Everything you’ve always wanted to know about Vinyl Transfers!
One of the big creative trends for Christmas 2016 is the use of Vinyl Transfers for customising clothing and other fabric projects. I’ve noticed a massive rise in the popularity and availability of vinyl transfers being made especially for use with handmade clothing. After dipping my sewing toe into the world of custom made vinyl’s I thought it would be useful to share some more information about the process, how they’re applied, care requirements and mostly importantly – where you can find your own!
Custom made vinyl transfers are produced using digital cutting machines and specially formulated vinyl made to be applied or bonded using heat, which is safe for use on textiles including clothing. They can be produced in a very wide range of colours, designs and finishes – including matt and gloss. The vinyls can be layered to create designs involving multiple colours and can be produced in a variety of different sizes.
When ordering vinyl’s you will receive your chosen design sandwiched between two layers of thin plastic sheets, one clear and one more opaque. These are used to protect the vinyl before application and ensure that the cut pieces do not get damaged or moved. Before application you will need to remove the backing sheet from the design – being careful not to disturb the vinyl as you do so.
Application of the vinyls is actually pretty simple, providing you have the correct tools! In most cases the vinyls can be applied using a domestic iron on it’s highest (or usually Cotton) heat setting and a scrap piece of fabric (to place between the plastic sheet and the iron for pressing).
For the best results, it is useful to have a Teflon sheet (tin foil can also be used to a similar effect) to place on top of the plastic sheet and the fabric to help ensure the correct temperatures are reached and maintained thus ensuring a stronger bond between the vinyl and fabric. Telfon sheets are available to buy on our website and are definitely worth the investment if you’re planning on using vinyls regularly (a 40cm x 33cm sheet is £2.50)
To apply the vinyl, you need to preheat your iron (ensuring that any steam functions are off) and prepare your item by placing it on a hard flat surface (like a cutting mat). Once prepared, remove the backing from the transfer and place it sticky side down onto the fabric. Press the design into place with your hand, if you wish to re-position the design at this stage just lift from the fabric and move (once the vinyl is heat bonded to your fabric it cannot be moved). When you are happy with the positioning, place your Teflon sheet over the vinyl and then press (in an up and down motion, not side to side as this may shift the design) firmly with your iron for around 15-20 seconds. Leave this to cool and then carefully turn the garment inside out. You then need to repeat the pressing process, using your iron to apply firm pressure to the back of the design area for a further 15-20 seconds.
It is then important that you leave the garment to cool completely – for around 3-4 minutes. Once cool, turn the garment the right side out. Then slowly and carefully peel away the clear plastic sheet away from the vinyl design and fabric. If you find that areas of the design are not bonded to the fabric, you’ll need to repeat the pressing process – being careful to ensure that the plastic sheet is replaced accurately to ensure the design is not disturbed.
When you have successfully removed the clear plastic from your pressed vinyl, you have finished! You’ll have a fabulous new garment featuring a fun vinyl design. Well done!
The lovely Melanie from Caboodle Textiles and Caboodle Kids Clothing has recently tried custom made vinyls for the first time and has been kind enough to share some photographs she took of the process. Here you can see how she positioned, ironed, peeled and finished two very different designs on two different garments. It’s a great example of the variety of designs that can be achieved using vinyl transfers.
I know many people (myself included!) were curious about the washing and care requirements for garments featuring vinyl transfers. They are actually far more resilient than I imagined! For best care, it is recommended that they are washed inside out on a cool delicate cycle and not tumbled dried. However, I have found that they can happily survive being washed on my usual 40 degree washing cycle and even through a brief cool tumble dry (although I would certainly not recommend this particular method of drying handmade clothes but I know it can happen by accident, as it has done here on occasion!)
Now you know all about them, I bet you’d like to know where you can buy them from! I have found three small business, on Facebook within the sewing communities I am part of, that are currently offering custom vinyl transfers. I am very sure however that there are many more out there and would love to hear if you have a favourite place you purchase them from.
First up, there is Monkey Menagerie – run by Tracey. Monkey Menagerie offers a selection of vinyl designs in a number of ways – a number of custom order slots are made available every Sunday evening at 8PM. There is no maximum or minimum order and Tracey is able to work with you on your design, or work from an image that you already have. They also offer a range of instock designs which can be found in the photo albums within the group and slots for these orders are also currently being made available every Sunday at 8PM. Pre-orders are also offered for specific designs – so there are always opportunities to snag some vinyls even if you’re not lucky enough to get a slot on a Sunday and in stock retail designs will be available soon!
Next, there is Little Stitch Vinyl – run by sisters Nicola and Sarah. They offer a range of in stock and custom designs on a open order basis – all you need to do is pop by their group and ask! Their turnaround time is usually 1 -2 weeks. As well as offering vinyl transfers for clothing, Little Stitch Vinyl also offers designs for your other craft projects! A very popular design at the moment seems to be custom made lettering and images for baubles (’tis the season after all!). Nicola and Sarah are also able to offer a heat pressing service, so you can post them your garments and they will use their industrial heat press and bond the designs to your garments on your behalf! Easy Peasy!
Last but by no means least, is Margles & C.Bear – run by Sarah and her partner Lee. They also offer a range of instock and custom designs on a first come first served basis. In addition to offering heat transfer vinyls for clothing and fabrics, they also offer a range of adhesive stickers (for everything else!). To order, you just need to pop over to their group and ask or drop either Sarah or Lee a message.
I hope you have found this post useful, if there is anything else you’d like to know about vinyl transfers please just leave a comment below or drop me an email at [email protected] and I will do my very best to answer. I always love to hear from you all!