Personalising a tote bag with holographic heat transfer vinyl (HTV) monogram

Personalised items make great gifts and, if you have a stall at a craft fair, they are absolutely perfect. You can create a number of items for the most common initials and you’ll find lots of takers – but you can also take it a step further by offering these initials in a ‘knock-out’ design, with the actual name across the centre. Take along a prototype and a stack of your own business cards, and the orders will stack up, especially as Christmas approaches!

Here’s our letter A in holographic vinyl ironed onto a black cotton tote bag:

Holographic Letter A Cricut File Monogram

Personalised Tote Bag - Cut File for Cricut and Silhouette Machines

Today we’re going to show you how we did it!

You Will Need:

Blank tote bag (we used a black one, though any colour will do!)

Heat transfer vinyl (we used a silver holographic htv

Our svg file – you’ll find the whole alphabet in our CraftAGoGo Etsy shop, but you can also purchase the individual letters in there.

Cutting Machine Settings:

We used a Cricut Maker with fine point blade – any mat will do as long as it’s clean and sticky.

Pressing settings:

To iron, we used the Cricut Easypress (with the Easypress mat beneath and a Teflon sheet on top). I love the EasyPress – it’s so cute and simple to operate – but there are a number of other presses available. If you’re not ready to make an investment in a press, then you can use your household iron! The results are likely not to be quite as consistent (the advantage of a press is that it applies heat consistently across a surface), but it will adhere the vinyl to the surface.

Preparing the files:

This is so easy…all you need to do is click on ‘New Project’ in Design Space. You’ll then get the option (in the left-hand margin) to ‘Upload File’. If you click on that, you can import the relevant file. If it’s our file, it’ll be called something like ‘letterahtv.svg’. It will look something like this:

letter A htv in Design Space

It has a border around it so that you can position it if you want (or cut it in relief), but, for this bag we don’t want to do that so click on ‘Ungroup’ and then select the rectangle around the ‘A’. Then, click on Delete or Hide (in the menu on the right-hand side or by right-clicking and selecting ‘Delete’ or ‘Hide’ from the drop down menu). You’ll be left with this:

Letter A htv file for Cricut

Left-click and drag over the A, to select in. Then, choose ‘Attach’ in the right-hand margin (or by right-clicking and choosing ‘Attach’ from the dropdown menu). It’ll look like this, BUT THIS BIT IS REALLY IMPORTANT if you’re using htv! Tons of htv is wasted around the world because it’s so easy to make a mistake at this stage!

Cricut Letter A on Design Space Mat

When you see this, you need to click on ‘Mirror’…the design will then reverse. This is really important because you need to cut your letter in reverse! Here’s our Letter A on the mat, after we’ve ‘mirrored’ (reversed!) it:

Mirrored Letter A in Design Space

Once that’s done, click on ‘Make It!’ and your mat will show you the file, ready to cut! You can now feed your mat (with vinyl, obviously!) into the machine. But again (IMPORTANT!!!!) your htv should be FACE DOWN on the mat – by this, we mean that the shiny side should be stuck to the mat, and you’ll be able to see the slightly-more-dull side.

Cutting the Files:

It’s quite an intricate design, but if you’ve followed our instructions so far, all will be well! Once complete and peeled from the mat (and weeded, of course! It’s really quite easy to weed htv, but the Cricut weeding tool kit will help speed things along!), your design will look like this:

mirrored htv letter a on cricut

Applying the design to the bag:

Now, turn the ‘A’ over and, measuring carefully to ensure that the design is equidistant from both sides and the top and the bottom, position it on top of the bag.

Holographic htv initial design on tote bag

Once it’s positioned in a way that looks good for you, put a Teflon sheet (or equivalent!) on top of it:

Teflon Sheet on Holographic Htv


Put your Easypress mat (or equivalent!) beneath it and now you can apply your Easypress (or equivalent!!!) to the top of it! Make sure you follow the instructions for your htv and/or the instructions given on your Easypress leaflet (and look for some sort of intersection in what they suggest!). I really have found that it’s a matter of trial and error, though. To be honest, I do apply more pressure and temperature than the Easypress leaflet suggests!

Once you’ve followed the instructions, though, you can start to tease away the edge of the plastic. Move slowly, and ensure that the vinyl has stuck to the fabric.

Applying HTV to Tote Bag with Easypress

If it hasn’t, put the plastic back down and apply the Easypress (or equivalent!) for a bit longer. Once done, it’ll look something like this:

Holographic Letter A Cricut File Monogram

Our alphabet cut files feature flowers and butterflies, and our quest is to find as many ways to make lovely personalised items as possible! You can get it the files here [LINK] – individually or as a full set of 26 (at a big discount!). You’ll get both the standard design and a knockout version, so you can customise accessories to your heart’s content!

Personalised Tote Bag - Cut File for Cricut and Silhouette Machines

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