So, Side Hustle Warriors (SHWs) and Fellow Crafters (FCs), here are some lessons learned on my side so that you do not have to make the same vinyl mistakes.
Lesson #1 There are instructions for a reason. Do not fuss when your project is not coming out the way you planned if you did not follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer/distributor of the vinyl. As a retailer I have heard an array of “reasons” why their projects did not work out right. I can offer 2 reasons. First, the instructions are not being adhered to. The second reason could be that you are using a textile that has a chemical additive on it that is preventing adhesion like a color stay or fabric softener. Ideal solution? Spray the textile with a solution of at minimum 70% alcohol and 30% water… press dry… and then press the vinyl. Again, adhere to the instructions provided by the manufacturer for best results.
Lesson #2 STOP trying to force a WATERMELON into a TUBE-SOCK!!! I am the first person to admit that when I was fit as a fiddle I could wear things tight and have them look GREAT! Not so much anymore. I now count on the shirts I wear to withstand the stretch abuse I put them through. To upsize would be an admission that we are not ready to make… am I right?!?! To avoid this we need to use a professional grade flexible heat vinyl! I carry Specialty Materials Thermoflex for my clients for that reason. It does not look like plastic on a shirt and does not buckle immediately with a slight bit of stretch. It looks and feels screen printed. That is what I want for my clients and they want for theirs.
Lesson #3 After pressing, we have this impetuous need to peel 3-5 seconds once we are done pressing. Then, when it is not adhered, we go back down for another full press. STOP the MADNESS!!! Let’s think this through. If the instructions say warm peel, you just heated it to 325 degrees, wait 3 seconds, and start to peel - does that sound WARM to you?!?! The flip side of this is that warm does not mean cold. Do not wait 10 minutes and then think you are going to just peel the carrier tape off and all will be sunshine and daisies. It does take some experience, but I can tell you this. If you go to peel and you notice that there is a lack of adhesion… STOP PEELING! more to the point… DO NOT REPRESS!!!! I cannot stress this enough. It is already at 325. As soon as you freak out and go to repress it you have now even further compromised the adhesive and lessened the chance of full adhesion. So what do I do, you ask? I will tell you like I tell my clients… WALK AWAY OVER ACHIEVER!!! Or as they say in that song by the Beatles, “Let it Be.” Wait about 20 seconds and try again. If still having trouble with adhesion, refer back to lesson #1.
A key that one of my clients told me was to go to a local DIY store and see if they will sell broken pieces of granite. If not, go outside and get a smooth stone and put it in your freezer. This way, if you are and overachiever like me, you can rub that frozen stone over the pressed vinyl and peel it that much faster!
In any case, no matter where you are, or what your challenge is, you should be able to trust your distributor/retailer to make it an experience that you will want to have and share. If that is not the case, let me and the Specialty Materials Thermoflex options that I have for you reaffirm the reason that you got into this hustle or took up this craft in the first place!