Most of the time I actually really like weeding vinyl. It’s satisfying pulling away the excess to reveal a wonderful design. There’s something quite exciting about it, don’t you agree?!
However, I’ll admit that if I’m doing a particularly intricate design, or a large number of transfers at once, I don’t mind speeding things up. And that’s what this post is all about: tips and tricks to make weeding vinyl quicker, easier and more enjoyable.
Vinyl Weeding Tips & Tricks
These vinyl weeding tips are applicable to all types of vinyl, whether that be HTV (heat transfer vinyl), iron-on vinyl (another name for HTV), or adhesive vinyl. These tips are especially helpful for weeding small letters and number, or weeding the intricate designs for impressive projects.
1. Use The Right Blade
If you cut vinyl with the blade set too low, you won’t have a clean-cut design to weed. Or, if you cut 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.
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.
I have used the Cricut Explore Air 2 for many years, and I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten to set the dial in to the right setting before cutting. Now I mostly use the Cricut Maker (compare Cricut machines here), for which I select the setting on the computer before making the cut.
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. See our post on Genuine Siser EasyWeed and where to buy it for more info.
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 perfect 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.
What makes 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.
*You don’t have to use a heat press for this. Alternatively, you can (safely) warm up a surface with an iron or your EasyPress.
5. Weed Into Cavities, Not Against Them
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:
6. 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.
7. The Cricut Bright Pad
The Cricut BrightPad is yet another awesome product from Cricut (they only seem to make beautiful looking products – don’t get me started on the EasyPress!).
The BrightPad 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?’!
8. Really Good Lighting
If you don’t want to spend the money on the BrightPad, 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 personally find it better setting the lighting above where I’m working.
9. Use The SVG File For Reference
Another thing which helps me A LOT with intricate designs is having the SVG 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, but having the original image in front of me makes it much easier.
10. 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!
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!