Cutting Dark Transfer Papers

Dark Transfer Papers need to be trimmed before applying to fabric.  The reason for this is because areas that are unprinted and untrimmed will appear white on the shirt.  There are a number of ways you can trim dark transfer papers.  You can use a pair of scissors, an exacto knife, a paper cutter (for square images), or a cutter/plotter with an optical eye (recommended method).

Using a cutter/plotter with an optical eye is the best method simply because it is extremely accurate and efficient.

How does the Print and Cut Feature Work On a Cutter/Plotter?
Most of the programs provided to you by the manufacturer to run your cutter will have a print and cut option (CutStudio for Roland GX 24, and GreatCuts for GCC cutters).  You simply turn on the print and cut feature either before or after (CutStudio is before and GreatCuts is after) you have finished laying out your graphic and cut lines.  Although you may have the print and cut option in your program, please ensure that your cutter has an optical eye.  Without an optical eye, the print and cut function will not work.

Once print and cut is activated in your software, you will see 3 or 4 registration marks on the corners of the transfer paper.  From this point, you can print your graphic along with the registration marks out on your printer.  This is how they would look:


After printing your graphic with the registration marks, you are ready to load your transfer paper into the cutter.  Once the paper is loaded, simply select cut in the software and the cutter will start cutting.  First the cutter will activate its optical eye system and you will see a red dot moving.  This is the cutter’s way of scanning for the registration marks.  Once it has read all 3 or 4 registration marks, it will cut the graphic out.   You can then weed the excess paper off the sheet.  Peel off the graphic or use tack to keep non-continuous parts together.  Then place on top of your fabric with image face up on your heat press.  Ensure you protect your graphic/image with a silicon or teflon sheet when pressing.

Here is a link to a video of this print and cut feature using CL Dark Premium

Why Do You Need the Print and Cut Registration Marks to Cut with Your Cutter?
The print and cut system is used so that the printer can communicate with the cutter via registration marks.  Simply put, the printer uses registration marks to tell the cutter where it has printed the graphic on the paper.  Without the registration marks and an optical eye, it is near impossible for the cutter to determine where the printer has printed the graphic on the paper.

Advantages of Cuttable Heat Transfer Vinyl

Most corporations, sports teams, charity organizations, school teams, and other association groups have logos that are 1-3 colors so that it is easy to identify and associate with the organization.  One of the most popular methods of promoting an organization is through t-shirts, jerseys, uniforms, hats, etc.  So how do you effectively target these organizations with your business?   The answer is cuttable heat transfer vinyl!

Cuttable transfer vinyl are ideal for 1-3 color logos, graphics, numbers, lettering, and names!  They can be used in conjunction with other technologies, such as embroidery, rhinestones, screen printing, etc.

Oftentimes transfer vinyl are referred to as cad-cut material.

Cuttable heat transfer vinyl rolls are available in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures.  You create the mirrored cut lines for your 1-3 color logos in your graphics program; import it into your cutter layout program and start cutting.  After cutting, weed the excess vinyl and press on to the shirt/fabric!  It’s quick and easy!

What Do You Need to Get Started with Cuttable Heat Transfer Vinyl?

You will need a computer, a cutter, cuttable heat transfer vinyl, and a heat press.  In addition, you will need a piece of fabric to press onto.  The color of the fabric can be any color because the material is opaque!

Many vendors have special cutter packages that will save you money compared with buying the components separately.

What Can You Decorate With Transfer Vinyl?

A large selection of clothing can be decorated with vinyl.  Examples of items that can be imaged are:  t-shirts, sweaters, tank tops, jerseys, hats (with hat press), pants, shorts, socks (some limits apply), uniforms, towels, aprons, etc.

Materials can be made of either 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or any polyester/cotton blends.

Why Use Cuttable Transfer Vinyl?

Here is a list of the advantages that come with using cuttable transfer vinyl:

  • Ideal for printing 1-3 color designs, logos, names, numbering, and lettering.  Easy to add a name or a number to an existing jersey or uniform.
  • No setup time.  All you have to do is create the cut lines or have your customers send you their custom cut lines.
  • Many cutters come with their own layout software that allows you to create your cut lines, therefore eliminating the need for expensive software.  Examples are Roland with CutStudio, GCC with GCC Greatcuts.  Most cutter software is also compatible with Corel Draw and Illustrator.
  • Extremely durable!  Most cuttable transfer vinyl will last the life of the shirt.  This is great for uniforms and jerseys as they are normally worn frequently and go through a lot of wear and tear.
  • Many colors, patterns, and textures are available. Some of these cannot be replicated with traditional screen printing methods.  In addition, custom colors and patterns can be ordered but need to be in large quantities.
  • What you see is what you get.  No color management required.
  • The material is opaque, allowing you to print on any colored (white, black, red) fabric without worrying about color shifts (except in the case of dye migration).
  • Same cost to print one item or 1000 items.  So no minimum orders, and perfect for 1-up items and promotional items for small businesses, schools, charities, sports teams, parties, reunions, and many more!
  • Quick and easy to produce, allowing for same day or even same hour production.
  • A speedy production process that allows for on demand printing that reduces risk and wastage.  Just print it when you need it.  No need to preprint shirts for events or shows.
  • The cutter used for cutting transfer vinyl can also be used to cut sign vinyl for your shop’s windows, company car, etc.


With every printing method there will be limitations and so here are a few…

  • 1-3 color designs recommended.  Although you can go over 3 colors, it is better to use printable transfer vinyl due to labor and material costs.
  • Layering (when colors intersect) is required for some designs and will require separate press for each color.
  • Complex designs may require more time to weed compared with simple designs.  This will need to be factored into the pricing.

With all the advantages of transfer vinyls, it’s a great new addition to any print shop!