Can Oracal 651 Be Used On Shirts?
can oracal 651 be used on shirts

Can Oracal 651 Be Used On Shirts?

Oracal 651 is an adhesive vinyl which can be used to make stickers and decals. It cannot be used in a heat press, so it is not a good choice for using with shirts or fabrics. It can be stuck on to a t-shirt, but it will come off when washed, or even while the shirt is being worn.

Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl is not the same as a heat transfer vinyl, though they can be cut in the same way.

  • Adhesive vinyl: One side of an adhesive vinyl is covered with adhesive, so this is designed to be stuck to a surface straight on to a surface. It is simply pressed in to place. It is not suitable for a heat press.
  • Heat transfer vinyl: This only sticks to a surface once heat has been added to it. This is is pressed on with a heat press or an iron. It has no sticky surface and will not stick on its own.

Adhesive vinyls can be used both indoors and outdoors, and Oracal 651 is ideal for outdoor use. It will stay in place for up to 6 years, and if used correctly can be washed many times.

It has a gloss finish and is a good choice for projects such as:

  • Car and motorcycle decals
  • House and business signs (business tips here)
  • Mugs, tumblers and water bottles
  • Fridges
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Boat decals and decorations
  • Keychains
  • Mailboxes

You can use Oracal with wood or canvas, but you will need to coat the surface with acrylic paint first and allow it to dry. This creates a hard surface which the adhesive will then stick to.

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How to use Oracal 651

To create your vinyl you do not need specialist equipment, though a cutting machine is useful, as long as it cuts vinyl.

  • Cut your design

When you have created your design you need to cut it out. You can do this manually or use a cutting machine. If you have one of these already, check to see if it has a setting for vinyls. If you find there are small areas which are not cut cleanly, then you will need a weeding tool to cut these out.

  • Apply transfer tape

When you have your design you will need to remove it from the backing paper to apply it to the surface. This is not easy if your design consists of words or lots of small patterns. To remove it from the backing paper you need transfer tape.

Roll this over the vinyl and remove any air bubbles which have formed. An application tool or something with a straight edge is just the thing. When the tape has covered your design, start at one corner, and carefully pull the transfer tape away from the backing paper. Your design should come away from the paper, onto the transfer paper.

  • Apply your vinyl

Before you apply your vinyl, make sure the surface you are applying it to is clean and dry.

Starting in the middle, press your vinyl on to the surface. If you press slowly outwards you can remove air bubbles as you go. When you are happy that your vinyl has been applied, you can remove the transfer tape.

Lift one edge carefully and slowly pull the transfer paper down so that it leaves the vinyl in place. If you find your vinyl is coming away too, press back down until it is properly stuck down.

If you’re looking for an Oracal 651 starter kit, we recommend getting it from Amazon here.

Pros and Cons of Oracal 651

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As with all things, there are advantages and disadvantages to adhesive vinyl.


  • It can be used on surfaces where you cannot use a heat press, such as glass, or items which are an odd shape.
  • It can be used outdoors as it is weatherproof.
  • Oracal 651 is a permanent adhesive vinyl.
  • You don’t need to buy specialist equipment to use it.
  • It is suitable for beginners as it is easy to use.


  • It cannot be used on fabrics, as it will peel off when the garment is washed.
  • It can take some practice to cut if you are not used to it.

Here’s an awesome video on screen printing using a vinyl cutter and Oracal 651 vinyl!

Happy Heat Pressing!

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