How to Make a Vinyl Sticker using an Electronic Cutter
- Difficulty Easy
- Time required 30 minutes
In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a vinyl sticker with an electronic cutter such as the Cricut. Vinyl stickers are quite easy to make on an electronic cutter and fairly durable. You can use them for creating signs, labels, laptop stickers, bumper stickers, or use them to decorate crafts such as greeting cards.
Step 1: Download the sticker template
Download the attached 4” x 4” sticker template and open it in Inkscape. If you wish to design a different sized sticker, in Inkscape go to File > Document Properties and scroll down to Custom Size. There you can enter your custom dimensions.
Step 2: Think about your design
An electronic cutter works by using a small sharp knife-like tool to score a sheet of vinyl that has an adhesive backing. This means that vinyl stickers made this way are restricted to a single color. You can of course layer different color stickers on top of each other to achieve 2 or 3 color designs, but just don’t expect to make a full color photo sticker with this method. Vinyl sticker designs seem to work best when they are simple monochromatic outlines or silhouettes.
The other thing to keep in mind is that an electronic cutter often has trouble cutting fine details. If your design contains lots of complexity, it may take a long time to cut and process, or the cuts will be ragged. For instance, a small thin cursive font will be much trickier to cut than a large block letter font.
Step 3: Create your vector design
One quick way to create a design is to search for a silhouette image using Google Image Search and then trace the image in Inkscape. It may help to add the word “outline”, “vector” or “silhouette” to your search keywords.
Example search queries:
Once you find your image you can trace it in Inkscape to convert it to a vector. Follow our how-to guide here if you need help:
You can also create an original design from scratch within Inkscape. Explore the different shapes such as square, circle, and polygon and the pen/pencil, and text tools to get started. When selecting a font for your text, try to avoid small, thin cursive fonts. Large block letter fonts or sans-serif fonts usually work best.
- Avoid overly complex features
- Simple silhouettes, outlines, and block letters work best
- In Inkscape: use solid fill colors, no strokes.
When you are done, select everything and do Path > Object to Path. This will convert all shapes to vector paths that the machine can then follow.
To preserve the position and spacing of your elements, select shapes and do Path > Combine. This will “fuse” the shapes into position so that they are treated as one path.
Save your file as an SVG.
Step 4: Cut your design
We need to import it into the Cricut machine software. On a Cricut connectd computer, go to design.cricut.com and click open. The Cricut Design Space program should open. Click “New Project.”
In the left menu, choose “Upload” and then upload your SVG. After uploading, select the image and click “Insert Images” in the bottom right.
Drag your image to the upper left corner, but leave about a .25” - .5” margin from the top and sides. You can resize your image by entering custom dimensions (WxH) in the top menu.
Prepare your material by cutting out a piece of vinyl slightly larger than your design. Position the vinyl in the upper left corner of a Cricut mat with the vinyl facing up.
Click Make it in the upper right corner of Cricut Design Space. You’ll see a preview of how the machine will cut out your sticker. If you have multiple colors, each cut color will be cut separately, which gives you a chance to change the vinyl material.
Click Continue and then select the Cricut machine. Set the material to Vinyl. Load the mat into the machine, and then hit the start button on the Cricut machine to start cutting!
Step 5: Weeding and applying the sticker
Now that your sticker has been cut, you’ll need to remove the parts of the sticker you don’t want. This process is called weeding and can be done by carefully removing parts of your sticker with your fingers or with tweezers. The more complex your design, the more weeding you will have to do. Refer back to your design in Inkscape so you don’t accidentally remove the wrong part. Sometimes the weeded out sections can be repurposed as an “inverted” sticker!
Once you are done, you should be ready to apply your sticker. You could simply remove the sticker from the backing paper and apply, but if your design has a lot of separate parts like individual letters, it will be much easier to use transfer tape to apply the sticker. Transfer tape is just sticky enough to hold on to your sticker, but it is less sticky than the vinyl sticker. This lets you pull your entire design off the backing paper at once, and then apply it to you surface.
Now that you understand the basic steps needed to make a vinyl sticker using the electronic cutter, try using the electronic cutter with other materials. You can use it with thin materials such as fabric, paper, t-shirt heat transfers and more!