to work on the settings every time you are already acquainted with using it, so it saves up a lot of time and prevents mistakes.
9. Check If Your Material Is Heat Sensitive
Sometimes, specific compositions of polyesters, especially the ones that are marked waterproof, are sensitive to heat. So, before you apply HTV on polyester, you need to check that out. If you find out that it is marked “sensitive to heat,” you will have to use a different type of HTV that will release the adhesive at a lower temperature to get the HTV on polyester done without ruining it in any way.
10. Use A Heat Press Instead of An Iron
Although using an iron is perfectly fine when you start with HTV and will work well for you as you progress and switch to more detailed designs, you might want to shift to a heat press. It is not just the best way to control the settings and decide how much heat do you want to put on the material that you are working with and for how long, but it also helps you provide a precise amount of pressure on your polyester material, both of which are extremely important for a perfect finish of the design on your material.
11. Do not Let the Polyester Material Get Too Hot
This goes without saying, as we have already discussed the effect of heat on polyester. Start with a lower temperature, and you can increase it slowly if you feel that it must be increased. This is because you can fix or work out a solution if the HTV is not sticking properly on the material. Still, if once the material is destroyed due to over-heating or the color is ruined, then you cannot fix that in any way.
So, it is better to start safely and keep the temperature under check. Even in most heat presses, you will find that the temperature is not very high if you check correctly. It is mostly somewhere around 290 Fahrenheit.
12. Make Sure That the Dyes Do not Bleed.
Sometimes, when working with sublimated fabric, you need to be very careful about applying the heat transfer vinyl because the pattern can leak from it into the vinyl. If you find that the vinyl keeps changing color, that can be a problem because, typically, HTV is not designed to block sublimation migration. So, it would help if you were careful about picking up the right brand of HTV because some of them come with a sub-block feature that will make sure that the dye of the outfit does not bleed.
13. Make Sure You Have the Right Settings On
This is a fundamental thing and a significant one, and if you are using a heat press, you must have noticed that it has a variety of settings on it. If you are working with a piece of polyester fabric, make sure you have the right setting.
Whether it is for cotton or various versions of polyester compositions, each will require a different setting. Even for different compositions of polyester, the temperature and the pressure settings will be different. So, if you are working with a new composition, make sure to test it on a patch first.
14. Avoid Using Silicon Sheets
Sometimes while using HTV on polyester, people prefer to use a heat press pillow or a silicon sheet. Although they work best when you are working with outfits that are a little uneven with buttons and zippers if you are using it on something as plain and smooth as polyester, then you might not want to use it because it will only make it difficult for you to guess the pressure and temperature.
If you still want to use a sheet, then using a thin Teflon sheet is best. They serve the same purpose and make sure that your material does not stick to the vinyl.
These were the 14 tips that you will have to keep in mind while using HTV on polyester. Remember, being a designer and printing HTV on t-shirts and other outfits is cool, but for making it stay as good as new in the long run, or if you are working with a big batch or even if you are still in the learning phase, knowing these tips, abiding by them and being a little more care will go a long way in giving you the perfect finish in your products.
We hope this article was helpful, and if you have any further doubts, you can always reach out to us in the comment section below.