How to Cut and Apply Adhesive Vinyl with a Cricut

Learn the Basics of how to use Cricut Design Space to design and cut adhesive vinyl with your Cricut Maker or Explore machine and how to apply it with this step by step beginner tutorial- perfect for a busy mom!

One of the things that made me want a Cricut Explore machine back in 2016 was the ability to create custom adhesive vinyl projects. And since I had just a little girl that September, I had a ton of projects in mind! It took me a little bit to figure out what I was doing, but I eventually got the hang of it. Turns out, I was doing it all wrong with my Cricut Expression!

So now I’m here to help you learn to cut adhesive vinyl with your Cricut Explore or Maker so that you don’t have to struggle like I did! Today we have another simple project that can be done in about 30 minutes! Not only will you walk away with a fun project when we’re done, but you’ll also be more familiar with your machine so that you can start making all those adhesive vinyl projects on your list too!

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I know and love!

Materials Needed:

Download Your Design:

Today, I’m using a FREE SVG from one of my favorite sites! Kristin has tons of freebies on her site and releases a new one each week! She often runs sales on her paid designs too, so it is well worth it to be on her email list! Go here to grab these beautiful butterfly SVGs for FREE!

Once you’ve downloaded your file, locate it on your computer and extract the zip file.

Design Your Adhesive Vinyl Project:

Open Cricut Design Space and select New Project.

Click on New Project in Cricut Design Space

Next, click on UPLOAD in the bottom of the left menu.

Upload a new image to Cricut Design Space

Then, select Upload Image on the next screen.

Cricut Design Space: Upload Image

Find where you saved your butterflies SVG and choose the butterflies file.

Choose the file titled Butterflies

Click on Upload in the bottom right corner.

Cricut Design Space: Click on Upload

Your new uploaded image will already be selected. Hit Add To Canvas in the bottom right corner.

Click on Add to Canvas to insert your new uploaded image to your adhesive vinyl project

Okay, now that our image is on the canvas, it’s time to start designing! The first thing we need to do this image is UnGroup it. Click on UnGroup in the Layers Panel on the right hand side of the screen. This will allow us to work with each element separately.

Ungroup the Images in Cricut Design Space

Since we’re just working with a single layer in this post, go ahead and delete the pink butterfly and the yellow body. To do this, hold the left click of your mouse down, while dragging the touch pad to make a box around the two layers. Then press delete or backspace.

Select the top two images and delete them in Cricut Design Space

Now we’re left with the single butterfly for our adhesive vinyl project.

Resize Your Design:

Resize your butterfly to fit on your jar or whatever you are using. To do this, go to Size in the middle of the top menu bar. Simply highlight the current numbers in the box and insert the new size.

Resize your image in Cricut Design Space

For my pencil jar, I’m changing the butterfly’s height to 1.5.

Height of Image in Cricut Design Space

Notice the width also changed when we changed the height. Go back with your ruler to your jar and make sure that your butterfly will fit both ways!

Next, change the color of your butterfly to the color you will actually be cutting out of adhesive vinyl. To do this, go to the little colored square in the upper left side of the top menu.

Select the small colored square in the top menu to change the color of an image in Cricut Design Space

Find the color that’s closest to your material and select it. This is just for visual purposes, since this is a single layer project. Also, don’t worry if Design Space does not have your exact color or shade. Your Cricut machine will cut whatever material you put on the mat, regardless of the color on the screen.

Select a new color in Cricut Design Space

Okay, that’s it for designing this project!

Before we go to make our adhesive vinyl project, let’s go ahead and save it!

Click on Save in the top upper right hand menu.

Save Your Adhesive Vinyl Project in Cricut Design Space

Give your adhesive vinyl project a title and click Save!

Insert a Title for your project and click save in Cricut Design Space

Let’s Make It!

Now, we’re ready to cut our adhesive vinyl project! Click on Make It in the upper right hand corner.

Click on Make It in Cricut Design Space

Next, make sure your machine is either connected via Bluetooth or connected with a USB. Check out Cricut’s tutorial here on how to pair your Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker Via Bluetooth.

Grab your mat and adhesive vinyl. Position your adhesive vinyl on your mat, with the color facing front (paper side down). Smooth out any bubbles with your hands.

Lavender Adhesive Vinyl on a Cricut Mat

Click Continue.

Click Continue in the prepare screen in Cricut Design Space

Now, we need to choose our cut setting for adhesive vinyl. For Cricut Explore, turn your dial to Vinyl.

For Cricut Maker, click on Browse all Materials.

Cricut Design Space Browse All Materials

Click on All Categories.

Click on All Categories in Cricut Design Space

Select Vinyl.

Choose the Vinyl Category in Cricut Design Space

If you are using Oracal 651 or an outdoor vinyl, choose Premium Outdoor Vinyl. Click Done.

Select Premium Outdoor Vinyl in Cricut Design Space

If you are using Cricut Removable Vinyl, Cricut Vinyl, Oracal 631 vinyl or another brand of indoor/removable adhesive vinyl, then choose Vinyl (It’s the very last one- scroll down!). Click Done.

(Note: ALWAYS do a small test cut of your material first if you are unsure of your setting. Once you’ve figured out the best setting, write it down for next time!)

If you are using a different type of vinyl – chalkboard, adhesive foil, holographic, etc- check out Cricut’s Help Center on Vinyl to see their recommended cut settings for both Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker machines.

Load your Cricut mat into your machine by pressing the blinking load button.

Press the blinking load button on your Cricut to load your Cricut mat

Press the blinking Cricut cut button once it starts to blink. Sit back and wait for your Cricut to work it’s magic!

Press the Cricut Cut Button when it starts to blink

When the machine is done, press the blinking unload button to release your mat revealing your newly cut design!

Weed Your Adhesive Vinyl Design

The next step is to weed your material! Weeding is removing all the excess material in your design that you don’t need. First, remove your adhesive vinyl from your Cricut mat.

HOT TIP: Remove your adhesive vinyl from your mat. To do this, put your hand on your vinyl on a flat surface and remove the mat from the vinyl- instead of peeling the adhesive vinyl off the mat. This prevents your material from curling!

Remove Permanent Vinyl from the Cricut Mat

Next, find your design and cut the leftover adhesive vinyl with scissors, a paper trimmer or an Xacto Knife. You can cut a straight line down and then across, leaving 2 pieces of scraps, or you can just cut out the section with the butterfly. Your leftover vinyl will be an odd shape, but it is still completely usable!

Use scissors to cut the design away from the leftover permanent vinyl
Cut Design and Leftover Adhesive Vinyl

Insert your weeding tool into the top corner of your design and gently lift up the excess adhesive vinyl.

Insert weeding tool into the top corner of your design and gently lift up the adhesive vinyl

Once you have a good portion started, use your hand to pull up the excess adhesive vinyl. Use the flat part of the weeding hook to hold down the design while using your hand to lift up. Be super careful and go slowly around delicate parts of a design.

Use the flat part of the weeding tool to hold your design down while you pull up the excess premium vinyl

Use scissors to cut big chunks of weeded vinyl. This will help get it out of the way as you weed the rest of your design.

Use scissors to cut big chunks of weeded outdoor vinyl to get it out of the way

Burnish Your Adhesive Vinyl

After you’ve weeded all your excess material, grab your transfer tape! Cut a piece of transfer tape a little bigger than your butterfly.

Cut a piece of transfer tape slightly bigger than your design

Now, peel the backing off of the transfer tape and place it on top of your butterfly.

Transfer tape on top of premium vinyl design

Next, burnish the transfer tape on top of your butterfly. Burnish means to rub really hard. You can use the Cricut scraper tool or even a credit card will work! Then, turn it over and burnish the back.

Burnish the transfer tape on top of the adhesive vinyl design

Apply Your Adhesive Vinyl

Now, it’s time to apply it to your jar! Slowly, peel off the transfer tape.

Slowly peel the backing from the transfer tape

Now you’re left with your design and transfer tape.

Take your design and place it where you want it.

Glass Jar with purple outdoor vinyl butterfly with transfer tape

Then burnish again on top of the transfer tape to adhere your design.

Burnish premium outdoor vinyl design to the jar

Slowly lift up the transfer tape to see if your adhesive vinyl design stuck to your jar. If any of it is lifting up, place the transfer tape back down and burnish again!

remove the transfer tape from the jar

Once your design is transferred, slowly remove the transfer tape, and voila! Your jar is finished!

Small Glass Jar with Purple Butterfly Decal

And that’s it! Those are the basic steps for designing, cutting, weeding and applying a single layer of adhesive vinyl!

Now that you know the basic steps of working with adhesive vinyl, what other designs and projects are you going to make? Tell me in the comments!

Have a Cricut question or tutorial you’d like me to write on? Let me know! I’d love to help!

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