Today I want to show you how to cut vinyl decals. On my last post I gave you a super easy step~by~step guide (and the printable guide) for designing vinyl decals with a Cricut. If you missed that tutorial, I would read it before you start learning how to cut vinyl decals and apply transfer tape. I have a printable for this guide also.
Here’s where the real fun begins. It is so cool to see what you created on your computer actually come to life. Instead of a flat 2 dimensional object, your vinyl decals become real objects that you can use in hundreds of ways for labeling or organizing or making decorative objects for your home. Soon I’ll share a bunch of ways you can use vinyl decals. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Or if you think it up, you can make it ~ I think I should get credit for that one.
Like love and marriage, after the design phase, you have to know how to cut vinyl decals to actually use them. So far we’ve just been on the computer in Cricut Design Space. Now we’re going to actually use our Cricut Explore Air. The great feature of the Explore Air is that it’s wireless ~ no cords between the machine and your computer. Which means you have more flexibility in where you put your machine. My Cricut is about 3 feet from my computer.
How to Cut Vinyl Decals ~ An Easy Step-by-Step Guide
I am a Cricut affiliate, but all opinions and instructions are my own. If you should purchase any Cricut product through the image in the side bar, I may receive some compensation.
Equipment Needed to Cut Vinyl Decals
It goes without saying that you need a Cricut Explore Air or other model of the machine. Here’s what else you need to take your project all the way from design to display. I’ll explain as we go through the steps why and what you use each tool for.
- Cricut mat ~ standard
- scraper or credit card
- scissors or cutting knife
- ruler or straightedge
- transfer tape
Step~by~Step Guide ~How to Cut Vinyl Decals
So you’ve just finished designing your VINYL DECAL. In the UPPER RIGHT HAND CORNER of your screen, CLICK on the MAKE IT NOW button.
A BLACK SCREEN will pop up with your project on it. It shows you exactly how your project will look on an actual CRICUT mat. (This is another project that I recently finished; I’ll show you the finished project at the end of the post. No peeking.)
Now is the time to place your vinyl on your CRICUT MAT. CRICUT has 3 different mats for different types of materials. For making vinyl decals, you are going to use the STANDARD MAT, which is green. Remove the clear plastic covering from the mat. Set the plastic cover aside. You will reapply it to the mat as soon as you are finished cutting your vinyl decal.
TIP: Put a piece of painters or masking tape on the top of the plastic cover. This will help you know which side is UP.
CRICUT VINYL usually comes in rolls, although there are some fabulous new colors and textures available that come in flat sheets. “Standard” colors are in rolls and that’s what we are working with in this tutorial. Roll out your vinyl and place the top and corners along the guidelines on the CRICUT MAT.
TIP: Make sure that your vinyl is straight and aligned with the TOP AND LEFT SIDE LINE of the CRICUT MAT.
It’s so important that your vinyl is securely attached to the mat, especially at the top where the CRICUT will begin to cut. Use the CRICUT SCRAPER or a credit card to go across the vinyl. This step adheres the vinyl to the mat and pushes out any air bubbles between the vinyl and the mat.
Press the button on the top of the machine to turn it on. Then press the OPEN button on the RIGHT SIDE of your machine. The top and front will open. Place your mat with the vinyl on the bottom of the CRICUT and slide the corners under the guides on each side.
On the SCREEN of your CRICUT in the LOWER RIGHT SIDE, you see a button that says CONTINUE. CLICK on it.
On your SCREEN, a picture will appear giving you instructions how to proceed. The first one will be to SET THE DIAL on the CRICUT to your chosen material. In this case, TURN THE DIAL to VINYL.
Next the CRICUT will instruct you to LOAD the machine by pressing the DOUBLE ARROWS on your CRICUT. The light will be blinking. (See the photo above.) The CRICUT will begin to slowly pull your mat into the LOAD position.
TIP: hold your mat up off the counter and help guide it, especially if you have quite a bit of vinyl on your roll. Don’t push, just give the mat support.
TIP: if you have a large font, the machine will need space behind it to allow the mat to come out the back. Pull your CRICUT out from the wall before you begin.
TIP: I put little furniture pads on the bottom of my CRICUT. Not only does this help it slide more easily, but the added height gives me room under the CRICUT to store my pretty pink cutting mat.
Now your screen will prompt you to CLICK on the CRICUT BUTTON on your machine. (See the photo above.) It will be blinking. At this point, the CRICUT will begin cutting. I love watching this process. It’s a good thing to stay put in case anything goes amiss. A couple of times I’ve had the vinyl crimp a bit and had to carefully push it down before the blade reaches it.
When your cut is complete, the screen will prompt you to PUSH THE UNLOAD button on the machine. The mat will be “ejected”. Remove the mat and the vinyl. In the LOWER RIGHT CORNER of your screen will be a FINISH button. CLICK on it.
At this point, if you want, you can CLICK on the SAVE button in the UPPER RIGHT CORNER of the screen. A SAVE PROJECT BOX will ask you for a name for your project. TYPE in the name of your project and CLICK SAVE.
Remove the vinyl from your mat.
IMPORTANT: immediately cover the mat with the plastic cover. This step will keep your mat as clean and as sticky as possible.
As this point, I like to cut my vinyl decal away from the larger piece of vinyl. This way you don’t have so much extra vinyl in the way. I use a straight cutting edge (like a mat knife) and a ruler. Allow some extra vinyl around the decal, maybe a 1/2 inch.
Now lay your vinyl decal on a cutting mat. I love this part. You absolutely should invest in a WEEDER for this task. A WEEDER is a handle with a small sharp hook on the end, You use the sharp end to remove “NEGATIVES” from your decal ~ the space inside letters, such as a, b,d, e, g, q, etc. Depending on the font and whether the letter is upper or lower case, you may have more negatives to remove.
Place the point of the WEEDER on the edge of a letter that has a negative and gently pull. The vinyl negative will stick to the WEEDER. I just push it off onto a piece of scrap paper.
TIP: Since the vinyl will still tend to curl, I place something heavy on top to hold it down flat.
Once all your negatives are removed, start gently pulling the vinyl away from the white backing. If any of your letters pull up, use the side of your WEEDER to hold them down until the vinyl has pulled away. Just gather the removed vinyl in your hand as you pull on it.
TIP: to separate the VINYL from the white backing, turn a corner back and forth a few times to separate the 2 parts.
Now you need TRANSFER TAPE. This is a clear plastic sticky material with a white backing. It comes in a roll and has the CRICUT logo and a grid pattern printed on it. I place the TRANSFER TAPE around my vinyl decal and cut around it to make it the same size as the vinyl decal. Next, REMOVE THE WHITE BACKING from the TRANSFER TAPE. Carefully place it over your vinyl decal and smooth out the TRANSFER TAPE starting in the center and moving outward. Avoid creases or bubbles by using the CRICUT SCRAPER or a credit card to smooth out the TRANSFER TAPE.
NOTE: For this project, I left all 6 names together and then applied the TRANSFER TAPE in one piece. If you like, you can cut multiple words apart ~ if you intend them to be separate ~ and then apply separate pieces of TRANSFER TAPE to each word.
Cut your decals into individual pieces. Since my grandson told me he was going to use these decals on his notebooks, I knew they should be separate.
You’re almost done. To attach the VINYL DECAL, make sure your object is clean and dry. Determine the placement of the VINYL DECAL, then carefully begin to peel away the white backing of the VINYL DECAL. Place it on your object surface and, starting at one end, sort of roll the TRANSFER TAPE across the object, keeping it free of creases or air bubbles. Again, use the CRICUT SCRAPER, a credit card to completely adhere the TRANSFER TAPE/VINYL DECAL to the surface.
TIP: to separate the clear plastic from the white backing, turn a corner back and forth a few times to separate the 2 parts.
NOTE: If your surface is not flat, like a glass or a mug, just use your fingers to rub the TRANSFER TAPE until it adheres to the surface.
Now carefully grab a corner of the TRANSFER TAPE and start peeling it away from the VINYL DECAL. You will now have the VINYL DECAL on its intended surface and the TRANSFER TAPE can be discarded.
TIP: keep any small pieces of VINYL and TRANSFER TAPE. You never know when you just might need a small piece for another project. I keep all my potentially useable scraps in a box.
Congratulations! You have designed, cut, weeded, peeled and transferred your way to a beautiful, useful vinyl decal. Now do it again! And again! Now that you know how to cut vinyl decals, think of all the ways that you can use vinyl decals. Soon, I’ll share a dozen or more ways that you use vinyl decals.
Here’s another quick project that I just completed. It think it’s my favorite so far. It’s a great way to remind myself to be creative and inventive every. single. day. I used the ungroup and weld feature to connect letters and I sized the first letter in each word to be larger.
After learning how to design and how to cut vinyl decals, if you are in the market to purchase CRICUT products and accessories, you are so lucky. CRICUT if offering great deals on all accessories through August 29th. This is a great time to stock up. Here is your code to take advantage of 30% off all accessories.
Here’s another code for CRICUT products and accessories from August 30th ~ September 5
Here’s where you can get access to the PRINTABLES for both guides.
Again, if you like these CRICUT tutorials, please let me know. And I’d love it if you would share. Also, please check back next week for the Fall Tablescape Blog Hop. I’ll be sharing my tablescape on Monday.
Here’s Where I’ve Partied this Week (August 18th ~ August 24th):