Vinyl Crafting  WITH A CRICUT

Craft cutters open a whole world of possibilities to the wonderful items you can make!  From car window decals to rhinestone templates to sewing patterns, there are tons of things you can do with a Cricut – and particularly with the super-versatile Cricut Maker.

01. Vinyl Decals

We started our business with car window decals and you can, too! You can run an entire business from your home with a craft cutter and the Cricut Maker is a versatile cutter that you can use to cut thousands of decals and run a successful business. Window decals are everywhere and the profit margins are great! Next time you're out and about, make a mental note to see how many car window decals you see on a regular trip, even driving through your neighborhood! Vinyl decals don't just include car window decals but store windows, business hours, vehicle advertising, truck DOT numbers, mailbox numbers, decorations for tumblers and the list goes on!

Your Cricut can be used to easily slice through any vinyl. 

  • We always suggest when using a new vinyl, to do small test cuts to ensure you have the correct cut force or pressure as well as checking that the correct blade is used. 
  • You can either create your design in Design Space, Upload an image and "clean it up", meaning removing any background colors, Upload an svg (scalable vector graphic) that you have either created in outside software or purchased.  Add the svg to your mat and send it to be cut with the Make It button. 
  • Your Cricut will cut each color of a design separately, which means you will add the different colors of vinyl to your mat and load to your Cricut. 
  • Always be sure to double-check your cut specs and whether or not you have mirrored your design. Mirroring means flipping the image over in the software to cut it backward in the vinyl. This is used for heat transfer vinyl (htv) as the adhesive is on the back of the vinyl. 
  • Decal, Sign, Permanent vinyl does not get mirrored and you'll load the vinyl on your mat with the colored side or pretty side UP.
  •  Press your blinking Cricut button and the machine will begin to cut. After the cut is finished, press the arrow button to eject your mat. 
  • You then weed (remove the excess vinyl), apply application tape which is used to transfer the design to your chosen surface. If you are selling the decal, at this point you trim the excess app tape and paper backing from the decal vinyl and your decal is ready to hand to your customer.

If you are making a multi-color decal, you may have heard about using 'registration marks'. These are additional boxes off to the side of your vinyl that is in the same spot for each color, which helps you align the layers when putting the multi-color decal together.  The Rhinestone World has a fantastic time-saving trick to help you align multi-colored decals much faster and save your vinyl. We use a piece of parchment paper to keep the top layer of vinyl from sticking to the bottom layer while we align the layers. TRW has great tutorials demonstrating this trick, which has been useful for many of our customers.

02. Customized T-Shirts

One of the most enjoyable projects is creating a design for a t-shirt and seeing it on a loved one or having a customized shirt for yourself. To make a transfer for apparel, you'll need Heat Transfer Vinyl or htv. This special vinyl comes in many colors and finishes to make your designs stand out! Plain vinyl, glitter, reflective, holographic, opals and patterns can be used either alone or together to give your designs dimension and that extra wow factor. Almost all htv comes with a shiny plastic covering called the Carrier Sheet. These typically are sticky on the back to hold the htv in place while it is being cut and weeded.

Some carrier sheets are 'static' or don't have a sticky backing, so these types of htv are best when used as larger elements in a design, rather than small, intricate details. HTV has a heat-activated adhesive on the back of the vinyl. So, when cutting, you need to mirror your design, load the htv into your cutter face down or shiny side (carrier sheet) facing down so you're cutting the vinyl and not through the carrier. This can seem backward the first few times you use htv, but it becomes second nature after only a couple of projects. Again, all types of vinyl have different thicknesses and properties, so we can't emphasize enough the importance of doing a test cut before cutting an entire design. Test cuts can also help you remember to check if your design needs to be mirrored or not.

  • Remove your htv from your cutter and weed out the excess. Be careful that you don't accidentally peel up small parts of your design when weeding. The carrier sheet is see-through, which helps you to align the htv to your shirt or other apparel. 
  • If you are making a multi-color or multi-layer design, we like to stack the different carrier sheets on top of each other to check the alignment of the different colors. This also helps to give a visual and be sure that no parts of your design were weeded out by accident or if another area needs weeding. Peel the carriers off of each other, gently. Some htv can be layered and some can not. check the manufacturer's recommendations for layering, pressing temperature, and pressing time (dwell time). 
  • Give your garment a nice prepress. This removes moisture and gives you a nice, smooth area to press your htv to. Be aware if there are any seams near where your decoration will be. Seams can throw off the pressure, which can lead to lifting vinyl, later. If you are decorating near a seam, use a pressing pillow or a piece of foam core board beneath the area to be pressed. This raises the area away from the seams, allowing you to apply firm, even pressure to your design. 
  • Align the outermost layer or the bottom layer if you will have elements of your design overlapping. Many companies sell lasers or other alignment tools. TRW recommends using the armpits of a shirt to help you center a design. The armpits go straight across the front center of a shirt and can be used to quickly find the middle of your design area. Cover with parchment paper or a sheet of Teflon and press. 
  • HTV can shrink with heat, so we advise to only do a 2 - 3 second tack press for each layer up to the final layer of htv, peeling the carrier sheet after each layer is tacked to your shirt. Any exposed htv should be covered with a Teflon sheet prior to pressing. The final layer of htv gets the full dwell time and temperature. Certain htv requires a cold peel, so the entire design and shirt must be cool to the touch before removing the carrier sheet. Again, please refer to the manufacturer press specs or instructions for the htv you are using.

03. Dishwasher Safe Decals

While you can use Adhesive or Permanent vinyl to create decals, TRW has created an innovative new material called HTV Anything, to allow you to press your htv to it and create a decal for hard, non-porous surfaces.  The color choices and finishes of htv far surpass those found in adhesive vinyl, which makes your HTV Decals much more enticing. HTV Anything is a clear decal material that can be cut with scissors or your vinyl cutter. When using a craft cutter, we recommend creating a contour or offset of your design in your designing software, so the HTV Anything is slightly bigger than your design.  HTV Anything also lets you break some of the typical pressing rules when layering htv. For example, you can layer glitter htv on top of glitter htv and even layer hotfix rhinestones on top of the glitter! Do not attempt to press rhinestones directly to HTV Anything--they must be pressed on top of the htv only. The reason you can do this is that the decal will be going on a hard surface where water will not hit the htv from behind and it does not get tumbled and twisted about, as it would if the htv were pressed to apparel and go through a washing machine.

  • When pressing htv to HTV Anything, trim your carrier sheet close to your design so that the sticky carrier does not touch the edges of your HTV Anything. The sticky carrier can pull up the edge, which can mess up your decal.
  • You will also need to use a Teflon sheet when pressing HTV Anything decals, so the HTV Anything does not melt to your press or iron.

These decals can withstand car washes and weather, however, we do not recommend these decals for car windows, as htv is not rated for outdoor use and fades quickly in the sun. 

03. Rhinestone Designs

Did you know that you can create rhinestone designs with your vinyl cutter? Yes, even the Cricut machines can be used to cut rhinestone templates! We have hundreds of rhinestone fonts and designs on our website, which you can upload to your design software and cut the rhinestone template in our Magic Flock template material. You can also create your rhinestone designs in Silhouette Business Edition or Designer Edition or CorelDraw with the TRW Design Wizard. 

  • If using a Cricut, you will need to export your design as svg to upload to Design Space. Silhouette Designer Edition does not allow the export of files.
  • The most important thing to remember when getting ready to cut a rhinestone template is that the holes of your template need to be slightly larger than the hotfix rhinestone you are using. We recommend using .097" for ss06 rhinestones and .135" for ss10 rhinestones. This gives your rhinestones enough room to fall into the holes of your template and flip over in the hole if they fall in upside down. 
  • Using a rhinestone brush, use gentle circles to brush a pile of hotfix rhinestones over your template. When the template is filled, use straight strokes to brush away the excess rhinestones. You can then pick up your design with Acrylic Hotfix tape and align it to your apparel. 
  • Press ss06 and ss10 rhinestones at 325 degrees F for 15 seconds. 
  • Let the rhinestones cool slightly before peeling your Hotfix Acrylic tape. If you are pressing to a thin shirt, open the shirt after pressing to be sure the rhinestones don't glue your shirt closed.

If you create what we call a Multi Dec design or one with both htv and rhinestones, press the htv portion completely before pressing your rhinestones. The rhinestones have a higher profile, which would interfere with the pressure you need for htv. Also, be sure the rhinestones are pressed directly to the fabric and not overlapping htv. The only time you can break this rule is when you are creating a layered decal on our HTV Anything decal material.