Using Heat Transfer Vinyl On Mugs With A Heat Press

Craft Like A Pro Series: Using Heat Transfer Vinyl On Mugs With A Heat Press

January 6, 2017 2:21 pm Published by

Happy Friday, Crafters!  Welcome back to SVG Salon’s Craft Like A Pro series. I’ve had numerous requests for a tutorial on how to create custom mugs, so this week’s topic is Using Heat Transfer Vinyl on Mugs with a Heat Press.  I recently got married (Christmas Eve in New York!), so I’m using today’s tutorial as an opportunity to make a Hubby / Wifey mug set.  These are perfect for Valentine’s Day, wedding season, or anniversary gifts, so make sure you download the free files here!

Before we begin, a quick word on why I use HTV with mugs, as opposed to outdoor vinyl, as is traditionally done.  Well, there are two reasons:

  1. Ease of use.  The method I outline below is SO EASY.  I personally find that weeding HTV is much easier than outdoor vinyl, so whenever possible, I use HTV.  And then the transfer process?  Whew.  It doesn’t even compare.  Transferring outdoor vinyl is scary business on mugs, what with compensating for the curve of the mug, making sure there are no bumps, and most difficult of all, making sure that your vinyl is on exactly the right place.  With HTV, it’s completely different.  The press takes care of eliminating any bumps, and the curve is not an issue because the vinyl melts into place.  Best of all, you can position and re-position the vinyl to your heart’s content before pressing, which I absolutely love.
  2. Durability.  HTV holds up to wear and tear much better than outdoor vinyl, and if treated with care, it will never chip or peel.  However, and please do note this, I still strongly recommend that you hand wash these mugs as opposed to putting them in the dishwasher.  I have seen other tutorials state that using HTV on mugs makes them dishwasher friendly, and this is unfortunately not the case 100% of the time.  Though they can often go through a dishwasher cycle without any issues, if you tend to use the longest cycle (which I do… who wants to hand wash pots and pans?!) and use the same mug over and over (guilty – I have my favorites!), they may eventually peel.  So while this is a great method that adheres much more firmly than outdoor vinyl, I do still recommend using dishwasher safe decoupage finish if you would like to put them in the dishwasher.  Stay tuned for a tutorial on this soon!


1.  Cut Your Vinyl

Load your Hubby Wifey Heart Cut Files to your cutting program, and cut at no larger than 4″ across. I cut my Wifey file at exactly 4″ across, and my Hubby file at 3.7″ across.  The word Wifey has more swirls in it, making it slightly longer, so this sizing kept the letters at the same proportions.   If you’re using mugs larger than 11oz, you can get away with larger.  It’s really just a matter of preference – I personally wanted these to scream “HEY GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS, WE’RE MARRIED!” so they’re on the larger side.  If you’re a little more subtle than me you may want them a bit smaller.

Note to newbies: remember to mirror your vinyl before cutting!

2.  Set Up Your Heat Press

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my heat press doesn’t have a proper “home” yet.  It’s currently sitting rather unceremoniously in my kitchen while I get my act together and find a proper stand.  As I keep assuring my husband, I’ll do that soon.  I know that many of you have the same press as me, so here’s how I have it set up when I am pressing mugs.  I know they show it differently on Amazon, with the mug press on the actual stand, but I find that this way I can go back and forth between pressing mugs and pressing shirts with very little fiddling around.  Who has time to fiddle when there’s important crafting to do?  Not me.

If this is the first time you’re pressing a mug, check to make sure that the tension on the mug attachment is properly set.  Place your mug in the press as shown below, and lift the press lever to close it around the mug.  Is the mug tightly enclosed, or can you wiggle it around when you touch the handle?  If there’s wiggle room, tighten it until the mug can no longer move.

Now to set the temperature and time.  For pressing mugs, set the temperature to 360°, and the timer to 30 seconds.  To do so:

  1. Press SET
  2. Use the arrow keys to set the temperature
  3. Press SET
  4. Use the arrow keys to set the time in seconds
  5. Press SET a final time to confirm details

3.  Prep Your Mugs

Wash your mugs, and dry them thoroughly.  Then wipe down the area on which you will be placing the vinyl with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.  This will ensure the surface is completely free of debris, and the vinyl will be pressed to the mug, and only the mug (we’re a house with two dogs, and I can’t tell you how many of my projects have dog hair inadvertently incorporated into them…).

Position the vinyl on your mugs, keeping in mind whether the end user is a leftie or a rightie.  (If they’re a leftie, make sure you have the vinyl on the front of the mug when the handle pointing to the left.)

Hubby Wifey Heart Cut File Set in SVG, EPS, DXF, JPEG, and PNG

4.  Press!

After donning an oven mitt, gently slide your mug into the press attachment, and lift the press lever until it is fully closed.  Start the 30 second countdown on the press by pressing the down arrow button.  Contain your excitement.  This is where I start to get giddy.

The press will emit a loud buzzing noise when the timer is done.  Press the down button again to silence the timer and reset it.

With your oven mitt still on, release the lever and slide your mug out of the press.  It is VERY hot at this point, so please be careful!  Set it on a heat resistant surface to cool for a minute or two.

Remember: When you’ve completed all of the mugs you’re pressing, turn the power switch on the machine off, and unplug it.

5.  Peel!

When the mug has cooled enough, gently peel away the protective plastic from the vinyl.  SO SATISFYING.

6.  Admire Your Awesome Work

Hubby Wifey Heart Cut File Set in SVG, EPS, DXF, JPEG, and PNG


Now can you see why I’m so obsessed with pressing mugs?!  These took no time at all and are, if I do say so myself, freaking adorable.

Happy Crafting!





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This post was written by Jennifer Milliron