How to Distress Heat Transfer Vinyl

Footstool with "5th" in Distressed VinylSince developing a love for heat transfer vinyl, I have wanted to try giving some HTV the distressed look that is so popular. I have a footstool that needed to be recovered, so I decided it would be the perfect project to practice this technique on. (The footstool resides in our little “home-away-from-home”… a place where I don’t mind if things don’t turn out just so.)

This footstool had a light-colored fabric that was impossible to keep clean. Also, I didn’t like how it looked with the rest of the furniture in the room. I took the top off, painted the legs gray, and then added glaze to give them an antiqued look.

The furniture in this room has been picked up from second-hand shops, garage sales, and Craigslist. This has resulted in colors that don’t match perfectly. When I looked for a fabric, I wanted something that would help pull things together. I opted for a grayish taupe which I felt was somewhere in the middle of the warm and cooler tones in the room.

  • Materials:

  1. Fabric
  2. ThermoFlex Plus
  3. Heat Press or Iron
  4. Teflon Sheet or Cloth
  5. Red Capped Blade
  6. MTC or other design software
  • Settings for Zing:

  1. Speed – 10
  2. Force – 15
  3. Multicut – 1
  • Steps:

  1. Use Make the Cut or your favorite design software to create font or shape.
  2. Use eraser to create “scratch” marks, “worn edges”, and other distressed areas.
  3. Change size of eraser stroke to get various distress results.
  4. Edit and/or reduce nodes where needed for ease of cutting.
  5. Cut, weed, and apply heat transfer vinyl to fabric. (Look here for specific instructions.)

Close Up of Distressed Vinyl

It’s important to edit your design, as stated above to reduce unwanted nodes. It may be difficult to weed if you don’t, because you can get some rather strange results from using the eraser tool. (I also used Path > Simplify in Inkscape to reduce the number of nodes. If your software has this function, you may want to use it as well.)


Distressed Heat Transfer Vinyl on FabricAfter I added the black HTV, I still wasn’t happy with the colors so decided to add a little gold to the mix. My solution for how to accomplish this was to create little “brass screws” out the vinyl. I figured it would add interest to my distressed black design. To me it looks kind of like wrought iron and gives it an industrial look. (The “5th” is for our 5th grandchild on the way.)

6 thoughts on “How to Distress Heat Transfer Vinyl

  1. So CUTE. I never would have thought of adding the faux screws. You people continue to amaze and inspire me! Thanks for sharing.

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