How to stop wasting vinyl: limit waste

Stop Wasting Vinyl

How can I become more efficient with HTV and stop wasting vinyl? This is a good question – one that we’ll answer in-depth.

Any activity that involves cutting off the material may result in a lot of wastage if the right waste minimization measures are not taken. This is not different when working with heat transfer vinyl or regular vinyl. If you have been working with vinyl, you are aware that it is expensive therefore you cannot afford to waste it. If you fail to limit waste, you lose a lot of money and, if you are in the crafting business, that is loss of profit. Nonetheless, it is impossible to have absolutely no waste of vinyl during crafting, considering that designs involve odd shapes, but you can minimize the amount of wastage. Here are some of the ways that you can minimize the wastage of vinyl.

Draw a Weeding Box

This is a box, square or rectangle in shape, that you draw around a design to ensure that the vinyl removed during weeding is not broken into small pieces. In most cases, these pieces cannot be used in any other project since most of them have weird shapes that cannot be utilized. The size of this box is determined by the size of the layer to be cut out using the vinyl cutter. Apart from reducing waste of the vinyl, the weeding box also helps in tracing the right line in case the vinyl moves around as it is being cut. Additionally, it gives clear outlines when adhering the design onto anything. This is quite useful when layering vinyl, and ensures that the design is as upright as possible.

Perform a Test Cut

Whenever you use new material, do not simply follow default settings on the cutting machine and cut your design right away. Adjust the settings as given and then press the “Test Print” button. This cuts a small square. If the cut is right then it is safe to proceed. If the cut is not right, simply adjust the settings and try again. Test cut several times till you find the right settings which give you the desired cut. Then proceed with the cutting. Write down the settings on stickers and stick them to the cutting machine for future reference.

Do Not Dispose of the Cut Pieces

If you are in the business of vinyl cutting, your main goal is the maximization of profits and reduction of costs. The lesser the waste, the more the profits, and vice-versa.

What you may see as scrap today may become important material in the future, therefore, every piece of vinyl in your projects is very important. Keep left-over pieces of vinyl organized in boxes and labeled. One day you may need a certain piece and if it is not available, you will be forced to buy. Imagine buying a whole pack or sheet when only a small piece is required!

Always Remember to Mirror Heat Transfer Vinyl

Many people have wasted heat transfer vinyl because they forgot to mirror it before cutting. You have to mirror the design on HTV because it is cut on the side that is going to be stuck to a medium. If you forget to mirror it, it will not be correctly oriented when you apply it to the fabric or cloth and you have to throw it away. What a waste! It is easy to forget to mirror the design. In order to remember, put a sticker somewhere, say on the vinyl cutter, to act as a reminder for mirroring. It can say, “Did you remember to mirror HTV?” The sticker must be highly visible so you never miss it.

Nesting the Design

When you prepare the cut file, arrange the items to be cut in such a way that space is saved. How you arrange the items depends on what best works for a certain project. If it means that some pieces are upside-down so be it. It may also mean clustering them around a certain area instead of lining them up. This is called nesting. This arrangement of items ensures that they are squeezed close together, hence saving on space. This way, as little vinyl as possible is wasted during the cutting process.

After weeding, rearrange the pieces of the design on transfer tape as they should appear after the completion of the project. Then transfer them to whatever you are decorating.

Using Registration Marks

Though not commonly used, registration marks help in cutting the design accurately. Most people use them when vinyl layering is involved. The pieces of the design need to be around the same spot. If you put the marks on top, there is a big portion of the vinyl that is not covered by the design that may result in wasted material. However, if you position the marks on the side of the design, that can help in saving a lot of space on the vinyl.

Cut Spares - Especially Commas and Dots for Letter i

Small items like dots and commas easily get lost and that means you have to cut more. To avoid the inconvenience, utilize empty spaces by cutting extra commas and dots in case some go missing.

Check the Cut While the Mat is Still Loaded

Sometimes the vinyl does not cut as desired and if you take it off the machine, it is wasted. First, check the quality of the cut by weeding one letter before unloading the mat. If the design has not cut through, send it again for cutting. Because the mat is still loaded, it will cut in the exact same position.


Your challenge as a hobbyist or business is keeping costs down. For a business that increases profits. In working with vinyl, in particular, your challenge is how to reduce wastage of vinyl during cutting because throwing it away is like throwing away money. Therefore, follow the tips given above to minimize the wastage and increase profits.

Happy crafting!



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