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How to Make T-shirts with Cricut

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Learn how to make t-shirts with Cricut two different ways! This post was created in partnership with Cricut and contains affiliate links.


One of my all-time favorite things to make with my Cricut cutting machines is T-shirts.

I’ve been creating shirts for my boys and Princess A for a while and they love choosing their own designs! But today, it’s my turn. To teach you how to make t-shirts with Cricut, I created two crafty shirts for myself.

Table of Contents:

How to Make T-shirts with Cricut using Different Materials

There are so many different ways to make t-shirts with a Cricut cutting machine! It’s one of the simpler things to make with Cricut and it’s even easier to do using the Cricut EasyPress 3 and the Cricut Heat app!

To start with, I created two shirts using two different methods: Infusible Ink and Iron-on. To give you more insight into shirt-making with Cricut, I created a layered design with the Iron-on.

But before I elaborate on that, I want to give you a rundown of the different types of materials you can use, as well as tips for placing your design.

What types of iron-on materials can be used?

Shirts will always be made using iron-on materials so that you can seal the design onto your t-shirt. There are different types of iron-on (or heat transfer) materials:

  • Everyday Iron-on A classic finish in a solid color that’s compatible with all Cricut cutting machines. Use it with a StandardGrip mat. This can be used under other colors and layered freely.
  • Textured iron-on – Special finishes allow you to make super cool shirts. In this post, I used holographic iron-on. Another favorite is glitter. This can be layered but should be used as the top layer.
  • Smart iron-onBoth regular and specialty iron-ons come in Smart Iron-on too. Smart Iron-on comes with a stiffer backing for cutting quicker and easier without a mat. It’s compatible with the Cricut Maker 3 and Explore 3 machines. Smaller specially-branded rolls can be used with the Cricut Joy too.
  • Infusible Ink This is a whole new category of heat-transfer material. Instead of bonding the material itself to your shirt as an external layer, ink is transferred to your shirt to actually “dye” the surface fibers with the design. The ink is on a carrier sheet and is transferred using high heat. The color is incredibly vivid, the designs gorgeous, and the result super professional. Higher polyester content and lighter colors show up the best. I recommend sticking with Cricut’s Infusible Ink blanks for this.

How to measure your design

Use your instincts.

Use Cricut templates in Design Space.

Or follow these guidelines.

The truth is, you’ll probably read “rules” in a number of places as to the placement of the design. Personally, I like when it’s sized smaller. Some people will prefer that it covers the shirt. I believe that there are no hard and fast rules as long as it’s aesthetically pleasing. And opinions on that will always vary.

I will share some guidelines for those of you who want rules. There are a few points you’ll be measuring:

Under the armpits:

Choose one point and be consistent on each side. I like mine to have 2-3 inches of leeway there. Keep in mind that the human body – especially a woman’s – isn’t flat. So if you make your design go too close to the armpits, it won’t fully be visible.

You can try on the shirt and determine the size while it’s being worn if you want to be very accurate.

From the neck:

You don’t want the design to come too close to the neckline. Where you place it depends on the type of neck. For a typical round-neck shirt:

  • For babies and toddlers place your designs about one inch from the neckline
  • For kids place it about 1.5-2 inches below the neckline
  • For adults, aim for three inches below the neckline.

Or try some alternate layouts: for very small designs, place it on a shirt pocket, or where the pocket would be.

You can place it on an arm, in a corner – wherever you’d like.

The truth is that I measured my designs and chose a placement, but after I cut it, I changed my mind. It’s good to measure to get the general sizing right.

How to make T-shirts with Cricut Infusible Ink

Infusible Ink t-shirts are a caliber of their own. The ink dyes the shirt fibers, making for a permanent finish. They come in transfer sheets: thick paper with a backing that has the ink on the surface.

Infusible Ink transfer sheets come in a fabulous selection of prints. You can get it in solids, but where’s the fun in that? I recommend solids for most layered designs and prints for single-layer, bold designs.

As you can see, I like to design with very bold, solid graphics to really bring out the pattern of the transfer sheet.

To make this Cricut Cutie shirt, I chose the design and then added it to a background. The original design is an outline of the Cutie. I reversed it with a hexagon in back so that I get more pattern.

Make my design here!

To ensure success when making t-shirts with Infusible Ink:

  • The design shouldn’t shift at all while pressing. Use light pressure as recommended.
  • Tape down your design using Cricut’s heat-resistant tape.
  • Be careful that your surface is free of lint and other debris. They will interfere with the transfer.
  • You only need to peel off the top layer (ink portion) of the cut design while weeding. It’s okay if some white parts remain on the backing. However, make sure that those edges are clean and that there aren’t little bits sticking up.
  • Place a piece of cardstock inside your shirt.
  • Use the enclosed butcher paper to protect your blank from the high heats.
  • Think of the transfer ink as translucent. That means that it’ll be added to the color of the shirt, and won’t cover it. If your shirt is gray it’ll dull the colors. You may prefer it that way. Yellow will add a yellow tone to all colors. I used white, which keeps the colors brightest. White portions of the transfer (such as the stars in the galaxy print) remain the same white.

How to make layered t-shirts with Cricut

Iron-on is a relatively simple material to use. If you follow the guidelines in the Cricut Heat app, your design should transfer beautifully.

Make sure to pay attention to peel temperature. This refers to whether you peel off the backing when your design is still warm or cooled off.

To layer a design, you’ll want to press the first layer for half the time. Remove the backing when it’s cooled off. Place your second layer. Make sure to put the backing from the first back on so that your first layer is covered before pressing again!

Press for the full time and finish it off.

Specialty layers (such as the holographic one featured here) should always go on top.

Make the Must Make Stuff shirt here!

How to Make T-shirts with Cricut: Step by Step

Ready for the beginner friendly step-by-step tutorial? You can find a printable version at the end of this post too.

What you need

For both shirts:

For the layered shirt:

For the Infusible Ink shirt:

Setting it up in Design Space

I linked my designs above, however, here’s the step-by-step for laying out the Cutie shirt just so that you can learn!

1. Find the Cutie under images and the Hexagon under shapes.

2. Place the Cutie as you’d like it to be over the hexagon, resizing them as needed. Select both layers and choose “slice.”

3. Remove the layers you don’t want. The hands are cut off – not cute enough for a Cutie!

4. Add another Cutie to the scene to fix this issue. Make sure it’s the same size as the original. Click Contour.

5. Hide all contours and enable only the insides of the hands.

6. Place the hands in the correct spot. It creates a “ghost” outline effect. Select both and “attach” so that they cut as a single unit, in the right place.

7. I used the same “contour” tool to make a second layer using only the solid text for the “Must Make Stuff” shirt. When you’re ready to send your artwork to cut, click “Make it”. Make sure to turn mirror on on all heat transfer designs! Choose with or without mat depending on whether or not your material uses a mat.

Cutting it

1. Load your Smart materials into the roll holder and send to cut.

2. For the Infusible Ink design, place the sheet on your mat. Use a Brayer to adhere it well. Note: the color appears more faded before it transfers. The heat will brighten it.

3. Load your mat into the machine and send it to cut.

4. To avoid curling, roll your mat away from your project (rather than lifting the project off the mat).

5. Weed your design. A Cricut BrightPad will help this go smoother, reducing eye strain.

The main layer of the Must Make Stuff shirt is quite complex. Go slowly to make sure you don’t lose any pieces.

For the infusible ink design: Bend your paper backward at the cuts to make weeding easier. Don’t worry if you’re only peeling off the ink layer and some paper remains. As long as the ink layer is gone, it’ll transfer correctly.

Using the Easypress 3 to apply your design

1. Download the Cricut Heat app on your phone. It’ll send settings to your EasyPress 3 or let you know which settings to apply on your EasyPress 2. Choose the correct base and transfer material to know which settings to use. Follow along as it guides you for how to press.

2. To make a layered shirt, start with the bottom layer. Press it for half the recommended time. Allow it to cool and carefully peel off the backing. It won’t be fully pressed, so do this step slowly.

3. Place on your top layer where it belongs. I recommend taping it in place using heat-resistant tape. This way it won’t shift and it’ll stay where it belongs. Place the backing from your first layer back over your whole design.

4. Press your shirt for the full pressing time (30 seconds for my shirt). Press the back as the app guides you to do.

5. When cool, remove the backing. Your layered shirt is complete!

6. For the Infusible Ink shirt, place your shirt on your EasyPress mat. Place a sheet of cardstock on the inside.

7. Use a lint roller to clean your shirt of any dirt or dust that may interfere with the transfer.

8. Set your EasyPress 3 using the app. Place butcher paper on your shirt – it should be larger than your EasyPress surface. Make sure to preheat your shirt as instructed – it helps to make sure that the shirt is smooth and moisture-free so that it’ll readily accept the Infusible Ink transfer.

9. Allow your shirt to cool. Tape your design in place. Use plenty of tape and make it really solid so that it doesn’t shift. If it moves while transferring, you’ll get “ghosting” – unclear edges.

10. Cover it with butcher paper. Transfer your design according to app instructions.

When you’re done, and the design has cooled, peel to reveal your gorgeous design!

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to make t-shirts with Cricut! Which is your favorite way to do it? Comment below!

How to Make T-shirts with Cricut

How to Make T-shirts with Cricut

Materials

For the layered shirt:

For the Infusible Ink shirt:

Instructions

Setting it up in Design Space

1. Find the Cutie under images and the Hexagon under shapes.

2. Place the Cutie as you'd like it to be over the hexagon, resizing them as needed. Select both layers and choose "slice."

3. Remove the layers you don't want. The hands are cut off - not cute enough for a Cutie!

4. Add another Cutie to the scene to fix this issue. Make sure it's the same size as the original. Click Contour.

5. Hide all contours and enable only the insides of the hands.

6. Place the hands in the correct spot. It creates a "ghost" outline effect. Select both and "attach" so that they cut as a single unit, in the right place.

7. I used the same "contour" tool to make a second layer using only the solid text for the "Must Make Stuff" shirt. When you're ready to send your artwork to cut, click "Make it". Make sure to turn mirror on on all heat transfer designs! Choose with or without mat depending on whether or not your material uses a mat.

Cutting it

1. Load your Smart materials into the roll holder and send to cut.

2. For the Infusible Ink design, place the sheet on your mat. Use a Brayer to adhere it well. Note: the color appears more faded before it transfers. The heat will brighten it.

3. Load your mat into the machine and send it to cut.

4. To avoid curling, roll your mat away from your project (rather than lifting the project off the mat).

5. Weed your design. A Cricut BrightPad will help this go smoother, reducing eye strain.

The main layer of the Must Make Stuff shirt is quite complex. Go slowly to make sure you don't lose any pieces.

For the infusible ink design: Bend your paper backward at the cuts to make weeding easier. Don't worry if you're only peeling off the ink layer and some paper remains. As long as the ink layer is gone, it'll transfer correctly.

Using the Easypress 3 to apply your design

1. Download the Cricut Heat app on your phone. It'll send settings to your EasyPress 3 or let you know which settings to apply on your EasyPress 2. Choose the correct base and transfer material to know which settings to use. Follow along as it guides you for how to press.

2. To make a layered shirt, start with the bottom layer. Press it for half the recommended time. Allow it to cool and carefully peel off the backing. It won't be fully pressed, so do this step slowly.

3. Place on your top layer where it belongs. I recommend taping it in place using heat-resistant tape. This way it won't shift and it'll stay where it belongs. Place the backing from your first layer back over your whole design.

4. Press your shirt for the full pressing time (30 seconds for my shirt). Press the back as the app guides you to do.

5. When cool, remove the backing. Your layered shirt is complete!

6. For the Infusible Ink shirt, place your shirt on your EasyPress mat. Place a sheet of cardstock on the inside.

7. Use a lint roller to clean your shirt of any dirt or dust that may interfere with the transfer.

8. Set your EasyPress 3 using the app. Place butcher paper on your shirt - it should be larger than your EasyPress surface. Make sure to preheat your shirt as instructed - it helps to make sure that the shirt is smooth and moisture-free so that it'll readily accept the Infusible Ink transfer.

9. Allow your shirt to cool. Tape your design in place. Use plenty of tape and make it really solid so that it doesn't shift. If it moves while transferring, you'll get "ghosting" - unclear edges.

10. Cover it with butcher paper. Transfer your design according to app instructions.

When you're done, and the design has cooled, peel to reveal your gorgeous design!

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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