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Create Your Own Easy Vinyl Decals

Create Your Own Easy Vinyl Decals main article image
Posted on April 28, 2021 by Corbie Kortz
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It’s never been so easy to create your own vinyl decals for your car, personalizing your belongings or making home décor. Here we are going to dive into a couple of ways to design, cut and install some vinyl graphics.

Materials & Tools

  • Cutting machine (Cricut is used for this tutorial)
  • Regular grip 12 x 12 cutting mat
  • Permanent (or removable) adhesive vinyl
  • Computer, tablet, or phone
  • Scraper
  • Weeding tool
  • Transfer tape
  • Scissors or paper cutter

NOTE: You don’t have to have a cutting machine to create vinyl decals (You can cut them by hand using a pair of scissors or a craft knife) but it does make things easier, and you’ll get cleaner cuts, especially with more intricate designs.

First let’s cover some options of how you go about getting a vinyl design, then we’ll cover how to install your decal.

Option Number 1: Bee Decal

You can design right from Cricut Design Space.

Here we are going to design something cute to personalize a notebook. There are a lot of bee designs that you can choose from in the Creative Fabrica design library.

Start by choosing your design and insert into your workspace.

Measure your notebook.

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This notebook is 5 inches wide so let’s create our design to be about 4 inches wide.

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Next you can add text by clicking on the ‘text’ tool. Type your text and then choose a font that you like. You can find free fonts and paid fonts on Creative Fabrica.

Now highlight your whole design and align centered horizontally.

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Then in the bottom right-hand corner, click on ‘weld’.

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This will weld your design together so that you will only make one cut with your final design.

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The image ends up being 4” by about 4.5”. We don’t want to waste vinyl, so cut your vinyl at 4.5” x 5”. Cut your transfer tape to the same 4.5” x 5”.

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Click ‘make it’ from the upper right-hand corner in Design Space. This will open the window that shows how your design is laid out on the cutting mat.

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Click ‘continue’. Set at ‘Premium Vinyl’ and change the pressure to ‘more’.

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Load your mat, press ‘go’ and let Cricut do its magic. Once it is finished cutting, unload the mat from the Cricut.

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Take your scraper and burnish the cut vinyl on the mat. This will help your design stay put while you weed out the excess.

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Now weed out the excess.

TIP: Be patient while weeding. The permanent vinyl used in car decals is sticky and if you accidentally pull up part of the design, it can be tricky getting it back in place, and it will stick to itself.

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Peel the backing paper from the transfer tape and place the tape onto your vinyl decal. Using your scraper, burnish over the top of the transfer tape. Remove from the mat. Your decal is now ready to install.

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Look below for instructions on how to install your decal.

Option number two: Simply Blessed SVG

Don’t worry if you feel you have no designing skills at all, there are many places on the web to purchase designs and some are even offered for free. Creative Fabrica has over 5000 graphic designers offering more than 2 million products to choose from.

Let’s apply a design to a car window. You can use this free design from one of the designers at Creative Fabrica: Simply Blessed.

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My side window can handle a 7-inch decal but measure where you want to put your decal.

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Once you’ve downloaded a design that you like, upload it into Design Space from your computer and insert the image onto your canvas.

Resize your image to fit your window. I have resized mine to 7 inches wide and set the position at 1 and 1.

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TIP: Setting position at 1 and 1 just gets your image into view where you can see it on your screen. Most vinyl decals are about 6 inches in width.

My image ends up being 7” by almost 4”. Again, we don’t want to waste any vinyl so let’s cut our vinyl about half an inch larger than the image. Using your paper cutter or scissors, cut your vinyl (I cut mine to 7.5 x 4.5 inches). Cut your transfer tape to the same measurements.

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Click ‘make it’ from the upper right-hand corner in Design Space. This will open the window that shows how your design is laid out on the cutting mat. Click ‘continue’. Set at ‘Premium Vinyl’ and change the pressure to ‘more’.

Load your mat, press ‘go’ and let Cricut do its magic. Once it is finished cutting, unload the mat from the Cricut.

Take your scraper and burnish the cut vinyl on the mat. This will help your design stay put while you weed out the excess. Now weed out the excess.

Peel the backing paper from the transfer tape and place the tape onto your vinyl decal. Using your scraper, burnish over the top of the transfer tape. Remove from the mat.

TIP: Go ahead and burnish again once you have it off your mat, just for the heck of it. It helps in keeping it to stick where it’s supposed to.

Your decal is now ready to install. Look below for how to install your vinyl decal.

Designing your own decals

If you’re up for it, you can design your own decals.

There’s no reason why you can’t design your own. I use CorelDraw but there are other programs you can use. Let’s highlight some of the most common programs.

Inkscape is a free program that will allow you to save your work in most vector file formats, such as SVG, DXF and EPS. This program works like Illustrator, just some of the tools are not quite as good. You can find out more information about Inkscape and download here: https://inkscape.org/

Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular graphics programs, but it has quite the learning curve, however; there are many tutorials available on the internet to help you learn. Adobe probably offers some of the best tutorials out there. Adobe Illustrator is not a free program, but you can get a subscription for a little more than $20 a month, and they usually offer a free trial.

Adobe Photoshop can also produce vector files but it’s really a software for editing and manipulating photos. It’s able to save in some vector file formats but not DXF.

If you’re interested in any of the Adobe programs, you can find more information here: https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html

CorelDraw (my personal favorite) is a very advanced graphics program for professional graphic designers. They’ve been around for a long time and they have incorporated several additional features into the software that you can’t find in Illustrator, such as integration with WhatTheFont service, and this is a big help when you’re trying to figure out what a particular typeface is. CorelDraw also offers a subscription service for a little more than $20 a month. If you’re interested, you can find that here: https://www.coreldraw.com/en/

Which ever program you decide to use, there are tutorials out on the web that can help walk you through the steps to creating something wonderful. You’ll save your project in a vector file format such as SVG, EPS or DXF (if your program supports DXF).

Ok, now we’ve created our decal so let’s install it like a pro.

Install your vinyl decal

First, you’ll want to start with a clean surface. You can clean the surface with either soap and water or isopropyl alcohol. If using the soap and water, be sure to rinse thoroughly so that no soap or residue remains. Don’t use window cleaner, it may leave a residue behind, making your decal not stick as well.

TIP: Some surfaces cannot handle the alcohol so make sure, before you use it, that the surface you’re going to work on, can.

For the best results, apply your vinyl decals when the temperature is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and out of direct sunlight.

Masking tape can help you position your decal exactly where you want it. Leaving the white backing paper on the decal and facing the surface where you want to apply your decal, position the decal where you want it to go. Place a strip of masking tape along the top edge of your decal, holding the decal in the proper location. Lift the decal as if it is on a hinge and peel off the backing paper. While holding onto the bottom edge of your decal, slowly lower it, using the thumb from your other hand to press from the center out and gradually working your way from top to bottom.

These decals are small enough that there was no need for the masking tape method. Just peel off the backing paper making sure that the decal doesn’t fold over on itself.

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Your decal is left on the transfer tape.

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Apply your decal to the surface that you prepared for your decal and using your scraper burnish over the transfer tape. The goal here is to get the decal to stick to the surface.

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Now you’ll take the corner of the transfer tape and gently pull straight down. You don’t want to pull up or you may pull up your decal.

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You can also install using the wet method.

These decals are small enough that you don’t necessarily need to use the wet method for installing but for large decals this trick can be a life saver. After cleaning your surface area, wet the area again using a solution of 5% soap and 95% water in a spray bottle. Apply the decal while the surface is still wet so that it will keep it from sticking immediately giving you time to reposition if necessary. This will also help you to remove any bubbles using a squeegee or credit card. The soapy water will dry in only a few minutes leaving your decal firmly affixed.

There you have it. See how simple that was?


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