How to make 3D decals with flocked HTV

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Did you know that you can use heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to build 3D decals that look incredible on bags, hats, notebooks, backpacks, totes, and more? In this tutorial, I will show you how to create and press a layered design using Siser StripFlock Pro as a versatile, dimensional base. I will be making an 8-layer design on a pencil case using Siser EasyWeed, StripFlock Pro, and Metal, all pressed into one amazing decal.

I will show you how to take a single-layer image and create multiple offsets to build a decal – you won’t believe how easy it is to get super cool results!

3D decal made using Siser StripFlock Pro, EasyWeed Electric, and Metal HTV
3D decal made using Siser StripFlock Pro, EasyWeed Electric, and Metal HTV

This technique works well with all kinds of designs, but is most commonly used with logos, text, and stand-alone characters. My project uses the White Wolf medallion from The Witcher game/Netflix series – who doesn’t love Geralt?

As a side note, personalized items with these kinds of decals make great gifts for men. I often see people in the crafting community asking about gift ideas for men, and I think that putting a 3D monogram, favorite logo, or team emblem on a hat, case, backpack or bag is a great idea.

Here’s another example of a bag I made using this technique. It has 9 layers of StripFlock Pro (and 2 layers of Siser Easy Reflective).

Messenger bag with 3D StripFlock Pro decal (center). Made with 9 layers of flock htv finished with Siser EasyReflective.
Messenger bag with 3D StripFlock Pro decal (center). Made with 9 layers of flock htv finished with Siser EasyReflective.

Video: How to make 3D iron-on decals with StripFlock Pro

I love to decorate clothing using HTV, but I usually limit myself to very few layers in my designs to keep garments soft and flexible. Recently I have been using Siser StripFlock Pro to experiment with making incredible dimensional artwork. I first saw these decals made by David Raga of Hazlo Geek, Mexico City, and I was blown away by what you can do with this versatile HTV. So I reverse-engineered this process to teach you!

You can either build your decal with StripFlock, then top it with a layer of virtually any other HTV (holographic, electric, glitter, etc.) OR you can build up your StripFlock layers and leave the soft fuzzy top layer as-is.

When making a 3D StripFlock decal, the most time you put in will be designing your multi-layer cut file. By the time all of your pieces are cut, you will be able to press your decal layers in minutes!

Quick navigation:

Considerations before you begin

Design software

You will need to use a program that will allow you to add offsets. If you are using Cricut Design Space, you must have the full Windows or Mac desktop/laptop version, as the mobile versions of DS for iOS and Android don’t allow you to use the Offset feature.

This tutorial also works if you are using Silhouette Studio, Leonardo Design Studio, Sure Cuts a Lot or other plotter programs. Offset is called Build Contours in Leonardo.

Choosing a base material

When choosing your base, keep in mind that although flocked HTV will adhere well to cotton, polyester, and blends, you should choose something that isn’t going to be laundered vigorously or at all. I would recommend a gentle hand-wash ONLY for anything you decorate this way, and definitely no hot water. You’re going to be adhering many layers of HTV to itself, and that is going to be a weaker bond than HTV directly to fabric.

Design choice

This technique works best when you are creating smaller designs – this uses a lot of Stripflock layers! David Raga pioneered this method creating badges for hats, and the best examples of his work that I’ve seen are about 3-5″ at their largest measure.

My design for this tutorial is less than 3″ across, and the image is relatively simple with few small details.

But experimenting is part of the fun of using HTV, so after you practice the technique, there’s nothing stopping you from making designs as big and complex as you want!

If you are making hats

If you want to make hats with this type of many-layered decal, you should use a hat press. By that I mean an actual hat press with a form and curved platen where you have a very stable base for your hat. You will have to carefully align your layers and keep them stable while you press, so you will only want to press with no movement of the layers.

You can decorate hats with an EasyPress/Mini or a clamshell press, but you generally have to move the hat around too much to be able to keep layers straight in a multi-layer design. These machines can really only be used for simpler designs.

Materials and tools:

  • Cutting machine. I’m using a Cricut, but you can use a Silhouette or any other cutter
  • Design – you will be using your image as the top layer and creating multiple offsets that will form the base layers. For this tutorial, I chose a simple single layer, 1 color image
  • Cutting mat – (unless your machine cuts without a mat) I’m using a green Standard Grip mat
  • Brayer or squeegee
  • Painter’s tape, washi tape, or vinyl tape to tape down edge of StripFlock Pro on the mat
  • Siser StripFlock Pro – this is to create the thickness of the decal. I’m using black
  • Siser EasyWeed Electric – this is for the base color of the design. I’m using white
  • Siser Metal – this is my top layer; I’m using silver
  • Weeding tool – I mainly use Tweezerman pointed tweezers, you might prefer a dental pick-style weeding tool
  • Base material/blank – I am using a pencil case made of heavy polyester, but you can use any item you’d like to decorate. I recommend a sturdy, non-stretchy base material, no nylon or lycra/spandex.
  • Lint roller – to clean the surface of your blank before pressing
  • Heat resistant tape – to tape down the edges of StripFlock Pro carrier sheets as you layer (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Heat press – I will be using an EasyPress, but any heat press will do – even a home iron will work. If you are pressing a decal on a hat, I recommend a hat press
  • Pressing mat or towel – I’m using a Cricut 12″x12″ pressing mat plus cut up mouse pads for padding out the inside of the case under the zipper
  • Cover sheet – I’m using parchment paper so I can see my design placement better

How to create a 3D patch with Siser StripFlock Pro

The good news is that you can use basic tools in Cricut Design Space (Windows/Mac) to create a 3D patch for your project. You don’t have to scour the internet or go shopping on Etsy for complex multilayer designs, because it’s easy to make yourself!

This technique is going to use Siser StripFlock Pro as dimensional base layers and then use other decorative HTV as top layers. I’m planning on using Siser Metal and EasyWeed Electric, but you can use whatever HTV you like for your design.

Getting started in Cricut Design Space (or other cutting software)

Because I am using a Cricut cutting machine, I am setting up my cuts in Design Space. The following steps use Design Space terminology, but if you use another kind of cutter or cutting software, you should be able to follow the same basic steps using equivalent features in Silhouette Studio, Brother Canvas, Leonardo Design Studio, Sure Cuts a Lot, etc.

Design Step 1: Add your artwork to a blank Design Space canvas

Depending on your project, you can add a design from Cricut’s image library, use the Upload function to add your own SVG, or use the text tool to add a block of text. In this example, I’m using an SVG that I created based off the White Wolf emblem from the Netflix series “The Witcher”, but you can use these steps for most other images and word art.

add an image or text from the Design Space library, or upload your own SVG to the canvas. Resize it.

After adding your image to the canvas, resize it for your blank. I’m going to be applying this design to a basic accessories pouch that is approximately 4″ tall, so I’m going to set the starting image at 2.75″ to give myself enough room to work with.

(My design imported as black, and I changed it to white to make the tutorial easier to follow)

Design Step 2: Add your first layers

I’m going to start by making a duplicate of my artwork. This is going to be the first layer of StripFlock under the top layer. Highlight the image on the canvas, then click the duplicate button at the top of the layers sidebar.

select your image and create a duplicate.

I’m not stopping here though. I’m going to make another duplicate so I get even more dimensionality under the top layer.

Design Step 3: Use the Offset tool to make the next layer

It might help you master this technique if you think of the layers of this design like tiers of a wedding cake. I’m starting at the top tier and building the base layers outward like larger tiers of the cake.

Select the original image and click on the Offset tool, and create a small offset. For my project, I’m going to set the offset to 0.02” or about half a millimeter. By using successively smaller offsets, I can build an impressive base and emphasize the top layer by creating a visual outline around it.

open the Offset tool and add a 0.02" offset to the original image

I’m also going to create a duplicate of the offset to add more depth to the design without spreading too far out.

Design Step 4: Use the Offset and Contour tools to create the base layer

For the base layer of this design, I selected the offset I just created and made another 0.02″ offset. Then I selected the Contour tool in the lower right hand corner of the layers sidebar and contoured out the center cut, leaving me with just a solid shape.

screencap of using the contour tool to remove details from your base layer

As you might have guessed, I also duplicated that layer to add even more depth to my design.

I’ve got just one more step before I’m ready to cut.

Design Step 5: Use the Offset tool to create an inset sandwich layer

So at this point, my design has a lot of depth (6 layers), but it’s missing some color to fill in the negative space around the head of the wolf. Because Siser has so many HTV products that can be layered, I’m going to add a layer of EasyWeed Electric white between the base layer and the first offset layer to add contrast to the design.

screencap of creating the easyweed electric middle layer for the design

Select the base layer and open the Offset tool. This time, I am going to enter a negative value in the tool to create an inset. I used a –0.05″ inset to create a good margin around the edge of my base so it will be easy to position, but not so large that it will show a gap when the next layer of StripFlock is applied on top of it.

Recap: 8 layers for the 3D design

screencap showing all 8 layers of 3d decal image

After all of the steps for creating duplicates and offsets, I’ve got 8 layers I’m going to cut and press:

  • top layer (original image). Cut from Siser Metal (silver)
  • base layers 1 and 2, exact duplicates of the original image. StripFlock Pro black
  • base layers 3 and 4, 0.02″ offsets of original image. StripFlock Pro black
  • inset layer (between layer 4 and 5), –0.05″ inset of layer 5. EasyWeed Electric white.
  • base layer 5 and 6, 0.02″ offsets of layer 3, inner cut contoured out. StripFlock Pro black

At this point, it’s also smart to create a test cut shape you can include in the cutting sequence. Select a square and a triangle from the Shapes menu. Make the triangle slightly smaller than the width of the square. Use the Align tool to center them. Select both and use the Attach tool. Resize them to 0.5″, and select a color that you are not using for any other element of your design. This will ensure that they are on their own mat when you cut.

screencap showing creation of test cut in design space

Make sure you mirror all of your mats when you go to the Mat Preview!

Cut your design

Cutting Step 1. Prepare your mat

photo of stripflock pro taped down to cutting mat
StripFlock Pro taped to cutting mat with vinyl tape

StripFlock Pro is a bit different than other HTV, with a carrier sheet that likes to roll up at the edge. I usually have to use painter’s tape or vinyl tape (the stuff that comes with the Cricut Foil Transfer Sheets) to hold down the top edge of the StripFlock on my mat.

Place all your HTV carrier sheet side down on the mat. The carrier sheet covers the front of your HTV (the non-adhesive side) and tends to be shinier than the adhesive/back of the HTV. If you can’t figure out which side is the carrier sheet, pull your HTV apart a little at one corner – the carrier will be the clear plastic sheet.

Cutting Step 2. Do a test cut, then cut your design

photo showing weeding of test cut box
weed around the triangle to check your test cut

Always do a test cut before cutting your full design if you are using a new material! Siser materials usually cut perfectly for me using the manufacturer’s instructions, but you never know. Cut your box/triangle combo you created in DS and weed around the triangle to make sure it’s cut properly.

Suggested cut settings for Siser EasyWeed, StripFlock Pro, and Glitter

Explore Air 2 cut settings:

  • EasyWeed Electric: Vinyl+ on the Smart Set Dial
  • StripFlock Pro: Iron On
  • Metal: Vinyl+

Cut settings for Maker:

  • EasyWeed Electric: Heat Transfer (non-Cricut)
  • StripFlock Pro: Heat Transfer (non-Cricut)
  • Metal: Heat Transfer (non-Cricut)

Cut settings for Silhouette Cameo 4: (you may have to increase your force for all materials)

  • EasyWeed Electric: AutoBlade setting 3; Heat Transfer, Smooth; force 6; speed 8
  • StripFlock Pro: AutoBlade setting 3-4 (try 3 to start); Heat Transfer, Flocked; force 6; speed 5
  • Metal: AutoBlade setting 3; Heat Transfer, Smooth; force 6; speed 8

Siser Juliet cut settings:

  • EasyWeed Electric: 5-10 gf, 0.250 offset, speed 10
  • StripFlock Pro: 20-25 gf, 0.250 offset, speed 10
  • Metal: 5-10 gf, 0.250 offset, speed 10
photo of all cut and weeded layers for 3D decal - stripflock pro, easyweed electric, and metal HTV
all eight layers for the decal, cut and weeded from StripFlock Pro, EasyWeed Electric, and Metal

Press your design

I’m using an EasyPress, so I need to add 30ºF to my pressing temperatures as per Siser’s directions. The press temperatures and times are as follows:

  • EasyWeed Electric: 335ºF, 10-15s
  • StripFlock Pro: 340ºF, 15s
  • Metal: 335ºF, 15-20s

The heavy polyester I’m pressing on can take heat well and I’m adding a lot of layers. I am going to press everything at 340ºF. My press times will be a little longer than normal overall. I am using firm pressure on all presses.

For a standard heat press:

  • EasyWeed Electric: 305ºF, 10-15s
  • StripFlock Pro: 310ºF, 15s
  • Metal: 305ºF, 10-15s

Press everything at 310ºF and use my press times.

Prepare your base material:

  • use a lint roller to clean off your base
  • pre-press your base extensively to get rid of all the wrinkles and moisture
lint roller being used to clean off base material before pressing
cleaning thoroughly with a lint roller ensures you get a good bond between your base and the decal

Press your layers:(340ºF, firm pressure)

*NOTE: you will probably have to use heat resistant tape to keep your StripFlock layers in place as you press. Tape at the edge of your carrier sheet, do not overlap your designs. As you add more layers, it becomes more important to keep everything in proper alignment.

You’ll notice I use a long first press (10s) of my StripFlock base. Based on previous experience, I recommend getting a very good bond between your first HTV layer and the fabric you’re pressing on, because otherwise you can create a thick decal that will peel away from the base material.

  1. 1st black StripFlock Pro layer (base layer):
    • 10 second press
    • hot peel the carrier sheet
setup and pressing of the first decal layer - black stripflock pro, 10 s press
  1. 2nd black StripFlock Pro layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the second press - black stripflock pro
  1. white EasyWeed Electric layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the third press - white easyweed electric layer
  1. 3rd black StripFlock Pro layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the fourth press - 3rd black stripflock pro layer
  1. 4th black StripFlock layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the fifth press - 4th black stripflock pro layer
  1. 5th black StripFlock layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the sixth press - 5th black stripflock pro layer
  1. 6th black StripFlock layer:
    • 5 second press
    • hot peel carrier
setup of the seventh press - 6th black stripflock pro layer
  1. silver Metal layer (top layer):
    • full 15 second press
    • cold peel – it will take quite some time for this to cool down, but don’t peel too early if you’re using Metal, the finish depends on a good cold peel
setup of the eighth press - top silver metal layer

The decal is now finished!

completed 3D decal design on polyester case

I still can’t believe how easy it is to make such a cool result!

closeup of 3D decal design showing shine of metal top layer
zoom out of finished 3D decal showing complete pencil case

Hopefully this project shows you how fun it can be to experiment with HTV. I absolutely love this technique and plan on making many more decals this way. You can keep these decals simple like the Witcher one, or you can really go crazy and build sculpted decals that are well over a dozen layers.

I hope that you are inspired to create some cool stuff!

Do you have any comments or questions about this tutorial? Let us know in the comments below!

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