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Vinyl Glossary for Beginners | HTV & Adhesive Vinyl

Vinyl Glossary for Beginners | HTV & Adhesive Vinyl

Are you new to the vinyl world and keep seeing all these terms you're just not sure about? We're here to help! This vinyl glossary is perfect for any beginners in the vinyl world. 

Adhesive Vinyl

Vinyl with a sticky back that does not require heat for application, much like a sticker.

Use it to apply to hard surfaces. Generally seen in two different types- Permanent for outdoor projects and Removable for walls and various indoor projects.

Application Tape

Also known as Transfer Tape, this is a tape used in the application of adhesive vinyl. It is often sold separately from the vinyl it is intended to be used with and must be applied by hand. There are multiple different kinds, including clear and paper.

Carrier Sheet

The heat transfer equivalent to application tape, this is often included with the vinyl and is already applied. It appears as a clear shiny sheet attached to the front of a sheet of heat transfer vinyl. This is the side of a sheet of vinyl that should be placed facing down while cutting. There are two different kinds of carrier sheets- pressure sensitive and static. Pressure sensitive carrier sheets have a sticky backing and static carrier sheets have a smooth backing.


When weeding your design, cavities are the bits left behind in other parts of your design. For example, the inside part of the letter O.

Cold Peel

After applying heat transfer vinyl, you will peel away the carrier sheet. Cold peel refers to a material that must cool down for a period of time before being able to remove the carrier sheet.

Commercial Rights

You will often see this term in reference to cut files or fonts that you download. If a cut file or font comes with commercial rights it simply means that you have permission from the creator to sell the products created with those files for profit. 

Compound Path

A term used when working with cut files in a design software. It refers to taking multiple separate paths that are not touching and combining them into one single path.

Cover Sheet

A cover sheet is any sort of material that you place in between your item that you are applying heat transfer vinyl to and the source of the heat (your iron or heat press). Many household items can act as a cover sheet, such as a tea towel or pillowcase. You can also purchase a re-usable cover sheet that is specifically made to repeatedly be exposed to heat.

Cut File

This is a file that you can either create, purchase, or download for free to use with your cut machine. Depending on your type of cut machine, these files can be called .SVG files, Silhouette files (.SIL), .DXF files, or .FCM files.

Cut Machine

Any type of computer-operated machine that is used to cut specific shapes and text. These include brands such as Cricut, Silhouette, Brother’s Scan N Cut series, and more.

Cutting Mat

Often times this is a 12”x12” or 12”x24” plastic mat with a sticky coating used to hold materials in place while being cut with your cut machine. Each brand has a specific type of cutting mat, often with many different variations depending on the types of materials that you are cutting.

Cut Settings

Each type of material that is used with your cut machine will be cut at a different thickness and speed. Some materials need to be cut twice. These variations will all fall into your cut settings. Often times people will refer to easy to use pre-sets such as vinyl, cardstock, and paper that generally come installed in your cutter’s hardware (cut setting knob on Cricut) or software.


A term used in design software referring to selecting multiple pieces of a design and gathering them together into one unit that can be easily selected and moved together.

Heat Press

A machine used to apply heat and pressure to flat items. There are multiple styles of heat presses including clamshell and swing-away. Attachments can also often be purchased in order to work with other items such as hats and mugs depending on the type of heat press you have.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Also referred to as HTV or Iron-On vinyl, this type of vinyl has an adhesive that is heat activated and is generally used in the decoration of apparel items. When applied properly heat transfer vinyl can be washed, dried, and worn for many years. For proper application always keep in mind that pressure is equally important as heat.

Hot Peel

This means that after your heat transfer vinyl is applied the plastic carrier sheet is able to be removed while still hot. 


When working in your design software, mirroring is the act of flipping your design horizontally before cutting. This is necessary for cutting heat transfer vinyl correctly. Often times design software will have an option to do this right before cutting under a pre-set HTV setting as a reminder. 

Pressing Pillow

Also referred to as a heat transfer pillow, this small pillow used to elevate, flatten, and absorb difficult to press areas of items such as buttons, zippers, and seams.


A type of cut file that is compatible with CriCut cutters and some versions of Silhouette Studio. 


This is a command within your design software in which you take a saved image and turn it into a cut file.

Transfer Mask or Tape

Heat transfer mask or tape is used when a carrier sheet isn’t already applied to HTV. Some printed or pattern vinyl comes without a carrier sheet. This is when you would cut your HTV in the positive, weed the cavities, then cover with a transfer mask like you do with adhesive vinyl, only this tape can be heat pressed.


The process of removing excess vinyl from your cut design. It is often done with the aid of a weeder tool or precision knife.


When working in your design software, welding is the ability to take two interconnecting paths and join them together into one. This is an important step in preparing designs with text that is connected, such as a script or handwritten font.







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