How to make a stencil with Cricut

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There’s no better time to learn how to stencil with Cricut, as the trend for recycling and customizing items continues to grow during the cost of living crisis. Your Cricut machine is the perfect tool when it comes to making stencils because it can take all the hard work out of the cutting process and ensure you have a perfect, professional-looking stencil every time.

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to create your own jig and start turning your project dreams into reality. Stencils are designs cut from a material, which are then superimposed on a surface such as wood, fabric or canvas. The paint or stain is applied to the stencil and you have your design when the stencil is removed.

Stencils are truly versatile, and you can create many things using them, including home decor items, wood signs, and wall art. The best thing is that your Cricut machine is perfect for making stencils because it is capable of cutting out intricate designs quickly. If you’re considering buying or upgrading your Cricut, check out our roundup of the best Cricut machines in 2022. The same process can be applied to other craft machines, such as the best Brother ScanNCut machines.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a basic stencil using just plain self-adhesive vinyl. Making a stencil may seem like a complicated idea, but in this article you’ll see just how simple it is.

A photo of writer Rachael Phillips

Rachael is a regular craft and sewing editor for Creative Bloq. She has also written craft articles for other media including The Evening Standard, The Independent and TopTenReviews. A passionate crafter and designer, Rachael has great advice on all things Cricut.

How to Stencil with Cricut: What You Need

How to make a stencil with Cricut

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips)

Before you get started and begin creating a stencil using Cricut, you will need some key kit items, tools, and materials. If in doubt, check out our guide to the best Cricut materials and the best Cricut accessories. Below is everything I recommend for creating professional stencils using Cricut.

  • A Cricut machine: You can use any Cricut machine to create a stencil. For more on the best ones, read our Cricut Maker 3 review, Cricut Explore 3 review, and Cricut Joy review.
  • A stencil surface: Stencils can be used on almost any surface. For this tutorial, I’m stenciling the lid of an MDF box, but you can also use it on walls, fabric, canvas, wood, and more. Just make sure the surface you’re applying the stencil to will work well with your paint or stain.
  • Vinyl: You can use any type of self-adhesive vinyl to make stencils. If you want to make a reusable stencil, you will need to purchase specific stencil vinyl that Cricut sells or make plastic. But using plain vinyl is a great way to use scraps or scraps.
  • A cutting mat: Unless you’re using smart materials, you’ll need a rug. I recommend a standard grip because you need it hard enough to grip the vinyl but not so hard that you can’t pull it out.
  • Weeding tool and scraper: You will need a good weeding tool to weed your design. You will also need a good scraper as you will need to make sure there are no bumps or lumps in the vinyl when you transfer it.
  • Paint, stain or pens: It depends on what your material of choice is. If you’re painting wood, acrylic paint works best. For this tutorial, I used acrylic paint markers, which gave a nice clean finish with no smudging or cleanup. Make sure your paint choice is suitable for your fabric.
  • Transfer tape: You will need to transfer your stencil onto your design, which is done using transfer tape. We recommend using Cricut Transfer Tape when using Cricut vinyl because it works much better. If you’re using craft plastic, you won’t need transfer tape, but you will need masking tape to hold it in place.

• You can get discounts on all these craft machines, materials and accessories at Cricut Official Store (opens in a new tab)

How to make a stencil with Cricut: tutorial

01. set up your canvas

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

It will vary depending on what you are doing. Remember that if you use smart materials, you are not limited by the dimensions of the carpet and you can cut up to 12 feet in one go, it’s really convenient if you plan to make a banner. or sign. If you need to know more, we have a dedicated guide to using Cricut Smart Materials.

Now open Design Space and start creating your stencil design. How you choose to design your stencil is up to you, you can choose a design from the Cricut Access library, use an SVG file you found online, or even use text to create your own stencil with your favorite font . (Use our guide to the best free SVGs for Cricut to learn more.)

For this tutorial, I will be using a design from Cricut Access. If you would like more information on uploading your own images into Design Studio, check out our tutorial on how to print and cut with Cricut where there is a step by step guide.

02. Add a box around your design

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Once you are done with your design, click on the shapes element and add a box around your design. Because my finished product will be square, I chose a square box. This is because you will be weeding in the box as this will be the cutout for your stencil.

How to make a stencil with Cricut

(Image credit: Rachael Phillips)

The next thing you’ll need to do is right click on your box and select “send to background”. Your main drawing will come to the fore, so line it up in the middle of the box.

My best advice here would be to make the background shape a bit smaller than your workspace, then you can make sure your design fits perfectly. Also, have fun with the shapes. You can even make them a feature by painting around them so you have different elements in your final design.

03. Attach your design

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

You don’t want your design to jump all over the page in the next step, so highlight your whole design and click Attach. This will paste your entire design so you can move or resize it without having to manage the individual elements. And that’s it, now let’s get to the cutting part.

04. Start the cutting process

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Prepare your mat or insert your smart materials and get ready to start the cutting process. Be sure to choose the right material you are cutting as this will ensure you get the right cuts. As you are using self-adhesive vinyl, you will not need to mirror the image and the vinyl should be placed color side up.

05. Weed and apply transfer tape

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Maybe it’s just me, but weeding out the design is my favorite part. Remember that your wedding is inside the box, so you need to remove the negative pieces from your design. I would also recommend cutting your design down to size once you’ve weeded it so you have better control over its placement.

You will then need to apply the transfer tape.

Place the transfer tape adhesive side down and use the scraper to transfer the vinyl from the stencil onto the tape. It’s not a quick process, you really need to make sure you polish the transfer tape to make sure there are no dents or creases. If your design is very intricate or has loose parts, make sure they have also been rubbed down properly to ensure they adhere to the tape.

06. Place your drawing on the surface

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Before you peel off the transfer tape, line it up on the surface of your project, so you know where you want it to go. You may find it helpful to make a small mark on the surface to achieve that perfect placement.

Use your Cricut scraper to buff the stencil vinyl onto your project area. Make sure it’s glued down well because you don’t want to risk bleeding under the edges, especially when you’re about to start painting. You should be able to see the areas that are not quite stuck as there will often be creases and bubbles, just continue over the area until it is smooth.

When you’re satisfied it’s done, peel off the transfer tape at a 45 degree angle and you’ll see your stencil vinyl is left on the project surface.

07. Get some paint

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Now is the time to get creative. Use the paint of your choice with a stencil brush or sponge brush. Depending on the surface of your project, you may want to consider layering your paint. As I mentioned earlier I used acrylic markers, they give the same result as regular paint, but it’s a much neater experience.

08. Let the paint dry and remove the stencil

(Photo: © Rachael Phillips)

Let your paint dry thoroughly before removing your stencil. I know it’s tempting to just rip it off, but you don’t want to risk staining the paint, so go away, grab a glass and let it dry on its own.

If you are very careful removing your stencil, you may be able to put it back on the transfer tape and reuse the same stencil. Although using self-adhesive vinyl, it tends to tear easily when removed. However, it’s a great way to use up leftovers and scraps.

When you have removed your stencil, you can seal your project using a clear sealant. I prefer to use a water based polyurethane as it gives a good smooth finish.

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