Home Crafts: A Beginner’s Guide to Cutting Vinyls

Crafting is a way of life for die hard crafters, who would much rather make it themselves than buy one in a store. For many, home crafts are a way to express creativity and relax, even when things don’t pan out exactly as planned. Some of the most beautiful crafts are the result of happy accidents. But when you’re working with cutting vinyls, keeping accidents to a minimum is definitely preferred. It’s tough feeling like you’ve wasted good vinyl. Luckily, we’ve got some tips that can help those who are new to cutting vinyls that will help them avoid some of the mistakes and frustration. 

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Types of Vinyl

There are two major types of vinyl and each has their own preferred application. They are heat transfer vinyl and adhesive vinyl. Heat transfer vinyl will only stick to an item once heat has been applied to it. There are two different types of adhesive vinyl, permanent and removable. Permanent adhesive vinyl sticks where you place it and is ideal for outdoor use. Removable vinyl is better suited to indoor projects, like wall decals and interior car decals.

Removable and permanent vinyl can be broken down even further. The type of project you’re undertaking will determine which type you will want to use. Mosaic adhesive vinyl is a permanent vinyl that is water resistant and only suited for indoor use. Foil is a type of removable vinyl that is only for indoor use. Patterned vinyl is available in both removable and adhesive. 

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Prepare the Design

Once you know what your project is, it’s time to gather your materials, vinyl, transfer tape, computer, scissors and anything else your project requires. Prepare your design (cut file) in your cutting machine software. If you don’t have a file, there are tons of free options available online. Pick what you like, add it to your software, and make sure the sizing and proportions are as they should be for what you’re going to apply the vinyl to. Now that you’ve got everything scaled and ready, place the vinyl on the cutting mat, backing side down, load it into your cutting machine and follow the directions on your screen. This means adjusting the settings to suit the type of vinyl you’re working with. 

Photo by Ingo Ellerbusch on Unsplash

Weeding the Vinyl

Now that your vinyl has been cut, it’s time to remove it from the mat. The simplest way to do this is to weed the vinyl by removing all of the pieces of vinyl that are not part of your design. Once all that remains is the design, apply a piece of transfer tape to the design with a scraper tool and carefully lift it from the mat. 

Applying the Vinyl

Clean off the surface you’ll be applying the vinyl to, remove the backing from the design, and then carefully apply the design to the clean surface. Use the scraper tool again to make sure that everything is smooth and adhered. Next, slowly remove the transfer tape, being careful not to remove the vinyl with it. The more pressure you apply, the less likely you are to have a mishap when removing the transfer tape. 

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

That’s it. You’re ready to try your hand at your first adhesive vinyl project. If you’re worried about making mistakes or wasting vinyl, make your first projects small ones until you feel comfortable with the process. Happy vinyl crafting.


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