Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) is the simplest way to use a vinyl cutter for garment decoration. Just as sign vinyl is cut with vector graphics to create solid-color decals on signs and banners, heat transfer film or Heat transfer vinyl is used to create solid-color decals on fabric. With vinyl cutters and vector graphics, you create designs in one color at a time. Multi-color designs are cut one color at a time and applied in overlapping or layered designs.
Naturally, when people venture from sign decals into T-shirt transfers the question of layering comes up. Can you apply HTV in layers on fabric? The answer is yes, but you have to be careful. Just as layering vinyl graphics requires using comparable kinds of vinyls and adhesives, layering heat transfer film follows the same rules. To help you take your garment decoration to the next level, we proudly offer this complete guide on how to apply Logical Color HTV in layers.
Why can’t I mix and match any HTV I want to?
Different kinds and brands of HTV are made with different kinds of face film and different adhesives. They’re not all compatible. When it comes to layering, you need to stay in the same family of HTV. Chemica, Logical Color, and Siser EasyWeed may look very similar, but they’re made in different factories with unique proprietary adhesives and processes. So they may not work well together in layers. You can take full advantage of the large color selections some HTV lines offer and create a multi-colored t-shirt transfers. Just try to stay with one brand. But even within one brand, there are other things to consider. Different kinds of films work in different ways. How well do warm peel, cold peel, glitter, and flock films work together? Let’s look at the different layering opportunities that can be found in the Logical Color heat transfer vinyl family.
Logical Color Heat Transfer Vinyl Product Line
The Logical Color heat transfer product line consists of many products, including cuttable HTV, solvent-printable HTV, sublimation-printable film, laser transfer paper, and heat transfer tape. The ones we’re concerned about here are the cuttable HTV products. Here’s a quick summary of what we offer for vinyl cutters.
WarmPEEL CP: WarmPEEL CP is our most-affordable cuttable heat transfer vinyl. CP stands for Cotton and Polyester. WarmPeel CP works on 100% cotton, 100% polyester, cotton-poly blends, acrylic and similar fabrics. And, as the name also implies, it’s a warm peel t-shirt vinyl, so it’s great for high production environments, and it comes in 40 popular colors.
WarmPEEL Universal: Logical Color WarmPEEL Universal is our most efficient and most versatile HTV. It can be applied to cotton in just 3 seconds. It’s called Universal because it can go on just about any type of material. WarmPeel Universal can be applied to cotton, polyester, cotton-polyester blends, Leather, Lycra, acrylic, Nylon, blended synthetic performance apparel and more. WarmPEEL Universal currently comes in 24 colors, with more on the way.
WarmPEEL CP Stretch: As you might guess, WarmPEEL CP Stretch is a more flexible version of our popular cotton-polyester HTV. This is a premium quality film made for application on demanding fabrics that require exceptional stretch and rebound characteristics. Fabrics like Lycra spandex, Elastane, and similar high-performance blends require a film that moves with the material but doesn’t crack, peel, or pucker. At this time, WP Stretch comes in black, white, red, green, yellow, and royal blue.
GlitterSOFT: Logical Color GlitterSOFT is an awesome choice to add that extra sparkle to your designs. GlitterSOFT works on 100% cotton, 100% polyester, cotton-poly blends, acrylic and similar fabrics. Because of its advanced liner technology, GlitterSOFT is thinner and softer than traditional glitter flake heat transfer vinyls. That makes it not only tangibly softer when applied to apparel. It’s also easier to cut and easier to weed. GlitterSOFT comes in 24 dazzling colors.
Flock: Logical Color Flock is a high-quality rayon or polyamide flock film with a soft, velvety texture. Flock is suitable for application on cotton, polyester, cotton-poly blends, acrylic, and similar fabrics. It comes in 24 colors, including 5 neon hues.
How to apply Logical Color HTV in layers
As we mentioned above, cuttable HTV works in solid colors. In order to create multi-colored graphics you cut and apply colors one at a time. Sometimes you need them to overlap. This can be done, but there is a process that must be followed. With vinyl graphics, you can apply one layer of vinyl on top of another and then transfer both to a substrate at once. This isn’t an option with heat transfer vinyl because each layer must be melded to the fabric through heat and pressure. So here’s how it works
- Cut and weed each color in your design.
- Apply the bottom layer first. If you’re using a warm peel film like WarmPEEL CP or Universal, you can use a short cycle here and apply just enough heat to stick the bottom layer.
- Then place the top layer and apply the full recommended cycle of heat and pressure – for example 15 seconds for WarmPEEL CP.
That takes care of the how. Now, let’s address the “what’ question. What films can be mixed in layers on a shirt, tote bag or other textile?
Logical Color Layers: General Rules
- Always try to mix layers from within the same product line if possible: i.e. WarmPEEL CP layers together.
- If you must mix different kinds of films, try to layer warm peel films with other warm peel films – i.e. WarmPEEL CP with WarmPEEL Universal
- Limit the number of layers to five or less. Anything more will not be durable.
- If you need to mix GlitterSOFT with a standard PU film, always put the glitter film on top. This is a good general rule regardless of the brand. Glitter and metallic films can be layered over standard PU films, but not vice-versa. They’re showoffs. They always have to be out front.
The devil is in the details. For more granular guidance on what Logical Color HTV products can be layered, please refer to the attached guide. The guide not only shows what films are compatible, but which ones can be used a top or bottom layers.
All of this information is based on our testing and manufacturer input derived from tests with standard materials such as cotton shirts. All of the combinations recommended have been wash-tested under our normal laundry conditions – wash inside-out in cool water, and tumble dry warm. If you wish to apply layered HTV graphics to unusual fabrics or blends, do your own testing before committing to large production runs. Your mileage may vary.
How to read the Layering Guide
We have done most of work for you! We took each of the HTV and layered them and put them through some washings. Click here to download or open the guide in .pdf format.
- Green means go. Any combination in a green box is a safe bet (FIG 1).
- A gray box with an N means that combination canNOT be layered. Pretty subtle, huh? One thing you may notice is that some combinations work one way, but not the other. GlitterSOFT, for instance, can be applied over WarmPEEL CP but Not vice versa.
- This is a common theme. Heat transfer materials with metallic finishes do well as top layers, but don’t work underneath standard films.
- The same is true of Flock. Its velvety texture doesn’t make a very good substrate. Think of it this way. Layering a standard heat transfer film over flock is like trying to apply HTV on a cashmere sweater. It just doesn’t work.
- The manufacturer doesn’t actually recommend mixing layers of GlitterSOFT, but, in our testing, it worked well, both in initial adhesion, and in wash testing. The best rule of thumb here is to limit yourself to two layers only
So those are the simple guidelines. You can mix and match Logical Color heat transfer film to create unique and intricate garment designs. Just try to combine layers within one product line if possible, apply them one at a time on the fabric, and be careful about mixing flock and metallic films with standard PU films. Now you can make your t-shirt transfers, corporate logos, and spirit wear a little more appealing. You and your customers are going to love the new creative opportunities you have now that you know how to apply Logical Color HTV in layers.