There’s never been a better time to learn how to stencil with Cricut, as the trend of cycling up and personalizing items continues during the cost of living crisis. Your Cricut Machine is the perfect tool when it comes to making stencils as it can take all the hard work out of the cutting process and ensure you get the perfect, professional looking stencil every time.
In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to create your own stencil and start turning your project dreams into reality. Stencils are designs that are cut into a material, which is then overlayed on a surface such as wood, canvas, or fabric. Paint or dye is applied to the stencil, and you have your own design when the stencil is pulled away.
Stencils are really versatile, and there’s a lot you can make when using them, including home décor items, wood signs, and wall art. The best thing is that your Cricut machine is perfect for making stencils because it is able to cut out intricate designs quickly. If you’re considering buying or upgrading your Cricut machine, look into our roundup of the Best Cricut Machines in 2022. The same process can be applied to other craft machines, like the best Brother ScanNCut machines.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a basic stencil using regular adhesive vinyl. Making a stencil may seem like a complicated idea, but in this article, you’ll see how simple it really is.
Rachel is a craft writer and regular seamstress for Creative Bloq, providing an eye-catching and intriguing copy whether it’s the latest sewing machine review or a guide to how to get more out of your Cricut machine. She has also written craft articles for other media outlets, including The Evening Standard, The Independent, and TopTenReviews. Rachel, a passionate craftsman and seamstress, gives great advice on all things Cricut.
How to make a stencil with Cricut: what you need
Before you get started and start making a stencil with Cricut, there are some basic bits of kit, tools, and materials you’ll need. If in doubt, take a look at our guide to the best Cricut materials and the best Cricut accessories. Below is everything I recommend you need to make professional stencils with Cricut.
- Cricut machine: You can use any Cricut machine to make a stencil. For the lowdown on the best ones, read our Cricut Maker 3 review, Cricut Explore 3 review, and Cricut Joy review.
- surface for stencil: Stencils can be used on almost any surface. In this tutorial I’m making an MDF box lid, but you can also use it on walls, canvas, canvas, wood, and more. Just keep in mind whether the surface you will be stenciling on will work well with 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 some specific stencil vinyl that Cricut sells or made plastic. But using regular vinyl is a great way to use up scraps or pieces.
- cutting mat: You’ll need a mat, unless you’re using smart materials. I recommend a standard grip because you need it strong enough to grip the vinyl but not so strong that you can’t remove it.
- Weeding and scraper tool: You will need a good weeding tool to remove your design. You will also need a good scraper as you will have to make sure that there are no burrs or lumps in the vinyl when moving it.
- Paint, stain or pens: This depends on what material you choose. If you are painting wood, acrylic paint works best. For this tutorial I used acrylic paint markers, which gave a good clean finish with no bleeding or scrubbing. Make sure the paint choice suits your fabric.
- transfer bar: You will need to transfer the stencil to your design, which is done with transfer tape. We recommend Cricut transfer tape when using Cricut vinyl, as it works best. If you are using craft plastic, you will not 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. Prepare your canvas
This will vary based on what you are doing. Don’t forget that if you are using smart materials, you are not limited by the dimensions of the rug, and you can cut up to 12 feet in one go, this is really useful if you are planning to make a banner or sign. If you need to know more, we have a dedicated guide on how to use Cricut smart materials.
Now, open the Design Space and start creating your stencil design. It’s up to you how to choose the stencil design, and you can choose a design from the Cricut Access library, use an SVG file you found online, or even use the text to create your own stencil with your favorite font. (Use our guide to the best free SVG files for Cricut for more.)
For this tutorial, I will be using a design from Cricut Access. If you want more information about uploading your images to Design Studio, check out our tutorial on How to Print and Crop with Cricut where there is a step-by-step guide.
02. Add a box around your design
Once you are done with your design, click on the shapes element and add a box around your design. Since my final product would be square, I chose a square box. This is because you will scrape the inside of the box as this will act as a cut out for the stencil.
The next thing you need to do is right-click on your box and select “Send to Back”. Your main design will come to the front, so align it in the middle of the box.
My first tip here is to make the background shape a little smaller than your workspace, then you can make sure your design fits perfectly. Also, have fun with shapes. You can even make it a feature by drawing around it so you have different elements from your final design.
03. Attach your own design
You don’t want your design to jump all over the page in the next step, so highlight your entire design and click Attach. This will glue your entire design together so you can move it around or resize it without having to deal with individual elements. And that’s it, now to the cutting part.
04. Start the cutting process
Prepare your rug or insert your smart materials and get ready to start the shredding process. Make sure you choose the right material you’re cutting as this will ensure that you get the right cuts. Since you are using self-adhesive vinyl, you do not need to reverse the image, and the vinyl should be placed color side up.
05. Weed and transfer tape application
Maybe it’s just me but removing the design is my favorite part. Don’t forget that your wedding is inside the box, so you have to remove the negative pieces from your design. I also recommend reducing your design to size once weeds are removed so you have better control over its placement.
You will then need to apply transfer tape.
Place the transfer tape sticky side down and use the scraper to transfer the stencil vinyl onto the tape. This is not a quick process, you really need to make sure you polish the transfer tape to make sure there are no burrs or creases. If your design is very intricate or has floating pieces, also make sure to rub it properly to make sure it sticks to the tape.
06. Put your design on the surface
Before peeling off the transfer tape, tape it to the surface of your project, so you know where you want it to sit. You may find it helpful to make a small mark on the surface to get that perfect placement.
Use your Cricut scraper to polish the stencil vinyl onto your project area. Be sure to make sure it’s stuck because you don’t want to risk any bleeding under the edges, especially when you’re about to start painting. You should be able to see the completely non-sticky areas where there are often creases and bubbles, just keep going over the area until it is smooth.
When you are happy with this, peel off the transfer tape at a 45 degree angle, and you will notice that the stencil vinyl is left on the surface of the project.
07. Get Drawing
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 applying layers of paint. As I mentioned earlier, I used acrylic pens, they give the same result as regular paint, but it’s a more structured experience.
08. Let the paint dry and remove the stencil
Allow the paint to dry completely before removing the stencil. I know it’s tempting to rip it off, but you don’t want to risk smudging the paint, so walk away, get a drink and let it dry in time.
If you are very careful about removing the stencil, you may be able to put it back on the transfer tape and reuse the same stencil. Although self-adhesive vinyl is used, it tends to tear easily when removed. However, it is a great way to use up any scraps and pieces.
After removing the stencil, you can seal your project with a clear sealant. I prefer to use water based polyurethane as it gives a good and smooth finish.