Want to learn how to make T-shirts with Cricut? In this tutorial, we'll make a Cricut iron-on T-shirt, step by step. It might sound intimidating, but using Cricut for T-shirts is simple, once you know where to start. So start brainstorming ideas, and let's dig right into custom T-shirts with Cricut.
What You'll Need For Making T-Shirts With Cricut:
- a design for your shirt
- Cricut Explore Air OR Cricut Maker
- iron OR Cricut Easy Press
- iron-on vinyl material
- weeding tool
Try to make your design simple if this is your first time making a Cricut iron-on T-shirt. The more complex a design is, the harder time you'll have later in the process.
We'll be using a design from the Love Day Lettering Quotes from Envato Elements. However, you're free to use your own designs too. I suggest using vector art and exporting as the SVG file format. When creating T-shirts with Cricut, complexity isn't the only way to make something stylish and professional. Simple but well-made custom T-shirts with Cricut can be just as appealing as intricate designs.
Love Day Hand Lettering Quotes (SVG, AI, PNG, EPS DXF)
For this, you can use the Cricut Explore Air or Cricut Maker. We'll be using this for the process of cutting the iron-on vinyl material in the shape of our design.
For iron-on vinyl, you have a lot of choices when making T-shirts with Cricut. You can find iron-on vinyl in the crafts section of your local arts and crafts store. Cricut has its own brand, but there are many other choices too that will work too. You'll want to keep in mind the color and texture of the material when it comes to your design. Try to pick a color and finish that will match the aesthetics of your design. Using Cricut to make T-shirts can be a lot of fun because there are just so many options.
For your Cricut shirts, I would suggest going with 100% cotton. You can find plain T-shirts in most clothing stores, and you can even find plenty of plain shirts at your local arts and crafts store.
Now, let's dig into how to make T-shirts with Cricut.
1. How to Use a Cricut Machine to Make T-Shirts
First, open up Cricut Design Space. Cricut Design Space is free software that comes with your Cricut machine, and it's the first step in learning how to make shirts with Cricut. Once open, you will need to start a new project.
You can start a New Project by clicking the New Project button on the top right or on the bottom left.
Next, we will need to select a template. Templates will let us get a feel for our design and ensure we are creating a print that's the correct size.
Select Templates from the sidebar on the left of your Canvas space.
Use the search bar to search for T-Shirt.
From here, select Classic t-shirts.
There are many other T-shirt options too. In our case, we want to simply place a graphic in the middle of the chest area, so the specific T-shirt template you use won't matter too much. This will be mostly used for gauging the size of our print.
Next, we will upload our design to Cricut Design Space. Again, this software is a vital part of using Cricut to make T-shirts.
From the left column, go ahead and click the Upload icon.
As you can see, you're given two choices here. We'll want to use the image type.
Cricut Design Space can accept a wide variety of media types. In our case, we are going to be using a transparent PNG file that we created in Photoshop. The key to creating a good cutting image is ensuring that the background is transparent or has a high-contrast background and foreground.
Go ahead and click the Upload Image button on the left.
From here, you can insert your design. Cricut Design Space accepts .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .DXF, and .BMP file types.
I suggest using the SVG file type as this is a great option for large files. It will retain its shape well, regardless of how much we change its dimensions once we import it into the Design Space.
You can get your artwork either by dragging your file onto this space or by clicking Browse and selecting your file that way.
I went ahead and clicked Browse. Navigate your folders to find the image. In this case, we are picking our SVG typography design.
If you've selected an SVG file, this part is relatively straightforward. You can give the image a name and add tags. This is purely for your own organizational purposes.
As you can see, our design is composed of text and a single flat color. We do this to ensure that it's a good match for cutting. Also, we really want the start to be the material we picked for our iron-on vinyl. Select Save to add this to your images.
Note for Those Using Different File Types
If you've used a PNG or other file types which aren't an SVG, you will have to do a little more work to prep your cut image for Design Space. (If you're using an SVG file, you can skip down to the next step!)
- For PNG images or other types, we are now given various options. Select the Simple setting on the right, and then click Continue on the bottom right.
- For this step, you can use the Cricut Design Spaces tools to remove the background area. In our case, we already have a transparent image, so we can just go ahead to the next step. Click Continue on the bottom right.
- Now we get to choose the type of image this is. For the purposes of our project, we only need to cut it. Go ahead and select Save as a Cut Image.
Now you should receive a message that your image was uploaded successfully. It will now join your gallery of images. You should now see your image under Recently uploaded images.
Go ahead and select your image. Then click Insert Images on the bottom right.
Now your image should be on your stage along with your T-shirt template. From here, arrange your design so it is placed where you want it on the shirt.
Click and drag the image to position it.
Note that the most important thing here is the scale. We'll be manually ironing this design onto our T-shirts. You can use the icon on the bottom right of your image to scale it.
Now, before we make it, we need to ensure that our layers are cleaned up. Ensure that all of your cut images are present here. Depending on how you set up your image, you may have a single image or many different cuts.
In my case, I want to cut to cut the shape as I see it here, so let's merge all these cuts together. To do so, right-click the layer group and select Weld.
Once you're happy with your position and scaling, go ahead and select Make It on the top right.
Now that we're on this screen, we can see a preview of what our cut shape will look like. We will have to place our vinyl onto the board.
Very Important! Make sure that you select the Mirror option. If you do not select Mirror, then your designs will be printed backwards onto your shirt. This is especially true if you have words in your design!
Go ahead and select the Mirror Option.
Now click Continue on the bottom right.
Make sure your Cricut Machine is plugged in and the USB cable is connected to your desktop. You'll now see this screen! Once your Cricut is connected, you'll be given options for the material.
Now we need to change the material. We'll be using vinyl, so we need to change it to that setting.
Time to enter the real world! Change the dial on your Cricut machine to your desired material, and it will also update in Cricut Design Space. It feels kind of magical for some reason!
Note for Cricut Maker Users: You'll have to select the material through Cricut Design Space. Select Expanded Materials and then select Iron-On.
2. How to Make T-Shirt Vinyl With Cricut
Your chosen material is a big part of learning how to use a Cricut machine to make T-shirts. Again, in this tutorial, we'll be using iron-on vinyl.
Now you will need to place your vinyl material onto your Grip Mat. I suggest using a StandardGrip mat for vinyl Material, but LightGrip can also work. I'll be using the LightGrip!
Place down your material with the shiny side facing down onto the mat. Do your best to keep it as evenly laid down as possible. This is an essential step in using Cricut for T-shirts.
Now open up your Cricut using the Open button and place your mat into position. This is essentially your Cricut T-shirt maker step—we're getting ready to cut.
Notice the two white tabs on either side—your mat should be underneath both of them.
Now it's time to get cutting!
First, press the button on the left that looks like two arrows. This will pull your Grip Mat into position.
If your mat is positioned correctly, the Cricut button will begin to flash. Go ahead and press the flashing Cricut button to begin cutting!
Tip: If your Cricut button isn't flashing, make sure to check Cricut Design Space to ensure your Cricut is still connected to your desktop.
It can be hard to tell when the cutting is done just by looking at it. Luckily, we can gauge the progress with Cricut Design Space.
Once the cutting is complete, you will get a message like below! Go ahead and press the flashing Unload button on the Cricut machine.
Now you will need to peel the vinyl off the back. It's important that the clear part of the vinyl stays on the Grip for now. Use your Weeding Tool on a corner to pull the back, and then use your hands to carefully pry the material up.
Tip: It can be tricky with some materials to get started on the peel. Try bending the tip of a corner and bend it back and forth until it comes loose. Try to start at a corner away from the artwork to avoid creasing your cuts.
Now continue peeling slowly. Take extra care around small details. The more detailed and intricate your designs, the more care you will need here.
If you have a design with tiny spaces (which is very likely if you included typography in your design), you'll definitely need to use a Weeding Tool.
Poke these areas gently and pull to remove them.
Now you should be left with your final design uncovered!
Now you can peel the clear vinyl along with your design off the mat. Turn it over to see the results.
The next step is applying this to the T-shirt!
3. How to Iron Your Design Onto Your Shirt
With our iron-on vinyl design finished, it's now time to apply this to our T-shirt!
If you have a Cricut easy press, this part is pretty straightforward. Follow the material heat guidelines, and you'll be ready to go pretty quickly.
For the rest of us, we'll be using an iron. First, you'll need to prepare a flat surface or an ironing board. Switch the dial on your iron to cotton, and ensure that steam is off. All we need is the heat!
You'll also need a T-shirt—I suggest using one that's 100% cotton.
Before you touch your design, preheat your T-shirt by running the iron over it for around 10 to 20 seconds.
Place your design on the T-shirt with the design facing upwards. Place your iron down firmly for about 20 seconds over part of the design.
Repeat this process until you have pressed down for 20 to 30 seconds on every part of the design.
Once you are done, flip the T-shirt and repeat the process from the back.
Wait for a couple of minutes until the vinyl is cool enough to touch, and then carefully peel off the plastic layer.
Now your vinyl T-shirt is ready to go! Congratulations! You just learned how to make T-shirt designs with a Cricut. You are officially a Cricut T-shirt maker. Creating T-shirts with Cricut opens up so many different design possibilities.
It's also important to note some Cricut T-shirt care instructions. After learning how to make shirts with Cricut and following all those steps, we want to make sure our work lasts.
- Wait at least 24 hours before you first wash your iron vinyl shirt.
- When you do wash Cricut tee shirts, it's a good idea to fold them inside out to prolong the life of your design.
Make sure to keep these Cricut T-shirt care instructions in mind with your new Cricut T-shirt.
** We hope you enjoyed this tutorial.