Halloween DIY: Trick or Treat bag with Reflective HTV [PROJECT]

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We were recently invited to participate in a Halloween design challenge by Heat Transfer Warehouse, and we got a big bundle of HTV goodies to help us create a show-stopping project. There were a lot of leftover materials, so we wanted to give our readers a bonus project that you can make with your kids for trick or treating.

Included in our bundle was a black cotton tote bag that would be perfect for trick or treating. We also didn’t get to use the incredibly bright neon orange puff HTV while making our T-shirt, and we had a lot of reflective HTV left over. Why not make something fun and bright that would also help keep the kiddos safe?

Here’s what you will need for this project:

DIY HTV Trick or Treat Bag Video

What we got from Heat Transfer Warehouse

We decided to use the WALAKut Neon Orange Puff HTV as the main material for this bag. It is unmissable. Like eye-searingly bright. Any kid would love it. Plus we are going to add reflective accents all over the outside of the bag to give a visibility boost at night, and some trippy bonus glow in the dark accents on the inside of the bag. Halloween isn’t for minimalists!

Heat Transfer Warehouse sent a ton of other stuff for us to try out for the Halloween Design Challenge though. We had to use at least three materials from this list of great materials from Siser, Specialty Materials and WALAKut.

Trick or Treat Bag Design

I was scrolling through a few crafting groups on Facebook and saw a couple of designs that inspired me. Because I had this crazy bright neon orange HTV, I immediately thought that a play on a roadside caution sign was the best idea.

In fact I found two looks that will look great on each side of the bag. The first is a twist on the classic school crossing warning sign that I modified to add a witch’s hat and broom to one figure and a devil’s horns and cape to the second. The original image was a public domain SVG from Wikimedia Commons (Here’s a selection of many, many options you can choose from).

The back of bag features another warning sign theme → “PROCEED WITH CANDY.” This has been done many times, but I didn’t download someone else’s design, I just decided to make it myself. Using the base diamond shape of the school crossing graphic, I added the text using the font “Highway Gothic” (dowloaded from Dafont).

Each diamond shaped caution sign will have a stripe around it in reflective HTV, and I thought it would be fun to include even more reflective accents around each sign. I wanted to place a bunch of the bats to fill up the rest of the space around the school crossing sign, and I found a spider in Cricut Design Space to use with the Proceed With Candy sign. Then, I made spiderweb images to go with the spider in Adobe Illustrator (I’ll share the SVGs at the bottom of this article).

But I had one more idea to jazz up the inside of the treat bag. I can’t remember anyone applying HTV on the inside of a bag, but since I had all of this glow in the dark material, I figured it would be a fun surprise for the kids.

The font I chose for “Trick or Treat” on the inside of the bag is the very groovy ActionIs which reminded me of Willy Wonka.

Testing the WALAKut Puff

I wanted to check the level of detail I could include with my design, and I wanted to see how the WALAKut Puff layered on top of the Siser EasyReflective. I made a few test cuts of some of my design elements at a fraction of their normal size to see how small details show up in the Puff HTV.

After pressing on a scrap piece of canvas fabric, I was amazed at how much detail was preserved in the smallest images I had made.

I made a tiny version of the “Proceed with Candy” sign and I was completely surprised at how much detail showed up at less than 2 inches across!

Setup in Cricut Design Space

My main objective setting up this project in Cricut Design Space is to get it cut without using up a lot of excess HTV. The EasyReflective vinyl from Siser comes in a 10 inch roll, and I only had about 30 inches to work with. So the first decision I made was to rotate the design 45 degrees so the CDS would read the diamond shapes as squares and I could effectively use the full width of each sheet of vinyl on the cutter.

(Note: the downloadable SVG I am providing below is already rotated 45 degrees, so you can skip this step)

Here are the steps I took to get this design ready to cut (and tips to avoid the mistakes I made!). Here’s a screenshot of the canvas after I’ve uploaded my designs:

cricut design space screenshot with elements of the halloween tote bag

Ungroup the designs, then weld

When you import each of the sign SVGs, the orange and the silver elements are grouped together. The first thing to do is ungroup them. But here’s the important step: after you’ve ungrouped the silver and orange, don’t click and drag the orange out of the way. The small inner pieces of the design (like the counters in the text) aren’t grouped, so they stay behind when you move the rest of the sign.

preview of design space, ungrouped images, but not welded.
This is what happens when the sign element is ungrouped but not welded or attached together

Instead, click the SVG name in the layer sidebar (Proceed with Candy) to highlight all of the elements in the design, then click the Weld icon at the bottom of the sidebar. (Or, if you prefer, you can Attach these elements). Repeat this for both sign graphics.

Use the Template feature in Design Space to mock up your design

I found it very useful to use the Template feature in Design Space to help me get all of my elements sized properly. Specifically, the spiderwebs I designed needed to be the right size to reach from the corners of each bag to the edge of the reflective sign frame.

To open a tote bag template, click the Templates icon in the left hand side bar, then scroll down to “totes” on the template list (all templates are listed alphabetically – you can also type “tote” into the search bar).

choose the tote bag from the template menu
Choose the tote bag from the template menu

Now you’ve got an example tote bag on the canvas to help you properly size and proportion your design. It won’t be included in your cut files, it’s just a visual guide to help you plan.

You can resize the tote bag template outline to match your project. My real life bag is 16 inches wide so that’s what I set the width of the template as. Setting the height of the bag was irrelevant because the Cricut template measurement includes the bag straps, not the just the height of the body of the bag.

So now that the template is the right width, make a duplicate of one of the silver frames and rotate it 45 degrees so it is diamond shaped, and position it in the center of the template.

Resize the template to match your bag, then add a duplicate of your silver frame

Use the template to properly size the rest of your images

For the first side of my bag, I was planning on adding some spider webs hanging off the frame of the sign. The frame is already the correct size, so I’m not going to touch that. What I want is the spider webs stretched from the corners of the bag to overlap the frame. (When I press the HTV, the frame will also layer on top of the webs).

Next, I got a free spider image from Cricut Access by clicking on the “Image” icon in the left hand toolbar, then searching for “spider” and filtering for free images only.

go to the image section of Design Space and find a spider to add to the design

Finally, I added a square from the Shapes menu and changed the dimensions to make it a skinny rectangle for the hanging spider’s silk. Now all of the pieces of the first side are properly sized and we get a good look at what our finished product is going to look like.

Laying out the second side

Now that the elements from the first side of the bag are properly sized and we know how everything will fit, just click and drag the spider webs, spider and spider silk off to the side so we can mock up the second side of the bag.

I planned to use a bunch of bat vectors clustered in the corners of the bag for the second side. I already had a bat graphic that I used in my t-shirt design, so I uploaded it to my canvas, sized it to my liking and then duplicated it. And duplicated it again, Flipped it, then duplicated again.

In the end, I made 18 copies of the bat in 2 different sizes. I put 1 large bat in each corner, and then 3 or 4 bats in a cluster around it. In the end, the design is simple, but hopefully when we see the reflective HTV in the dark, the effect will be awesome.

Arranging the cut pieces to minimize waste

As I said earlier, I had to be wary of minimizing waste on the reflective vinyl because I didn’t have a lot of it left. My plan was to position all of the smaller elements (bats and spider webs) inside each silver frame to get the most efficient use of the vinyl.

So rearranged all of the small elements inside the frames, then I drew a highlight box with the cursor to select the frame and everything inside of it, then I clicked the Attach icon at the bottom of the screen. Now, when I cut, everything would cut as a group, and I could just cut out the center portion of the frame with an X-acto knife before weeding!

Now, you can delete the diamond shape and hide the template. The final step is to add a new text layer for the inside of the bag. The font I used is ActionIs, a whimsical, Willy Wonka-esque font that will delight when the bag is opened up on any doorstep.

Then I selected the Type tool, entered my text and selected the font from my list of system fonts. I sized it to 10 inches wide, and then I clicked Attach to make sure the text will be cut in the correct order. Then I duplicated so I would have HTV for each side of the bag.

Now it’s finally time to click “Make it” and get a preview of our project!

Mat Preview

So the project will take 5 mats: one for the glow in the dark text, two for the reflective HTV, and two for the WALAKut Puff neon orange. Make sure you mirror your cuts so the text reads properly!

Here’s a preview of each of the mats:

Cutting the HTV

I’m using the Cricut Explore Air 2 to cut my HTV, but you can feel free to use any cutting machine you like, using a 45 degree blade (Autoblade or manual blade for Silhouette machines; AutoBlade for Brother). I recommend using Siser’s settings instructions for your particular vinyl cutter.

In my case, Siser recommends setting the Smart Set Dial to Vinyl+ for Siser Glow and EasyReflective. WALAKut Puff has no machine-specific instructions, so I’m cutting it using the same settings.

The next step is to cut your vinyl to size and set up your cutting mats, or just load your roll and cut matlessly with your Silhouette or pro cutter.

One note about EasyReflective: the dark grey side goes up! The carrier sheet is opaque, not clear, so you can’t see the “pretty” side of the vinyl.

EasyReflective gets cut with the dark grey side facing up

Also: WALAKut Puff Neon Orange would not stick to my mat! I had to tape around the entire perimeter of the vinyl. I used the long strips of white tape from my 12″ x 12″ Cricut Foil Transfer sheets, but you can use washi tape or masking tape.

WALAKut Puff Neon Orange had to be taped to the mat

Weeding

Good news! While the WALAKut Puff Neon is tricky to stick to the mat, I couldn’t believe how easily it weeds, because the carrier sheet is not particularly sticky. Weeding will probably take you 15 min or less total for this project. The trickiest part was the bat eyes; I like to use tweezers or an X-acto knife for details like those.

I chose to organize my smaller reflective elements inside each of the sign frames, so my first step before weeding was to separate the frames from the other cut shapes.

Tip: after weeding, cut your carrier sheet as closely as possible around each shape! The carrier sheets from different components can stick to each other or to HTV, making a mess of your press.

HTV Application with Cricut EasyPress2

For the heat press, I am using my EasyPress2, but you can use any heat press or even a home iron. Temperature, time, and pressure may vary depending on what you use, though, so keep that in mind.

I didn’t bother to crease my tote bag to get a center line for this project, I just eyeballed the placement of all the elements, centering the EasyReflective diamond for around each sign, and working from there.

Each HTV gets pressed at a temperature and time specified by the manufacturer. Siser guidelines call for an increase of 30 degrees F when using a Cricut EasyPress, so I added to my press temperatures for the Glow and EasyReflective:

HTV time and temp settings

  • Siser Glow: 305oF + 30oF = 335oF for 10-15 seconds
  • EasyReflective: 305oF + 30oF = 335oF for 10-15 seconds
  • WALAKut Puff Neon: 275oF for 10 seconds

To begin, press both sides of the tote bag to remove moisture and wrinkles.

press both sides of your bag to remove residual moisture and wrinkles

The WALAKut Puff needed to be the last layer, as it is done at low temperature and you can’t layer on top of it. The order in which I pressed was:

  1. Siser Glow Trick or Treat text inside the bag
  2. EasyReflective (Siser) on each side of the bag
  3. WALAKut Puff Neon on each side of the bag

First, I turned the bag inside-out and tacked down my lettering for a few seconds. I didn’t want to use a max time press because this HTV is going to be receiving some heat from pressing the reflective on the outside of the bag. Leave the carrier sheet on, you’re going to do a final press after the reflective.

Next, turn the bag right-side out, insert your pressing mat or a towel, and place your EasyReflective elements on one side. I started with placing the outline of my sign, then the bats. Make sure none of your carrier sheets overlap!

arrange your images to check placement before pressing

Once I placed all my reflective elements, I started pressing, tacking everything down in each quadrant of the bag, then going over it again for a final press. Then I waited 15 seconds after the last press, and peeled my carrier sheets.

I went through the same process on the other side of the bag, but since my elements were overlapping, I first had to tack down the spider silk and top web, then the spider, then the lower web, then the sign border. The carrier sheets from the spider and webs had to be peeled before I could put the next elements down.

As a last step in pressing at 335oF, give your Trick or Treat lettering a final press (don’t bother turning the bag inside out, you will be able to get your EasyPress in there). Remove the carrier sheet this time.

Tips for pressing WALAKut Puff

The WALAKut Puff was the last to be pressed, and I tried my best to keep the signs centered on the reflective frames. It was tricky to keep this HTV in place, and I should have used Thermotape to hold it down, but I think it turned out OK for my first time trying this material. Next time I try this, I’ll use tape, and increase the size of any graphic I use below it so it isn’t a just-fit placement.

Tip: tape your WALAKut Puff down with heat-resistant tape (Heat Transfer Warehouse sells 36 yard rolls for $5) on your tote! I didn’t do this, and you can see that the “Proceed with Candy” sign ended up being a tiny bit crooked in its frame. The carrier sheet just doesn’t stick to the tote the way that other carriers do, so plan to stick it down with tape.

The Final Results

Here’s the finished bag! Nice and bright, and the reflective looks great at night, just what you want for your kids out trick or treating. Perfect for keeping little goblins safer and more visible on Halloween.

SVGs used in this project

For this project I created SVGs based on public domain images. I am making them available for personal use. If you make and share these creations, please link back to sniptoit.com

This zip file contains SVG, PNG and DXF versions of each graphic I used (except the spider, which was a free file from Cricut Design Space. Download the file on our free Resource Library:

Final Thoughts

I certainly hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you made this project or used the graphics in another way, we’d love to hear your story!

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