A Step by Step Beginners Guide for Creating a Custom Shirt with the Cricut Explore Air 2

No more window shopping and dealing with sticker shock! You can easily use your Cricut Explore Air 2 to make the same graphic t-shirt you saw online or at the store in a few simple steps! Learning how to use iron-on vinyl with your Cricut Explore Air 2 will blow your mind. I’m so shocked at the amazing Cricut crafts I can make with the Cricut Explore Air 2. Today I’m going to feature a step by step guide to help you make a custom shirt with your Cricut machine using iron-on vinyl.

How to Use Iron-On Vinyl for Custom Shirt

HTV Heat Transfer Vinyl Custom ShirtPIN IT!

Pick your Design

    You can make your own design or used premade options in your Cricut Design Space account. If this the first time you’re using iron-on vinyl for a custom shirt, consider picking an easier design until you’ve mastered using your Cricut Explore Air 2 for custom shirts.

List of Supplies

    If you’re going to choose a premade option for your custom iron-on vinyl shirt using Cricut Design Space, you’ll love that they already have a list of supplies needed featured with each project. If you’re making your own design you can also use their list as a cheat sheet to get the materials you need.

    Personally, I have done this nifty trick to create my very FIRST custom shirt! Just in case, I will list down the items I have personally used to achieve this “Cutest Bachelor” toddler shirt.

  • Cricut Explore Air 2
  • Cricut Easy Press 2
  • Cricut EasyPress Mat
  • 100% Cotton Jersey Shirt (pre-shrunk is best!)
  • Weeding Tool
  • Scissors
  • Brayer Tool
  • Premium Vinyl
  • Standard Mat

Change the Color

    If you’re working with a different color material than what the canvas shows in the Cricut Design Space, look to the right hand side, click on canvas, and change the color of your custom shirt view. This will ensure you’re able to match colors that will work with your specific custom shirt color.

Change Color of Vinyl

    You’ll notice that the iron-on vinyl color is already assigned in the Cricut Design Space. This color may not blend well with your custom shirt color or perhaps you want to change your iron-on vinyl color. You can do this with a few clicks. Simply click on the “layers” option on right hand side of your screen, click the white box for the layer you’re looking to adjust, and then click the color of the vinyl you’re using.

Save Your Design

    If you’re not satisfied with the color combinations and have updated your iron-on vinyl color on your custom shirt using Cricut Explore Air 2 Cricut Design Space, it’s time to save your design. Click save and name your project something so you’ll remember what this particular custom shirt design is.

    For this particular design, I have saved it and made it shareable. So if you wish to create the “Cutest Bachelor” custom shirt design, you are more than welcome to check it out and give it a go! “check it out here

Start Cutting

    Now that you’ve saved your project, you’ll see a green Cricut symbol in the Cricut Design Space area. Click this button to start the cutting process with your custom shirt using iron-on vinyl. You’ll now see the “cutting mat” displayed on your screen, be sure to select the correct cutting mat size so that you can see that your iron-on vinyl design will fit within the cutting mat area.

Load your Material

    Before telling Cricut Design Space to start cutting, make sure you load your material on the cutting mat of your Cricut Explore Air 2. You’ll want to place the liner side down when using iron-on vinyl with your Cricut machine. Once you’re confident that your material is all set on the cutting mat in your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, click cut on your computer screen.

Cricut Explore Air 2PIN IT!

Confirm Settings

    The Cricut Design Space and Circuit Explore Air 2 will blink to confirm that you have the material dial set appropriately for the material you’re using. Make sure you have the material set for iron-on vinyl so that the design will be cut accurately. Once your material is loaded in and dial set properly, your Cricut Explore Air 2 will blink the Cricut symbol citing it’s ready to cut. Hit the Cricut button on your machine and watch your machine to go work.

Get Ready to Make your Custom Shirt

    Now that your material is cut, it’s time to remove the negative part of your iron-on vinyl cutting and leave the font on your cutting mat. Use your Cricut weeding tool to remove any small pieces from the design so that you’re left with the design that you’re going to iron onto your custom shirt.

Set the Iron

    Make sure your iron is set to cotton or linen setting for best results using iron-on vinyl with your Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine custom shirt. Place the weeded part of your design onto your custom shirt. Use the iron to heat the vinyl that’s on your shirt now so that the design will stick. This process usually takes 15-30 seconds just to get the vinyl to start to stick.

Cricut Easy Press 2PIN IT!

Finalize Iron-On

    Now you’ll want to find a dish towel to set over your iron-on vinyl design and use 30 seconds of pressure over the dishtowel so that your custom shirt vinyl design will stick firmly without ruining the shirt or sticking to your iron. Flip your shirt over again and push with medium pressure for 30 seconds on top of a towel again to finalize your custom shirt using Cricut Explore Air 2.

Before and After Pressing

Cricut Easy Press 2PIN IT!

Cricut Easy Press 2PIN IT!

Once your vinyl material has cooled down you can remove the plastic covering from your iron-on vinyl. Do this process slowly to make sure the iron-on vinyl is stuck firmly to your custom shirt. Some process needs to be done while the vinyl plastic is still warm, while otehr has to cool down completely. For your quick reference, make sure to refer to Cricut’s official “Heat Guide” to help make the most of your creations. Now you’re done with creating your own custom shirt using the Cricut Explore Air 2.

cricut iron on shirtPIN IT!

Have fun using this simple guide to make more and more custom shirts for your friends and family!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.


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  • Stacie

    I love that you did full step by step. I always see what people have done with the Cricut, but I never know HOW.

  • Bill Sweeney

    I like how you break down using the cricut for designing shirts. I can see this as being a lot of fun for our family.

  • Matt Taylor

    Awesome tutorial! Thanks for showing us how to make a t-shirt with a cricut! 🙂

  • Jessica Collazo

    I’ve always wanted that machine… You can do so much stuff with it

  • Ntensibe Edgar Michael

    Hhhhmmmm…Angela, you are now 1 step away from getting me on the ordering-list of a Cricut! Just look at the final product….isn’t that fabulous? I love it.

  • adriana

    I had a cricut before and I loved it but ended up giving it away to a friend because I didnt use it as much as I thought that I would. There are so many things that you can do with it

  • Heather

    The cricut seems very easy to operate! I’ve always wanted to get one. I’ll put it on my wish list!

  • NINA

    Oh my goodness this is adorable, I love it! I’d like to use this for myself and have my business logo printed on a t-shirt!

  • the joyous living

    those are such fun t-shirts. they look fabulous. thanks for sharing the details of how to make them. Joy

  • Jenni

    Oh wow this looks amazing, and what a gorgeous result! I would love this as my daughter would love to design her own tshirts

  • Tiffany La Forge-Grau

    Now this is something I would really love to get my hands on! I love how well the designs turn out!

  • Bree

    This is such a fun machine! It is on my wishlist for Christmas this year, I hope I get one!

  • Michael

    Ohhh I think I need this. I like having custom shirts! Thanks for sharing! I will research more about the product.

  • katrina Kroeplin

    that’s such a cute idea. i really need to get my own cricut as i keep using my friends. i love this.

  • Tushar Nakra

    Wow that is really new to me. I didn’t know we could create our own shirt!

  • HilLesha

    I have never thought about getting a Cricut, but I think I may need to reconsider this! That shirt is utterly adorable.

  • Clarice

    Your post just convinced me to get a Cricut. (haha!) This is exactly what I want for Christmas. Thank you for sharing this guide. Bookmarking it for future reference.

  • Celebrate Woman Today

    Congratulations on your big cricut project! Looks awesome!

  • Lily

    What an adorable tee. I actually want a circut I want to create more custom things.

  • Bindu Thomas

    Ok, so I’ve never tried this. Looks like an amazing DIY idea.

  • tweenselmom

    I love how you can make so many designs and customize your shirts by using this amazing tool. I’d love to have one like that.

  • Laura

    This is so cool idea for custom shirts. And it seems like its easy to sue as well x


  • Kacie Morgan

    These designs are super-cute! I love the idea of customising your own clothing although it is something I am yet to experiment with myself.

  • Kira

    Oh this is really brilliant. I’d love to try something out like this for the girls for summer next year

  • Scott J DeNicola

    Everything the Cricut 2 can do is pretty amazing! I have a neighbor who makes t-shirts on hers all the time. She also decorated some flower containers for the summer that were awesome looking. A Cricut is al you really need to start a side business of items you can sell on sites like ETSY or Ebay.

  • Samar

    I love creating custom shirts.

    Thanks for sharing tips and tricks for the same.

  • Elizabeth Williams

    The Cricut explore air looks and sounds amazing. I’d love to have one to make my own custom shirts. Brilliant informative post.

  • Brianne Tursi Manz

    I never knew the cricut was so versatile that you could design your own shirts. That would be perfect for family reunions, or just fun in general!

  • Lisa Joy Thompson

    This is absolutely adorable! I love fun crafty projects like this! I can’t believe this is your first shirt! It really looks amazing!

  • robin rue

    I kind of want a Cricut. There is so much you can do with it.

  • Amy

    I love all the cool things this machine can make. It makes creating so much fun.

  • Erik the Hungry Traveller

    This sounds like a fun activity although you need to be precise and extra careful to ensure your getting it right. But i want to try it anyway.

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    I just recommended this to a friend who is starting a t-shirt company. Perfect for beginners.

  • Britt K

    This is so much fun! I have been debating picking up a circut and trying my hand at it for a while now. As someone who LOVES doing all things crafty, I can only imagine where this could take me lol! Thank you for inspiring me… I might just have to pull the trigger and do it…

  • Kathy

    I have been wanting one of these for some time now. I think I need to just go ahead and get myself one. I’d love to be able to make shirts as well.

  • Amber Hurley

    This is like the cutest thing ever!

  • Monica

    Custom shirts are the best! Your example is adorable.

  • Sherry

    This is so cool. There are so many things you can do with a Cricut. No more having to get a shop to make shirts.

  • Ewa

    Lovely t-shirt and great DIY. I have never made personalized t-shirts with this method. Cricut Explore Air 2 looks like something I want to consider buying.

  • YAya

    I have been aiming to get more into crafts and expanding my hobbies in 2020 this looks fun!

  • Laura - dear bear and beany

    That is the cutest top. What a clever idea. You can’t beat a custom made top.

  • nicole

    I have seen that cricut has become so popular recently. These designs are adorable. I would love to be able to do something like this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kara Guppy

    This is so clever, I need one of these machines in my life!

  • Daphne Takahashi

    wow! so many possibilities to craft with the cricut! it’s definitely on my top list of gifts for Christmas. Can’t wait to get it and let my creative side be wild! lol

  • Ivana Mearns

    I saw this technique at a craft show a few months ago but did not have much time to stop to watch. Thanks so much for this article!

  • Aryanne APadilha

    This is so awesome, I have always wanted to own one of those and make my own tees. I still have that desire and this helped me a lot!! Thank you!!

  • Sonia Seivwright

    I actually like this product. Some easy and portable for anyone really.

  • LAuretta at home and horizon

    You are doing a great job in laying this out in a very comprehensive way. This got me excited, I wonder if my teens would want to help me with this.

  • Thuy

    I’ve always wanted to make my own custom shirts! Thanks for the tutorial because I had absolutely no idea where to begin!

  • Alexandra

    This was just what I needed! I eventually want to make some custom shirts but didn’t even know where to start. I definitely pinned this for when I’m ready! I’m so glad you introduced this machine and that it’s actually affordable!

  • The Sunny Side Lifestyle Co.

    I’ve always been curious how a Circuit design worked. Thanks for sharing! The possibilities are endless for creativity with the Circuit. I love the bachelor design profiled in your photos.

  • Jenny

    I have the Cricut Maker and I have made so many handmade gifts this year!

  • Ka trina

    How stinking cute is this! I had a cricut years ago for paper craft I never though they would be able to do vinyl so fab