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We get asked all the time “What is the best heat transfer vinyl?’. That’s a hard question to answer because everyone has their own opinion. Today I’m going to share my personal Cricut Iron On Vinyl reviews.
Over the years I have used every type of Iron-on they’ve released. I definitely have my favorites but those sometimes change depending on what I’m putting it on. Let’s look at what makes a great HTV.
Ready to start making with Cricut Iron-on? Check out all our HTV projects here.
What is HTV?
HTV aka Heat Transfer Vinyl aka Iron-on is a vinyl that is applied with heat. There are a lot of options on the market, some good, some not so good. Some of the most well-known options are Cricut, Siser, ThermoFlex, WALAKut, and more. I feel like most brands are good and easy to use. The not-so-good is often the no-name brands you may find on pop-up ads or even on Amazon that don’t include a lot of instruction.
HTV is different from adhesive vinyl. With HTV you need heat to activate the adhesive. If at any time you are trying to figure out if your material is heat transfer or regular adhesive vinyl you can peel back the liner. If the vinyl itself is sticky it is not HTV.
Iron-on Vinyl Features to Look For
When it comes to picking the best HTV there are different features that I look for. Each of these makes a difference when it comes to using it and can make or break an experience.
Does it Cut Easily?
How well it cuts with a cutting machine is big. Is it easy to find the right cut setting or do you have to test it multiple times because it’s really thick or thin? Whether you own a Cricut, Silhouette, or another cutting machine if you can’t find the right cut setting the material is going to frustrate you.
How Well Does it Weed?
Is it easy to weed? There is nothing worse than an HTV that doesn’t want to remove from the carrier sheet. Often times, how easy it is to weed is related to how well it cuts and the design. If you don’t have clean cuts weeding can be a pain.
Will it Work with Your Heat Source?
What is the required temperature and pressure? If the required pressing temperature is too high it may not work with your heat press machine or it may not be compatible with the material you’re pressing it onto. I currently own the Cricut EasyPress so I look for items that work with that. If you’re using a household iron you may need to be even more selective with the type of HTV vinyl you choose.
Does it Have a Carrier Sheet?
Quality of the carrier sheet. I prefer my heat transfer vinyl to come with the transfer tape already attached to it. You want it to be thick enough that, if possible, you don’t need to use anything else between the HTV and the heat source (this isn’t usually an option when using an iron). You also want one that will peel away from the HTV easily.
There are possibly more features to look for but in the end, ease of use is a big deciding factor for me.
What are the Different Types of Heat Transfer Vinyl for Cricut?
Cricut has had a large variety of different types of HTV. There are different brands of HTV but today I’m going to be focusing on the Cricut Iron-on options.
I’m going to begin by listing them out. We won’t go into depth with each one because some of them are very similar but here is what they have (or had) at one point or another.
Everyday Iron-on (Iron-on Lite), Everyday Mesh, Express, Foil, Glitter, Glitter Mesh, Holographic, Holographic Sparkle, Mosaic, Iron-on Designs, Patterned, SportFlex, Glow-in-the-Dark, Smart, Smart Glitter, Smart Holographic, Smart Patterned, Flocked.
So let’s really dive into these a little bit more.
Cricut StrongBond Guarantee
Before we really dive into each of these materials you should know about the StrongBond Guarantee. When Everyday Iron-on was released it came with the new StrongBond Guarantee. I do believe now all of Cricut’s HTV on the market has that guarantee.
It states that as long as you use the material correctly (as per their directions) it will last at least 30 washes. Their directions include things like – Washing the item first to remove anything that may be on the fabric and not using fabric softener, preheating to remove any additional moisture, pressing from the back, and waiting 24 hours after applying before washing/drying.
You can find all of these requirements on the packaging but also in the Cricut Heat Guide.
Everyday Iron-on (aka Iron-on Lite)
Lite was Cricut’s original Iron-on option. A few years ago they updated it and released it as Everyday Iron-on. This is my favorite type of vinyl to use on t-shirts. It cuts wonderfully with my Cricut machine and weeds beautifully.
When I first began using HTV I was a huge fan of Glitter Iron-on, it was my favorite because I only had an iron to use to apply it and I feel like it really held up to the heat well. It stuck to shirts well and lasted forever.
It is still one of my favorite materials to use and I regularly recommend to people that they try it when they’re just starting out because it’s so easy.
One drawback I hear from people when using glitter HTV is that it’s hard to see the cut lines. That can be true. This is a great time to use weeding boxes and of course, your BrightPad comes in handy too.
Glitter is a top layer only HTV. If you try to layer something on top of it you’ll likely have a hard time getting it to stick and it will also most likely lift away from the glitter in the wash.
I like all the different mesh materials that Cricut offers. I will say they can be a little trickier to weed so make sure you’re paying attention to that but otherwise, I believe the adhesive and overall materials are the same as the non-mesh versions.
I am going to give the Smart materials a few more tries before I really weigh in on them. The first time I tried Smart Everyday it didn’t weed nearly as easily as regular Everyday did when I cut the exact same design on both. It was a very detailed design so that may have had something to do with it but I’m not sure.
In theory, Smart materials should be the same as the regular version with a thicker backer that allows it to feed into the machine matless. Because I haven’t tried it a lot I don’t feel like I can really say if it’s better or worse.
Foil, Holographic, Holographic Sparkle, Patterned
I love all of these iron-on materials. If you follow the directions they are no harder to use than the basic HTV options. Most of these require firm pressure and a cool peel. Specifically, the Foil, if you try to remove the liner while it’s still warm you may notice wrinkles in your finished product. Allowing it to cool completely has always resolved that problem for me.
One of the things I really like about Cricut Patterned iron-on is that it already has a liner applied to it. From my experience, other brands require the purchase of an additional heat-resistant transfer paper which can make them more difficult to use and you know by now I’m always looking for ease of use with my materials.
These are also all top-layer-only materials. That means you cannot layer them on top of each other or layer anything else on top of them.
SportFlex is such a great iron-on material. It is thin which feels so nice when it’s on clothing but it is also opaque. You cannot see through it, even the lighter colors.
SportFlex was made specifically to work with clothes that have stretch to them. Think exercise clothing, baby bodysuits, anything that stretches.
Cricut does not recommend you use it on cotton fabrics. Full disclosure I have. It adheres really well but that is against their recommendations so the StrongBond guarantee would be void here.
SportFlex can be layered but should only be layered with other SportFlex colors.
Express Iron-on doesn’t get the love it deserves. You can press it at a lower temperature for half the time and the StrongBond Guarantee for Express is at least 50 washes! It is really nice and thin and feels great on fabrics.
I think Express is a really good option for layering projects. Because it already requires a shorter pressing time you’re going to get a really good stick with Express.
Flocked & Designs
Unfortunately, Cricut stopped making Flocked heat transfer vinyl, that was one of my all-time favorite materials. It also looks like they’ve discontinued their Iron-on Designs. You can still find some of those on the site but it doesn’t look like they’re releasing any new ones.
Glow in the Dark
This is the one Cricut heat transfer vinyl I haven’t tried yet. It just came out and unfortunately, I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet but I cannot wait to try it.
What is the Best Heat Transfer Vinyl or Cricut Iron-on?
So, what is the best Cricut HTV? I really think that is up to what project you’re making. If you’re making a t-shirt I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the options listed above.
Working with stretchy fabrics like a baby bodysuit or leggings I would recommend SportFlex.
If you need something that is really going to stick I always recommend glitter heat transfer vinyl if it works with your project. I have never had it lift on me when applied correctly. Once upon a time, years ago when I still used a regular iron for my heat transfer vinyl projects and I didn’t know any better I layered glitter on top of glitter and that top layer did lift.
If you want it to last you need to make sure you’re following the directions. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Cricut vinyl, Siser Easyweed HTV, a Cricut or Silhouette machine, or anything else. You need to follow the directions for your material and
Is There a Heat Transfer Vinyl for T-shirts?
Most HTV can be used for making t-shirts. The main thing you need to do know what fabric your t-shirt is. When making custom t-shirts if you’re using 100% cotton as your choice for t-shirt you would probably not want to use SportFlex. While I have found that SportFlex htv works on cotton it actually isn’t recommended by Cricut so you would want to try different heat transfer vinyl sheets.
Lots of vinyl brands come in a wide variety of colors
Choosing the Best Heat Press or EasyPress for Your Project
I do not own a large heat press so it’s hard for me to call out all the differences between the two. I can say this, you can get beautiful finished projects no matter what brand of heat transfer vinyl you’re using with the Easy Press.
Personally, I own all the sizes of Cricut Easy Press from the tiny Mini up to the 10×12 and I find I use them all. If I was going to recommend just one for exclusively HTV projects it would probably be the 9×9 because you can fit most designs under that size with a single press. If you are wanting to do sublimation or use Infusible Ink you’d want the largest high-quality heat press size possible.
Pros of the Cricut Easy Press
I can speak about EasyPress. There are a lot of things I really love about it so let’s list them:
- Very Easy to Use – with the Heat Guide you know exactly what temperature and time to use which is awesome.
- Easy to Store – All of my EPs fit right inside a cubby on my shelves. They don’t take up a lot of room and they don’t need a permanent spot on a table. They can be packed away if needed.
- Not Too Heavy – Because the EP comes in a variety of sizes you can find one that you’re able to lift and move. For me, all of the sizes are really manageable but if you have grip or strength limitations the largest size may be harder to use.
Cons of the EasyPress
The main con I hear is that you have to stand by the EasyPress the whole time you’re using it. With other types of heat press you can close the machine and it applies the pressure for you. With the EP you’re the pressure so if you need firm pressure it’s up to you to apply it. If your base material calls for heavy pressure I have heard it’s almost impossible to get sublimation to work using the EP due to the amount of pressure needed and time needed to apply it.
FAQ on Choosing the Best HTV
Here are a few more questions we’ve been asked –
Can I use my Cricut Joy with heat transfer vinyl?
Yes, you can, you can use Joy with any of the options out on the market. I know crafters like to buy vinyl rolls in bulk because it’s less expensive that way. Use any vinyl cutter or a paper cutter to trim your material down to fit on the Joy mat and you’re good to go.
Can I buy heat transfer vinyl on Amazon or eBay?
You can but I recommend doing research first. Many items sold on Amazon and eBay are not a quality vinyl. They don’t always include instructions on how to apply the heat transfer, sometimes as I said before the vinyl requires an additional transfer paper and it doesn’t include that information. And sometimes it is just bad vinyl.
If you choose to go that route with a new product I highly recommend purchasing a sample to test before you buy a lot. You want to make sure the vinyl sticks, that it’s easy to work with, and that it’s appropriate to use on clothing.
I hope these Cricut Iron on vinyl reviews help you decide which HTV will be best for your project or inspire you to try something new. I can assure you, if you follow the directions in the Cricut Heat Guide you’ll have finished projects