This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
If you pay attention to anything and everything Cricut, you likely already know they launched a brand-new creative “material” called Cricut Infusible Ink at the beginning of the summer. While my favorite blog, Pinterest and Instagram feeds have been filled with cool project after cool project for the last few months, I’ve just recently been able to play with it thanks to our #crosscountrymove and #newbaby! I’m not going to lie: I was pretty intimated about using this all-new product. Even though I’m generally game to try any new craft that comes along, the tutorials I read seemed complicated and tedious, and I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around why I’d move away from vinyl or iron-on to use Infusible Ink instead. Well…now that I’ve done a few projects, I’ve learned a lot, made a lot, and am here to tell you that 1) working with Infusible Ink is not that hard or scary and 2) the results are pretty darn amazing! If you’ve been on the fence about trying Cricut’s Infusible Ink or, like me, just can’t wrap your brain around what it is and how it works, I want to share a bunch of tips and tricks you’ll want to know before diving in!
What Is Cricut Infusible Ink?
Cricut Infusible Ink is exactly what it sounds like. It’s ink – not vinyl or iron-on – that penetrates the fibers of whatever you apply it to. It doesn’t sit on top of the surface nor is it removable or peel-able. Rather, the color/design becomes part of the fabric/surface, making it permanent and allowing the design to stretch, move and wash much differently than other projects you’ve already made.
Transfer Sheets and Pens
You can create Infusible Ink designs with two different products: transfer sheets (for cut designs) or pens (for drawn designs). It’s important to note that when you are shopping for Infusible Ink products, the packaging will say “Infusible Ink.” Although other Cricut rolls or pens may look like Infusible Ink products, unless it explicitly says so, you won’t want to use it for Infusible projects.
Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets come in a box, usually with 2-4 12×12″ sheets included. There are currently many different patterns and colors available and often come in coordinating combo packs. Although the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets look like rolls of vinyl, they are not! Instead, they are essentially thick sheets of paper with an ink pattern on one side. Once heated, that ink leaves the thick paper and transfers to your craft blank (hence the name “transfer sheets.”) These sheets can be cut into any design you can imagine using your Cricut and then applied to your project via a Cricut Easy Press 2.
The Infusible Ink Pens come in sets of 5 in two different color schemes: basics and neon. There are two weights of pens: Pens (used more for drawing line designs) and Markers (used more for coloring in designs). Like the transfer sheets, the color/designs are permanent and transferred to your blank via heat; however, the application method differs significantly from the transfer sheets.
Here’s one of the most important aspects of working with Cricut’s Infusible Ink: you can only use the Transfer Sheets and the Pens/Markers on Cricut Infusible Ink “Blanks.” These products, also made by Cricut and labeled “Infusible Ink,” are designed to specifically work with Infusible Ink products. Currently, there are only a few blanks available: coasters (square and circle), tote bags (large and small), and t-shirts (including onesies) in various sizes. I personally think it’s a bummer there isn’t a bigger selection of blanks to play with, but fingers crossed Cricut has more possibilities coming down the pike!
Follow All The Steps
From both my research and creating some of my own projects, I learned there are lots of ways for your Infusible Ink project to go off the rails (which is what intimidated me so much). In fact, more than any other product I’ve worked with, Infusible Ink really requires a lot of steps done in a very specific order for your project to turn out right. So while many bloggers have put out excellent tutorials, I found that the detailed step-by-step instructions provided by Cricut were the most thorough and helpful. I strongly suggested pulling up THESE tutorials on your computer or mobile device (or printing out the included PDF) to keep you on track while you’re working!
The Procedure Changes for Each Blank
One really important thing to note before you get working is that each type of blank requires a different procedure. Specifically, the fabric blanks and coaster blanks have slight yet significant variations to the order, heat temperatures, duration etc. So while you may think you have the hang of how Infusible Ink works on t-shirts, you will want to pull up and review the instructions if you attempt a project on the totes or coasters!
It’s Not As Overwhelming As It Appears
As I was researching Infusible Ink projects (including reviewing Cricut’s tutorials over and over again), the one thing that really struck me was how complicated it all seamed. Yikes – from prepping your blanks and utilizing all the various products (cardstock, butcher paper, the transfer sheets, all just for one project!!!) – there are indeed a lot of steps and a lot of things to do in order for your project to turn out right. That said, it’s really not that bad, and working with Infusible Ink really is something you can do!
My guess is when you first opened your Cricut machine and attempted to make your first project, you were super overwhelmed. But in no time, you (hopefully) were able to navigate Cricut Design Space and crank out projects without any trouble! This will be just like that. Your first Infusible Ink project may feel slow and tedious and maybe even scary. But after you do the first, you’ll want to try it again. And after a few projects, all those tedious steps won’t be that big of a deal! I promise! My first project took (what felt like) the whole afternoon, but then I was able to crank out the three brother shirts in about 30 minutes! Give it a try, follow the steps…you can do it!
The Right Stuff Makes All the Difference
If you read through the materials required for an Infusible Ink project, you may be pretty overwhelmed (especially if you don’t have a craft room fully stocked with Cricut supplies and machines!) So you might be wondering, do I really need all that stuff to make an Infusible Ink project? I haven’t experimented outside the parameters of the directions too much, but I do have two specific observations regarding the equipment “needed.”
First, do you actually need a Cricut Machine to work with Infusible Ink? Nope! The transfer sheets are designed in such a way (more on that below) that you can easily cut out your own designs by hand and apply them to the blanks. Unlike vinyl or iron-on that has to be cut with a “kiss cut” to allow for transfer,” you can cut stripes, dots, letters or other shapes with a scissors and still very successfully create an Infusible Ink project!
So what about the Easy Press 2? This is one you do need to have. Since Infusible Ink has very precise heat and time requirements, having a Cricut Easy Press will ensure greater success on your projects. While Infusible Ink instructions are specific to the newer Easy Press 2, you CAN use the original Easy Press…just refer to THIS temperature guide!
Infusible Ink Packages Come With Everything You Need
Speaking of the materials list for Infusible Ink projects, it’s long isn’t it? For a single project you need the transfer sheet, white cardstock, AND butcher paper. While I certainly have a large stash of white cardstock on hand (as you likely do too), butcher paper is a very different story. Thankfully, EVERY package of Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets come with two sheets of butcher paper to use on your projects!
The Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets are Different Than Anything You’ve Used Before
Until I got working on my very first project, I had a really hard time understanding what the Transfer Sheets were and how they worked. Because they are 12×12″ rolled sheets, I (wrongfully) thought they felt and worked just like iron-on. In fact, they couldn’t be more different than vinyl in every way. The Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets are like really thick cardstock that has ink on one side (which is only activated by heat, so it’s not messy) and a thick clear “liner” on the other, which is really like a thick layer of contact paper. Although the clear liner sheet does have a stickiness to it, the “paper” itself is not sticky at all. Because it’s essentially like thick cardstock, you can easily move it around your blank and even peel it off the liner sheet all together.
How to Weed Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets
Because the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets are more like cardstock than vinyl or iron-on, you don’t use traditional weeding methods to clean up your design. Since weeding tools can leave marks or indentations (that would then translate to your finished design), it’s recommended that you weed with your fingers. Say what?!? Yep – you essentially “crack” the designs along the cut lines and pull off the negative aspects of your design by hand. If needed, you can use tweezers to get out small details. Because of this, I do recommend selecting and cutting fairly basic designs that don’t require super intricate weeding. Additionally, ensure your machine uses the correct cutting pressure because if the transfer sheet isn’t cut all the way through, your design will be very difficult to weed cleanly.
What Is the Heat Resistant Tape Used for?
Although the clear liner layer on the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets IS tacky, it’s actually recommended that you cut it down as much as possible before heating your project. Additionally, since the Transfer Sheet itself is not tacky at all (again…think cardstock), it can sometimes be difficult to get your designs to lay down on your blank nice and flat. This is where the heat resistant tape comes in. The tape allows you to place your cut designs anywhere you want them and ensure they stay in place during the entire transfer process. If you especially want to get into making multi-color designs with Infusible Ink, it’s worth snagging a roll!
Layer Infusible Ink via Slice and Set
Because we are working with ink not vinyl, layering your designs requires a different process all together! Why? If you color with a blue marker and then color with a red marker over it, you’ll end up with purple, right? The same holds true for the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets. Layering them over each other (as you would with iron on or regular vinyl) will change their colors and vibrance. As such, you have to use what Cricut calls the “Slice and Set” method. Essentially, you use the Slice Tool (learn how here) to make any multi-layer design into a single layer. You then re-construct the design, after it’s cut, onto your blank using the liner sheets and heat resistant tape. Finally, you heat and transfer the design all at once. You can read Cricut’s full tutorial HERE and I have a detailed tutorial for how I made these brother shirts coming up. The main take away though is that the usual layering methods you’ve relied on for vinyl and iron-on won’t work here!
Let’s Talk About Those Coasters!
When I saw other coaster tutorials around the web, I had a really hard time understanding what they were made of. Were they fabric like the tote and t-shirts? Were they plastic? Nope and nope. These coasters are heavy and feel like porcelain. They are shiny and glossy, which is why using them in conjunction with Infusible Ink products creates such a professional-looking result. The coasters can be decorated using either the Transfer Sheets or the pens and really do turn out soooo nice. I am already planning on stocking up to make sets as Christmas presents!
How Is Infusible Ink Different Than Iron-On Vinyl?
So…before I started playing with Cricut Infusible Ink, my honest-to-goodness thought was: “Why do I need to invest/learn this new thing when I can just use iron-on vinyl to make shirts or regular vinyl to make coasters?” And now that I’ve made both…the answer is because the quality is SO much more durable and professional-looking! I could and should probably write a whole post about how different Infusible Ink is from iron-on vinyl, but here’s the short of it.
Iron-on vinyl (or heat-transfer vinyl) sits on TOP of the fabric, meaning that if the shirt stretches or shrinks (from wash or wear) the design doesn’t. This can distort the design, and cause it to wrinkle or peel. Iron-on vinyl is also suuuuppper heat sensitive. If you leave your heat on it too long, the vinyl can easily melt, wrinkle or distort. Finally, layering iron-on vinyl is super tricky because of this heat/melting problem…lots of layers = lots of heat = melted iron-on.
On the other hand, Infusible Ink fuzes with the fabric fibers themselves. This means that even with lots of washing or wearing, if the fabric stretches, so does the design! And because the ink transfers to the blank, it’s less prone to melting. In fact, I had to re-heat and re-heat and re-heat one of my designs and there was no significant effect! I’ve made some shirts and onesies with iron-on vinyl for the boys over the years and honesty, I’m always a little disappointed in how it holds up with frequent washing. Because the Infusible Ink is super vibrant (resulting in a very professional product) and holds up so much better over time, it is absolutely my choice for shirts and wearables.
White Blanks Only
This probably goes without saying, but at this time, Infusible Ink only works on white blanks. So if you want to make a dark or colored shirt, iron-on is still your only option!
Where Do You Get Infusible Ink?
Right now, it’s best and easiest to pick up any and all Infusible Ink products at Michaels Craft Stores. If you can’t find it with the Cricut products, look for a stand alone display!
You Get One Shot
So I hope by now, I’ve gotten your excitement and confidence up to give Infusible Ink a try (because I really do think you’ll love it!), but there’s something you really need to know. Since this is ink and you are infusing it to your blank, you only get one shot. After you apply it, there is NO way to fix it, NO way to remove it, NO way to peel it off. So while the results are vibrant and amazing and super durable, you do need to pay attention to what you’re doing (especially since the blanks and transfer sheets aren’t exactly inexpensive). So please give it a try and please have fun, but please follow all the steps outlined HERE so end up with truly awesome results!
If you have any lingering questions about working with Cricut Infusible Ink, please leave it in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear how you guys enjoy this new product!