Explore the best vinyl for your Cricut projects or other cutting and crafting ideas.
We’ll break it down into the basics for understanding which vinyl to use for each crafting situation.
And we’ll learn vinyl crafting terms and techniques to get your project off to the best start…
We'll look at vinyl quality, compatibility, and vinyl crafting tips - permanent and removable vinyl, printable vinyl, iron-on vinyl, removing vinyl, layering, weeding, slicing, and vinyl that just won't stick!
All this will help you to choose the best vinyl for your own Cricut craft project...
Because I know that when you’re just starting out with vinyl, the options are overwhelming and the terminology can be incredibly confusing.
It’s so easy to make the wrong decision – but if you do, don’t worry, just save it in your stash for a future project!
If you want to see my instructions for a simple vinyl project, click here...
In the meantime, let’s start understanding all about how to use vinyl with your Cricut machine…
We’ll look first at these 4 basic vinyl types, as this is the most important decision you need to make for choosing your vinyl.
Once you know which of these 4 options you need, the basics are sorted and the rest is just down to your personal preference.
Permanent vinyl is great for:
Like it says, this vinyl is for projects where you want the vinyl to stay on – to be permanent. It’s also the best choice for projects that will be exposed to water in some way, whether that’s outdoors or in a bathroom, or in the washing-up bowl.
This is non-permanent or removable vinyl - sometimes known as ‘indoor’ vinyl and usually has a matt finish.
This is a great basic vinyl for most Cricut vinyl projects including decals, making signs, decorating boxes or homewares. You can use it on most surfaces including glass and smooth or painted/varnished wood.
The removable vinyl will peel off quite well within about 2 years of applying it – and it’s a distinct advantage to be able to easily reposition the vinyl when applying it, to get it in just the right place.
Use removable vinyl for:
When using on a more porous surface like wood, the best idea is usually to sand the surface so it’s smooth, or use varnish or paint before applying your vinyl. You can also use the popular crafting material ‘Mod Podge’ to paint on before and also after, to seal the vinyl in place.
I've actually used Cricut removable vinyl ('premium') outside and so far (after a few months) it's standing up to rain, snow, and ice!
This is ‘heat transfer vinyl’ aka ‘iron-on’ vinyl. It’s the vinyl to use for craft projects on softer or more porous surfaces such as fabric, card, paper, wood, or leather.
It comes in regular finishes, but also lots of fun finishes such as glitter, foil, holographic, flock, and glow-in-the-dark.
This vinyl is applied with heat, which helps it to stick to your surface. You can use the Cricut Easy Press or heat press – but you can also use a household iron.
Take your time when crafting with HTV as it’s easy to make mistakes.
You need to:
HTV is great for:
Cricut has some useful instructions here - make sure you check down the list for more specialist vinyl types, if applicable to your project.
You can also watch the video below which guides you through all the steps for making an iron-on project.
Try heating the reverse of the fabric where the HTV vinyl you want to remove is – then start carefully peeling and picking at it with tweezers or a craft knife to remove it.
You may need to use an adhesive removal product to get the final bits off – check it’s compatible with your fabric type first, and wash your item before trying again with more vinyl.
This is a vinyl that you can print your design onto. It comes in regular or HTV/iron-on vinyl.
With Cricut, they have a removable, printable matt vinyl, ideal for making your own decals. You will need to use an inkjet printer and the ‘print-and-cut’ feature on Explore and Maker machines.
Printable vinyl is great for projects where you want to print your own design onto vinyl.
Cricut's instructions for using printable vinyl with your cutting machine are here...
Once you know if you want printable, HTV, Permanent, or Removable vinyl, next you just need to decide on your finish. Browse through either the Cricut vinyls section or the Vinyls section of a crafting store to get some idea of the finishes you can use:
Make sure you check the instructions that come with your vinyl, or if you're buying Cricut's own vinyl, check their vinyl advice section to make sure you're taking any specialist finishes into account. They also have a separate 'iron-on' info section.
More specialist vinyl types to improve your crafting:
Not sure what type of vinyl you've got?
Here's how to tell...
Next, consider your machine – all the Cricut machines can cut vinyl but some Cricut vinyl types are really designed only for certain machines…
More about smart vinyls from Cricut here.
This is a smaller machine, so look out for the smaller-sized vinyl rolls that Cricut make especially for the smaller cutting size – perfectly proportioned for your machine!
This is a really useful method of applying vinyl - it's especially useful for intricate or complex designs, applying over vinyl, or if you feel like the vinyl sticks too quickly or in the wrong place...
It's essentially using water to allow you a little bit of time to position your vinyl in the right place - the water allows the vinyl to slip around a bit on the surface so that you can get it in just the right position.
Cricut Bright Pad
Here’s how to slice on Cricut Design Space:
See Cricut's instructions for slicing here... Or watch a short example on the video below!
If your regular (non-HTV) vinyl is struggling to stick, especially onto a smooth surface such as ceramic or glass OR a matt surface such as a matt ceramic:
I have a simple vinyl project here to show you use to use a regular vinyl (this works for regular removable or permanent vinyl, not HTV or iron-on). I’ll share the entire process with you, including cutting, weeding, and how to use the transfer tape to get your vinyl onto your project surface...
More help with how to use a Cricut is here
Cricut's vinyl help centre is here
And the iron-on help centre is here
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