Easy designs to use for crafting can be created on a variety of materials by using a Cricut mat.
The Cricut mat is an electric cutting tool that is used for loads of different projects including creating personalized gifts and your stylish home decor.
Some materials work better than others so understanding how the Cricut mat works is crucial if you want to make your designs stand out effectively.
Unless you want to spend hours having to re-create the very same intricate design over and over again, a Cricut mat can help by letting you use pre-designed templates.
Not only can you make precise cuts but the mat will help you save a lot of time.
After that, you can use your design on loads of surfaces including fabric, wood, leather, paper, and even metal.
Even if you have several years of experience in using a Cricut mat, you may need some guidance about how to work with vinyl to create your template.
It can be a tricky material yet with the right amount of guidance, you can confidently use your Cricut mat with vinyl.
What Sort Of Vinyl Do You Use On A Cricut Mat?
There are two sorts of vinyl to use on a Cricut mat. Iron-on vinyl, also known as heat transfer vinyl can be shortened to simply HTV.
This is an ideal material to use for creating matching jerseys or personalizing t-shirts as it works well when ironed onto fabric. Permanent vinyl is water and UV-resistant, it can last for years even when left outside.
HTV is a material that comprises two layers; the vinyl plastic layer itself and what is known as the carrier sheet.
You can cut out your design into vinyl plastic using the mat then use it with a hot press or iron to permanently stick it to your material.
Those two layers in a piece of HTV will be stuck together with a light adhesive and they may seem like one large layer but they are not.
Permanent vinyl is also known as adhesive vinyl and is ideal for those projects where you need the vinyl to remain glued on hard surfaces.
The design can be removed but when it is, the adhesive is so strong that it can damage walls or surfaces.
To effectively use a Cricut mat, you will need a computer with the Cricut Design Space program installed. You will need a piece of vinyl to use, your already created design, and a weeding tool.
Which Side Of Vinyl Do You Place On A Cricut Mat?
The first step to knowing how to place vinyl on a Cricut mat is learning which side goes down. For HTV, you want to cut through the vinyl plastic side to create your template.
That means that the carrier sheet goes down when you are cutting so that the vinyl plastic side is facing you.
In most HTV, the carrier sheet will be the shinier layer and may create a reflection. However, the plastic vinyl side is the one you want to cut and should have a matte feel and look to it.
For Permanent vinyl, put the adhesive paper-backed side down onto your Cricut mat so that the colored vinyl is facing up towards you. That means that the shiny side goes down, as it does with HTV.
How Do You Tell Which Is The Vinyl And Which Is The Carrier Side?
With some versions of vinyl, it can be difficult to work out which side is which. Before you place the vinyl on the Cricut mat and you are ready to cut, you had better make sure you are cutting the right side.
Pick the side which you think is the vinyl plastic side and grab your weeding tool.
Use the weeding tool to dig in the corner of the sheet and if you can slip it under the surface then pull it back, that would indicate that this is the vinyl plastic side that you want to cut.
To fully check, use the weeding tool on the other side of the HTV. If you cannot grasp any material then the other side is surely the cutting side.
Now you know which side of the HTV needs to be cut, you can place it on the Cricut mat. You can also perform some test cuts on your mat to ensure that you have the settings just right on the computer for the design and the size.
Do not forget to reverse your image on the computer before cutting the HTV material.
How To Place Vinyl On A Cricut Mat
You want to put the carrier sheet side down on your Cricut mat with the plastic vinyl side facing up.
Place it carefully so that the carrier sheet is facing downwards and it does not get cut as you want to cut your design out of the plastic vinyl.
To make sure that your design comes out just right, smooth the vinyl out with a brayer or simply use your fingers. As you place the vinyl down, it should be flat so that your design comes out just right.
Cutting Out The Design
Once you are ready with the design and your mat, push the up-down arrow button on the Cricut machine so that your mat is fully gripped.
Now you are all set to cut so simply find the blinking ‘C’ button and press it. The machine should now start cutting out your design.
Weed Your Vinyl
As soon as the Cricut has finished its cutting, you can press the up-down arrow button to release your mat.
Your vinyl plastic decal will be cut out and you can weed the excess vinyl away as it will not form part of your design.
Keep the HTV attached to your cutting mat so everything is in place as you weed and peel your pieces off. Use your weeding tool to hook a corner of the vinyl and lift it.
Now you can use your fingers to pull at the material and remove it away like a piece from the mat, typically at a 45° angle.
The smaller pieces may be a little trickier so you will need to use the hook though you may be more comfortable with a pair of tweezers.
If you are cutting out letters then the middle of letters such as E, A, O, D, B, P, and Q will all need to be removed.
Check your design with the one on the computer and make sure that you are happy that all the intricacy and detail are there.
Knowing what the two layers that make up a piece of vinyl are can help you know how to place the vinyl on a Cricut mat. The last thing you want is to waste some material by cutting through the wrong side.
Use your weeding tool to find out which side is which so that when it comes to cutting out your design, you cut through the plastic vinyl and not the carrier sheet.
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