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Your Cricut machine is SO versatile! You can do so much more than just cut paper with it! Here is a step by step guide on how to cut vinyl with a Cricut machine!
Your Cricut machine can be used for more than just cutting paper for scrapbooks; there are tons of other materials you can cut. My favorite material to cut with my Cricut Explore Air is adhesive vinyl. It’s super easy to use, and you can use it to make custom decals, stencils, wall graphics, signs, stickers, and more! Today I’m going to show you, step by step, how to cut vinyl with a Cricut machine!
This tutorial will show you how to cut vinyl using Cricut Design Space, which is the Cricut design software used for all newer Cricut models (Cricut Explore, Explore Air, Explore One, Explore Air 2, and Cricut Maker). If you have an older Cricut machine that uses Cricut Craft Room, the software looks different from Design Space, but the basics are the same. You should still be able to follow along!
How To Cut Vinyl With A Cricut Machine
Here is what you need to get started cutting vinyl on a Cricut:
- Cricut machine (I have the Cricut Explore Air, and I love it!)
- Cricut StandardGrip cutting mat
- adhesive vinyl (I get my vinyl from Expressions Vinyl, but you can also get it directly from Cricut, or from a craft store like Michaels or JoAnns)
- Cricut basic tool set
Open up your project, or create a new one
NOTE: For continuity’s sake I’m going to use the same SVG file in this tutorial that I uploaded for the previous tutorial.
Prepare your project for cutting
If you’re doing a Make It Now project or using an image you found in the Cricut image library, you can probably skip these next couple of steps; those images are usually all ready to go straight to the machine without any additional work!
If you’ve uploaded your own image (either jpeg or svg file), here are a few simple tricks for dealing with layers, colors, and groups so you can get the image ready to cut.
You can test whether your image is ready to be cut by clicking the green Make It button in the top right corner.
If the next screen shows your image, separated into mats by colors or layers, with proper spacing and alignment, then you’re good to go! Skip the rest of this section and head to Send Your Image To The Machine For Cutting. (For example, the image below shows three separate mats, one for each color of the heart, and the shapes are all spaced properly.)
But if the next screen you see looks “smushed” (like the image below) with the shapes separated out by color, but not spaced properly, then you need to click the grey Cancel button to go back and make a few adjustments before you send the design to your Cricut to be cut.
In order to keep the spacing of your image correct, the shapes need to be “Attached” in Cricut Design Space. Start by selecting all shapes of one color (in this case, all of the red stripes) by holding down Shift and clicking each red stripe in the image itself. You could also hold down Shift and click each red stripe layer in the Layers panel on the right.
After everything in one color is selected, click the grey Attach icon in the Layers panel near the bottom right. Attaching the layers will group them together so that they all move together when you move or resize the image. It will also force the layers to line up exactly as they show on the screen when cutting, rather than treating them as a bunch of individual shapes that can be rotated or moved to fit.
Repeat for any other “group” of shapes that needs to be spaced out properly (in this case, the white stripes).
Once all of your different colors are attached, click the green Make It button to send the image to your machine to be cut.
Your design will automatically be split into different mats based on color. This way you can cut out a multi-colored or multi-layered design all in one project!
Change the Project Copies field to make multiple copies of your project. Then set the Material Size for each mat, and if you’re cutting iron-on vinyl, make sure to toggle the Mirror switch. You can also move the images around on the mat preview to the right if you wish. (This is helpful for lining up the images if you are making multiple copies.)
Once everything looks good, click the green Continue button.
From here you can just basically follow the on-screen instructions! Make sure your Cricut machine is on and shows up in the Connect Machine window at the top of the screen. Set the Smart Dial on your machine to Vinyl (or if you have an older machine without a smart dial, check out Cricut’s cut settings guide for vinyl).
Stick a piece of vinyl to your cutting mat, making sure the paper backing side is down.
Then load the mat into your Cricut machine by pressing the flashing Load/Unload button.
Once the mat is loaded, the screen will tell you to press the flashing Go button.
The screen will show a progress bar as your machine completes the cut. When it’s finished cutting, the screen will tell you to press the Load/Unload button to unload your cutting mat.
If you only had one color, you’re done!
If you have a second or third color to cut, gently peel the vinyl off the cutting mat then place the next color of vinyl onto the mat. Load the cutting mat into the machine by pressing the Load/Unload button, then press the Go button when it starts flashing. Repeat until all mats have been cut.
When the final cut is finished, unload the cutting mat and click the green Finish button on your screen to return to your project.
And you’re done!
Now you can weed away the background vinyl and apply it to your project! If you have multiple pieces and want to keep the spacing correct when transferring the vinyl to your project, use some transfer paper. Just peel the backing off the transfer paper and press it down on top of your weeded out vinyl (press really well so it sticks!), then peel up the transfer paper and the vinyl design should stick to it. Position your vinyl where you want it and press it really well onto your project, then gently peel away the transfer tape leaving the vinyl on your project.
See some great Cricut project ideas here, or learn more about your Cricut machine with these posts!
- What Is A Cricut Machine & What Can I Do With It?
- How To Set Up A Brand New Cricut Maker & Do Your First Project!
- What Materials Can A Cricut Machine Cut? Here Are Over 100!
- What Kinds Of Crafts & DIY Projects Can I Make With My Cricut Machine?
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