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Iron On Vinyl: How to Cut the RIGHT Side to Cut EVERY Time!

[videojs youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11b_S6GD5Gk”]
Learn the EASY ways to figure out which side of iron on vinyl goes down when you cut it in this simple tutorial at https://jennifermaker.com/which-side-of-iron-on-vinyl-goes-down/

Iron-on vinyl is both a blessing and a curse. Iron-on vinyl (also known as heat transfer vinyl, or HTV) makes amazing T-shirts and bags, but it can be confusing to work with, especially when it’s all new to you. And it’s essential you cut the iron-on vinyl and HTV on the right side, or it won’t work at all. But which is the right side? That’s the question! So I’m going to cut through all the confusion and tell you exactly how to figure out which side of iron on vinyl goes down.

MATERIALS LIST (contains my affiliate links):
* Cricut Everyday Iron On Vinyl – https://amzn.to/2QFmq9M
* Cricut Sport Flex Iron On Vinyl – https://amzn.to/2MkG2RT
* A Cricut cutting machine — http://shrsl.com/1dq4w

Which Side of HTV Do You Cut?

Iron-on, heat transfer vinyl is made up of two layers — the vinyl layer and the carrier sheet. They come stuck together when you receive them, virtually indistinguishable. You want to cut the VINYL SIDE. In many, if not most, iron-on vinyls, the vinyl side is matte and the carrier side is shiny. That’s why they say to cut it shiny or glossy side down on your mat. That way, your mirrored design gets cut into the vinyl itself, allowing you to remove the vinyl that does not need to be transferred to your project.

The carrier side of the iron-on vinyl is shiny.

The vinyl side is matte (not shiny).

So you want to put that iron-on vinyl shiny side DOWN on your cutting mat to cut out your mirrored design.

But what if BOTH sides look shiny?

This is confusing, I know. But remember that your vinyl is mirrored and will be applied face-up onto your final surface, so when you look at the vinyl side you are seeing the BOTTOM of the vinyl — the part that is going to stick and melt into your surface. That means it may not match the top side. It sometimes does, but it may not. Thus, if both sides are shiny and you can’t tell which is which, it’s the side that doesn’t match your vinyl color that is the vinyl side.

Which Side is Up on Iron On Vinyl When Both Sides are Shiny?

What do you do if both sides are the same color and both sides are shiny? Take Cricut SportFlex White Iron-On Vinyl, for example, which is shiny on both sides.

We can tell the difference between its two white shiny sides in two ways:

The carrier side is still shinier than the iron-on vinyl side, even if only by a little bit.

The iron-on vinyl is put onto the roll carrier side out, which means the side that curls down is the carrier side and the side that curls up is the vinyl side

In the end, if you’re faced with two shiny sides the same color, the slightly less shiny side is going to be the vinyl side. 

Help! I still can’t tell which side I cut iron on vinyl on!

If you’re really stuck, there’s one more way you can tell. Get out your craft knife and make a small cut in the corner on the side you THINK is the vinyl side like this (cut only through the vinyl, not all the way through). Here’s a small piece of red Siser EasyWeed Heat Transfer Vinyl and I’ve got it shiny side down as I cut out the vinyl on the corner:

Now try to peel away the vinyl. If you can’t, you probably picked the carrier side by mistake. Flip it over and make another small cut in the corner, then try to peel it away. When you can peel away vinyl, you’ll know you’ve found the vinyl side!

And there you go — now you’ll always know which side is the carrier side and the vinyl side. And that means you always know which side goes DOWN (the carrier side) and which side goes UP (the vinyl side) when you cut your iron-on vinyl!

Now that we know how to cut our iron-on vinyl, I’m going to make some simple iron-on vinyl T-Shirts and show you how to do it, too! Watch for the tutorial soon!


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Introduction: PixelBytes (my child!)
Music: Cute by Bensound (licensed, royalty and copyright free)
Videography: Jennifer Marx on a Panasonic Lumix FZ-1000 DSLR 4K camera
Design: A Jennifer Maker original!

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