We travel a ton, and we often see groups with matching family vacation shirts that are SO cute and clever. When Cricut Infusible Ink came onto the market, I knew this was the perfect medium for us to join in the outfit fun!
You've all heard me rave endlessly about our Cricut Maker. It's our ultimate cutting machine of choice, and I've used its capabilities to make everything from our “No Hurry” sign that hangs in the RV to custom vinyl print shirts with the Cricut EasyPress.
Cricut Infusible Ink works with the same machines, but it functions differently. Instead of vinyl that sits on top of material, this is ink that gets infused directly into the soft fabric or hard layers of t-shirts, coasters, bags and other materials called “blanks” that can be bought straight from Cricut. The fibers in these blanks are specially created to basically glom onto Cricut's speciality ink, resulting in a smooth creation that can be used, washed, stretched, pulled and toted around without ever fading, cracking or chipping.
The ink comes in pen form so you can draw on laser paper and heat-press it into the blanks, or you can buy sheets that can be cut on the Maker or other Cricut machines, similar to traditional vinyl. Either the laser paper of the Infusible Ink sheets are then laid face-down on the blank, and the EasyPress 2 is used to superheat the image into the material. The image prints as a mirrored version of your cut or drawing.
4 Steps for Family Vacation Shirts that Won't Fade
I wanted to use the Infusible Ink pens AND the Infusible Ink transfer sheets to make a layered look that incorporated the kids' own flair. It was as simple as print and press, and cut and press.
I made a template that says Vacay All Day (because our last name is Day, GET IT?). I simply cut that using an Infusible Ink transfer sheet on my Maker machine. Cut one for each shirt you want to make (Infusible Ink transfer sheets are NOT meant to be heat-transferred more than once).
In case you're wondering why my Maker machine is a different color than last time I featured it, that's because I bought a second one for the RV! Yes, I'm that big of a crafting nerd. I keep the machine and all of the materials in a handy basket that's usually on my nightstand, and it all gets quickly pulled out into this configuration in the living room when I want to work on a project.
It's a little messy, but it works – and it goes to show that you don't need a ton of dedicated space if you want to craft.
I was a little antsy about working with Infusible Ink because all of the posts I've seen about it are like, “You MUST lint roll your materials and keep dust out or it'll mess up your prints!” We've got a lot of dirt to contend with on our new Idaho property (we're establishing a second farm in the Pacific Northwest, more on that later). I'm also usually working with a dog and/or children at my feet, so it's really hard for me to come up with a totally clean workspace.
I simply vacuumed around this area and used some packing tape to do a quick lint pick-up on my fabrics before printing, and it turned out PERFECT. So if you're stressed over the permanence of Infusible Ink, don't be. If I can do this, you can do this.
I wanted our shirts to identify us as a group, but to be a little different than the usual identical family vacation shirts that you see on cruises and at theme parks. I had each of the kids draw a happy summer picture onto a 3-inch wide by 9-inch long strip of laser paper. I laid that face-down on a shirt blank in their size, covered it with butcher paper and taped it down with Cricut's heat resistant tape, and pressed it with my EasyPress 2. Then I removed the laser paper, laid down my Vacay All Day Infusible Ink transfer paper, and pressed the whole thing again with the EasyPress 2.
Important Call Outs for Cricut Infusible Ink
I should note that the Infusible Ink sheet was a bit stiffer than vinyl, and I hand-weeded it (pulling the excess scraps away from the letters) as opposed to using a weeding tool because I didn't want to slip and accidentally mess up the ink on my letters.
As for the markers, we drew with those on laser paper just like regular markers! The only thing to note there is that you must use laser printer paper, not inkjet, to transfer onto a compatible Cricut blank. You'll also want to make sure to buy some heat resistant tape so your design doesn't slip as you print it.
I bought the Infusible Ink pens, transfer sheets and shirts for all of the boys plus myself at Michael's, which currently has an exclusivity deal on the new Cricut products through fall.
Family Vacation Shirts Made Our Latest Trip Extra-Special
The kids were really giddy to see their work come to life on our family vacation shirts. It really gave them a chance to get creative, and to reflect on how our family likes to vacation. Olin decided to draw a picture of our truck and RV near the lake that we've visited repeatedly this summer.
We transferred that onto the shirt, followed by our wording, and then took a picture of him by that same lake! It's like vacation inception, you guys.
I drew baby Ikah's shirt for him because he was having NONE OF THIS. Toddlers can be sooooo fun! Anyway, his shirt has waves, a sun, a palm tree, melty ice cream and a beach umbrella. Mine has sunglasses, a pineapple, grass and a surf board.
The preschooler – totally blissing out mid-vacation here – drew Buzz Lightyear, a sun, a sprinkler and some flowers. Apparently those are all things he associates with summer.
I pulled concepts from all of our shirts and even transferred them onto coaster blanks! Do note that if you press twice – as I did on my coasters and my shirts – some of the colors will lighten on the second heat press. I was going for that hand-drawn look on the background so that was fine with me, but you'll want to keep that in mind if you want the colors to really pop. Infusible Ink is SUPER vibrant and shows up a lot brighter than on the transfer sheets, as you can clearly see with our black transfer sheet above and the black wording on our final products.
You can nab my All Day Vacay coaster template here to set the scene for your own vacay. I love how they coordinate with our family vacation shirts. This is basically the scene at our property for the rest of the summer.
Vacay all day, every day.