Beginner Guide to GM Crafts Self Adhesive Vinyl, HTV and Papercrafts.

beginners guide

Hi!

We get so Many questions on the basics and beginners information on Vinyl, and papercrafts,  across our Blogs there is a whole Host of tutorials and information, please look at these in combination with our You Tube channel, and Application guides, and the brief information below, don’t be afraid to get in touch with us should you have any further questions too!

We would love to see what you make!  Have you found our You Tube channel yet? The video showing this and all of our other tutorials are  available on there, as well as exclusive demos, inspiration and more!  Join us on Facebook , Instagram or Tiktok or  send us an email to [email protected] we would love to hear from you!

Beginner’s Guide to vinyl for Cricut, Silhouette, Scan ‘n’ Cut and other cutting machines.

There is a vinyl for just about every purpose and surface you can think of, but which one is for which purpose?

SELF ADHESIVE VINYL

This is a flexible material with a pressure-sensitive adhesive which can be applied to all kinds of smooth hard surfaces i.e. signage, car decals, home decorating, glass, mugs, wood, MDF, ceramics, metals, aluminium and some plastics. Just about all self adhesive vinyl can be layered on top of each other, to create some eye catching designs.  A clean dry surface is required for a good adhesion and it is recommend to clean down the surface first with Pure IPA Isopropyl Alcohol aka Rubbing Alcohol and leave this to air dry. Do not dry with a cloth as this may leave fibres behind on the surface, which could interfere with adhesion of the vinyl.  Adhesive vinyl comes attached to a silicone  backing, also known as a carrier sheet. When you peel away the carrier sheet you will know it is self adhesive by the stickiness on the back of the vinyl.

There are many different types of self adhesive vinyl including our Prime range, the gloss and matt ranges, Crafty (mat free vinyl), Pattern,  Oracal 651, reflective, fluorescent, chalkboard, holographic, metallic, etched glass, stained glass coloured semi transparent and glitter to name a few. Some vinyl is suitable for outdoors, some indoors and some suitable for both. Vinyl with permanent adhesive, (opposed to water-based adhesive) will withstand outdoor use and hand washing better. No vinyl is recommended to be put in a dishwasher.

As a rule of thumb, permanent outdoor vinyl has a glossy finish while removable indoor vinyl has a matte finish. Should you wish to remove your vinyl, gentle heat from a hair dryer will soften the adhesive making the vinyl easier to remove.

We always recommend before proceeding, you test cut your materials when first using so if you have not recently used this product in your machine. Please test cut for your chosen machine found on our Application guide, and also Blog. When placing into your cutting machine always have the vinyl face up and the carrier sheet at the bottom. Cut your design as you would normally look at it (no need to flip/mirror your design). Do not cut through into the carrier sheet, if this happens decrease your blade settings. Once cut, weed out the excess vinyl not required. After cutting and weeding, in most cases, to transfer your design successfully onto your project you will need some Transfer Application tape. Weed the excess vinyl, cover the cut out decal with the transfer tape, firmly rub / burnish from the back, to push the vinyl onto the transfer tape, then remove the vinyl’s backing sheet. This leaves your decal on the transfer tape ready to place onto your project nice and neatly.

If you find your vinyl is not sticking well, this may be down to the design being too fine and not leaving enough of a surface area for the vinyl to ‘grab’ with.  You may need to offset the design or change fonts to make it slightly thicker.

Always leave self adhesive vinyl for 48  hours to ‘cure’ the adhesive, giving it a good bond, allowing the adhesive to reach it’s maximum natural tack.

Self Adhesive vinyl can also be run through manual die cutting machines like the Cuttlebug, Gemini, Spellbinders, X-Press, Sizzix etc.

PRINTABLE SELF ADHESIVE FILM SHEETS –

These can be used with either inkjet and laser jet printers for printing your own custom graphics onto. PLEASE ENSURE YOU GET THE CORRECT TYPE FOR YOUR PRINTER They will stick to most smooth surfaces. The sheets are recommended for dry indoor use but can be made water resistant by spraying the finished dry print with a coating of a Inkjet/LaserJet Fixative Spray. Alternatively, you could cut the same shape from clear self adhesive vinyl and seal it all in that way. Our Ri-defend is ideal for this giving you a self sanitising finish too.  As you cannot use transfer tape with these sheets ( it will likely pull of some of the printed surface) the less complicated the cut is, the easier it will be for you to transfer your cut out design by hand.

Ri-Defend Self Adhesive Vinyl-   

Ri-Defend is the latest antibacterial lamination film, (clear transparent vinyl) which kills and prevents the growth of 7 dangerous bacteria. Use on graphics, menus, doors, handles, windows, tables, chairs, displays, touch screens etc. Intended for antimicrobial protection of surfaces in all those areas that require a high level of hygiene such as hospitals, offices, public places, shops, cinemas etc. Suitable for Indoor and Outdoor application. Tested according to ISO 22196:2011  Clear Self Adhesive Lamination Film, Antibacterial, Self-sanitising, Barrier against germs and bacteria, Water and steam resistant and Inhibits growth of bacteria found in 7 types of infection, including: Staph, Salmonella, E.Faecalis, Pneumonia, P.Aeruginosa, E.Coli, Listeria.

STENCIL VINYL –

This is a speciality vinyl which can be easily removed and not leave any sticky residue behind. It is used for creating stencils for use with paints, inks etc.

Sandblast Vinyl-

Designed for you to use as a stencil type material for sandblasting, easy cut soft vinyl suitable for sandblasting on marble or stone with a self adhesive backing. Guaranteed perfect edges. Special acrylic adhesive system removes with no residue, and ideal for a heavy paint job stencil too.

 Blackboard Vinyl

Turn any hard surface into a blackboard / chalkboard. Perfect width for use with the Silhouette Cameo. Suitable for writing on with chalk and can be cleaned off and re-used multiple times like a real chalkboard, see our tutorial using it here.

Glass Etch Vinyl

Perfect for turning normal glass into privacy glass, creating double sides glass graphics or personalising wine glasses. High quality, professional grade suitable for use with all plotter cutters. This is cut as your chosen design and transferred in the same way as normal self adhesive, once applied it leaves a perfect permanent etched glass design without the hassle of etching creams etc. 80 micron with 5 year durability. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Oracal 638 Wall Art

Oracal 638 Wall Art is a popular vinyl choice with crafters and is a respected performance grade vinyl suitable for indoor applications with a removable adhesive. Available in 57 matt colours including transparent. Easy to cut and weed. Can be used with all electronic cutting / plotting machines including: Cricut Maker, Joy, Explore Air 2, Silhouette Cameo 4, Portrait 3, Brother Scan N Cut etc Easily Removable Polyacrylate Adhesive, Lead Chromate Free, REACH and RoHS Compliant, Indoor use only, Flame Resistance tested.

 

HEAT TRANSFER VINYL (also known as iron on vinyl or simply HTV)

HTV is a vinyl made for fabrics. It can be applied to most clothing and many material accessories like bags, canvas shoes etc. You can also use this on some uncoated, woods, and canvas too, as well as some ceramics, and glass if the item can take the heat and pressure required.

All HTV can be machine washed and some even tumble dried, just check the laundry instructions supplied for each range. Check our Application Guide here 

HTV is not sticky like self adhesive vinyl and is fused to the project using a process of heat and pressure, please see our most useful guide on this process  here. This can be a Easy press, domestic iron or a clamp heat press.  HTV is also available in many different finishes, colours and textures to suit all tastes, we have smooth Premium Plus, High Gloss, textured Flock, Holographic, Glitter, Metallic, Reflective, even some Glow in the Dark, and many more, check them all out on our website.

For heat sensitive materials we offer our speedy Turbo vinyl and now our new Premium Plus HTV with it’s 3-5 second press time, Depending on the temperature used, so less chance of anything delicate getting spoilt with heat marks. Both available in over 90 colours in a variety of sizes.

Some HTV can be layered on top of each other for creative design ideas, however others, such as glitter, would require to be the top layer, or a method called knock out, as nothing much will adhere to a glitter surface, so you ‘knock out’ the sections that would potentially overlap to remove them.

HTV is usually cut with the clear shiny carrier sheet face down and the duller back side of the vinyl facing up. However we always recommend you check this by peeling back the corner of the sheet, as some HTV adhesive can be glossy and this is the side you cut, you always cut HTV with the CLEAR carrier backing on the mat with the vinyl face up, Your design needs to be flipped/mirrored to read in reverse before cutting it. Do not cut into the carrier sheet as your design needs to remain on this to be transferred onto your project.  Once cut, weed away the unwanted vinyl areas to just leave your design on the carrier sheet. Take the sheet, flip it over to the correct view and place on your project ready to be heat pressed, no additional transfer tape is required on HTV. (The only exception to this is our Patterned, Pearlsparkle, Pastel and Pastel Glitter range – see below).

Apply your heat source at the recommended heat temperature for the recommended times see our Application Guides here

Make sure you have no seams or bulk in the way of firm, even pressure being applied or you will not get a successful adhesion of the HTV and it is likely to come off in the wash.

You can make or buy pressing pillows which help lift the decal area and make the seams drop lower and not in contact with the lid of the heat press or the base plate of your iron.  If using a easy press or  iron please see the article on the blog section of our website so you can achieve the adequate pressure here. We do however recommend you do not use a Teflon sheet, Teflon sheets are a plastic type heat shield and non stick sheet that can be used in the oven repeatedly, and will deflect or reflect heat depending on thickness and weave, this gives an unpredictable result and can result in your vinyl not adhering or falling off in the wash.

DECRA PATTERNED, PEARLSHINE, PASTEL AND PASTEL GLITTER HTV –

This is our own brand HTV and is used slightly differently to regular HTV in that you do NOT mirror/flip your design and you need to cut it with the patterned side up and the carrier sheet on the bottom.  You will also require the special HTV transfer tape to transfer your design onto your project with ease. Do not use the same transfer tape you would use for self adhesive vinyl as that would melt with the heat. Blade settings for this vinyl can be found on our website under the blog here and lots of tutorials here  and videos using this are also available on our Youtube channel here.

PRINTABLE HEAT TRANSFER SHEETS –

The sheets are manufactured for use with inkjet printers only and are ideal for getting artwork, graphic logos, photos etc onto fabrics. There are different types and the application instructions do differ for each, so make sure to read them before starting. You cannot use HTV transfer tape with these sheets as they will damage the printed image by sticking to it, so the less complicated the cut, the better.  You need a heat source, as explained above in the HTV section, and do ensure your press or iron reaches the correct temperature before pressing, and that firm pressure is applied in order to activate the process which will seal the printed image into your garment. If the instructions are not followed correctly and your time or temperature is out, then the application may not be successful. If all is followed accordingly, along with the correct laundry settings, these printed heat transfers will last for quite some  time. Again please refer to our application guide here.

Finally,  you cannot print onto regular self adhesive or HTV vinyl unless you have an eco solvent printer and inks, it will just not work using a LaserJet or inkjet printer.  But… we do offer a solution to this for you with our in-house custom print department,  who offer a service for personalised stickers, sign and htv transfers. For more info please email in to [email protected]

Transfer Doodles

Our Iron on Transfer Doodles are a great way to create personalised wearable designs without needing a digital cutter. Colouring our designs is perfect for calming a busy mind and reducing stress, we’re confident you’ll love making these ! Included are 2 blank doodle A4 sheets, all ready for you to draw onto and colour. See them being used here.

Iron on Transfers

These are Pre cut, Pre printed and Pre weeded ready to iron on (or heat press) to your chosen item, available in over 600 different designs, from unicorns, to flowers, trucks, butterflies, computers, sports, the list is endless. Available in 3 finishes Matt, Glitter and our new Pearl sparkle, which is a very soft pearlescent holographic style finish. No cutting machine or printer required, Full application guide included in the pack.

Papercrafts

We have a huge section that is ever growing of papercrafts products here, including a big variety of card from Gloss, Mirror, Glitter, solid core, and Linen finish card. Suitable for die cutting using both manual and electronic cutting machines, models, cards and almost al papercrafts processes, the slid core, linen and white card can also take stamping and secondary processes too.

 

Transfer Adhesive Sheets and Rolls

Introducing our new Transfer Adhesive, available in 305mm x 5M Roll or 10 sheets of A4 double sided adhesive sheets 21 cm x 29 cm. This highly versatile transfer adhesive can be used in a huge variety of ways- so we thought we would share a few of them with you  please click link here for full explanation. This adhesive tape sheet or roll can be cut into any your favorite shapes with scissors, scalpel, craft knife, guillotine, craft punches, and even some of your cutting dies.

 The adhesive sheet can be cut with any of your cutting machines, see some of the screenshots below from this blog (click here), you need to put the sheet on your cutting mat with the yellow side facing up and then cut your chosen design, once weeded like self adhesive you can then add Glitter, gilding flakes, embossing powder, foil, and other dry textural applications, including flower foam puff.

You can also use the transfer adhesive sheet with the white side facing up, this time fold the white sheet layer back to reveal the double sided adhesive sheet, apply your pre cut design of card, leather, fabric and even flat backed embellishments, ribbon or cord, rub it to ensure the adhesive has stuck before transferring to where you wish to stick it to

Alternatively you can use this to convert your favourite HTV into self adhesive- again see tutorial here.

Lastly use this sheet with it’s strong high adhesive performance to fix little jobs around the home, or stick up a office door sign, the possibilities are endless, Sandwich layer adhesive double sided tape, easy to use, just tear the paper surface, or use your tweezers to move the cover sheet depending which side you need to use. Great for party, birthday decorations, handmade crafts, mural wallpapers and even giftwrapping.