I actually had my Cameo for 8 months before I gave HTV a try, as it seemed quite intimidating, but really shouldn't have worried. You've most likely seen HTV before, on t-shirts with company logos, cotton shopping bags, or even those stag and hen party t-shirts. It's used on umbrellas, hats and I was surprised to find that it's also used on mugs.
How Heat Transfer Vinyl Works
If you iron directly onto vinyl, it would melt, so HTV sheets come with two layers, a shiny transparent plastic top sheet and the vinyl itself. The shiny top sheet performs two functions: 1 - it is slightly sticky so it holds the vinyl design in place for transferring to the t-shirt and 2 - it is heat resistant so protects the vinyl from the heat of the iron or press. Once the design has been applied, the plastic top sheet is peeled off and discarded.
Number 1 rule of HTV - always mirror the design
I've forgotten to do this frustratingly many times and there's nothing worse than thinking everything is fine, then realising at the ironing board that the text is backwards! I've even seen crafters putting a sign on the Cameo lid saying 'Remember to Mirror'.
The mirror option in the Silhouette Studio software is found in the Replicate window.
Cut and weed
A top tip is to check the cut before you unload the HTV. That way, if the cut wasn't deep enough, you can do another pass with the vinyl in the same alignment.
In my Sew Fabulous paper cut project, I peeled the paper off the mat and my design was ready. I then quickly cleaned the mat of the cut out pieces using a car ice scrapper. Unfortunately, it's not so easy for HTV, you have to 'weed'. This term means removing all the vinyl that isn't needed on the design. In the Spiderman design above, it's anything white, so the outside background, internal triangle in the A of JAMIE and also all the rectangles within the mask. Weeding vinyl is much like weeding in the garden, kind of satisfying unless there's loads of it!
Position and Press
Then it's just the slightly nerve-wracking task of pressing the vinyl in place. I use an iron, with no steam, at a click below the cotton setting. Sometimes the top sheet can buckle a little or the vinyl looks like it's warping. It pretty much always comes good if you just keep calm and keep the iron moving in smoothing circles :)
If the HTV is a hot-peel variety, you can remove the top sheet immediately. Other wise, it needs to cool first. Once the top sheet has been removed, I normally always place my bargain Poundshop teflon sheet over the design and press again quickly for good measure.
The Big Reveal
Shopping for Supplies
MDP also sell t-shirts and hoodies at a good price (my favourite is Fruit of The Loom). I normally go to Universal Textiles for my garments though as they have a bigger range, in particular for girls fit t-shirts and ladies hoodies. MDP and Universal are selling kids t-shirts for about £1.50 at the moment. I find H&M are also good for boys and girls t-shirts or onesies and normally have a 3 for 2 offer.
Plain white cotton onesies are available from all the supermarkets normally in a 3 or 5 pack costing less than £1 an item. I'm told Sainsbury's ones keep their shape better than Asda. John Lewis and H&M do nice coloured bodysuits, they work out a bit more expensive at about £2.60 each.