If you’ve been wanting to make a hat with heat transfer vinyl but don’t have a hat press, you can easily do it with a mini press! Keep reading to see 2 genius hacks to get a picture-perfect design on your baseball cap!
Using Vinyl and Cutting Machines for All Kinds of Projects
This post may contain affiliate links. See Disclosures for details.
This post was written in exchange for an honest review of the Heat Press Mini.
All views, experiences, opinions, and photos are my own.
If you’ve been in the crafting world any amount of time, you are acquainted on some level with a Silhouette or a Cricut– the machines that can cut vinyl and other materials for all kinds of crafting projects.
Well, I’m typically late to the game with things like that, and I bought a Silhouette Cameo 2 almost 2 years ago off of Facebook Marketplace. I made my first project about 4 months ago, and I am just now getting around to creating a few more projects, trusting that these machines live up to their magic.
I have an Etsy shop where I sell printable wall art, gift tags, etc. and I’ve been wanting to try some of my designs for other kinds of merch – hats, T-shirts, tumblers, etc.
And hence, when I was gifted a mini heat press from Heat Press DIY, I knew I want to test it out for some different kinds of products.
Today’s design (which you can grab at the end of the post) was inspired by Psalm 127:4-5:
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
I just love this imagery – our kids, launched forth for the kingdom of God. A dear friend also gave us arrows when we found out we were having twins, so this is very special to me.
(Note: The reference on my sample design is wrong! Ugh! It’s Psalm 127, not 125! What in the world, right? However, if you grab the designs at the end of the post, I corrected with the proper reference!)
How a Mini Press is Different Than an Easy Press
When you’re talking about using heat transfer vinyl (HTV), you need some kind of heating apparatus to transfer the vinyl to the material.
You can go all out and buy a large heat press (with a hat press piece) or a hat press, if you just want to create hats. You can buy an easy press, with is great for larger vinyl transfers such as T-shirts, etc. You can even use an iron with parchment paper.
However, when you have a small area to do, unless you have the large-scale presses, a typical handheld easy press device is going to be a little difficult to navigate.
That’s where a heat press mini is very handy. These gadgets have a very small platen – 5 x 2.5″, which makes them perfect for smaller projects – baby clothes, logos, hats, shoes., etc.; otherwise, using a larger hand-held press is going to be very clumsy.
I tried using the mini heat press on two different projects, and today I want to share about the using a mini press for a hat.
I did try it for a logo space on a t-shirt, and it worked like magic. Even without a blog post, it’s definitely something a beginner could figure out just by looking at the instructions.
A hat takes a little more finesse.
So, let’s talk through using a mini heat press on a hat.
How to Make a Hat Using HTV and a Mini Press
First, you need your design uploaded to your Cricut or Silhouette software and then cut on your machine. I’m going to assume you’ve got a handle on that. If not, I’ll point you to a great tutorial, as this post is really dealing with using the mini heat press on a hat.
At the end, I’ll also include a download of my design, in case you want to try that one.
As far as the design you can use, you don’t want something too large or too complicated. Presses work best on flat areas, and as you know, a hat is somewhat curved. So, the simpler, the better.
As I mentioned, it’s the flat surface that can be the challenge.
I did a trial run by just keeping my hand inside the hat, pressing the heat resistant mat against the inside, and it didn’t quite work out so great.
After doing a little research, I tried two ways to do it – using a bowl and using a rolled-up beach towel.
Let me talk through how I used HTV on a hat using a mini-press and a bowl, and then I’ll give a quick overview using a towel and which way I preferred.
Using a Bowl:
1| First, place the heat resistant foam mat on under the inner flap of the hat, so you can create the flattest surface possible.
2| Then, place the hat with the mat on top of the bowl.
Pull tightly and secure the back with small clamps or clothes pins.
Continue to secure the hat the rest of the way around with clips or pins.
3| Now, you can go ahead and turn on your mini press at this point to let it start heating up.
With this particular model, it starts in Celsius, but the instructions point out how to switch to Fahrenheit, which I did.
According to the guide, you want the heat to be between 330-350° F (this machine has 4 different ranges of temperatures).
This model come with a countdown timer. I always left it to the highest number of seconds (120) and just kept an eye on it, because sometimes the press needed to stay down a little longer.
4| While pulling the hat tight, lay your vinyl sticker on top of the hat in your desired location.
Lightly run the press over the entire vinyl piece just to allow it to stick in place.
5| Then, press down the heat press on the hat with firm pressure (I mean really firm).
I kept the hat and bowl wedged between my legs where I felt like I had the most control – so it wouldn’t slip and could press down the hardest.
If your total area is larger than the press plate, do one area at a time; don’t move it around like you were ironing a shirt.
Press down with firm pressure for 30-40 seconds, then move on to the next area.
6| Removing backing from the hat. Depending on the HTV that you use, peel the backing off while it’s hot or let it cool. The HTV that I was using was a cool peel, so I let it sit for about 45 seconds before removing.
Following those instructions, the vinyl stuck to the hat beautifully!
Using a Towel:
1| Take your beach towel and fold/roll it until it’s about 12″ across. This will get you a nice fit inside the hat.
2| Then, make a circle and fill the inside of the hat.
Place the ends of the towel toward the back of the hat, the curved area toward the front. Push in the towel as tightly as you can to get the flattest surface possible.
3| Once your towel is in, take your hat and secure it on your lap, between your knees, creating a flat surface.
Then, follow the instructions above (#3- #6): lay your vinyl piece in position, apply firm pressure for 30-40 seconds, one area at a time, and then remove backing according to the specific instructions of the HTV you’re using.
Which Method I Liked Better
Both of those methods will get the job done. However, I preferred using a towel instead of a bowl. While a bowl can get you a tight area to put the press on, it’s still curved, which can be part of the challenge.
With a towel. you can get a tight fit while being able to manipulate it a little more, and actually create a bit of a flat area rather than a curved one.
A Few Pro-Tips:
*For a hat, it’s best to pick a simple, uncomplicated design. Thin graphics or letters can be really difficult when they are shrunk down to that small size, pressing onto a bumpy-ish material.
*If a little area doesn’t stick too well, you can spritz it with water and then softly touch the iron to it to stick it down.
*Be sure to check a chart for the best placement of your vinyl on hats. It doesn’t always look right to the eye. Also, the lowest part of the hat (right above the brim) is the hardest to press because of the interior flap. So double-check that as you go.
This is a great guide that you can download to check the best placement for all of your HTV projects.
To get succinct and printable instructions as well as view a DIY Short video, check it out below!
These are PNG files. Just upload them to Silhouette or Cricut Software, use the ‘trace’ function, then modify the design to flip horizontally.
I also like to draw a box around the entire design to make the weeding easier!
If you’d like to purchase this Heat Press Mini, you can check it out here! You can use this coupon code for an extra 5% off: KATHERINELANDRY or sign up to be a subscriber and get $10 off your first order!
More Creative Projects
If you’d like to try other DIY projects, take a look here!
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below!