Monday, 30 April 2018
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DIY Custom Iron-Ons with Two Colour Shadow Effect Lettering

Blue t-shirts saying "Dali Momma" and "Dali Daddy"

This post has been created in collaboration with our partner blog Creativity Unmasked.  With Mother's Day coming up in a few weeks and Father's Day not long after for those of you up north (it is in September here), we're sharing our custom heat transfer vinyl pet parent t-shirts. I made these first when I got my Cricut as a test for cutting size (little Dalmatian dots) and iron-on resilience. The bright blue shirts were bought as part of our dog vision walkies wardrobe changes, so they were the perfect target for some pet parent territorial marking. 

I had a multi-pack of different coloured non-Cricut vinyl, which was way cheaper but came with the risk of uncertain quality.  I figured a small sleeve design would be a perfect way to test, as the shirts would still be well worn even if the designs didn't hold up in application on subsequent wash-and-wear. Fortunately, there were no issues on either front - four months later, they're still holding strong.  The sleeve is also an easy(ier) to wear placement for anyone who might not be into a highly visible front/back type of design.  Single colour felt kind of plain, so I decided to style things up with a two-colour shadow effect.

I went with "Dali Momma" and "Dali Dad" but the awesomess of having a Cricut is being able to  create just about anything you want!  What would your pet parent title be?  Dog Mom? Fur Momma? The Dogfather? Poo Slave? Treat Dispenser?  Your dog's Mom/Dad by name?  I'd love to hear it!  If you don't have a cutting machine, very simple designs could be hand cut or you can buy custom transfers from other crafters on sites like Etsy. There are also some very cute ready-to-use iron-ons for dog lovers available for purchase from craft suppliers or online. Alternatively, you can stencil or draw your own unique design using fabric markers or paints.

Making an iron-on transfer with Cricut and vinyl

If you are using a different type or cutting machine, the shirt design concepts can be adapted easily to other software/tools. When creating and applying, follow the directions of your specific machine and materials. 

Create your design. I created my text and dots outside of Cricut Design Space and imported it as an image file. A simple design of straight line typography and circles could easily be created directly in Design Space; however, when working with script fonts I prefer to save my self the hassle of joining the letters (an annoyance in Design Space if you are using your own non-Cricut script fonts) and just import.

✂️  Need help with your design or use of Design Space? This post details how to create typography in Design Space. This post details how to upload images to create an image based design in Design Space

The font used in my project is Pacifico. It's free and I really like how the script is clearly legible and a little fatter than many script fonts, which makes it great for weeding and reading!  The underlining Dalmatian dots are the same pattern that we use all over the place in our branding. It's super easy to create your own circle patterns in any program, but if you'd like to grab a copy of mine for use, it's available in Dropbox for download here (personal/non commercial use only please, as with all of our freebies).  The smallest dots in the size I used for sleeves definitely pushed the boundaries on both cutting and clean weeding - good test project!

Whichever design method you choose, double check the measurements before you finalise for cutting. Since we're cutting to iron on, you must either reverse the completed welded/attached design or image (flip horizontal) before sending to make or toggle mirror on within the making process. Ready to make!  From here, just follow the Cricut system prompts and instructions for your chosen vinyl.

Step-by-step applying layered heat transfer vinyl for a text shadow effect

To create an offset shadow effect with the text, I am using two exactly identical cuts of the same typography in different colours.  The bottom layer is applied first and the top layer is positioned in offset either slightly above/below and/or to the side depending on the look you'd like to create.  Layering heat transfer vinyl is super simple and is pretty much the same as direct single layer application, but you do need to take care to ensure that your base layer(s) are covered and that you don't apply heat for longer than necessary in each step to avoid damaging the vinyl.

  • Once your design is cut, weeded, and ready to go, double check before application.  Position and check the placement of your full design with the offset layers before committing to ironing it into place.  I decided that I liked the pink-on-black for my bright blue shirt, but preferred black-on-white on the royal blue shirt. I also shadowed my two shirts in opposite side-to-side directions because of where the "y" in daddy ended up relative to the underlining circle design.
  • Ensure that your t-shirt is clean, dry, and wrinkle-free before applying your transfers. 
  • Position your base layer and carefully iron into position. To avoid over baking the vinyl, it is best reserve any long pressing for after the design is fully layered. Heat application and backing removal must be done per the instructions for your chosen vinyl product. If using a hot-peel product, allow to cool before applying the next layer.
Tips: A Teflon sheet is extremely handy for extra protection, if you have one, and this is especially important when layering. If you don't have one, you can try substituting something like baking parchment, clean cotton, etc. as a protective layer.  If your base design is larger than your top layer, you can also hang onto your backing post-peel and re-use that to assist with protection when applying the top layer. DO NOT place your iron directly on exposed vinyl as you may damage the design and/or your iron.
  • Position your top layer. Ensure that the previously positioned design layer is covered to avoid any contact with the iron and carefully iron the top layer into position. Heat application and backing removal must be done per the instructions for your chosen vinyl product.

Blue t-shirt with a vinyl iron-on that says "Dali Momma"

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