Most of the time I actually like weeding heat transfer vinyl. It’s so satisfying pulling away the excess vinyl to reveal a wonderful design. There’s something quite therapeutic about it, don’t you find?
However, I’ll admit that if I’m doing a particularly intricate design, or a large number of designs, I don’t mind speeding things up. And that’s what this post is all about: tips and tricks to make weeding heat transfer vinyl quicker, easier and more enjoyable.
If you cut HTV with the blade set too low, you won’t have a clean cut design to weed. If you cut it too deep, you’ll end up wrestling with a butchered carrier sheet!
You want to use the correct blade for each material. It depends on what cutting machine you are using as to which blade you’ll use when and where. Below are some other articles if you need more information on cutting machine blades.
It’s also important to check that there are no bits of paper or vinyl stuck to the cutter blade, and that it is completely clean.
2. Right Setting
Setting the cutting machine to cut at the right depth will make weeding a lot easier. Make sure your dial is turned to the correct material setting. If you’re ever unsure, do a test cut to check if your settings are right for the specific type of vinyl you are using.
It is all of those things listed above: it cuts well, weeds well, looks fantastic, and lasts the distance! You will save a lot of time during the weeding process with this vinyl thanks to its easy weeding properties and its pressure sensitive backing. You can find more information on Siser EasyWeed vinyl here. It’s also CPSIA certified!
What makes EasyWeed vinyl even more easy to weed, is what Siser calls the “heat press trick”. This involves heating up your lower heat press platen for 2-3 seconds (set at around 300°F). Place your vinyl on the warmed lower platen and the warmth will loosen up the adhesive on the pressure sensitive backing. This makes it really easy to pull away any excess vinyl. Watch how it’s done in the video below.
Cricut brand HTV is another high quality brand you can use for your transfer projects. It is available in a wide variety of colors and various types, including: metallic, glitter and brights.
The label says ‘iron-on’, but Cricut HTV is fine for use in a heat press machine as well.
Expressions vinyl is a great stockist of different brands of vinyl. Vinyl’s in their name, and vinyl is their game! You can be sure you are getting quality vinyl with top support from this company.
Now that you’ve got the perfect cut settings for your specific type of vinyl (hopefully you’ve also done a test cut if you’ve never used it before), and you’re working with high-quality material, let’s start talking about technique.
If you can clearly see where the cut lines are, then it’s a good idea to take out the inside cavities of letters first before pulling up all your excess vinyl. If you pull up the excess vinyl first and then try to get the inside cavities, your hand will stick to the carrier sheet (which gets annoying!). It can be hard to see all the inside cavities in large designs. In these cases, it’s still worth trying to get as many inside cavities as you can first. If you have a small to medium design, then it’s definitely easier and quicker!
Having removed the inside cavities of the letters, the next thing is to remove your main piece of excess vinyl. However, there is a right and wrong way to do this too!
When pulling up your vinyl you need to make sure you are doing it in reverse. Effectively pulling the vinyl backwards and into the cavities of the letters. This results in lesser breakage and speeds up the weeding process!
See these two techniques in action in the video below:
5. Use Weeding Borders
Another way to make weeding even easier is to use weed-borders or boxes.
If you have several different components in one design, then you can place a box around each component in your cutting software. Your cutter will cut a box around each component in your design. Then you will be able to weed your entire design in sections. You will be able to pull your vinyl up in individual strips making weeding less complicated!
If you are cutting multiple designs on one sheet of vinyl, then you can put a box around each design and weed them separately. If you have any really small or delicate details, you can place a weeding box around them so that you can be extra careful when weeding them.
In the video below, Jessica from Expressions Vinyl shows how to put in a weeding box in Silhouette Studio. Remember to flip or mirror-image the design if it is for a t-shirt.
Vinyl is much easier to work with when you separate your design into sections and weed one section at a time.
6. The Cricut Bright Pad
The Bright Pad is yet another awesome product from Cricut (they only seem to make beautiful looking products – don’t get me started on the EasyPress!).
The Bright Pad is the ultimate way to make weeding HTV easier and faster. When you place your cut vinyl design on top of the pad, you are able to easily see all of the individual cuts very clearly. No more having to wonder ‘is that part of the design or not?’! You can get more information about this cool product on Cricut’s Bright Pad Tips And Tricks Page, or have a look at the price on Amazon.
7. Or, Just Really Good Lighting
If you don’t want to spend the money on the Bright Pad, just make sure you’ve got direct bright light shining onto the cut vinyl. I often use my cell phone light. It’s super bright and I can see each individual cut clearly. Some people prefer an arrangement where the light is shining up from below, but I’ve personally found it better setting it up so that it’s above.
8. Use The SVG File For Reference
Another thing which helps me A LOT with intricate designs is having the image on my computer in front of me. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell what is part of the design and what should be weeded away, and having the original image in front of me makes it much easier.
9. Keep Intricate Designs Larger
If there’s a really intricate design that you’ve got your eye on, don’t cut it too small! When such designs are cut at a small scale there are a few things that can go wrong:
the cutting machine may not be able to do it and just chew up the vinyl instead
you will end up with such thin pieces of vinyl that they’re difficult to weed and easily broken
it’s generally going to be so hard to weed out teeny tiny pieces of excess vinyl!
If you are having trouble cutting small and intricate designs, it might also be the type of vinyl you are using. Glitter vinyl, for example, does not seem to cut as well in this setting as regular vinyl.
You’ll have to work out which suits you best on this one. Should you weed from the inside of the design to the outside, or from the outside to the inside?
On the one hand, weeding ‘outside in’ helps you to see the main outline of the design and might keep you from weeding the wrong areas. But I think I prefer weeding inside out. That way I don’t have the carrier sheet sticking to my hand the rest of the time I’m weeding! I don’t like seeing fingerprints all over the carrier sheet either, which doesn’t happen as much with an inside out approach. I know that doesn’t actually matter, but I just like my cut and weeded vinyl to look pretty even before it’s pressed!
11. Put On Some Music Or A Podcast!
Weeding time is a good time to get in some great music or, as I tend to do, listen to podcasts. Weeding isn’t really something you have to think about (though it requires some concentration), and so you can listen and work at the same time. Want some recommendations? I really like NPR’s ‘How I Built This‘, eBay’s ‘Open For Business‘ or, if you have a serious weeding project, Dan Carlin’s ‘Hardcore History.’
Now You’re An HTV Expert!
And that’s it for now – though I have a bunch of other tips I’ll be adding to the list soon. Work smart in your hobby or business with these weeding tips and tricks.
If you have any other tips you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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