Coordinated T-Shirts are a fun way to mark milestones and to celebrate Holidays. Finding t-shirts in the perfect sizes for multiple sizes, ages, and gender that gets the message across is challenging. Enter the Cricut, you can design your own T-Shirts that say exactly what you need on the T-Shirts of your choosing
You can use Cricut to make designs for T-Shirts. Create or upload designs to Cricut Design Space. You then use the Cricut Machine to mirror and cut the image. Finally, the design is applied to the T-Shirt using heat. T-Shirt Designs can be made using Heat Transfer VInyl, Infusible Ink Pens or Infusible Ink Sheets.
There are endless options for making T-Shirts with Cricut will go over a few in this article to help get you started. If you plan on creating shirts for many special occasions or to mark lots of milestones the investment in a Cricut machine for T-Shirt designs can be well worth it.
Materials for Making T-Shirts with Cricut
For T-Shirt making beginners, I recommend using Cricut branded materials. It is easier to get all of the machine and heat press settings right when using Cricut branded materials. If you are familiar with Oracal or other non-cricut brand material they will work just fine with Cricut Machines.
Cotton T-Shirts or Infusible Ink T-Shirts ( There is a Difference more on this a little later )
Heat Transfer Vinyl
Heat Transfer Vinyl (also called iron-on or HTV) is applied using heat. It is slightly raised similar to the name or number on the back of a sports jersey. Heat Transfer Vinyl designs are slightly raised after application.
Infusible ink designs also require heat to transfer. However, once transferred the design is flat as if it were printed into the T-shirt. Infusible Ink comes in tow different formats:
- Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets are 12X12 and come in bold prints and patterns.
- Infusible Ink Pens, resemble Cricut Pens. They can be used to draw designs with Cricut or they can be used to draw designs on Laser paper to transfer to an infusible ink bland.
After you cut a design on an infusible ink sheet or on vinyl, you will need to weed it. Weeding is removing the excess from your design like the triangle in the middle of an “A,” the circle in the center of an “O”. Some crafters enjoy weeding, others find it a necessary evil. Either way weeding tools help to get the job done.
Weeding tools make it easier lift and pull away the excess vinyl or infusible ink in preparation for placing the design on a T-Shirt.
Considering purchasing a Cricut Cutting Machine, Cricut has an “Everything” bundle that includes weeding tools. Learn more about the everything bundle by visiting the Cricut Website.
If you are already a Cricut owner and have a Cricut Access subscription, the best deals on weeding tools are often direct from Cricut. Check to see if there are any deals on weeding tools .
For those who are impatient (like me) weeding tools are also available on amazon.
Smart Vinyl is for use with the Cricut Joy Machine. Smart Vinyl is sized to fit the Cricut Joy machine and can be used without a cutting mat. I have not yet worked with Smart Vinyl, but you can learn more about Smart Vinyl by visiting Cricut’s Website.
T-Shirt rulers are curved similar to the collar of a T-shirt. This helps to center your design and make sure it is not too high or too low on the T-shirt. When I am making T-Shirts for myself or the kids I just eyeball it. If you are making T-shirts as gifts or to sell, grabbing some T-Shirt Rulers from amazon or your local craft store is a good idea.
Sublimation Printer (Advanced Optional)
Sublimation results are similar to infusible ink. Sublimation is a more widely used process and requires a sublimation printer. Some crafters use a printer that is compatible with Sublimation Ink to Print and use Cricut to cut them. I have not yet tried this method.
The printer recommended by crafters is an Epson printer that is compatible with sublimation ink. The Epson Sublimation printers and ink are available on amazon. Check the current price of the Epson printer and Sublimation Ink. I have not made the leap into sublimation yet and encourage you to do more research before taking the plunge into sublimation. I am just sharing what I have heard is a good option.
Selecting the right T-Shirt
Generally Cricut Heat Transfer Vinyl works best with Cotton. Infusible ink works best with polyester blends. Some crafters have had luck using infusible ink with cotton but I have only used infusible ink with Cricut brand Shirts blanks..
Cricut Infusible Ink T-Shirts
Infusible Ink T-Shirt Blank: https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=567915&u=2160533&m=51766&urllink=cricut%2Ecom%2Fen%5Fus%2Faccessories%2Finfusible%2Dink%2Fblanks%2Fwomen%2Ds%2Dt%2Dshirt%2Dblank%2Dv%2Dneck%2Ehtml&afftrack=
Cricut Heat Transfer Vinyl T-Shirts
So Cricut used to sell, cotton T-shirts for use with Iron on Vinyl, but at the time of publishing this article I have not found them on Cricut’s website or on Amazon. Generally Heat Transfer Vinyl works best on cotton. I’ve used cotton t-shirts from target and the local craft store with no issues. Since Vinyl sits on top of the shirt, instead of binding to the shirt like infusible ink, you can place vinyl on any shirt you like.
Can You Make T-Shrits with Cricut Joy
You can make T-Shirt Designs using Cricut Joys Smart Vinyl, but there are a few limitations.
-The Cricut Joy does not have the Print then Cut Feature
-Smart rolls are 5.5 X 19 inches. Recommended size for adult T-shirt designs is 11 inches, so using the smart Vinyl you will need to layer several rolls.
I have not worked with Cricut Joy yet, but I imagine it is okay for making kids shirts and an occasional adult shirts. It is possible but just seems more of a Hassel with Cricut Joy than with the Cricut Explore Air Machines or with the Cricut Maker.
Cricut Easy Press from Making T-Shirts
Heat Transfer Vinyl and Infusible ink work best with high temperatures distributed evenly across the design. The Heat from a household iron is not evenly distributed and will not cover most designs. For consistent results, it is best to use a heat press. The Cricut Easy Press is Cricut’s brand of heat press.
I own a Cricut easy press and additional information about the Cricut Easy Press can be found here.
There are heat presses with attachments for hats, mugs, and more. If you are interested in exploring making custom items beyond T-shirts a heat press with multiple attachments may be a better options. This is an example of a Heat Press on Amazon that is capable of pressing T-Shirts as well as additional items.
Cutting T-Shirt Designs with Cricut
Once you’ve gathered all of the tools and materials and selected a design you T-Shirt project you are ready to cut!
The two most important things to get right are:
- Loading your Vinyl or infusible ink with the correct side facing up
- Mirroring your design before cutting or printing.