Crafting With Vinyl Stickers and Stencils
If you have ever been intimidated by working with vinyl, you are not alone! Fear not though, I am going to help today by showing you how fun and easy working with this colorful plastic can be! There are several options for designing your canvas. You can incorporate the cut pieces of vinyl into your final piece by using Permanent or Heat Transfer Vinyl and ironing it down. If you’re wanting to make stencils you can choose to use Permanent Vinyl (although it won’t be permanent in this instance) and paint across the canvas. Once dry you use a pen knife to lift the pieces of vinyl and reveal your final design. Whichever method you use is up to you!
The Digital File You’re Cutting Out: whichever shape or words you plan on putting on your canvas
Canvas: For this project we’re using 8×12 in, but you can choose any size you’d like.
Vinyl: Depending on the final design you choose; you may want to go with Heat Transfer Vinyl if you don’t plan on painting your canvas and peeling off your vinyl to reveal the shape in the blank space.
A Clothes Iron: If you’re using Heat Transfer Vinyl
Parchment Paper: or a Teflon sheet, they’re used to keep the surface of the vinyl smooth. Follow your Heat Transfer Vinyl’s instructions.
Paint: If you’re using Permanent Vinyl to make stencils. For this project we’re using black, metallic pink, and metallic yellow acrylic paints.
Paint Brushes: A sponge brush would be a great choice to paint the background color. Choose smaller sized brushes if you plan on adding any fine details.
Cutting Device: Any Cricut or other brand cutting machine.
Weeding Tools: weeding is removing the excess material from around the design you cut into your vinyl. You can use specific weeding tools if you have them, or any sewing needles or seam ripper work well too.
If you don’t have a cutting machine you will also need
A Cutting tool: A pen or X-acto knife or scissors
A Towel: or any other thick cloth to protect your work surface
A Seam Ripper: or some other needle type poking device.
Be sure to read the full instructions before you begin
Getting Started: Without a Cricut
Start by saving the shapes you wish to use to your computer. If you’re planning on working with Heat Transfer Vinyl you’ll need to mirror your words if you plan on using text (Heat Transfer Vinyl is cut upside down). Once you’ve decided on the size or sizes you need, print your shapes out.
When you punch and cut them out, the final size is slightly smaller than the original printed size so be sure you remember to print them larger than you need.
Once you have them printed, cut squares around the printed shapes so that there is a border of paper around the edges. Tape the cut squares onto your pieces of vinyl. I recommend working with one shape at a time until you are comfortable with the steps. Then lay your vinyl on the towel or other folded cloth you have laid down to protect your work surface.
Using the seam ripper begin punching the shape out by gently poking along the edges of the shape, through the paper and into the vinyl. Trace the whole outline of your shape using slow, easy pressure with each pass through your materials until you’ve outlined the entire thing. It’s better to go a bit bigger than your intended size so you have room to make the edges clean and smooth.
Remove the taped paper and recycle it once you remove the tape. Take your scissors and cut out your shapes from the vinyl, following the holes you made as you go. Trim off any rough edges as necessary.
See video here on how to do this:
If You Do Have a Cricut
Upload your shapes into Cricut Design Space and scale them to the size you need.
Place your vinyl on a blue or green cutting mat and load it into your machine. Set your machine to cut your choice of vinyl and make your cuts like normal. Remove your mat when finished and remove your vinyl piece. Beginning at one corner weed the excess vinyl from around your shapes, leaving them still stuck to the transfer backing they come on.
Lay them one at a time on your sticky transfer paper and remove the backing from your shape, leaving the sticky side of the vinyl exposed.
Layout Your Design
Once your vinyl is all cut out take your canvas and decide where you’d like each shape to be. When you are satisfied with your design begin placing your vinyl sticky side down if you’re using permanent vinyl and shiny side down if you are using Heat Transfer Vinyl. Following the instructions on your Heat Transfer Vinyl use the Iron to press the vinyl into the canvas.
Be sure to protect your vinyl from the iron with parchment paper before you press it.
Finishing your design with paint
Remove the less sticky transfer tape from the top of the vinyl. Allow time for your vinyl to set. At least ten minutes or so. Giving permanent vinyl a chance to set causes the adhesive to cure and hold better.
Cover your work surface to protect it from any stray paint, taped down newspaper, garbage bags, or plastic table cloths all work great. Once cured take your canvas and apply firm, gentle pressure to the front and back of the canvas at the same time to make sure your vinyl is ready to be painted around. (If it slides you’ll need to apply a thin layer of a craft glue like Modge Podge around your shapes and then give it time to dry before applying paint.
If you do need to glue down your vinyl, I suggest gently running along the edges of your shapes with your pen knife before you attempt to lift them from the paint.) Begin painting around your shapes starting as close to the middle as you can and working outwards towards the edges. Keep the amount of paint even and thin, you don’t want it getting up under the vinyl’s adhesive.
Allow plenty of time for the paint to dry on your canvas. The time needed will vary depending on where you live. Once completely dry take your pen knife and carefully lift the edges of your shapes. Slowly lift the vinyl, checking to see if any of the paint snags as you pull it up. Your pen knife can help if the paint isn’t separating cleanly.
After all the vinyl is up you can add more details if you’d like, it’s completely up to you! Adding extra embellishments like ribbon with a hot glue gun or extra details with other colors of paint are all fun ways of making your canvas your own. If you crafted along and made your own vinyl stickers or stencils please share them in the comments here below or on my Facebook, and let me know your favorite parts of creating your own vinyl art!