Today I am going to show you how to layer iron-on vinyl (aka heat transfer vinyl) with your Cricut. We will be making this adorable Summer Vibes tote bag! This Cricut project is great for beginners wanting to learn how to layer iron-on vinyl!
I’m so excited to share this Cricut project with you today! I have been wanting a big tote bag to carry all of our summer gear in so this was the perfect project!
This project also has multiple colors of iron-on vinyl so it’s a great one to show you how to layer iron-on vinyl. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think!
You can grab this Summer Vibes SVG cut file at the bottom of the page so you can make your very own tote bag!
I created a quick video showing you how to do this or you can scroll down a bit more to grab the written instructions. I also have a list of the supplies I recommend for this project below.
Don’t forget to grab the Summer Vibes SVG cut files at the bottom of the page so you can make this tote bag with me!
Content Quick Links
SUPPLIES NEEDED TO MAKE THIS TOTE BAG WITH YOUR CRICUT
- Tote bag
- Iron-on vinyl (I used 8 different colors, but you can use however many you want)
- Cricut cutting machine
- Standard grip cutting mat
- Weeding tool
- Brayer tool (optional)
- Cricut EasyPress
- Cricut EasyPress Mat
- Teflon protective sheet for Heat Press
- Measuring Tape
HOW TO LAYER IRON-ON VINYL WITH YOUR CRICUT
Step 1: Upload the design to Cricut Design Space
First, we are going to open up a new project in Cricut Design Space and upload our design.
The Design I am using for this project is available for free and you can download it at the bottom of the page. If you need help uploading the SVG to Cricut Design Space, you can check out my video on how to do that here.
Step 2: Measure the tote bag
Next, we are going to measure our tote bag to see how wide and tall we want our design to be on the bag.
For this tote bag, I am going to make my design about 10 inches tall so it doesn't overlap with the pink part of the bottom of the bag.
Step 3: Resize the design
Once the design is open in Cricut Design Space, we are going to resize the design to fit our tote bag. You can use the arrows to resize the design or type in the dimensions using the top toolbar.
Step 4: Attach the different elements of the design
Before we cut this design we will want to attach the different design elements we want to stay together during the cut.
Most of the summer image layers will be cut individually but we will want to keep the summer letters together as well as the vibes letters.
I'm also going to attach the black watermelon seeds, the purple part of the flip flop, and sun so layering them on the tote bag later will be easier.
To do this, we will want to select the entire image and click ungroup.
The layers are now grouped by color. To keep the summer letters together, we will need to ungroup that layer. So click the light pink layer and select ungroup.
Now we can select just the summer letters. Hold down your shift key and click each letter in the layers panel. Then click attach.
Now we can do the same thing for the vibes letters in the design. Click that layer and select ungroup.
Then hold down the shift key on your keyboard and click each letter in the layers panel. Then click attach.
Now we can do the same for the black watermelon seeds. Just ungroup the layer, select just the watermelon seeds, and click attach.
For the sun layer, you will only need to select the layer and click attach because there are no other yellow parts of our design. Same thing for the purple layer. Just select and attach.
Now if you click make it, you will see the elements we attached are staying together on the mats.
Step 5: Move all parts of the design to one mat
You have two choices for organizing the mats before cutting. You can choose to cut each color separately on their own mat. This will require you to load up the mat 8 different times if you are using all of the colors that I am using today.
What I like to do to save time is actually load up all of the design onto one mat so that I can cut all of the colors at once.
To do that, you will go to the mat you want to move, click on the design, and click the three little dots on the top of the design.
Then you will select move object and pick the mat you want to move it to.
Once it's on the new mat, move it over so that none of the cuts will overlap.
Then go to the next color you want to move over.
When I move the next color over, I like to bring it down to the next whole number on the mat.
This makes it super easy for me to line up my vinyl later on the mat to make sure I don't accidentally cut outside of the material.
Now we will do this process for all of the different design elements until they are all on one mat.
When you move all of the elements to one mat, design space changes the color to the mat you are moving it to.
So make sure you are keeping track of what colors you are using for each design element so you know where to line up the colors on the mat later.
I didn't have quite enough room to fit the entire design on one mat. So I am going to place the remaining elements on a second mat.
Just move the black part of the design over to the purple mat.
Step 6: Mirror the design
Now that we have everything down to two mats, we need to turn on the mirror options for both of the mats. Any time you use iron-on vinyl you need to make sure to mirror the design.
You will see that when I selected mirror on the pink mat, some of my design elements are overlapping.
Make sure to move any design elements that are now overlapping otherwise the cut will overlap as well.
Mirror has to be turned on for each mat you have designs on so we will do the same thing for the purple mat.
Step 7: Place iron-on vinyl shiny side down on your standard grip mat
Use the measurements on the mat in Cricut design space to determine what size you need to cut each color of HTV down to.
When you place iron-on vinyl on your mat, make sure you put it shiny side down. I will start at the top of the mat and then work my way down with all of the different colors of vinyl.
Make sure you double-check your placement of the vinyl in design space so you don't accidentally cut outside of the material.
Once the vinyl is on the mat, I like to use a brayer tool to make sure the material is really stuck on well.
Step 8: Select your material type in Cricut Design Space
Before we cut, we need to select our material type. I am doing this part on my tablet, but you can do it on your computer as well.
If you are using Cricut brand Heat Transfer Vinyl then be sure to select the specific kind as your material type. I am using a non-Cricut brand HTV so I am going to set my material to Heat Transfer Vinyl (non-Cricut).
If you are using an Explore machine, you will want to set the dial to Iron-On.
Step 9: Load your mat into the machine and start cutting
Once you select your material, the arrow button on your machine should start blinking meaning you are ready to load your mat.
Once the mat is loaded the Cricut button will start blinking and you are ready to start cutting.
Step 10: Unload the mat and remove vinyl
When the machine is done cutting, the arrow button will start blinking again and you can unload the mat.
To take the HTV off of the mat, you will want to flip over the mat and gently peel the mat back from the HTV.
Peeling the HTV right off of the mat can cause the material to curl which is not what we want.
Step 11: Load and cut the second mat
We have two mats for this project since they wouldn't all fit on one. So now we need to load up the mat with the last two colors of vinyl.
Design space should already have the second mat pulled up so you can see where to place your vinyl.
Then select your material type again and load the mat.
Once it's done cutting, unload the mat again, and remove the vinyl.
Step 12: Weed the design
To weed the design elements, I'm using a Cricut weeding tool and I highly recommend you do as well. I've linked all of the materials I recommend for this project above.
When I am weeding, the first thing I do is get the bulk of the excess vinyl peeled off. Take your time with this part so you don't accidentally tear or weed the wrong parts of the design.
After I get the bulk of the excess vinyl off of the design I go back and get all of the smaller pieces in the letters and the rest of the design.
Make sure you look over your design a few times to double check that there aren't any little pieces you missed when weeding.
I can tell you from experience it is VERY frustrating to finish a project and realize you missed something when you were weeding and then it's too late to fix it.
Step 13: Cut plastic backing sheet so the design elements are all separated
Next, we need to cut apart the different design elements so that we have separate pieces for each image that is going on our bag.
Make sure you only cut the plastic sheet and not any of the actual design.
Step 14: Set your heat press temperature and time
Now I will pull up Cricut's heat guide to figure out what temperature I need to set my Cricut EasyPress to. You can click here to access the heat guide.
For this project, I am selecting the EasyPress 2, then selecting Cricut Everyday Iron-on for the material because that is close enough to the type of HTV I am using.
Then I select what type of material I am applying the HTV to in this case, cotton. I'm also using a Cricut EasyPress mat so I will select that and click apply.
The heat guide recommends setting the temperature to 315 degrees for 30 seconds and applying light pressure. Then after we heat the front, we will also press the back of the bag for 15 seconds.
So I am going to adjust my temperature on my heat press to 315 degrees and the time is already set for 30 seconds so we are ready to go.
Step 14: Line up the design on the tote bag
To get the design lined up in the center of the bag, I am folding the bag in half and then applying heat.
This will put a crease on the bag right in the center so I have a visible line to place my design on.
This also will preheat our bag which Cricut recommends doing for 5 seconds before applying iron-on vinyl.
Next to line up the design, I am going to start with the "summer" words by folding over the design and gently creasing the top and bottom of the plastic backing sheet.
Then I can match those lines up to the line in the center of my bag.
I'm just using my best judgment on how far down I want the words to go, but I'm also going to use the starfish on top of the words just to make sure it fits and looks how I want it.
I am going to do the same process with the vibes part of the design.
Now we can start lining up the other elements on our bag. I have the design pulled up on my tablet so I can see where all of the images go.
The watermelon is also centered in this design so gently fold it over and make creases in the plastic sheet so you can line it up with the crease we ironed onto the bag earlier.
When you get to the bottom of the design, you want to make sure that the entire image will fit without going over the pink part of the tote bag. So once I place the ice cream down I will hold up the cone to make sure it's going to fit well.
Same thing with the bucket of sand. I need to make sure that the sand and shovel aren't going to overlap with the popsicle stick.
So I will place those on top of the design just to make sure everything is going to fit.
Then you can peel those layers back up before we heat the first layer of the design.
Step 15: Apply heat to the iron-on vinyl and tote bag
Now that the first layer of the design is lined up, we are ready to apply heat.
I almost always use a protective sheet over my designs anytime I am using heat now to avoid any burned spots or discoloration in the product I am heating. I will link the sheets I use above.
Once we place the protective sheet down, we are ready to use our heat press. Just place the heat press down on top of the protective sheet making sure you are covering your design.
If your heat press doesn't cover all of the design, you can heat the design in sections.
Do half of the design for the specified time and then the other half for the same amount of time or you can do it in quarters.
Then we will flip over the bag and press for 15 more seconds.
Step 16: Remove the plastic sheet
The type of HTV I am using is a warm peel meaning you have to peel the plastic sheet away from the design while it is warm. The type of vinyl you purchase will specify if it is a warm peel or cool peel heat transfer vinyl.
Once you start to peel the plastic sheet away, if you notice any parts of the design not adhering to the bag, just place the plastic sheet back down and go over that spot with the heat press again until it sticks. If you have an EasyPress mini, that works really well for small areas that aren't sticking as well.
When you peel off your plastic sheet make sure you keep all of the pieces nearby. You will need them when we go to heat the rest of our design.
You will notice I left the plastic sheet on all of the elements that are not layered. This is to protect them when we apply heat to the second layer on the other images.
Step 17: Line up the next layer of vinyl on the bag
Now we can start adding the next layer of vinyl to each of the images.
I'm starting with the seeds on the watermelon. Just line up the seeds over the empty spaces in the watermelon and press the plastic sheet down to make sure it doesn't move around when we go to heat it.
Then grab the plastic sheet that was on the first layer of the watermelon and put it over the seeds layer. This will protect the vinyl when we add heat again. You never want to heat uncovered vinyl.
Then do the same for the remaining layers.
For the bucket of sand, there are actually two more colors to heat. Instead of heating the entire design 3 times, I am going to trim down the plastic sheet on the shovel so I can line it right up to the sand.
Then I'm going to lift the plastic sheet on the sand and place the shovel right up next to the tan vinyl.
I'm also going to trim the plastic sheet on the popsicle stick to make it a little easier to line up.
You will notice that my sand bucket is a little too far to the left so my shovel is in the way of the popsicle. To fix this I am just going to move the shovel down a bit further on the sand to make room.
I totally forgot about the green part of my watermelon earlier so I need to peel up the plastic sheet and the seeds on the watermelon so I can add it.
Once it's in place I can add my seeds back again and the plastic sheet back over the entire watermelon.
Now we can add the black part of the sunglasses.
Before you go to heat the design double check that you don't have any of the vinyl exposed. You need to have the plastic sheet back over all of the design elements.
Now we can place the protective sheet back down and heat the design again for 30 seconds at 315 degrees. Then flip the bag over and heat the back again for 15 more seconds.
Peel the plastic sheet off of all of the design elements and you are done!
Isn't this bag so cute! I really love how this turned out and can't wait to use it this summer when we go to the pool!
I hope you get a chance to make one and feel more comfortable about layering iron-on vinyl!
Don't forget to grab this free design below!
To download the free Summer Vibes SVG cut file just fill out the form below and click “GET IT NOW!”
DOWNLOAD THE FREE SUMMER VIBES SVG CUT FILE
HOW TO USE THESE CUT FILES:
You can use these files on your Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo, or other brands of electronic cutting machines that use these file types.
If you need help downloading the files and uploading them to Cricut Design Space, I have a quick tutorial on how to do that here: How to Download SVG Files and Upload them to Cricut Design Space
Please review the licensing information for these files by clicking the link below.
Don’t forget to save this project on Pinterest for later! Happy crafting!