For most people, wearing a hat offers a way to keep the sun at bay. For some, it’s a fashion statement. However, branded hats present a prime piece of advertising real estate. So learning how to heat press a hat can be a great way to boost revenue for your printing business. And, for the fashionista at heart can also create a custom hat design before even purchasing a hat.
Heat pressing a hat is easier than you may think. All you need to start is a hat, flocked heat transfer vinyl, heat tape, and something that fuses it in place using heat. Sure, having a specialized heat press machine helps. But, you can also use a regular heat press if that is what’s at your disposal.
I get that that doesn’t make sound learning how to heat press a hat seem easier. Fret not, because today, I’ll get you through the nitty-gritty in this easy-to-follow step-by-step guide. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be lining up the block with all the people that want one of your bespoke masterpieces.
Does that sound far fetch? Well, I’ll let you answer that in the comment section after I school you on how to heat press a hat.
How Hard is It To Heat Press Hats?
From My experience, I can confidently say heat pressing hats isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. But, it can be tricky. That’s why it helps to do all your homework and watch a few tutorials to hone your skills.
There’s also that voice deep inside that asks, “Why bother doing all this just to bedazzle a hat?”
Well, as with many things in life, it’s all about the money. Think of it this way. You can spend less than $5 on supplies and make $10 or more for a little effort.
Here are some of the most challenging things I experience while learning how to heat press a hat – And how to solve them:
Issue 1: I noticed unsightly creases, pinching, and a coating that made the surface of my heat pressed hats rough to the touch.
Fix: I tack a small heat press pillow under the hat’s sweatband. This ensures my hat retains its shape after sustaining all that pressure from my hat press.
Issue #2: scotch or burn marks
Fix: I experiment with lower heat press temperature settings to see what works for the brand of heat transfer vinyl or paper I’m using. I also cut the liner slightly wider than the weeded-out graphics or image. This ensures that the heating plate never directly contacts the hat.
Issue #3: Burning my fingers as I work
Fix: Line the heat plate with Teflon sheets and wear a pair of oven mitt.
Sure, you may also face your set of challenges. The key is having an adaptive mindset. Making all the necessary preparations and a little scenario planning also helps. To that end, let’s look at the supplies you need to collect before setting out on this little adventure.
Things You Need To Heat Press Hats
Here are a few items you’ll need to gather before you proceed with this practice step-by-step tutorial on how to heat press a hat:
- Flocked Heat Transfer Vinyl or Glitter HTV
- Heat transfer (Teflon coat)
- Heat tape
- A large Rubber band
- Thick fabric (flannel or canvas) or oven mitts
- A hat, preferably cotton
NB: I highly recommend glitter heat transfer vinyl and flocked heat transfer vinyl. This is because I’ve found regular HTV to be too light for heat pressing hats. The resultant graphics are translucent at best. But glitter and flocked HTVs are thick enough to cover the seams and material for longer-lasting results.
Heat Pressing a Hat Step-by-Step: Easy Guide
Using a heat press machine with a hat press saves you a lot of anguish. The specialized arm on such machines ensures consistent results as your design aligns with the curved platen.
This is how I usually work:
Step 1: Deciding On the Design
It would be best to design your hat before you even turn on the heat press. This is the fun part for most people as you get to fire up adobe illustrator or your graphic design software of choice.
After I’m satisfied with the design motif, I download a hat templet. This helps me play around with the scale and positioning of the images on my hat. That way, I don’t have to wing it when it comes time to press my design.
Next, decide where your design will feature on your hat. This could be on the backside, two sides, or even the front. Now all that’s left is to make sure that the designs are right-sized and cut on your heat transfer vinyl.
Step 2: Prepare the Design
Once I’m satisfied with the designs you wish to transfer and have cut them to the right size, it’s time to place them on your hat. You can use a seam to keep your design centered. I usually use my heat tape to secure it, so it doesn’t move out of place.
Then I fold an oven mitt or a thick piece of fabric into a manageable size. This allows me to hold the hat in place without worrying about burning my fingers as I work. Since you cannot close the machine, the only option is to push your design very hard against the hot plate of the machine.
Step 3: Preparing the Machinery
Next, you want to prepare your heat press machine for the job at hand. A thicker machine helps you work quickly and with more clean precision as it’s easier to cover the seams. Don’t forget to check if your specialty heat tape holds the heat transfer in place before proceeding.
Step 4: Transfer Process
Now that the artwork and machine are all set, it’s time to customize your hat. Start by placing the hat on the machine and securing it with the handle or oven mitts. Such a measure ensures accurate results after a satisfying process.
If you’re satisfied with the design placement on the hat, you can press it. Let the heated platen lay on top of the hat for the desired period. I usually set the timer for 3-7 minutes, depending on the brand of heat transfer vinyl I’m using.
My heat press will notify me once the process is complete with a few beeps. So it’s important to stay within the proximity of your heat press so you don’t exceed the time needed.
Step 5: Let it Cool
After transferring the artwork or image successfully on the hat, allow it for some minutes so that the whole design will cool down. Remember that your material for the job is a cold peel of flocked vinyl.
So, don’t rush to pull off the sheet. If you do so hastily, all your efforts will be in vain because the design will rip apart.
Step 6: Peel the Sheet
After the design has cooled down, start peeling the sheet very slowly and watch how the designs appear.
If you notice that any part didn’t fuse tightly to the hat, quickly close the sheet and take the cap back to the heat press. It is better to correct the mistakes than do a half-baked job.
I know you may have thought that process of heat pressing your favorite artwork or image on a hat is difficult. When you follow the simple steps above, you can go ahead to produce as many as you want.
3 Best Hat Heat Press Machines the 2022 Market Has To Offer
This machine is worth the investment as you can heat press literally any fabric or surface regardless of the curvature. It can heat press transfer papers accurately onto mugs, bags, mousepads, and virtually everywhere. It helps to think of the UKCutter Heat Press Machine as 8 devices in one bulky package.
Another reason you should get this machine is that it features a specialized hat press arm. To top it off, it comes with an LED screen that adds ease to inputting the right settings.
The PowerPress Industrial-Quality Heat Press Machine is suitable for t-shirt companies that get bulk orders regularly. It also comes with an LCD screen for the settings. I find it very simple to use as all you have to do is input the right settings –And you get satisfying results at the pull of a leaver.
I’ve placed this machine on this list because it goes up to 235 degrees Celsius, which is ideal for working with thick flocked or glitter HTV.
Our list would be incomplete if we didn’t remember those who want to heat press hats and other things at home. Well, the BLZK Easy Heat Press Machine does that with ease and elegance. It’s as easy to use as an iron, but you can make it burn even hotter. The only issue you may have is spreading the results evenly or scorching your hands. But, you can overcome this with a little practice and patience.
Can You Heat Press a Hat without a Hat Press?
Some heat press machines don’t feature a hat press attachment arm. While some hats can be customized even using a household iron.
You can use the procedure in the previous section with a few minor adjustments. But things will be a little different at step 4. You fold up some fabric or use a small clutch pillow to curvature the hat. That way, it doesn’t get flattened once you press down on the lever.
Here is also where your oven mitts come in handy because they allow you to hold on to the hat without suffering 3rd-degree burns.
How to Heat Press Hats with an Iron?
So, you’d like to heat press a hat, but you don’t have a heat press at home? Well, don’t worry, you can also get some satisfying results with your household iron. Here’s how I go about this:
Step 1: Select the Right Work Surface
Heat press printing works by concentrating a lot of heat and pressure in one place. So the last thing you want to do is select a surface that sucks up all the heat. This would apply the HTV unevenly, and it may start peeling after a few washes. You can prevent this by working on a granite countertop or whipping out your iron board.
Step 2: Pre-Warm Your Iron
Heat transfer vinyl needs a lot of heat to fuse with fabric. This is usually “linen .” so pre-warm your Iron with the highest possible settings. Let it sit for about 2 minutes. Then you’re ready for step 3.
Step 3: Heat Press Your Hat
Here you want to mirror the experience of using a heat press instead of how you typically iron your laundry. So, this entails pressing and holding an area for 20 to 30 seconds. Then you can move on to pressing another area.
Step 4: Sustained Pressure
HTV is stubborn and doesn’t work well with household irons like conventional heat press machines. So, don’t be afraid to hold down the Iron to apply uniform directional force. After all, you don’t want the HTV to stick to only the first layer of your hat –It may peel off before you even get the chance to show off your new creation.
Step 5: Keep It Centered
I’ve noticed that my Iron is the hottest at the center. So, the best way to ensure consistently high temperatures is using this part as you work.
From there, you can look at your results and repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
1. Can you heat press on a straw hat?
Yes, you can heat press HTV on a straw hat. It’s an excellent way to add flavor, especially to the brim.
2. What temperature do you heat press a hat?
It depends on the materials you’re using. For instance, HTV needs at least 320 degrees for a least 20 seconds for it to fuse to a cotton hat. Sublimation heat transfer may need up to 400 degrees. The trick is to read the instructions on the packaging and experiment with the recommendations you get from tutorials
3. How long do you heat press a hat?
Standard heat transfer vinyl activates and fuses with cotton at temperatures of 305 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to go as high as 400 degrees with HTV.
4. Can you press a hat with a regular heat press?
Sure, all it takes is a few tutorials and a lot of ingenuity.
As you can see, learning how to heat press a hat isn’t challenging if you have the right tools and supplies at hand. It’s a breeze, especially if your machine has a special hat attachment. And you can even do it with household iron or a standard heat press machine _if you follow this simple step-by-step guide.
I hope my guide helps you cover all the bases so you can be off to a roaring start. These methods work for me, but I know the seasoned pro may have a few notes to add. So, in the spirit of sharing, please feel free to add any creative twists to your process in the comment section below. I’d really appreciate that.
With that said, I hope you have a productive and beauteous time in your project. Stay tuned for more!
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Last update on 2022-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclaimer