Whether you’re walking down the street or looking out of the car window, most street signs, shop windows, and wall stickers are all going to be types of vinyl decals… sounds a little crazy right? You’ve been passing them all this time but probably didn’t realize just what they were.
Making vinyl decals is super easy with a Cricut if you have the right knowledge and supplies. Make sure you’ve picked yourself up the machine of your choice, the Essentials Tool Set from Cricut, your vinyl and some transfer tape – then you’re ready to sit back, relax and learn.
In this article, we’re going to discuss exactly what vinyl decals are, what is needed to make them, how you make them using a Cricut machine and also answer a few frequently asked questions.
What is a Vinyl Decal?
Vinyl decals are essentially big stickers used for advertising, design and… well, fun! They can be used in SO MANY ways – from putting funky branding in shop windows to fun, playful car bumper stickers.
Vinyl decals should be one of a business’s favourite things to use for marketing. This is because the setup costs to make them can be fairly small and the advertising will be close to free going forward!
They are the perfect way to plaster your brand on physical objects so that everyone can see.
Can You Make Vinyl Decals With A Cricut Machine?
Yes. Yes, you can.
A Cricut is the perfect machine to start cutting out vinyl decals.
The only question you should have is which Cricut machine should you buy!
However, there are so many different Cricut products that you can choose from – as long as you read the specifications and ensure you purchase one that is fit for what you want to use it for, you’ll be golden!
Here are some of our favourites:
- Priced at around $400;
- Can be used to cut over 300 materials;
- Has 13 different tools that it can be used with;
- Has 10x the cutting force of a standard Cricut machine;
- Cuts at 2x the standard Cricut speed; and
- Weighs in at 15.4lbs.
This is the premium end of Cricut machines as you can probably tell by the price tag!
This is for those of you that want to explore lots of different materials and this machine is going to give you lots of opportunities to make tons of different things!
- Priced at around $300;
- Can be used to cut over 100 materials;
- Has 6 different tools that it can be used with;
- Has a standard Cricut cutting force;
- Cuts at 2x the standard Cricut speed; and
- Weighs in at 11lbs.
As you can tell by the specifications, the Explore 3 is a little more budget-friendly but is quite far behind the Maker 3 in terms of capabilities.
This machine would be ideal for someone who is just looking to make vinyl decals for fun and knows exactly what they’re looking to do.
Just because it doesn’t cut as many materials as the Maker 3, doesn’t mean it’s a push-over!
- Priced at around $180;
- Can be used to cut over 50 materials;
- Has 3 different cutting tools;
- Has a standard Cricut cutting force;
- Cuts at the standard Cricut speed; and
- Weighs in at just 3.7lbs.
This is an absolute pocket rocket.
Unlike the other 2 machines, this can only cut vinyl that is 5.5 inches wide (-v- the 13 inches of the other 2) and only has a maximum cut length of 4 feet (-v- the 12 feet of the other 2).
This is more of an ‘on-the-road’ cutter – if you’re moving from place to place and still want to have the freedom of cutting. It’s also very reasonably priced!
What Do You Need To Make Vinyl Decals With Cricut?
There are a few things that you’ll need to start your first cut project – however, you’ll only need to buy the tool supplies once so the cost going forward should be much much lower.
Here are the recommended products that we would suggest getting for making vinyl decals:
- A Cricut machine (USD 200 to USD 400) – this is kind of an obvious one as you can’t do anything without the physical Cricut machine!
- Design space – this is the design software that comes with the Cricut that allows you to create your designs on a computer and then connects with your Cricut machine so it knows exactly what it needs to cut.
- An Essential Tool Set ($50 USD) – this includes a scraper, weeding tools, scissors and a trimmer – The scraper is going to give you a lot more control over the application of the transfer tape. The weeding tools are essential to help you get the excess vinyl away from the sticky side. The scissors are helpful when manipulating most materials and the trimmer allows you to trim down the excess vinyl so you don’t have to waste a large amount if you’re only working on a small design.
- Vinyl (3ft Smart Vinyl USD 8) – another essential for vinyl decals.
- Transfer tape (120″ roll USD 18) – to allow you to transfer the cutout vinyl onto whatever you want to stick your vinyl onto!
This brings the total cost of the supplies needed to get started at around $275 – which is incredible if you think about exactly what this will allow you to do!
How Do You Make Your Own Cricut Decals: Step By Step
You’re probably wondering what you actually need to do in order to make your vinyl decals now that you’ve got all the kit. Here’s a quick crash course on what you need to do so you can get up and running straight away!
I’d also encourage you to take a look at the different Cricut settings, both on the machine and Design Space, just to make sure you’ve got everything how you like it before getting started on your first project.
- Create the design in Design Space;
- Turn the machine on and make sure the Power button is blue;
- Let the machine know what it’s cutting;
- Insert the adhesive vinyl into the machine;
- Click the Load/Unload button once the vinyl is inserted;
- Click the ‘Start’ button;
- Click the Load/Unload button again;
- Cut your vinyl to size;
- Remove the top layer of vinyl;
- Measure out your transfer tape;
- Apply the transfer tape to your vinyl;
- Remove the transfer tape from your vinyl;
- Apply your transfer tape in the desired position on your object; and
- Final touches.
If you’re a little like me and need a guide that’s a little more comprehensive – don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:
- Create the design in Design Space
This is the obvious first step as you need to figure out exactly what you want the Cricut machine to cut out! Design space is super user-friendly – just make sure you get your sizing right!
A good tip is to add a 2D version of what you’re looking to cut onto using the physical dimensions – i.e. if you’re looking to print onto a notebook, create a rectangle with the same dimensions and see how the design fits. Just be sure to remove the rectangle once you’re happy as you don’t want the Cricut to cut it out!
- Turn the machine on and make sure the Power button is blue
By turning on the machine, you’ll see the flaps start to open and the rollers and cutters will reveal themselves – how exciting!
We want the power button to be blue because this is the machine’s way of telling us that it’s successfully connected to our computer via Bluetooth.
- Let the machine know what it’s cutting
Once you’re happy that it’s all paired and the design is exactly how you want it in Design Space – you’ll need to select the material that you want to cut within Design Space. This will let the cutter know exactly how much power it needs to use to make the desired cuts.
- Insert the adhesive vinyl into the machine
You’ll see that there is an arrow button on the machine – (it’s an arrow pointing up and an arrow pointing down). This is the Load/Unload button and it needs to be blinking to show that it’s ready for vinyl to be inserted.
Make sure you put the vinyl in so it lines up with the ‘guiders’ on the outward-facing flap and push it until it hits the rollers.
The material should fit snuggly between these guiders. If it’s got space between the guiders and the material, you’ll need to rotate it 90 degrees!
- Click the Load/Unload button once the vinyl is inserted
The machine will then pass the vinyl through the rollers a couple of times and do some clever maths to make sure that the design you’ve given in Design Space, will fit on the piece of vinyl provided.
- Click the ‘Start’ button
Once the machine has given the all-clear on the vinyl you’ve inserted, the start button will start to flash (it’s the triangle-shaped button). Once you press this button, it will start cutting your design out onto the vinyl.
- Click the Load/Unload button again
The machine will eventually finish its cutting and the Load/Unload button will start to flash again – this is your signal to press it and the machine will eject the vinyl.
- Cut your vinyl to size
Using the trimming tool, you now want to cut down the vinyl so that only the areas that all is left are the vinyl that’s been cut. This means you get to save the excess material for use on a future project.
- Peel the top layer of vinyl
Using weeding tools, peel the top layer of vinyl off. All that should be left on the plastic backing is the sections of vinyl that have been cut out, ready to be transferred onto your object of choice.
Using these tools helps to peel off the tricky parts of vinyl that don’t seem to want to budge. Something like the middle area of a capital ‘A’.
- Measure out your transfer tape
Using the same dimensions as the rectangle piece of vinyl you have (after trimming it down) – cut out the same dimensions in transfer tape.
- Apply the transfer tape to your vinyl
Once it’s cut down to size, peel the backing off of the transfer tape and carefully lay it onto the top of your vinyl design.
Make sure you use your scraper to smooth the transfer tape across the vinyl so you don’t have any air bubbles and the vinyl design has been successfully stuck to the transfer tape.
- Remove the transfer tape from your vinyl
This part is a little tricky – you’re going to want to remove the transfer tape from the vinyl and make sure your design comes with it. You don’t want anything left on the back sheet of vinyl – it should all be on the transfer tape.
- Apply your transfer tape in the desired position on your object
The moment of truth… you’re now going to place the transfer tape in the position you want your design to live. This is another tricky part as removing the transfer tape with some of the vinyl still on it, will result in your design potentially being distorted.
A clever trick is to run the scraper along the seam of the transfer tape as you’re removing it so as to apply extra pressure to the vinyl to help mitigate the risk that it doesn’t stick properly.
- Final touches
Depending on the object, you can either run your hand, finger or the scraper back over your vinyl decal to help ensure it’s properly stuck on – then you’re done and ready to start making all the decals you could possibly dream of!
Making Decals with Cricut: FAQs
1. What materials do you use to make decals with Cricut?
Based on the step-by-step guide, the only materials you’d need are transfer paper/transfer tape and the smart vinyl. This is because the vinyl is sticky-back and perfect for the stickers you’d need for decals.
However, you don’t need to be just limited to decals – there are lots of other materials that you can explore such as Foil Transfers, Iron-on/Heat Transfers… even leather and wood! (Cricut Maker only).
2. Can you make vinyl decals without a Cricut Maker?
Of course, you don’t need the Maker to do vinyl decals – the cheaper sibling of the Maker; the Explore Air 2 or 3 will be more than capable of producing all of your vinyl decals without breaking a sweat.
It’s worth casing a thought at to whether you’ll solely want to make vinyl decals on your Cricut or whether you might be interested in venturing out and trying something a little different.
If that would be the case then maybe opt for the Maker as it’s got a much more powerful cutter and so allows much more material choice.
3. Can you make multi-colour vinyl decals with Cricut?
Yes, you most certainly can! It just requires a little bit of Design Space technical know-how and some patience.
Essentially, you’ll create your design in Design Space and then print each individual coloured part on the respective coloured vinyl.
As you get ready for each cut, you’ll use the same design but just hide the colours you don’t want cut. Make sure you have registration marks at the bottom and that they don’t move as you hide and unhide each colour.
These registration marks will be what you line up each time you apply the transfer paper to each vinyl cut so that your all of the colours in your design come together as intended.
So just how do you make vinyl decals with Cricut?…
You need to make sure you have all the equipment you need as well as the Design software downloaded onto your computer. The setup is super easy and should be explained in the manual provided in the box.
There are so many free online resources – especially the Cricut website. You can source all of your equipment there or you can venture out into the unknown and pick up some of your tools for a fraction of the price. You can easily find reviews and videos on the likes of Amazon and YouTube that can provide recommended products.
You don’t necessarily need the most expensive Cricut machine but do make sure you buy a machine that is fit for all of your future projects, not just the project you’ve got your sites set on at the moment.
Ensure you give yourself the freedom to make changes to your style – what if you fancy changing the type of materials you work with or maybe you’ve seen someone cutting materials that look quite interesting. Be sure not to sacrifice your flexibility to save a couple of bucks!
Follow our super comprehensive step by step guide to get a few vinyl decal projects under your belt and you’ll be a seasoned pro in no time!
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Last update on 2022-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclaimer