Tips for Layering Heat Transfers

Josh Ellsworth

Josh is the VP of sales, dealer channel for Stahls'. He deals in the sales and implementation of heat-applied, apparel-decorating systems with a focus on customization. He holds skills in the production, sale, and marketing of customized apparel. He presents seminars at trade shows and contributes articles to trade publications, like Printwear magazine.

When starting with layering heat transfer materials, it’s important to note that each film has its specific requirements for time, temperature, and pressure. As a general rule, ensure that the film with the hottest and longest application receives a full setting at some point in the process.

Hot-peel materials are particularly beneficial in multicolor applications. A smooth release will help prevent the garment from stretching and warping, which makes it difficult to align foreground layers.

While most materials can be combined and layered with one another, you may still encounter materials that aren’t recommended for layering. However, there are different steps that can be taken in the design phase to get the look. For instance, the trapping technique is the process of knocking out the underlying areas of the background design so that the foreground layer makes contact with the fabric. Another option is designing with a gap outline around the image to allow for garment show-through.

When preparing to layer, it’s recommended to find a product that can be tacked to the garment for just a few seconds and have the carrier released. This will allow the placement of all background colors in short order, speeding up the process and reducing the risk that the heat transfer material will shrink underneath the heat, which in turn helps with alignment of the next color. A clear carrier on the film will help with alignment as well.

The few second fast-tack can also be used to eliminate transfer of glitter particles to a background film color, as well as avoid leaving a mark from the plastic carrier’s hard edge where it overlaps another part of the design.