We are a little late in saying this but HAPPY NEW YEAR! Katie and I took some time off during the holidays so we could focus on our families and our holiday plans, so it’s been a minute since we posted anything. I spent a lot of time making felt ornaments for family members…I can’t wait to share how I took the DIY Tree Ornaments to a whole different level with you all (saving that post for next Christmas!). Katie was lucky enough to go to Disneyland and Monterey during our break. And I know she spent a lot of time catching up on crochet orders that she has received (her stuff is AMAZING!!!).
The First Project of the Year
Today I’m sharing my very first experience with the vinyl transfer process just in case you can learn from my trials and errors and final success.
Step 1: Lettering
I’ve been excited to get into using my Cricut Maker to cut vinyl but hadn’t attempted it yet until this month. My project was simple but detailed: I wanted to turn the quote I digitally hand lettered on my iPad with my Apple Pencil from November into a pretty little framed piece for one of our giveaway winners. This is the file I had to work with:
As an aside, and this is something I plan to post more about another day, I love hand lettering! I have been doing it since high school. I wish I still had copies of the hand lettered pages me and Katie and our girlfriends would make for each other. We would write out a friend’s name in a cute, custom font and add all sorts of doodles around it and then pass them to each other between classes. But I threw out all of my old notes in a fit of purging years ago, knowing as I did it that I’d regret it some day. In the moment I just wanted less clutter and fewer boxes to store! Oh how bummed I am now – especially since I had a sweet little poem from an elementary school “boyfriend” (and my first kiss) who turned out to be famous years later. The only line I remember was something like “I like you so much. Your skin is like smooth Dutch.” Hah! Needless to say, he isn’t famous for being a poet (he is a painter).
But I digress, BIG TIME. Back to talking about cutting this quote out in vinyl….
Step 2: Cutting
So while I wasn’t layering different colors of vinyl, I did have some really detailed bits with small lines to deal with. I was nervous, first of all, that some of my letters were too thin for them to cut properly on the Cricut. Secondly I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get them to transfer correctly. Thirdly I was just kinda nervous in general because I didn’t want this project to be a total bust!
Thankfully, the Cricut had ZERO issues cutting all of the letters out. So at this point I breathed a huge sigh of relief. And was all the more impressed with this amazing cutting machine.
Step 3: Weeding
The next step was what is called weeding – removing all of the tiny bits of vinyl that don’t easily peel off (think of the middle of an “o”, or the little inner semi-circle part of an “e”). This is tedious, but incredibly necessary. I used a Weeding tool from Cricut that reminds me of what dental hygienists use when cleaning your teeth. It’s a metal hook with a sharp point at the end. You stick a corner of vinyl you want removed carefully and pull the piece up/away to get it out without messing everything else up. I got mine in a kit from Hobby Lobby during one of those rare moments when Cricut accessories go on sale (it was all 40% off!!!).
Step 4: Transfer Paper
After taking plenty of time to carefully weed my quote, I was ready to move it to transfer paper so that I could then place it onto the final product (paper in this case). This step is all about taking some clear sticker-paper (think Contact paper, the kind you line shelves and drawers with) and adhering the top of the vinyl, the part you will have showing once all is said and done, to it. Doing so enables you to have your “sticker” of vinyl all in one piece when you apply it to the final product.
For me, this was definitely the trickiest step. First, because I tried to go the cheap route after reading on some forums that others have done so successfully. So I bought actual clear home-use style Contact Paper and tried, with vigor, to get my vinyl to stick to it. No luck, whatsoever. Katie and I took turns pressing as hard as we could, using the scraper tool that came with my kit. It’s like…using a credit card to apply pressure to something…only this scraper tool has a much better and sturdier grip.
While some of the vinyl stuck, not much of it did. I gave up for the night and figured I would get some actual cutting-machine-vinyl-purposed transfer paper the next day.
Upon attempt #2, this time with standard transfer paper (I also bought strong grip transfer paper but haven’t tried it yet) learned a few more things.
- If you’re having trouble getting the sticky part to separate from the backing, use the weeding tool and pry up the corner of the transfer paper. This is the quickest method from what I’ve found.
- For the really small letters/thinner lines, it’s best to use your scraper tool and follow the boarder of the section in question all the way around. What do I mean by this? For example, on the letter “t”, you would take your scraper and trace around the letters pressing down as you do, to ensure all edges – every square centimeter – adheres to the sticky part of the transfer paper. Tracing the outline of every part ensures things stick much better.
- Once you’re sure everything is properly “stuck”, peel the transfer paper off at an angle, but not too sharp of one.
- Make sure you’ve paid attention to the lines on your transfer paper and haven’t applied it to your vinyl crooked. These lines are key in centering your piece and making sure it is straight on the final product.
Step 5: Applying the Vinyl
This is the fun, and not too difficult, part! Now that you have a properly aligned and ready to go vinyl “sticker”, line it up accurately to your final product, stick it on, scrape it to get a good adhesion, and then peel off the transfer paper. Voila!!!
As an aside, I read many forums that recommend pulling the transfer paper off at a 45 degree angle from the paper. While this worked, I actually found that my letters remained in place and stuck to my paper if I peeled it off with the transfer paper being pulled back, parallel, to my paper. I’m not sure if this is the case with other materials you’d transfer vinyl to, but I’ll test it out in the future.
I mounted the final product to another paper that was a beautiful dark green and placed it in a frame:
I was pretty pleased with how this project came out and am looking forward to more ways I can use my cutting machine and vinyl! I hope you enjoyed the read….and am very excited to share more projects with you as the year goes on!