This tutorial shows you how to use puff vinyl htv to decorate a t-shirt. And for this project, not only does is the HTV puff up, it changes colors too. It’s so cool!
I’ve always known there were all different textures of heat transfer vinyl, but lately I hadn’t ventured far from the basic matte finish.
Years ago, I worked with flocked heat transfer vinyl* and while added it an interesting effect, I decided the hassle wasn’t worth it.
I’m not sure if it was the tools I was using that made it tempermental or if I was just short on patience, but I haven’t used it since.
I also worked with glitter heat transfer vinyl and I’m not a fan of that either.
But that may be because most of my projects aren’t for glitter-enthusiasts. I would use it again if the project called for it. Flocked HTV? Not so much.
Which leads us back to puff heat transfer vinyl…
What’s Puff Vinyl HTV?
Puff HTV (aka heat transfer vinyl) is a type of HTV that puffs up to give the design a 3D effect once activated by the heat. It literally adds pop to any project.
You may also see it labeled 3D puff vinyl or 3D puff HTV.
I was first introduced to it after seeing some finished projects on social media and was intrigued.
So I went searching for some options.
As you might expect, there are plenty of online shops that sell puff heat transfer vinyl.
When I am experimenting with new materials, however, I typically have a specific budget in mind and also try not to buy too much.
And the prices (plus shipping) that I was seeing weren’t working for me.
So I bookmarked several of them for future use, and then headed over to Amazon to see if the price point was a better fit for this first go at using puff vinyl.
And I was so happy to find the Transwonder puff vinyl and even happier to see that there was a color changing puff vinyl option! I planned on trying color-changing HTV as well so this was a 2-for-1.
As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a small commission if you buy a product using the links with an asterisk or using the links below.
How Is 3D Puff Vinyl Different From Regular HTV?
If you’re wondering how sheets of puff vinyl are different from regular HTV, they’re not.
A sheet of puff heat transfer vinyl is around the same thickness as standard HTV and has the same transfer film.
When you are cutting the puff HTV sheet, just like with any HTV, make sure to review the manufacturer’s cut settings.
The TransWonder package I bought (above in the Amazon links) had a nice sheet explaning everything so there was no guesswork.
PRO TIP: The double pass cut for the color-changing puff vinyl was a must.
Tutorial: Use Puff Vinyl To Decorate A Cotton Tee
If you’ve added HTV to a shirt before, then the materials, tools, and steps to complete this crafty project will be very familiar.
Materials & Tools
— Cotton t-shirt of any color
I typically use a 100% cotton t-shirt whenever I am trying a new heat transfer material.
Cotton blends often shift during set up and the texture of the shirt can also cause some challenges.
Basic cotton t-shirts are also less expensive so it keeps costs low for a first attempt.
— Puff HTV
There is puff vinyl that is a just one solid color, and like I used for my project, there is also puff vinyl that changes color.
For this project, I knew the color-changing effect would make it extra special so I was excited to try both the color change and the puffy effect at once.
— Silhouette Cameo or Cricut
The Silhouette Cameo or Cricut ensure a clean, crisp line for any design.
If you’re still on the fence on whether or not to buy one, it is well worth it.
— Weeding tools
For this project, I just used a weeding hook. You may need some others depending on the intricacy of the design.
Since puff vinyl is still new to me, I didn’t try reverse weeding, so I’m not sure if that would work with this HTV.
— Heat press or 12″ x 10″ Cricut Easypress
When working with puff vinyl, you want to ensure that the heat press you’re using evenly covers the whole design.
For this reason, you want a large Cricut Easypress or a standard heat press*.
— Teflon pressing sheet
A pressing sheet is an important tool to have for all of your HTV designs.
How To Decorate A T-shirt With Color-changing, Puff Vinyl HTV
Deocrating a t-shirt with puff HTV is just four easy steps.
Step One: Select a premade or create an original design.
If you already have a design in mind, you can use the existing fnots offered in your machine’s design studio.
And if those don’t peak your creative interest it, you can always get some free fonts (typically for personal use only) from services like Creative Fabrica*.
PRO TIP: If you’re new to HTV projects, you may be asking yourself, “Do you mirror puff vinyl?” And the answer is a big ‘ol “YES!”.
Step Two: Use your machine to cut your file, then weed your design.
Since I added the puff vinyl to a child’s shirt, I didn’t need to use the whole sheet.
I therefore cut it to the exact size I needed beforehand so that I wouldn’t waste any of the material.
Each sheet changes to a different color, which is marked with a colored sticker. Without that sticker, however, you won’t know which color the sheet is.
So, I wanted to show (in the picture above) that it’s best to cut the piece you need from the bottom of the sheet. This way, the sticker stays with the sheet until you’ve finished using all of it.
Step Three: Test design placement before preheating shirt.
I don’t use any templates or jigs to determine the proper placement for my shirts and instead, I just eyeball it.
So, I always like to place the design down on the shirt before even moving it to the heat press to make sure I already have a sesnse of the best placement.
I don’t leave it on the shirt, since it’s best to preheat the shirt before pressing.
Pressing it ahead of time gets any wrinkles out and also helps (in essence) “prime” the shirt for the vinyl that is about to be attached.
You only need to do the pre-press for 3 – 5 seconds for a cotton shirt.
Step Four: Press vinyl onto shirt, peel hot.
After you’ve preheated the shirt, set your vinyl in place for pressing.
Then, cover the shirt and the vinyl with a teflon pressing sheet to protect the design.
Set the teflon sheet to the side and immediately peef the transfer layer off the puff vinyl.
(It’s really fun to see how much it puffed!)
Puff Vinyl Is An Easy Creative Addition
Any type of puff HTV is an easy creative addition to a t-shirt craft.
I must say, though, that I am currently enamored with the color changing puff vinyl.
For this project, I did color on color so that the impact of stepping out of the sun really made the design pop.
Since most people spend more time indoors, the white on color is the perfect contrast.
I have several sheets left from my original puchase, so not I’m brainstorming other cool ways to use this color-changing puff HTV.
I think my next project will be this material on black to see if that contrast is even better.
How would you use this color-changing puff vinyl for a project?
Share your ideas in the comment below!