Tips and Resources for Creating with Vinyl with Electronic Cutting machines
Crafting with different types of vinyl in my electronic cutter is one of my favorite things to do. Vinyl is so fun to work with and I have created lots of cute personalized party favors, teacher gifts, straw cups for sports, t-shirts and more. My kids and their friends love to receive their own personalized items with their name, initials or favorite characters on them. Soon you will find yourself personalizing anything with a blank spot on it!
I have used many different vinyl products and a few different cutting machines. It took me a while to figure out what products and machines work best. I am sharing my favorite tips, tricks and resources below on vinyl graphics supplies to use with your electronic cutting machine.
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You can buy both removable/indoor and permanent/outdoor adhesive vinyl. Temporary vinyl can be removed easier than the permanent variety and works great for walls and other items that will remain indoors. I actually prefer permanent or outdoor vinyl for things like car decals, straw tumblers, water bottles, decorating my kids’ school supplies and more. It holds up well through washing. Once your item is cut, you will need transfer tape to apply your vinyl. You can buy either paper tape or clear transfer tape. I prefer clear so I can easily see where I am placing my design. Once your design is cut, remove the negative of your design and cover the top of your design with transfer tape. Peel off the backing and apply your vinyl.
Craft stores do not sell the quality of vinyl that I like to work with. It is best to order your adhesive vinyl graphics supplies online. My favorite brand of vinyl is Oracal Vinyl made by Orofol. There are also a few other brands that work great like Greenstar, which is similar to Oracal quality. If you are in a hurry to get started, I highly recommend the outdoor vinyl variety pack in the links below. Oracal 631 is the most popular indoor or removable vinyl. Oracal 651 is the most popular permanent or outdoor vinyl. I love my 100 yard roll of 6 inch transfer tape. The clear is easy to use and it will last a long, long time. Once you invest in your transfer tape, there is no need to constantly purchase more.
Some of my favorite vinyl resources:
1. Expressions Vinyl - Oracal 631 and 651
2. MyVinylDirect.com for Affordable Vinyl by the Sheet
3. H&H Sign Supply- Rolls of Vinyl (Use coupon code TENOFF for 10% off your first order of $50 or more)
4. Variety Pack - 12 x 24 inch – 30 Sheets of Assorted Glossy Colors of Permanent Adhesive-Backed Vinyl for Craft Cutters (ships free and fairly quick from Amazon)
1. Expressions Vinyl – Transfer Tape
2. H&H Sign Supply – Transfer Tape
Heat Transfer Vinyl
For t-shirts, you need something called heat transfer vinyl (HTV). HTV can be applied to shirts or other fabric either with a heat press or with a home iron and comes in many different colors, metallic and even prints. If you are using a home iron, be sure to use extremely firm pressing (not gliding) motions with your iron and make sure you have a very hard surface underneath, like smooth tile or a metal cookie sheet. HTV comes on its own carrier sheet (like transfer tape). When cutting HTV, make sure you put the shiny side down on your mat and mirror your design, so the writing or design appears flipped or backwards. After you remove the negative part of your design, place the whole carrier sheet on top of your t-shirt or fabric and press or iron according to the product directions. It is also recommended that you place a Teflon sheet on top of your carrier sheet to help the heat to be evenly distributed on your design.
Heat Transfer Vinyl is very expensive and hard-to-find in the craft stores. Also, many brands will not last through a washing, so it’s best to order quality HTV online. My favorite brands of HTV are Siser Easyweed or Thermoflex. They are the easiest to work with and give the best results.
1. Expressions Vinyl – Siser HTV
2. H&H Sign Supply Siser Easyweed 5-pack, 1 foot each
3. MyVinylDirect – HTV Vinyl by the Sheet
1. Expressions Vinyl – Glitter HTV
2. H&H Sign Supply Siser Easyweed Glitter HTV by the foot
If you plan to create tons of t-shirts, personalized bags or other designs on fabric, you might consider buying a heat press. Heat presses use an exact temperature and pressure to set your HTV easily. There are several smaller machines that work for home use.
Heat Presses with good reviews:
Electronic Cutting Machines
I personally have own several Cricut machines and a Silhouette Cameo. My Silhouette Cameo is my absolute favorite crafting machine. I am able to design all of my vinyl cuts right on my computer and then easily cut them out. The Sizzix Eclips 2 is another new electronic cutting machine on the market for home use that would work great for vinyl cutting. It’s features are similar to the Silhouette Cameo and this new and improved model has gotten excellent reviews so far.
Cricut has a new Cricut Explore machine that is computer-based. Although pricier than the Silhouette, it’s worth checking out. Keep in mind that you will need internet access at all times to use this machine. I love that my Silhouette machine works without Internet Access.
Click to See Any of these Machines:
2. Silhouette Portrait (smaller cutting area)
Tools for Vinyl
If you are planning exploring vinyl cutting, you will need just a few simple tools. If you are cutting adhesive vinyl, you will need transfer tape to easily transfer your design from the carrier sheet and place your design on your item. For example, if you are cutting a name, the transfer tape keeps it straight or just as you designed it and you are able to transfer entire names, words or phrases all at once. Other tools include a hook for “weeding” out the negative vinyl around your design or those little shapes inside letters like “A and R”. I also own a great scraper or squeegee tool to help stick the vinyl to my transfer tape and to the item. After placing the transfer tape on top of my decal, I go over it with my scraper to make sure it picks up every detail of my design before I peel off the backing paper to apply it.
Some of my favorite tools for vinyl
Tips for Using Machine Mats and Blades
It is best to make sure your mat still has plenty of adhesive to hold your vinyl in place to avoid sliding. Your mat should be free of paper debris so it will cut properly. Be sure to start with a new blade for vinyl for a clean cut. To prolong the life of your blade, keep a blade specifically for cutting vinyl. I mark my Silhouette blade with a metallic sharpie with a “V” for vinyl and save it to only use with my vinyl graphics supplies. I keep a blade for every type of medium that I cut whether it’s vinyl, paper, stamping material or fabric. I find that the best prices for mats and blades seem to be online.
Machine Cut Settings for Different Types of Vinyl
Different types of vinyl require different cut settings in your machine. Below are some guidelines for cut settings, but it is always recommended to do a test cut before wasting any of your precious vinyl. Also, machines may vary, so use these settings as a starting point with your cutting machine.