Five Unexpected Surfaces For Heat Transfer Material | Bonus Tutorial
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Five Unexpected Surfaces For Heat Transfer Material | Bonus Tutorial

Hello fellow crafters! Audrey here today and I’m so excited to be posting for my VERY first time here on the Silhouette Blog that I did could pee my pants! Ha! Today’s post will cover . . .


*drum roll please*


Five Unexpected Surfaces for Heat Transfer Material


That is a mouthful, whew!


So let me guess, you’ve used heat transfer material before to create onesies for your littles, a tote bag, or maybe an adult t-shirt with some kind of custom text, am I right? Well if you’ve limited yourself to just fabric surfaces for your heat transfer material, boy are you missing out! Heat transfer material is much more versatile than you might think. Hopefully after this post you’ll get creative and try at least one new surface listed here and really up your crafting game!


1. Wood


gardening sticks


Yeah, you read that right, WOOD! Wood provides a great surface for heat transfer because it’s often flat, hard, and can take the heat! Not to mention it’s probably my favorite surface to use because the heat transfer material forms to the wood’s texture without looking like plastic. And in case you’re thinking about going and tagging all of the trees in your backyard, let me give you a little more direction: coasters, blocks, wooden crates, picture frames, wood signs, chairs, and on and on and on… Like on custom made gardening sticks!


2. Mugs




Imagine a set of custom Christmas mugs for your whole family, or an adorable mug for your kid’s teacher that has her name on it, all made with HEAT TRANSFER MATERIAL! I mean, talk about an inexpensive gift in minutes! Here’s some eye candy from Felicity Jane to help you get inspired.


3. Flip Flops


flip flops


What?!?! Yeah. I just blew your mind, didn’t I? Apologize to your husband on my behalf for enabling your flip-flop-buying addiction even more. (Because you know you already bought five new pairs this season at Old Navy . . .)


The thing to be careful with flip flops is obviously monitoring the heat very carefully, starting at a very low temperature and working your way up as needed. Also, flip flops with less texture tend to work better so look for ones with a nice smooth surface.


4. Books/Paper


Carousel Card baby girl


So I know you’re probably wondering why you’d ever use heat transfer material on books or paper projects . . . but that’s why I’m here friends!


These are great surfaces because they’re easy to adhere to and won’t melt (although they can burn, so as with any project, test your heat setting in an inconspicuous place first—because the last thing my career needs is a bunch of crafters going around telling people I taught them how to burn books!)


I often find myself wanting to customize notebooks, cookbooks, and even recover old books and make them look new. Choosing heat transfer as your material for these projects is perfect because it’s so easy to work with and you get to skip all of the glue, mod podge, and spray adhesive—which to me, makes it totally worth trying!




Less mess and clean up means more playtime for this mama!


5. Ribbon




Summer is fast approaching which means you might be spending a good portion of your time sitting in the stands or bleachers cheering on your kids at their soccer, baseball, fastpitch, (fill in the blank) games. And you both need some custom, game-day ribbons to show your team spirit!


Or, think custom ribbon for wrapping gifts: buy some cheap, plain ribbon that you find in some clearance bin and make it a party-stopper piece with a custom design or message!


6. Bonus Surface—Fabric!


I know, I know, this post is supposed to be about unexpected surfaces for heat transfer material, but I’m adding this bonus section because you’re probably thinking of fabric uses too narrowly as well!


Don’t forget that shoes, backpacks, strollers, curtains, lampshades, cloth napkins, table runners, rugs, toiletry travel bags, luggage, sewn quiet books, beach towels, fabric-covered ice chests, and insulated lunch bags are all fabric surfaces too!


You don’t have to get stuck making just onesies and shirts with all of your awesome heat transfer (although don’t stop making those, either!). But the next time you’re walking through Target, or Ross, or a yard sale, ask yourself, “Could I use heat transfer material on that?”


And you’ll be surprised what you walk away with!



side caddy


Now here’s a quick tutorial on how I used heat transfer material on wood to create this adorable dining caddy—which I plan to use now that it’s heating up and we’ll be eating out on the deck a lot more!


Here’s what I used:

  • Silhouette CAMEO®
  • Smooth heat transfer material (white)
  • Iron
  • Paper cutter
  • Scissors
  • Wood caddy


Step One: Set Up and Edit in Silhouette Studio®

To set up your page for the smooth heat transfer:


(1) Adjust page settings to 12 in. x 36 in.

(2) Change the “Cutting Mat” settings to “None,” since heat transfer material can be fed directly into your CAMEO with no mat.


01_Page Setup


I knew I wanted something simple and clean but also a little summery, so I selected this “Lemons” design from the Silhouette Design Store (Design ID #90141).


02_Library-Lemon Branch


To edit the design in Silhouette Studio®:


(1) Double-click the design to open it in your workspace.

(2) Right-click the design and ungroup so you have only the lemon branch on your page.

(3) Delete the text.


03_Ungroup Design


(4) Size the lemon branch to about 4 in. x 2.5 in. by dragging the corner of the design.

(5) Duplicate the branch (“Replicate Window > Duplicate Right”).

04_Duplicate Lemon Branch

(6) Mirror the duplicate horizontally (“Object > Mirror > Flip Horizontally”).


05_Flip Horizontally


I now had two branches to flank the phrase I would put in the middle but I also wanted a smaller version that I could place on the sides of my wooden caddy.


To add more branches:


(1) Select two branches.

(2)  Duplicate branches.

(2) Resize duplicates.


06_Duplicate Below


In total I created four lemon branches; two large lemon branches and two small ones.


Instead of using a font, I purchased the word “enjoy”  from the Silhouette Design Store. I liked the font and the fact that the dot over the “j” was already connected to the word (and not a loose dot I’d have to keep track of while weeding my piece later).


To use the design, repeat the process for editing designs in Silhouette Studio® (mentioned above).


And instead of sizing for the branch design, I dragged the corners of the “enjoy” design and sized it to be about 7 in. x 3 in. to span a good portion of the wood caddy.


07_Enjoy File


08_Enjoy Sizing


***At this point it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you mirror your text because you will have to cut it out backwards in order to iron it on properly.


To mirror your text:


(1) Select your text.

(2) Flip horizontally (“Object > Mirror > Flip Horizontally”).

NOTE: I don’t need to do this for my lemon branches because I already have one facing in each direction so there’s no “wrong direction” to be facing in this case.

09_Enjoy Mirror



Step Two: Adjust Cut Settings (and CAMEO Rollers)


In the Cut Settings panel:


(1) Select all objects on the page.

(2) Choose “Cut Edge.


10_Cut Edge


(3) Select “Heat Transfer Material Smooth” from the “Material Type” options.


11_Cut Settings


By double clicking on my material type, I can see that I need my blade set at a two and I can leave all of the other default setting as they are.


Blade setting


Because I’m using 9-inch heat transfer with my CAMEO, I have to move the right roller in to the next setting in order for the rollers to be able to grab my heat transfer. (If you are using a Portrait or 12-inch heat transfer vinyl, you can skip this part and move right on to loading your Silhouette.)


To adjust your CAMEO rollers for 9-inch media: 


(1)  Lower the blue lever on your CAMEO to raise the metal bar.


(2) Rotate the white roller.

(2) Slide the roller left until it clicks into place.

(3) Return the blue lever to its original position.


To correctly load your heat transfer material:


(1) Feed heat transfer into your Silhouette, glossy side facing down.

(2) Choose the “Load Media” option (NOT “Load Mat”).



You are now ready to “Send to Silhouette” (from Silhouette Studio®) and let the magic happen!



Step Three: Trim, Weed, and Prep


After it’s done cutting and I unload my design, I want to make it easier to work with by trimming it down. I do this so that I’m only working with the part of the material that has my design on it.


Trimming Project


Using your hook tool:


(1) Weed out all of the negative space, leaving the word and lemon branches on the backing.


(2) Remove everything else around them.




Silhouette Pro Confession: In the past, I never used the Hook Tool and opted for a quilting pin to help me weed. And now I’m here to tell you that I got a hook and it was the BEST decision. This thing is worth every penny because it’s so much easier to hold and the angle of the Hook is ideal for weeding. So there’s my two cents—BUY THE HOOK!!!


After weeding the design:


(1) Cut five pieces of your design into smaller sections.

This will let you place the design wherever you want.



Step Four: Add Some Heat


Now for the ironing!


For this particular wood caddy:


(1) Set iron to the cotton setting and no steam.

(2) Iron directly onto the wood.


As I mentioned in my post already (like one hundred times), you should try to play around with your iron and the material you’re ironing to find the sweet spot for temperature. I tried to keep the iron from touching the wood directly, using the plastic covering on my heat transfer as a barrier. You can also use a press cloth if you prefer.



I used the tip of my iron to really press on my design, especially around the edges since my box was really rough and bumpy.


(3) Hold the iron on your design until you can peel up the plastic sheet without the design coming up with it.


remove plastic   iron2


Repeat this procedure on all of your cut out designs and VOILA! Custom design on wood that looks so amazing.


side caddy


I love the texture that comes through and the crisp white on this rustic caddy. It will be the perfect little accessory to our summer dinners on the deck!





If you’ve used heat transfer material on an unexpected surface and had great results, let me know about it! I love hearing about new ways to use this material.

Audrey Ramos

Hi! I'm Audrey Ramos and I'm sucker for beautiful design. I have two beautiful, busy kids and a husband who is still my favorite dance partner. I run an Etsy shop selling custom prints and printables and recently added planner stickers to my repertoire of products! I love to craft and create and eat cake. And donuts. And basically anything with frosting.

Designs Used:

Products Used:

New Silhouette CAMEO®


Premium Blade

9-inch smooth heat transfer


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  1. Can you tell me what is the advantage to using HTV instead of vinyl for some of the projects, for example the wood, paper, and mugs? I totally understand for flip flops and ribbon obviously, but does it adhere better/last longer on these other materials? Otherwise, it seems like it would be much more expensive!

    1. Hi Allyson! Sorry for the delayed response-for some reason it wouldn’t publish my comments, but I think we got it figured out!

      I think the benefits of using HTM instead of vinyl are a few: 1) texture, when working with wood I feel like vinyl often looks like it’s laying on top of the wood and plastic-y, where as with HTM, it appears as if the material has melted onto the wood, filling the nooks and crannies really well. I love the end result. 2) ease of working with, vinyl can stretch and stick to itself and tear really easily so it can be more difficult to work with. HTM does not stick to itself or the surface you’re working with UNTIL heated obviously. 3) this is not really a benefit but an explanation-sometimes you just have vinyl on hand! This post really shows that there are multiple ways to do the same thing. If you’ve got some leftover HTM from a project and want to put it to good use without making more onesies/t-shirts, now you can!

      Thanks for reading and let me know if you try any of these surfaces!

  2. how can HTV be applied to a mug? Is it then dishwasher safe?

    1. Hi Dori! Sorry for the late response–it wouldn’t publish my responses when I tried a few days ago but we got it squared away! My apologies!!

      I haven’t tried to put HTM mugs in the dishwasher (I actually don’t even have one–I hand wash all my dishes, crazy I know) but I’ll ask some other people who’ve done it and see what their experience with it has been! And the mugs shown in this post were by Felicity Jane who (I believe) used a standard iron to press directly to the mug! I’m playing around with the same method this week so I’ll keep you updated!

      1. Thank Amber! I do the same thing in my house!

        1. Hi Audrey, have you tried the iron, yet, or maybe washing the mug in the dishwasher?

          1. Hi Dori-

            Soooo I tried this with an iron and it did stick, but then I kept hearing it and pressing it and it looks like there’s a breaking point where the HTM just loses all of its stickiness if overheated on the mug. So don’t overdo it. With that said, I would not have been able to each mine with a dishwasher. I’m also trying to see if there’s a difference with the flocked HTM vs. smooth. The one in the post is flocked and I think that might have even better results for adhesion. More to come on that!

      2. Thanks for taking the time to answer- I’m looking forward to your follow up… maybe another tutorial?

  3. I loved reading about your different ideas for heat transfers. It has got my mind going and I’m going around my house now thinking of the things I could do. And the lemon caddy is adorable. Perfect for summer!

  4. I love this wooden caddy, I think I’m going to have to make one for myself now!!

    1. It really is quite handy!

  5. Wow great ideas! Now I can put my kids names on their flip flops so there is less confusion at a public pool!! Also, the caddy is darling!!

    1. The struggle is real with flip flops at public pools!! Haha

  6. Thank you! Great ideas 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, Lori!

  7. Do you iron the HTM on the mug? Or bake in the oven?

    1. I believe Felicity Jane (mugs pictured) were done with an iron, I’m testing this out this week so I’ll keep you posted!

  8. Brilliant post – thank you 🙂
    Your caddy is beautiful, another thank you for all the very helpful photographs!

    1. Awe, thank you so much! I had so much fun researching all of the creative surfaces people have tried!

  9. Flip flops – what a great idea since there are so many at public pools and summer camps – I love the idea of doing this do my daughter’s. The caddy is so cute! Thanks for all these ideas and the photos!

    1. Right?! Not to mention just confusing my own kids’ flip flops in our shoe bin!

  10. I love all of the unique ideas… So excited to try them out…. Just love the caddy! Can’t wait to see your next post!

    1. Thanks you!! Yes keep coming back for more inspiration!!

  11. Could you tell me which is the material to record in flipflops

    1. Do you mean which product? You can use Silhouette’s Heat Transfer Material, I recommend the smooth material though as the flocked material will probably rub off anyways. Let me know if you try it!

  12. Can you tell me whats the name of the font
    on the pink book.

    1. This is actually hand lettering by Missy Briggs (check her out she’s has amazing hand lettering and she’s a lefty!) which she has turned into a cut file

  13. I’m wondering if you or anyone else here has put the htv mugs in the dishwasher and what were the results. Thanks! Great tutorial.

    1. I haven’t been able to test out whether it’s dishwasher safe as I don’t have one, lol, but I’ll check with Felicity Jane who created the mugs above and get back to you!

  14. Great post Audrey! And love your caddy!

  15. i see people are asking about the dishwasher for the mugs but i was wondering about the microwave? also if not using the iron what could we use for the mug? the oven? thank you i love all the ideas!

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