Today I’m going to share with you how to personalize inexpensive flip flops with HTV to add a little fun to your summer wardrobe. From cheeky sayings to graphics to monograms, we’ve got your summer sandal fun covered.
Disclosure: This project was made possible thanks to Cricut, who provided me with a Cricut Maker machine for free to be used in cutting projects on this site. All thoughts and opinions shared here are expressly my own and are not influenced by the brand or their affiliates in any way.
You might have noticed but it has been quite a while since I’ve posted any kind of project using a cutting machine. Seven months plus months, actually. The reasoning for that is simple… I’ve been having a difficult time with my Silhouette and you can only ruin so much vinyl before you get fed up. Only used a handful of times, I moved my newest model machine to the garage so totally over it.
But this summer I had such big HTV project plans. So I bought lots of vinyl and decided to make. it. work. But, alas, it did not. It was cutting all over the place and even with lots of searching online, I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. With some really fun ideas in my head, I decided to look into swapping my machine for a new brand. I wanted a Cricut.
Now I don’t know if you know me, but this is kind of a big deal, jumping from one brand to another. You see, I’m a brand loyalist hardcore. Back when I worked in marketing I’d get teased that I was the biggest sucker to its hooks and it’s true. For all of my life, once I find something that works I work it forever. Any idea how many pairs of Keds or Levis I have in my closet? Like, all of them. I bought a pair of wide leg crops from Target a few weeks ago and I felt so guilty because they weren’t Levi’s which have been really good to me (they wash up well, never shrink up weird, last decades). And I thought it would be okay but I have al little bit of guilt every time I put them on but I do put them on because man they are CUTE! Hmm. I just don’t know about myself sometimes :)
And so when Cricut sent me a new machine (thanks so much, Cricut!) I felt equal parts excitement and guilt. And so I let it sit in the box a day or 2 before I decided to get over it and get after it. Feeling the same fear I had when I got my first cutting machine, I was worried that it was going to be difficult to use and, even worse, that I’d break something. Opening the box I found a sample project that came with my Cricut Maker so I could make and learn how to use the machine at the same time. After about 10 minutes I proudly carried my happy little greeting card with a little fabric kite into the living room to show off my first creation which got a “that’s really cute” accolade. And cute it was but it also gave me the courage to learn how my new machine works with hands-on training. Confidence built that I could do the darn thing, I got after my long vinyl cutting to do list despite the late hour ’cause I was stoked.
Today’s post isn’t about my new Cricut Maker, though. After I’ve gotten some more experience with my machine I fully intend to divulge all of the details on it but I’m still currently in the “getting the hang of it” phase. Today I will be sharing my very first Cricut project, the first in a little unofficial sort of series of summer fun with vinyl ideas I’ve been knocking around this noggin of mine. Or maybe it is officially SUMMER FUN WITH VINYL. I just named it after all :) Too bad summer’s almost over, right?!? :)
At any rate, today we’re going to cut out sayings and monograms and images from heat transfer vinyl and apply them to flip flops. You might be wondering, how do I put HTV on flip flops? It turns out it’s really easy. It also turns out that not all flips are created equal when it comes to good adherence.
Initially purchasing flip flops for color preference, I grabbed 3 styles from 2 stores and got to it. But that’s when hen I noticed that some shoes worked significantly better than others and my OCD took hold and I went running around town buying different kinds to try and figure out which ones work the best. For real. It was like this whole thing where I made Rob drive me around for an afternoon. So at the end of this post, after I’ve shown you the how-to of the whole thing, I’ll tell you which flip flops seem to work the best, so stick around for that.
Want to learn how to apply HTV to flip flops?
For this project you will need:
- Cricut Maker
- Flip flops
- HTV (I used both (I used both Cricut Iron-on Lite and Siser Easyweed)
- Teflon sheet
- Clover Mini Iron
Just FYI, for my project I decided that this was strictly stash-busting, using scraps left over and piling up from past projects. I’ve recently been told that vinyl has a shelf life, which I didn’t realize, so I want to use up what I have before I start buying much of anything new…
When we were on South Padre Island a few weeks ago I saw a chick walking along the main drag with a shirt that said “Beach, please”. And the snark lover in my instantly took to the phrase. I made myself a pair of flip flops with the saying a few days later, but I used a pair of patterned sandals from Walmart and the words didn’t really pop out. (more on that at the bottom in my which shoes to use sectiohow-to
how to of this project is super simple. Measure the workable area of your flip flop (in between the thong prongs and to the edge of the heel) to determine your working space. For most of my shoes, the designs couldn’t be wider than 1.5 inches to fit in between the 2 prongs nearer the heel of the sandal and needed to be 7 inches or less to fit in between the toe thong and edge of the heel.
By the way, thong prong is a lot of fun to say. You should totally try it. Thong prong.
Cut your words or shapes according to your workable space per your measurements and weed away the excess vinyl. Place the design onto your sandal and heat up your Clover Mini Iron on the high setting. If you don’t have a Clover Mini Iron and you like to do things with HTV, you should totally get one. You can apply HTV to mugs and now flip flops with one making it a multi-season craft tool :) it costs less than $20. Plus I just really like mine. It’s cute.
Erring on the side of caution, I’d suggest using something like a teflon sheet when applying your HTV to your flip flops in the beginning. Out of the bazillion pairs I made, many did fine with heat directly onto the top clear sheet that holds onto the HTV, but on a few pairs the heat seemed to be too much and the vinyl went down wrinkly and puckered. To avoid that entirely, I’d suggest first going over your design with the Teflon between the heat source and the vinyl so that it starts to stick down properly. Once it’s tacked down in lots of little spots, you can remove the Teflon and get down to really making business stick with heat directly onto the clear top sheet on your heat transfer vinyl.
Since flip flops are textured, it’s super easy to tell where the HTV has properly stuck down. See how you can see the dots in the “ASE”? That vinyl has seen the heat and is taking to the shoes. But see on the left side of the “A” and in the middle of the “S”? Those areas still need more heat and pressure because the vinyl is still smooth because it hasn’t yet conformed to the pattern of the shoe. Hit those areas with more heat to ensure a long-lasting design.
Once everything is laid down on the sole and while the vinyl is still hot, peel the clear protective sheet away.
Boom. Done. And super awesome, right? Beach, please. You know you love ’em :)
Now not to be bound to any one vinyl or design I made a lot of flip flops. I’m talking about 14 pairs, oh, my! But that just means I can give you some really good tips to buy supplies that work well the first go-round. Let’s see all the places I went with this project:
Loving on my “beach, please” saying I made another pair using this purple pair of flip flops from Target. Since I loved the metallic look of the chameleon style straps, I went with gold foil HTV and, dang, those flip flops are hot, right? :)
Since I was knees deep in this business and trying as many techniques and shoes as possible I asked family members for requests so I could get more practice in. My dad wanted a pair that said “Jaws… it’s baaaack!” Now I counted the number of times the letter “A” abundantly appeared in the texted request and complied, but I thought it would be super cool to veer off and put a shark on the left flip rather than the text “Jaws”. I did find a free font that is very similar to the iconic JAWS posters called Amity Jack, but since the words were going on a large sole, the short and squatty text just didn’t fill the space well enough. If making a smaller pair of shoes, it could work really well and have that poster-feel for the text would be really cool. I’m not sure what the whole “it’s back” thing is about. Was there a sequel or something?
The shark image I actually scored for free on Pixabay and it conveniently comes in an SVG file you can download which typically works super well for cutting projects. However, the design is flawed for this purpose and it cuts random lines in the design when used straight from the site. You can kind of see those flaws in the red belly of the shark. If you would like a cleaned up version of the shark, you can grab the design in Cricut Design Space here. You can also download the SVG file for just the cleaned up shark here.
I also learned that you can layer vinyl with no issues on flip flops, so feel free to go with multi-colored designs. The thought didn’t even cross my mind until I was about to lay down this shark and found it difficult to distinguish the red body from the black sole and decided to add the white on the fly.
Next, I decided to rock out some monograms because those symmetrical shapes would look gangbusters on the heels of the soles. And because we couldn’t think of any sayings we wanted on our shoes so this was just easier :) Utilizing mostly neon scrap (which my camera can’t seem to capture as neon, they all look kind of pastel, what?!) I cut some awesome monograms. But these are NOT my own designs. Since I’m still learning how Cricut Design Space works vs. the Silhouette Studio I’ve been using for years, now, I searched online for SVG files that are ready to go.
I found a site called SVG and Me that has tons and tons of free files for download (you do need to join but it’s free and just requires being on the site’s email list). No matter what cutting machine you have, I’m pretty sure they all use SVG files, so it’s a great resource for all of us cutting machine crafters. With literally pages and pages of free monograms, I picked out my favorites and edited them in Design Space with the initials of friends and family members, personalizing a pair of flips for all! I downloaded my new monogram designs but when I got them in to start editing them I didn’t have a clue where to start. But, luckily, there’s also a tutorial that’s easy enough to follow for a total noob like me, on how to actually use these free monograms in Cricut Design Space. Score!
Okay, so all of the looks have been shared now let’s compare supplies…
Which flip flops are best to apply HTV to?
Now, granted I didn’t go around to absolutely every store and try absolutely every brand, but I did go to stores that a lot of us are going to have access to. When I think of good flip flops that last I often think of Old Navy. Unfortunately, every pair has their logo on the heel so I wasn’t able to apply my designs on top of them. Because that logo is in the way, you don’t need to bother running in there to source your flip flops because they aren’t going to work for this project.
Hands down, my favorite flip flops to apply heat transfer vinyl to are the ones that I initially thought would be the most difficult to work with. Costing less than a cool buck, the flip flops I found available both in bins near the checkouts and in the actual shoe department at multiple Walmart stores were my favorite. I had my doubts thinking that the really textured bottoms would negatively affect such little HTV designs, but in the end, they took the vinyl the best. It’s almost like the vinyl melted INTO the flip flops and you can hardly find a seam along the edges of any of the transfers. And getting the vinyl down with the heat was FAST. Unfortunately, these shoes also the poorest quality so it won’t be too long before it gets that uncomfortable squashed heel that no longer feels like it gives you any cushion from the sidewalk, know what I mean?
Also sold at Walmart, I grabbed patterned flip flops that run closer to $4 a pair. I had high hopes but these guys do not work so well. My design didn’t show up well, but with better pattern and color selection perhaps that could be avoided. But the bigger problem here is that these guys are sort of shiny and slick and not very textured. It took AGES to get the vinyl to adhere to the shoes and because it took so much effort, there were spots I inevitably didn’t do well on that are trying to peel up, now. These are, in my opinion, the most comfortable of all of the sandals but I don’t suggest them for personalization with HTV. Meh.
Coming from Michael’s and running about $2 a pair, these flip flops took the vinyl fairly well. They are thinner and feel a bit cheaper and wear surprisingly quickly. I’m neither blown away nor put off and think these are a good option for the price if you don’t mind them wearing out quickly. Keep an eye out, because sometimes you can grab them for only a buck when they go half off.
Last, but not least, because they are my runner-up, are the solid colored flip flops from Target. They run around $4 a pair, take HTV really well. However, it does seem to take a long, long time to get the vinyl to actually adhere so you have to really pay attention to the edges of your shapes to ensure they’re really down and won’t peel up on you. But since they take the vinyl well and wear better than all of the other sandals that did work here on my list they’re ones that I definitely recommend.The high price has the cheapskate in me kind of freaking out but you get what you pay for.
*UPDATE* I’ve been wearing these flip flops all over town without any issue, but it appears that they do NOT do well in salt water. After walking around in the surf for a few minutes I noticed a strange feeling on my right heel and wouldn’t you know that “P” was stuck to the bottom of my foot? I guess if I knew a realtor I could hand these over but I don’t :) And actually I kept wearing them and after several hours I lost 3 more letters. I’m not sure if it is the salt water or just water so I’d try to keep your HTV flip flops dry to be safe. Since I wear the ones I’ve made all of the time, I’ll update again if I find out that it’s any water or what. Back to the original post!***
The patterned flip flops at Target, however, have the same problem as the ones from Walmart… it’s difficult to see the pattern and the texture doesn’t really want to take the HTV anyway.
In summary, and in order of preference –> Walmart $1 flip flops do amazing with the HTV but wear down quickly. The patterned $4 Walmart flip flops really don’t work well at all. Old Navy flip flops have a logo in the way making them a non-option. Target solid flip flops take a bit longer than others to get the HTV to stick, but wear really well making them a great option. The patterned flip flops from Target don’t want to take the vinyl. And the flip flops at Michael’s are neither great nor terrible and an acceptable option as far as application but do wear down very quickly.
But really, no matter which sandals you choose, this is an inexpensive project that’s super easy to do and adds a little bit of fun to your summer wardrobe :)
Thanks again to Cricut for the new Cricut Maker. Y’all are going to see some more stuff from me in the coming weeks so yay for that!