Now, having had some experience with iron-on transfers in my DIY projects, I have to say most of them suck.

You’re stuck with whatever dopey transfer they sell ready-made at the store (though I gotta exempt Generation T stuff from that) or that you can print out from your computer. The “flexible” materials look like you just pasted something onto your shirt (read: shiny, overly matte, and muted colors [if printing from your computer), transparent areas are rendered slick and obvious if you don’t actually cut away the backing on those parts [meaning you can’t transfer tiny letters or designs with complex edges], and the materials really don’t flex. The results look oh-so-homemade, never like something you could actually buy in a store. You have to fiddle with pillowcases or sheet protectors in order to iron them, and the smell? Like burning plastic.

But instead I went straight to what the professionals use for the t-shirts they manufacture on a large scale and actually sell in stores.

Spot98‘s Vinyl ThermoFlex Heat Transfers are just, well, awesome.

I was completely amazed with the professional results (see photo below) even with using my own home iron. It was not exactly quick (oh, to own a heat press!), but it was fun, and did I mention the results looked fabulous??! (Well, as long as you aren’t looking at it with a microscope.) Plus, as the transfer heated up, the aroma of baking cookies (no joke!) wafted into the air. And the company let me buy just 2 sheets of the stuff, without any hassle at all, making my online order a grand total of $7.

A few things to consider when using this product:

*Shiny plastic side of the sheet is UP and peeled off your clothing after the transfer has cooled. Matte side is down and stuck to the clothing. Don’t get them confused or you’ll cover your iron with gunk.

*Use a bigass wooden cutting board inside the piece of clothing to stabilize it for the transfer.

*No stupid pillowcases/protective papers needed. Iron directly onto the plastic sheet stuck to the top of your transfers.

*You are fusing the transfer onto the fibers of the shirt. Most irons have little holes in the bottom, the reason for, I assume, is to totally screw up any heat transfer appliques you ever attempt. This means that with a home iron you’re going to get areas of direct heat, and non-direct heat (thank you, stupid little holes). Therefore, your transfer is going to look “bubbly” unless you apply heat AND force AND then reposition the iron on the same area, to minimize uneven heat application.

*Cold Peel means COLD PEEL. Don’t peel off the upper plastic layer until it has shrunk away from the transfer’s edges slightly, is a little “bubbled,” and is room-temperature. The shiny decals on my version? They’re from the letters I peeled while still hot – the adhesive between the plastic layer and the transfer didn’t peel off with that layer.

*The heat transfer material comes as one big sheet, and you can do anything with it – trace letters, cut it into tiny shapes, whatever you want; the possibilities are endless. Since I was able to spell out my entire t-shirt message on one whole 9 x 15″ sheet, I still have one left over for a rainy day. Order enough to feed your DIY-cravings!

-Carly J. Cais



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