Vinyl crafting 101 - Let's get you started!
So you got a Cricut? Or a Silhouette? YAY!! Welcome to a world of endless possibilities!! (Go warn your kids they may need to feed themselves for a bit lol) But the whole thing can be a bit overwhelming too - we get it. And we wanna help! This is by no means a complete guide. Just a few tips and tricks to get you started!
HTV: Heat Transfer Vinyl - it's the stuff you iron on! It comes in lots of different colours, patterns and textures. Ideal for shirts, totes, socks etc etc... (Find HTV here)
651: A brand of permanent adhesive vinyl made by Oracal. It's the standard product for decals, personalized tumblers, signs etc. (Find this product here)
Stencil Film/Mask: Thinner, less tacky vinyl meant for creating one time use stencils. Easily removed after paint application. (Find stencil films here)
Weeding: The process of removing the unneeded vinyl around your design after cutting. Made easier with good tools! (Find our preferred tools here)
SVG: Scalable Vector Graphic - file type required by cutting machines. Look for this type of file when searching online for designs.
There are so many awesome vinyl products out there... Who even knows even knows where to start?? We do!! Here's what you need to get started.
Access to Software - Each machine has it's own design software/app you'll need to access to cut your projects - Cricut Design Space (DS) or Silhouette Studio. We like our laptops but you can also design from your phone or tablet.
A Cutting Mat - Most projects require a cutting mat but Silhouette does allow cutting without one. Some are stickier than others though! We like the standard grip for HTV and the light grip for adhesive.
Vinyl - Adhesive, HTV, glossy, matte, glitter, holographic, metallic... Did we mention endless possibilities?! Here's where that gets real!! Choose from a rainbow of colours - no... really. You can even get rainbow!
Weeding Tools - Weeding pics are the most commonly used. Some are pointed, some are hooks. Tweezers also come in handy as do a good pair of scissors.
Squeegee - When applying decals, you need to burnish (really just a fancy word for rub) your adhesive vinyl to activate the glue. A squeegee is the best tool for this. Also handy for removing air bubbles!
Transfer Tape - Used for lifting your weeded decals from the paper backing to then apply to your "canvas"... You'll see - EVERYTHING becomes a canvas lol...
Iron/Heat Press - You need a heat source to apply your HTV to fabrics. A heat press works best but a home iron can be used too - just make sure you have a "No Steam" setting.
A few things we've learned along the way!
- Always... Yes really - ALWAYS test cut a new product. Vinyls have different textures and thicknesses... This requires different cut settings. Cut a small design before wasting a full sheet!
- MOST HTV is cut shiny side down and mirrored. But not ALL. Check the product's specs to make sure.
- While we're talking about specs, it's a good idea to always check them for cut settings, masking needs etc...
- Make sure you have good light for weeding! You don't wanna miss any important bits!
- Before applying decals - clean your surface with rubbing alcohol for better adhesion.
- YouTube is your best friend!! There are so many great tutorials out there!!
- Get on social media! There are lots of dedicated pages and groups full of inspiration.
- Make sure you respect copyright. You CANNOT... EVER... resell a product that has a logo or trademarked image (sports logos... Starbucks logo... etc) . Even fonts need to have a commercial license to be used.
A few tutorials to get you started: