Vinyl transfer paper is one of the best inventions ever. There, I said it. For all you crafters, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. If you’re making any kind of vinyl designs- vinyl transfer paper (or vinyl transfer tape, as I usually call it) is your new best friend. It may seem confusing to use at first- but that’s why I wrote this tutorial to easily walk you through it- and soon you’ll be transferring like a pro.
I’m going to walk you step-by-step through this easy tutorial. There’s pictures for every step- so you really can’t go wrong. Soon enough vinyl transfer paper will feel like a breeze for you.
It’s actually very easy to use- but it’s worth going through all the steps for Cricut newbies like me. I added text instructions in case you need it, but you will probably be able to figure out how to use the transfer tape just from the pictures.
This tutorial will also apply to any other cutting machine you may use- everything but the first few steps in the design studio. So don’t be discouraged from using this post if you don’t use a cricut. And if vinyl isn’t for you, I’ve also written a great tutorial on how to make custom wood signs with paint!
So let’s get to it!
- A cutting machine (I use the Cricut explore air, which you can buy from Cricut or on amazon)
- Vinyl (I used this one, and expressions vinyl sells tons of great inexpensive vinyl)
- Vinyl transfer paper (aka vinyl transfer tape)
- The object you are putting your vinyl design on (I used a cute wood sign like this one)
- Scraper or a stiff card like a credit or gift card
- Weeder (optional)
step one: design
The first step will be to use your cutting machine’s design software to make your vinyl design. I’m going to talk about the Cricut design studio because I use a Cricut.
You can use the editing tools in the design studio to make your design. You can write words with any of the cricut fonts or any fonts on your computer, or you can upload an image. If you upload a .png file, it should leave the background blank. But if you upload a .jpg or other file format, you may need to “select and erase.” All that means is that you select the white space around and between letters to leave only the letters you want to cut.
Make sure your layer is set to cut, and you should be ready to go!
step two: load and cut
The next step is to cut your design out of the vinyl.
You’ll want to apply your vinyl to a cutting mat and load it into your machine. In the Cricut design studio, you press “go” and then make sure the Cricut has the correct settings before cutting.
When your vinyl is cut, you will be able to see the outline of your final design, like in the photo below.
Step three: weeding
Weeding is when you remove any excess vinyl so that only your final design remains. You should be able to do this easily by just peeling up the excess vinyl. If the design starts to come up with it, just push it back down with your finger. You can use the awesome weeding tool to help get any small pieces like the circle inside the “p.” You can see all this in the images below.
When you are done you should have just your final design remaining on the mat.
step four: apply vinyl transfer paper (vinyl transfer tape)
To apply your vinyl transfer paper, first peel the backing off the transfer paper. Press the vinyl on top of your final design. You can use the scraper tool or an old credit card to make sure the design is attached tightly to the transfer paper.
You can see this in the photos below.
step five: peel vinyl transfer paper (tape) with vinyl attached
This step can be a little tricky, but if you are slow and careful it should be easy. You’ll want to peel up the vinyl transfer paper with the entire design you want to transfer attached. Some of it may not peel up, in which case you can put the transfer paper back down and go over that section again with the scraper or your finger until it comes up when you are peeling.
In the pictures below, you can see that the S was being stubborn and not peeling up, so I put the tape back down to reattach it until I got the full design on the transfer paper.
step six: place vinyl transfer paper (tape) and apply
Once you’ve got your vinyl design on the transfer paper, you’ll want to place it where you want it to go on your final design. You can put vinyl on all kinds of things- decorative signs, water bottles, mirrors, walls… whatever you can think of!
I’m using a sign for this tutorial, so I placed my design in place. I then used my scraper tool (or you can use a credit card) to firmly apply the design to the sign.
step seven: peel off vinyl transfer paper and admire!
Once your design is firmly applied, you can just peel off the transfer paper and admire your final design!
If the vinyl transfer paper does not peel cleanly leaving the entire design behind, you can place the paper back down and scrape again. In my experience, this step is usually the easiest.
Woohoo- you made it! I told you it’s easier than it looks!
So there you go- I told you it’s easier than it sounds. Once you get the hang of the vinyl transfer paper you will be able to customize and design anything you set your mind to.
I love the new sign I made for this tutorial!
So, what do you think? Are you a vinyl transfer paper expert now? Get going on those craft projects!