Everything You Need to Know Before Getting Started with Cricut Infusible Ink
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 know they launched a brand-new creative “material” called Cricut Infusible Ink. 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 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 give you an in-depth overview to put you at ease 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 surface of whatever you apply it to (e.g., coasters, tote bags, pillows, zipper pouches, shirts, etc). 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: Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets (for cut designs) or Infusible Ink 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 “Infusible Ink,” you won’t want to use it for Infusible Ink projects.
Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets come in 12×12″ sheets, as well as 4.5×12″ sheets for Cricut Joy; there are usually 2-4 sheets included in each box. 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 EasyPress 2.
The Infusible Ink Pens come in countless colors and thicknesses. Pens are used for drawing line designs with a Cricut machine, and Markers are more used for hand-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.
What Can I Make with Cricut Infusible Ink?
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 a handful of blank products available, and the collection is expanding all the time!
How Is Infusible Ink Different Than Iron-On Vinyl?
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.
Which Cricut Machines Can Cut Infusible Ink?
How Does It Work?
I will admit out front that 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 are 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!
In general though, the process goes like this:
You start by either cutting your design (from the transfer sheets) or drawing it (with the pens) using your Cricut machine.
After prepping your surface to remove any traces of lint or oils…
…you place the design (ink-side down) onto the blank.
Once cool, you remove the paper design to reveal a vibrant, permanent design infused into your blank! These designs will not crack, peel or fade!
Other Things You Need to Know Before Getting Started
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 to 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. That said, it’s really not hard when you follow Cricut’s step-by-step instructions. I promise 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! Both the transfer sheets and pens can be cut and drawn by hand. Unlike vinyl or iron-on that has to be cut with a “kiss cut” to allow for transfer,” you can cut/draw stripes, dots, letters or other designs with a scissors or the pens and still very successfully create an Infusible Ink project!
So what about the EasyPress? This is one you do need to have. Since Infusible Ink has very precise heat and time requirements, having a Cricut EasyPress will ensure greater success on your projects. While Infusible Ink instructions are specific to the newer EasyPress 2, you CAN use the original EasyPress…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.
Where Do You Get Infusible Ink?
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 one last thing 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 you end up with truly awesome results!
Check Out These Infusible Ink Projects!
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!