How to Heat Set Your Screen Printed Shirt with Cricut EasyPress 2

Jul 2, 2019 | Cricut Projects, Heat Setting, Screen Printing, Tutorials


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The final step to screen printing with craft vinyl using Speedball water-based inks, is to heat set the ink.  Applying heat to your shirt makes the ink permanent.  This allows you to wash and dry your shirts just like you would with other t-shirts.

One of the reasons I love screen printing over HTV, is how the garments hold up in the wash.  If you properly heat set the ink, they will last for many, many washes!

Your first step is to screen print your design.  If you haven’t tried screen printing with your Cricut, you can learn here: Beginner’s Guide to Screen Printing with Craft Vinyl.

What Happens If you Don’t Heat Set the Ink?

If you don’t heat set Speedball fabric ink before you put your item in the wash, the ink will not hold up.  You’ll likely see fading or lose the design altogether.

In order to get the best results from your screen printed project, follow these instructions to properly cure the ink.

How to Heat Set Your Screen Printed Shirt

Before you jump into heat setting your design, you need to make sure your design is completely dry.  With water-based ink, like Speedball Fabric Ink, that means leaving it long enough for the water to evaporate so the pigments can cure properly.

If you are like me and doing screen printing at home, as a hobby or small craft business, you probably don’t have a fancy forced air dryer that screen printing shops use to speed up this process.

So, without special equipment, you can leave your shirt flat to air dry.  It may feel dry within an hour or so, but you really want to be patient with this step.

I typically leave mine overnight.  The longer you can wait the better.  Speedball recommends 24-48 hours.  I am usually trying to get shirts done the night before I need them.

Personally, I haven’t had any problems with heat setting them after less than 24 hours of drying.  If you are selling your shirts, I would suggest waiting at least the 24 hours before moving on to the next step.

Screen printing set ink with heat

Now that your shirt is completely dry, it’s time to heat set the ink.  The Cricut Easy Press 2 is perfect for the job.  I have 2 sizes, the 9×9 works great for large designs while the 6×7 size is great for smaller designs or onesies.

I set my Easy Press 2 at 320 degrees for 40 seconds. Place the Easy Press 2 on your design and start the clock. If you have a larger design, you will need to move the press around until all areas of the design have been heated for at least 40 seconds.

That’s it!  Now your shirt can be washed and dried like normal.  I recommend washing and drying based on the label in your garment.  No special modifications are needed once you have properly heat set the ink.

NOTE: While 320 degrees for 40 seconds has worked great for me, you should always test your settings, especially if you are selling your shirts!

How to heat set speedball ink with easy press

Why is my design still fading after I heat set it?

If you notice fading after you’ve washed your screen printed shirt, there could be a couple things to check.

You may need to let your shirt dry a little longer.  If your ink does not dry all the way, it can not be cured.

You might also check the accuracy of your heat press. If your press is not getting to 320 degrees, your ink won’t be cured.

With property heat setting, your shirt should hold up great wash after wash.  If you notice cracking in your inks after washing, read this article Screen Printing with White Fabric Ink.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your tips! When you heat the design, do you place your Easy Press directly on the design, or do you have a layer between the design and heat source?

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the tips. Yes, I agree with your advice about trying it out first. I used my heat press at 350 for 30 seconds and my tea towels turned yellow. I will need to try your settings.

    Reply
    • I started using these tea towels (https://amzn.to/2CT6pXG). They are a better quality compared to what I tried before and I’ve noticed a big difference! I didn’t have any issues heat pressing them.

      Reply
  3. What is a good heat press setting for 65% polyester and 35% cotton?

    Reply
    • I lowered my heat to 280 when pressing a 100% polyester shirt and that seemed to work well on dry fit shirts. You’ll want to do some testing. You need it to get hot enough to cure the ink but too hot can cause dye migration (where the color of the shirt comes through the ink).

      Reply
      • Do you typically apply pressure to cure a screen printed shirt or is the heat from the circuit machine above the shirt enough without pressure?

        Reply
        • I don’t put pressure on it. I’m usually multi-tasking while the EasyPress just sits on top. 🙂

          Reply
          • So you just do one side of the shirt or do it from both sides?

  4. Should I apply pressure to it also? All the ones I’ve ordered say 325-340 for 7 for the large heat press with heavy pressure. So curious what I should do with the easy press. Thank you!!

    Reply
  5. Have you ever used a heat press (I have a clamshell and an easy press, so either one) to both dry and set the shirt? I’ve read a few things where people say they just let their water based ink shirts dry for a short time (like say the amount of time it takes to print however many they’re making) and then heat press once to finish drying the ink, and immediately again to set it. It seems like a good method for time management purposes, but I wonder about the longevity?

    Reply

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