Learn everything you need to know about how to use transfer tape on your Silhouette or Cricut projects! We will walk you through using it on adhesive vinyl decals and show you how to get the most out of each piece of transfer tape!
Have you ever tried to do a vinyl project without using transfer tape?
I don’t recommend it.
It makes the simple process of putting your vinyl onto your finished project material SUPER hard and ridiculously annoying.
And I’m all about cutting out frustrations wherever and whenever I can.
To be honest, when I first got my Silhouette I would pick the vinyl off the backing with my nails..
Which was so stupid because my vinyl always looked picked at and stretched.
And if I had wanted to do a design that had more than one piece or color…forget about it. I could never line it up right after removing the vinyl from the backing.
That’s where transfer tape would’ve come in handy. Because vinyl is very thin it’s hard to pick up without it. It also stretches very easily…which is why picking at it with my fingers was a dumb move.
What is transfer tape?
Transfer Tape is not actually tape. It is a sticky backed material that helps you transfer your vinyl design from the backing to your finished project. Transfer tape comes in rolls or sheets, and although the size, appearance and tackiness of transfer tape may vary they all do the same thing: move your vinyl decals to your final project!
HOW TO USE TRANSFER TAPE!
The first thing you need to do is cut out your adhesive vinyl design. Make sure that your Silhouette blade cut through the vinyl (it should not cut through the backing!), otherwise you will have a very hard time trying to get the vinyl off of the backing with your transfer tape.
After your design is cut and you’ve weeded out all the extra pieces, it’s time to use the transfer tape. Cut a piece of transfer tape that is as big as your vinyl design and then lay the transfer tape on top of the decal. Smooth the transfer tape down on top of your vinyl with a scraper tool, and then peel the transfer tape off the paper backing bringing your vinyl design with it.
What transfer tape should you use for your Silhouette or Cricut projects?
I used to think that transfer tape was a personal preference thing and I still do to a certain extent. Sometimes you have to just try the different types of transfer tape until you find the one that works best for you!
My top pick for transfer tape is the gridlined transfer tape from Expressions Vinyl. It’s very tacky and easily picks up my vinyl decals. Their clear transfer tape is similar, I just like the grid because it helps me line up my projects a little easier!
I haven’t used the Silhouette or Cricut brand of transfer tape in years so I cannot speak to how well they work. But I’ve always found that the brands from Expressions Vinyl or Swing Design work better anyway and that’s what I’ve always used!
Where can you buy transfer tape?
I have a few favorite places I always buy from:
If I’m in a bind and need it quickly I order from Amazon because I have Prime and get free two-day shipping. But Expressions Vinyl is always having sales and you can typically get transfer tape at a really good price from them.
You can also go to Michaels, Joann’s and Hobby Lobby if you need transfer tape that same day. I typically don’t like the Silhouette and Cricut brands so I just stock up on transfer tape when Expressions Vinyl is having a sale.
Tips for using transfer tape on your Silhouette or Cricut Projects:
Always use the dry hinge method when applying vinyl decals with transfer tape!
The dry hinge method is an easy way to line up your vinyl decals on your project surfaces and a must-learn method if you are working with vinyl!
I go into detail about the dry hinge method in this post and walk you through how to do it for all of your projects. But the gist is that you tape down your vinyl decal on top of your project surface and then remove half of the paper backing behind your decal (see the image below).
This helps you position the vinyl exactly where you want it before getting it stuck on your surface.
If you’re applying vinyl decals to a curved surface, cut small snips around the decal to help with placement!
I love this trick and used it when making these Rae Dunn Christmas Ornaments!
Take extra care not to cut into your vinyl decal, but making tiny snips around the decal will help you manipulate the vinyl so that you can apply it to a curved surface easily!
Check out this video below to see how to do this!
Reuse your transfer tape!
Do not throw away transfer tape after you use it! One piece can be used on multiple projects as long as you store it properly.
To store used pieces of transfer tape I usually use the paper backing from the adhesive vinyl project I was making and lay the transfer tape on top of it.
The types of transfer tape I use typically don’t come with paper backing so saving and resuing paper backing from my adhesive vinyl works well for storing used pieces of transfer tape!
Do you really need transfer tape or can you transfer a decal without it?
I highly suggest using transfer tape, especially if you have a vinyl decal with lots of small design elements to it. It makes it easier to pick up the entire design and line everything up on your finished project.
If you don’t have transfer tape and are in a pinch, you can use these items instead:
- Painters Tape,
- Scotch Tape,
- Clear Contact Paper (not overly tacky but will work if you’re in a pinch!), or
- Adhesive lint remover!
How to use Transfer Tape FAQ’s:
How long does transfer tape last?
I’ve had a roll of transfer tape last me more than a year and it has retained its stickiness and usability. As long as it is stored properly it will last you a long time!
How long can you keep transfer tape on vinyl before transferring it to a finished surface?
The longest I’ve left transfer tape on adhesive vinyl is a week. You can do it for longer but I never have, mostly because I like getting projects done quickly instead of having stuff lay around my craft room.
Small businesses who get a lot of orders are known to batch make vinyl decals and set them aside to use at a later date, and I’ve known quite a few people who let their decals sit with transfer tape on them for a month or more without problems.
You can test it and see what works best for you. But for me, a week is what I’m comfortable with!
Does transfer tape work on heat transfer vinyl too?
No it does not! Heat transfer vinyl comes with its own carrier sheet that will transfer your vinyl decal to your project.
Transfer Tape is only used on adhesive vinyl!
Other posts from the Learn Your Silhouette Series:
- Choose the Best Fonts for Silhouette Projects
- How to Cut and Weed Small Vinyl Designs
- How to Get Crisp Paint Lines with Stencil Vinyl
- How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl on Shirts
- How to Remove Heat Transfer Vinyl if You Mess Up