Keen to make your own custom vinyl t-shirts at home? Wondering which heat press supplies you should invest in?
Whilst it is a bit of a process and it might take a few dollars to set yourself up properly, it definitely is a super fun hobby!
Find below our suggestions and recommendations of what you will need in order to produce some professional t-shirt transfers that will last through the years (and through all the washes).
A List of What You Need to Print T-Shirts at Home
Obviously, you will need to start off by purchasing some high-quality blank shirts.
Other than that, you will also need some tools based on how you wish to operate your business. Find below a detailed list of heat press supplies, tools, and materials you will need in order to start creating your own HTV shirts.
1. A Computer/Laptop/Tablet
You will need a computer/laptop or tablet so that you can design your decals. Most cutting machines come with their own graphics software program that you can use on your device.
You can also download an SVG file that you find online, if you don't feel like designing something from scratch.
2. A Graphics Program
A graphics program is essential to help you create custom images and art for your shirts. You can either design something from scratch or use an SVG that you found online. This is how the machine will know what you want to cut or print.
Before you hop online and purchase a graphics program, many cutting machines come with a free version of their software. And many of these cutters will ONLY work with their software. For example, Cricut comes with Cricut Design Space.
If you do happen to purchase a cutter (typically more expensive) that allows you to use your own software, we absolutely love both CorelDraw and Photoshop.
3. Heat Transfer Paper/Vinyl
You will need special material to transfer your image from the printer or cutter to your t-shirt. This paper is called transfer paper or heat transfer vinyl.
You will need heat transfer paper for printers if you wish to print out your design, whilst heat transfer vinyl is used with cutting machines.
Transfer paper is a special paper that has a polymer film on it. This film creates a permanent image when printed onto.
Once the image is printed, you will need to heat press the paper against your t-shirt for a preset amount of time. The press with help the polymer film make a permanent bond with the fibers of your t-shirt. And that is how the image is transferred to the fabric of your t-shirt.
Make sure you invest in good quality transfer paper/vinyl as cheaper ones tend to peel, fade and crack more quickly.
If you are using a cutting machine to print and cut, we highly recommend you purchase some heat transfer vinyl, instead of paper. You can read through our heat transfer vinyl reviews here.
NOTE: In the next step we will discuss printers. Some cutting machines have the ability to both print and cut in one step. If you have one of these machines, you will not need to purchase a printer separately as your cutting machine can obviously do the printing for you.
4. A Printer (For use with Heat Transfer Paper)
Once the image has been created with software on your computer, you will need to print it out.
You might find that the printer you have at home, might already be able to handle this step. But it is important that you buy the right type of transfer paper for your type of printer.
The four main types of printers are inkjet, laser, sublimation, and solvent printers.
You will typically find either an inkjet or laser printer in homes. Solvent printers offer the best graphics, but they are also more expensive, so we only recommend this type of printer if you end up getting serious about your hobby.
5. A Vinyl Cutter (For use with Heat Transfer Vinyl)
You will need a cutting machine in order to cut out your designs. Once you print your design onto the HTV vinyl (if you are using printable vinyl), you will need to cut around the design in order to remove all the excess vinyl.
Cutting machines are fabulous as many of them have the ability to print and cut in one single step. It truly simplifies the whole design process and gets rid of the need for a separate printer.
Simply send your design from the computer software to the cutter and set it to print and cut your design. Easy peasy.
If you need to purchase a cutting machine, we have a fabulous helpful guide on the best cutting machines to purchase.
6. A Heat press
Lastly, you will need a home heat press. We highly recommend that you invest in one that is at least 16’x20″, but you can also get a mini heat press if you are only working with baby-sized clothes or caps.
Once your design is printed and cut, you will need to press the design onto the t-shirt.
The heat will essentially cause the ink or vinyl to bond to the fabric, so it is important to follow the heat and time settings that are recommended on your transfer paper/vinyl packet instructions.
If you get the heating temperature or timing wrong your design might not adhere correctly and come off in only a few washes.
NOTE: If you want to save some money, you might prefer to use some iron-on vinyl together with a home iron to create your t-shirts. In which case you can skip the purchase of the heat press machine.
This might be a great idea if you only wish to make a few t-shirts. However, it is important to note that a heat press will give you longer-lasting results.
And there you have a list of what you would need in order to create some beautiful, professional-looking t-shirt prints at home.
Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.
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