One of the things I love to do with my Cricut is to create custom or personalized t-shirts and tank tops. All you need is your Cricut machine, some iron-on vinyl, and a shirt. Cricut Design Space has a ton of awesome designs all ready to make now or customize further, but sometimes I have a custom design I want to use.

Hot Mess Express Shirt with a free printable cut file


For this shirt, I wanted to add the phrase hot mess express in glitter vinyl. I don’t know where I first heard that saying, but I now say it all the time. I am often a hot mess trying to keep it all together, so I thought this shirt would be cute and fun!

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How easy is it to upload my own images with the Cricut?

It is so easy to upload your own designs to Cricut Design Space™. To start with you will want to open up Cricut Design Space™ and click on New. Then, on the left-hand side, click Upload Images.

Click on Browse. Then, locate the image on your computer and click Open. 

Note: You can upload image with a file type of .jpg, .gif, .png, .bmp, .svg or .dxf.

My image was created in Photoshop with just fonts I purchased, so I chose Simple Image. Click Continue.

Helpful tip: I sometimes will design with fonts right in Cricut Design Space, and other times I will use Photoshop Elements to create my design. When working with Photoshop Elements (or Canva) I find it easiest to save the file in a .png format.

Select and erase any backgrounds or pieces of the design you don’t want. Since this is a .png file, it has a transparent background to make it easy to use in Design Space. Click Continue.

I want to cut out the image with iron-on, so chose the Save as a Cut image. option. Change the image name (if needed) and add any relevant tags. Click Save.

Click on the newly uploaded image and then click the green Insert Images button.

On the left side, choose the Set Canvas button. I typed in “shirt” into the search bar and chose the shirt that looked most like the one I was planning to use.

Click on the Canvas tab on the right and set the type of shirt, size, and color. I am making this design on a black large women’s tank top.

Adjust the size of the design using the little arrow in the bottom right corner to drag it bigger or smaller to fit the shirt how you want. When you have the design how you want it, click Go.

** Make sure the box for Mirror Image (for iron-on) is checked. ** Click Go.

Set the Smart Set Dial to Custom. In the drop down menu choose, Iron-On, Glitter – 0.5mm (Cricut). Place your iron-on vinyl on the cutting mat shiny side down (this is the liner). Load the mat into the machine and click the Go button on the machine.

Helpful tip: Once I remove the vinyl from the mat, I like to trim around the design. Be careful doing this, as the cuts can be hard to see on glitter vinyl, but this allows you to use more of the vinyl left over from the project.

Weed out the excess vinyl, leaving only the design on the liner backing.

Using the weeding tool can help get the little pieces out between the letters.

When you are ready to add your design to your shirt, set your iron to the hottest setting your clothing can handle, preferably the cotton/linen setting. (Be sure the steam  is off). Use the iron to preheat the material for about 15 seconds.

Place the weeded image, shiny side up, on the preheated fabric. Apply medium pressure with the iron for about 25 – 30 seconds. Turn the fabric inside out and iron again on the backside for about 25 – 30 seconds. more. 

Helpful tip: Place the design high on your shirt. When I started making t-shirts, my first instinct was to place my design in the middle of the shirt. This may work well for men’s and children’s shirt, but for women, the shirt looks better when the design is fairly close to the collar of the shirt. This way the design doesn’t end up underneath your chest area.

Hot Mess Express shirt with Cricut Explore


Want to make your own Hot Mess Express shirt? Click on the image below. A new window will open. Then right click on the image to save it to your computer.

Hot Mess Express PNG

This download is for personal use only. Do not share the direct link to the .pdf/.jpg file. Please link back to the original post when sharing. 

Care instructions: Wash and dry your iron-on shirts inside out.

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