My wife got a her new Cricut cutter and wanted a reason to try it out. Pi Day was just around the corner, but not just any Pi Day ULTIMATE PI DAY. Being that Ultimate Pi Day only comes around once every hundred years, so for most people without some extremely long life genes it is a once in a life time event. Personally I though a day that only happens once every 100 years would be more of a Super Pi Day and Ultimate Pi Day happened back in 1592, but everybody seems really excited about this so I went with it.
So my wife wanted to try out her new Cricut and have a go at creating some shirts for the family. So in this instructable we will be showing how we made our PI Day shirts for our family.
Step 1: Get Your Shirts and Ideas
We first came up with our ideas for whet we wanted done on the shirts. With all the adds showing up for shirts on social media we had plenty of examples to choose from. We picked some ideas everybody liked and went with a few sayings that expressed what we were looking for "Once in a Lifetime" ,"3.14.15 9:26:53", the Pi symbol "π", and "Ultimate Pi Day". The date and time was pretty much the standard for all the shirts we seen.
Since most of the design is simple font setting this was the easy part, or it should be. I'm pretty good at figuring out most software but you never know. After playing with the software a bit I had the words set and following the instructions of my wife I had the words all mirrored for the cutter to cut the iron on vinyl in reverse.
Found a pi symbol in the free area of the Cricut design software. Cricut's software offers some common simple graphics, images, and fonts for free, others charge a fee to use them.
I also found other graphic designs can be loaded it into the design area of the software and create what looks like a vectored pattern the cutter can follow. It asks you to select what parts you want to be deleted, not really detailed on the cuts and doesn't separate the colors, just gives the options of how detailed the original image is before converting it to an image the Cricut can follow.
So we now have the symbol, the words and the shirts.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Vinyl
Cutting out the vinyl turned into a more involved process than I thought.
Having worked in t-shirt design shop art department for a few years I made the art ready to go. From what I was told the art needs to be mirrored for the cutter to cut it out right to be ironed on the shirts. However when I came to cut it out my wife knew the system had a final check that allows you to mirror the design for iron on. I didn't know about this system prompt just before the final "Go" is if you need it mirrored for cutting iron on vinyl.
So I had the art all ready mirrored, but when you say yes to the mirroring for cutting iron on it unmirrors mirror I put in the design and cuts it straight. Well we figured that out and moved on.
I also found with this software when you see the preview for the cut, it rearranges everything, and clumps it together in the cutting area selected according to it's system standards. You then have to do your layout all over again on your shirt when you iron it on. I found you have to use the "attach" option to keep the individual parts of the design from being rearranged when it's printed, and making it easier to layout when ironing it on. This is especially true with multicolor designs.
Once the vinyl cutter is done, trim the excess off and peal the vinyl off the liner that will not be ironed on.
Step 3: Lay It Out and Iron It On
Flatten Out The Shirt
Lay the shirt flat on the ironing board. If the shirt is wrinkled at all iron it flat so the design will go on flat and stay straight.
Layout the Design
Eyeball It - One way to layout the design on the shirt can be by eyeing it and adjusting it until it is wear you like it. I do the whatever the main pattern is in a multi-color design then add the others in their correct place.
Measured Centered Design - A little more technical is measuring it out. Find the center of the shirt and the main design. You can find a level line and measure to find the center by using a yard stick as a straight line from armpit to armpit. Measure the shirt to find the center line and give a level line to work from. Measure the total design to find the center line and use this to line up with the center line of the t-shirt. For a full front design they typically fall around 3 inches below the front collar. For a chest only pattern the design typically lay between the armpit line and about 3 inches below the collar.
Free Form - Like all great artists you break the prior "rules" and make your design off balanced, one sided, and random. Lay it out however you decide. Make designs that wrap from front to back, over a shoulder, or on the shoulders.
Iron It On
Follow the directions from the iron on vinyl you buy. Most will have the basic directions of place the vinyl on the t-shirt with the vinyl side to the shirt, and you may or may not need to cover the polymer liner with a thin cloth, then apply the iron at the heat setting noted in the directs for the vinyl.
If you have a multi-color design iron on the primary color, then add the next colors lining up the designs as you go, making sure each one is ironed on well.
Cover the entire area of the design with the iron to get the vinyl to stick to the shirt and release from the liner. When it appears you are done start to peal the liner off, watching closely as you peal to make sure none of the vinyl is coming off the shirt with the liner. If you find any parts of the vinyl coming off lay the liner back on and re-apply the heat, and try pealing the liner up again.
Step 4: Show Off Your Creation
Once the vinyl is all on and appears the edges are all ironed on model your creation and show it off. Ours shirts were hits every place we visited on Pi Day. Some people had heard of it but didn't really care. Others had no idea what it was and asked what it was. All the other nerds loved them and wanted to make their own.
Our kids thought it was really cool when people knew about it, and especially that everybody liked the shirts they made.
We had a lot of fun making them and the kids liked the attention they got from the shirts. The kids even asked if they could keep the shirts until the next Ultimate Pi Day. We hope you make it there kids.