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Make Your Own Vinyl Stickers with a Cricut Expression

I recently had the opportunity to play with the Cricut Expression die cutting machine, by Provo Craft.  There are so many exciting project possibilities with this machine that I will share my results over a couple of posts.

Before, I go any further, if you own a Cricut machine already, you may be interested in seeing the newest addition to the Cricut family, the Gypsy.  Click here to see a video of this amazing portable design studio.  Win a Gypsy in the Cricut Gypsy Escape Contest. On Sept 24th, the Gypsy will be formally launching on HSN.  Learn more here.

If you are looking to purchase a personal die cutting machine, you cannot go wrong with the Cricut Expression by Provo Craft.  This impressive machine allows you to cut designs, shapes and characters from .25" small to 23.5" large!  Think of all the possibilities for scrapbooking, card making and general paper crafting!

One thing I was surprised to learn about the Cricut Expression, is that it is set up to easily cut vinyl!  This was exciting to me as one of the hot decor trends right now is vinyl wall decals / stickers.  You've seen them on the home decor blogs, and in design magazines.  It may be a quote or other text displayed directly on a wall, or an image or logo such as a photo frame silhouette.  These vinyl wall decals are easy to remove so you can take them off when it's time to change your decor.  Pre-designed vinyl wall decals are currently available in the market, but the Cricut Expression gives you the opportunity to design, customize and create your own vinyl stickers!

Provo Craft sells the vinyl in a variety of different colours including black, white, burnt umber, yellow, soft pink, lime green, dark blue, lilac, grey, light brown, vanilla ice blue, beige, billiard green, peacock blue and ruby red.

Ideas on How to Use Your Vinyl Stickers:

Vinyl Chalkboard – I accidentally discovered that you can write with chalk on Provo Craft's black vinyl!  It easily comes off with just a swipe from a tissue. You can make a chalkboard directly on your fridge for making grocery lists, or making a weekly calendar or to – do list. See example below where we used frame negative spaces to make mini chalkboards on the side of a bread box.

Wall Decor– Cut out your favourite quote, verse, or even a single word and apply it to the wall as part of your home decor.  Cut out an image that will look nice on your wall, such as an enlarged frame for a photo from the "Accent Essentials" cartridge.  This is the cartridge I used for the frame shown on my fridge in the photo below.  I can easily interchange the photo or put in some children's artwork instead.

Windows – Apply images to your windows to go with the seasons.  The leaves shown on our boat window are from the "Accent Essentials" cartridge. Have a business?  Cut out your company name, telephone and website address and apply it to your car window or bumper.  Put some kids' favourite images on their bedroom windows.  The motor bike and airplane shown below are from the "Everyday Paper Dolls" cartridge.

Mirrors – This is a project my 4 year old son and I did together.  I thought one of the hairpieces from the "Everyday Paper Dolls" cartridge looked a little like a moustache, so we enlarged it, cut it out in vinyl and applied it to a mirror.  We also cut out a pair of glasses using the same cartridge and we had a full disquise!  You can see by the photo below, my daughter got in on the game too – only she doesn't stay still long enough to photograph. Other ideas for using vinyl stickers to decorate a mirror would be to use a photo frame around the edges, a fancy trim, or even to apply some inspirational message to be seen first thing in the morning on a bathroom mirror!

Glass – Customize decorative glass jars with text or images for gift giving or storing scrapbooking supplies.  The glass jars shown below are from Ikea.

Labeling – Use vinyl stickers to label a variety of items around your home, in the kitchen, in your office, etc.   The bin below holds our son's school books. You can also personalize any type of electronic gadget with a vinyl sticker. The Cricut Expression allows you to cut out sizes from to .25" to as large as 23.5." I took a couple of my son's favourite images and applied the cut out vinyl stickers to the top of his laptop.  He recently got this 'hand-me-down' laptop and although it doesn't work well, he is really excited to have it so I also cut out his initials to put on the front of it. I also put a mini vinyl sticker of a camera on the outside of my camera and a mini butterfly on my cell phone.

Here's How:

Clear instructions are included when purchasing the vinyl, but I'll give you a quick overview here so you can see how easy it is.

There are two pieces of material required for making a vinyl sticker.  The vinyl itself and the transfer tape.   The transfer tape is necessary to allow a perfect application. To begin, the vinyl is laid face up on the cutting mat and fed into the machine.  (You do not remove the protective backing yet.) Choose your desired design or text and then allow the Cricut Expression to cut it out.  Once the cutting mat is unloaded, peel off the background or negative space to your design, leaving the vinyl sticker behind on the mat. 

Now the transfer tape comes in. Take the transfer tape and separate it from it's protective backing. Place the sticky side face-down onto the front of your cut vinyl sticker.  Now gently lift up your design and it is ready to apply to your desired surface.

To apply the vinyl sticker, peel off the vinyl backing, gently so that the front of the vinyl sticker is attached to the transfer tape.  Place the sticker where you would like it to go and use the burnishing tool (included with the transfer tape) to apply pressure working out to remove any bubbles or creases.  It's really very easy!


– cut a small design first to make sure you have the correct pressure and speed for the cutting blade and to eliminate any unnecessary wasted vinyl

– make full use of the vinyl sheet loaded into your Cricut Expression by cutting off a lot of different designs at one time for later use. Apply the transfer tape to all cut designs and cut out and store separately

– if you forget to use the transfer tape, you can still apply the design, but you will have great difficulty if it is a large design or has a variety of cuts.  Applying a vinyl sticker without transfer tape works best if the design is very small and has very few cuts.  The reason is because the vinyl stretches.  The transfer tape keeps the vinyl intact, secure and in place before and while it is being applied to the surface.  The same goes for text.  Using the transfer tape will allow you to benefit from the premeasured spacing between letters which the Cricut Expression has already done.

– measure out the space where you would like to apply your design before applying it.  There is a grid on the vinyl backing to help you align the design to your measurements on the wall.

– whenever possible, keep the negative space of your designs.  These vinyl pieces can be reused.  Here are some examples.  If you cut out a frame design, keep the inside block of the frame and apply it as a chalkboard somewhere. If you cut out a tree or other shape, using scissors, carefully cut out around the negative space to have a negative space version of the same image.  (See photo example of negative space tree shape shown below on the clipboard entitled, "Create.")

Come by tomorrow for more of our review of the Cricut Expression!  Part Two is here!

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  1. Lisa Anderson
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hi There,
    Im trying to find out how to apply a sticker to an Aframe sandwhich board without getting the bubbles.Is there any easy way to do this or are you going to end up with bubbles regardless what you do. Can you please help me or let me know who can help me with this question.

    Kind Regards

    Lisa Anderson

  2. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hi Lisa – the best way I found was to start at the middle and work your way out. Use a burnisher to help you with getting the air bubbles out. It may take a few tries if you have a large area to do. I hope that helps.

  3. Tammy
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I would like to know which cartridge is best to make the larger wall expressions, like the ones sold at home shows and now some stores.

    Thank you,

  4. April
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hi, I would like to personalize a cake carrier, baby bottles, and other things with my vinyl.  Is there something that I could go over the design with that would protect the design as I washed the items?  Is this necessary?

  5. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Tammy – it depends on what design you want because each of the designs can be enlarged on the Cricut Expression.

    April – I don't know about washing by immersion and still having your vinyl stick.  I would suggest that you should wash it with a damp cloth so that the stickiness doesn't have a chance to come off.  You could check with Provo Craft, the manufacturer, and see what they say.

  6. Jason
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    with the SCAL program, would i be able to design and cut my own vinyl stickers?like if i wanted to graphic a small racecar, would i be able to do that? Or cut my Logo as a decal?

  7. jackie
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    jason i just got the scal program and yes for all your question. You can download the images from the net free for the most part. or do a trace a image selection works great hope this helps Jackie

  8. Melissa
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I have a cricut expression.  I was wondering if you can make auto window decals with it.  Do I need to buy a special paper?  Many of my softball girls want decals for their parents cars and I would like to be able to help them out. 

  9. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Yes, Melissa.  The vinyl stickers stick to car windows also. You have to buy the vinyl though. It is sold in a roll and available from ProvoCraft.  You can find it with the Cricut machine in your local craft store. Give it a try!

  10. Robin
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

     Hi How do you get the vinyl off the car windows and glass?

  11. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Robin – The vinyl peels off very easily. You can use  a flat edge of a knife to start the peel if needed and then just pull it off the rest of the way with your fingers.  If you peel it off carefully, and keep it clean without wrinkles, you should be able to replace it some place else if you like. P.S. It clings to the glass and doesn't leave residue behind like a sticker does.

  12. darlene skupien
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I have a 24" mat, using 1" letters Plantin and using landscape mode. When I type out it tells me there are too many characters after "Estate" yet there is plenty of paper in the mat. What setting am I missing.

  13. Alissa
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Can the vinyl be used for stickers that will be put on a car or will they not hold up to the weather?  Thanks!  ~Alissa

  14. stacy deluca
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    i was looking for a machine to make  stickers to put on ribbon.. I need it to stick really well, would I use vinyle or something else and can you download your own designs on the cricuit…i am very new to this..thanks for your help.

  15. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Stacy – I'm not sure how well vinyl sticks to ribbon.  You may need to add an adhesive as well to make sure it's really strong.  Maybe someone else has some ideas…?  P.S.  ProvoCraft's Gypsy machine works in tandem with the Cricut and using that you can make your own designs and cut them out on the Cricut machine.

  16. Jennifer
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I would like to place vinyl designs on glass products (glasses). How do I go about doing this? Can I use the standard vinyl sheets? And do I need to adhere anything to it to keep them from washing off?

  17. Mary s
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I just got my expressions and I’m having the same problem as Darlene, I’m typing in a phrase at only 1/2 inch on a 12 inch mat and after a few word it tells me ‘too many characters’ there’s plenty of paper/ mat to fit the phrase son what am I doing wrong…or horrors did I get a bum machine? Please help!

  18. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Mary/Darlene – I’m really not an expert on the machine. You should probably check with the store you purchased it from or the manufacturer for more details/instructions on how to use it for that function. I hope that helps.

  19. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Jennifer, I don’t know about that, but I would guess you should just use them for decorative purposes or handwash very carefully.

  20. Dana
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    For Darlene and Mary. I’m probably too late, but just in case. It’s not that you don’t have enough paper, it’s just too many charaters for the machine to process. I don’t know this for a fact, but from experience. The machine can only do a certain amout of charaters before it’s memory is “full”. (Must be like my memory :P) Type in what it will take (not sure the number) and “CUT” then without moving anything, type is the rest of the phrase and “CUT” again until you’ve got all the charater’s cut.

    Also another tip, always do a test run on some scrap paper because sometimes the cricut spacing is too much between certain charaters. For example, when I’ve cut “family” before. I cut a capital F, back space 5 and then cut a, then back space 3 and cut mi (spacing b/w mi on this font was fine) then continue with the back spacing 3 until my word was complete. Now of course, this is going to be different on different fonts/cartridges etc. In this example, if I just cut the charaters the “a” would be cut at the edge of the “F”. Since the “F” has valuable space beneath it, I wanted to place my “a” there so it wasn’t spaced funny, plus I utilize the most of my vinyl. This is also something you can do/fix with the gypsy or design studio but those cost more money and you can do it yourself if you don’t have these other tools. You have to test run each cut if your going to string words together to take in one transfer, such as the real estate web address example above. One more thing (just making sure), ensure your mat size is set to 12×24 if your using the larger mat. I didn’t re-read your post to see if you had already tried that.

    Hope this helps!

  21. maryam
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    How to I create a large tree that would take more space than the 12 x 24 mats. I have the gypsy….so I was hoping it would be possible with that. Please let me know as soon as you can, i wanted to make a big tree for my childrens room. Thank you!!!

  22. lisa
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    im trying to make a charecter to put on my grandsons wall. the cartridge calls for layers we tried to put the layer all on the same transfer tape and it bubbled like crazy. do you think it would be better to put one layer on the at a time. using transfer tape of each layer.

  23. christene
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Which cartridge would give me a word written in cursive? I want a word to come out connected not in pieces for my wall expressions! Thanks Christene

  24. Kristy
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Can the cricut expression machine cut fabric also? And I am using inkscape and Scal and I am having trouble getting the program to cut a design that I made. It only pulls part of my project on the mat. Why? What am I doing wrong?

  25. bre
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    where can i buy vinyl?

  26. Wendi
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hey guys..I work in a vinyl sign shop..,.the best way to lay any kind of vinyl is with a small squirt bottle. Fill it with water and add dish soap then squirt your glass, tiles or car window. then apply the vinyl. And yes always always work your way from the center. You need a squeegee or an old credit card will squeege the water our nicely,.and if yes any vinyl can be used as car decals. and yes the vinyl should last through a dishwasher cycle. If it is going on plates, i would find a non toxic coating.

  27. shaunte
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I was wondering with the SCAL program can you use one of those drawing mouse pads the ones that have pen and draw your own design to use on your expression?

  28. Johnny R
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I’d like to cut some vinyl images downloaded from my computer, is that at all possible?

  29. Tina
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hi, for the wall decals, are you able to print a colored image onto the vinyl then cut or is it simply a framed design that you are creating using the machine? apologies for the ignorance but i’m just starting to read about this 🙂

  30. Martha
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I am wondering where you get the lettering font from do you just print it from a computer software of does the cricut come with fonts and designs?

  31. tasha
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I love your work.. i wanted to know can i put my own art work that i make and print it out on the cricut..thank you and have a bess day. and keep doing what you are doing life is so much better with art in it.

  32. Mallory Morrison
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I am currently pregnant and I am doing our little boys’ nursery in safari theme. I want to make my own animal vinyl wall stickers that I can remove easily because we rent. Does anyone know how I can do these wall stickers with more than one color?

  33. Tabitha
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    hi, I was wondering where you purchase vinyl for the machine? I am thinking about getting a circut and wanted to check on prices for this as well.
    Thanks Tabitha

  34. Dennis
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I have the cricut machine and i was wondering how i can transfer a In Loving Memory Picture to the machine so i can make stickers??

  35. Melinda
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I would like to make a gymnastics vinyl wall decal for my daughter with my cricut. But I can’t find a cartilage with it on it. Is there any way to get the designs to you cricut with out it being on a cartilage?

  36. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Melinda – you may want to check with ProvoCraft who makes Cricut. They also make a “Gypsy Design Studio” that allows you to design your own cuts. You can see it here:

  37. Pauline
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I really need your help with this please. I wanna know how this all works out. I have a bracelet company and i need to learn how to make stickers to stick it on the bracelets. I dont have or own any machine but im researching on how to make my own vinyl stickers at home. I dont know where to start! Please help me!

  38. Shannon
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I am trying to make vinyl decals that say Cancer Sucks.. is there anyway to put a space between the two words with out having to do two seperate steps

  39. Kim T
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Would love to make the wall decals, script. What cartridge for that? Also is there one with little stick people like you see on back of cars?

  40. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    @ Pauline @ Shannon and @ Kim T – these are questions that you would be better to ask Cricut directly. My knowledge on the machine is limited to my own little experience. 🙂

  41. Tammy
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Can the Cricut Personal Cutter do the vinyl?

  42. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    @ Tammy – I used the Cricut Expression and it works for vinyl, but for what you are asking, you should check with ProvoCraft.

  43. September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Hola! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

  44. Mindie Barnard
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    Im trying to figure out which Cricut machine to buy. I want to be able to cut out large vinyl decals or stickers for windows and walls as well as smaller things as needed. Are Cricut expression and cricut expression 2 nearly the same? What’s their major differences?And do you need a computer to run them like with the cricut explore?

  45. brittany
    September 21st, 2009Posted | Permalink

    I am trying to look for gymnastics themeddecals and I can’t seem to find any I have the cricket exploreer and I can’t find any gymnastics themed templates

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