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How to Make a Larger Than Mat Stencil with Your Cricut
Hello crafty friends, today we’re going to be cutting a stencil that is larger than a Cricut cut mat.
One of the downfalls of Cricut is the limited cutting size. The largest size a Cricut can cut is 11.5″ x 23.5″ on their larger cut mat.
But in this post you’ll learn how to you make a Cricut Project bigger than the mat. And then you’ll learn how to piece the stencil back together on your project.
This method works for vinyl decals also.
Let’s get started.
Supplies Needed for Larger Than Mat Stencil
- Oracle stencil film or removable vinyl (not permanent; that’s too sticky)
- Transfer tape (I use Duck Brand shelf liner from Walmart)
- Weeding tools and Scraping tool
- Craft knife
- Cricut cut mat, standard size
- Extra-large board to paint on (mine is 18”x36” from Lowe’s)
- Paint and brushes
- FREE Faith Can Move Mountains SVG file (more information on how to get this at the bottom of this post)
Larger Than Cut Mat Video
Step 1: Load Design into Cricut
First, download the SVG file and upload it into Design Space. If you need extra help with downloading and uploading SVG files read this post or you can see more in the video.
You can get access to my free resource library full of SVG files here. Once you’re in the SVGs are in alphabetical order. Just click on the name of the SVG you want and the download will automatically start.
Once you’re in Design Space, go to the bottom left corner and reduce the size from 100% down to 25% so we will be able to see the whole design.
The board I used is 36” long, so I changed the width of my design from 10” to 36”, using the size adjuster in the middle of the top menu. That automatically changes the height to 14”.
Now that it’s the right size, select the image and drag it up to the top left corner and then release it. This will allow Design Space to set it at the zero position. So now in the far-right section of the top menu, the position is x:0, y:0.
And then while you still have the image selected, click the Weld button at the bottom of the Layers menu. This makes everything on the screen into a single image. (More on why that’s important later.)
Step 2: Slice the Image into Smaller Pieces
The next step is to slice the design into smaller pieces so your Cricut can cut it out.
In the left menu, click on Shapes, and then click on Square. You might want to change the color so you can see it easily (I used purple).
Then change the width of the square to 11.5”. This will also change the height to 11.5”, which is the largest size that Cricut will cut.
Next duplicate the square four times using the Duplicate button on the top of the Layers menu. Move the top square over by itself, change its color (I used pink for this one), and duplicate it twice as well. Now you should have three purple squares and three pink ones, each 11.5”x11.5”.
Take the first purple square and drag it up to the top left corner, just like you did with the words, and release it so that it drops down into the 0,0 position.
Then take one of the pink squares and drag it up to the top and release it. That will make the y position is 0, but you need to adjust the x position so that the pink square fits perfectly next to the purple one. Since the
purple square is 11.5” wide, type 11.5 into the x position, and that will move the pink square into place.
As you can see, we’re alternating colors. So now, take the next purple square and drag it to the top and release it. The y position is 0 again, so just add 11.5 + 11.5 to get the x position. That puts our second
purple square at x:23, y:0.
Now for the bottom row. Drag a pink square all the way to the left and release, which puts the x position at 0, and then change the y position to 11.5, since the purple square above it is 11.5” high. The next
purple square should be at x:11.5, y:11.5, and the last pink square will be at x:23, y:11.5.
By now you’ve probably noticed that one little tail sticking out. Don’t worry; it will still get cut! I tend to leave pieces like that without a square, since they’re so small. I’ll show you how to take care of that piece.
Slice The Stencil
So now we need to slice the image into pieces. And this is why we welded the SVG file first: because you can only slice two objects at a time. Welding it made the two layers into one, so we could add a second layer of squares on top.
That also means we have to slice this one square at a time. With the words selected, hold down the Shift key and select that first purple square. Now that only those two pieces are selected, you can click Slice.
Select the next purple square, hold down the Shift key while you select the words again, and Slice. Then just repeat these steps for each of the squares.
Tip: I find it easier to select the squares from the layers menu and then select the words from the canvas. If you try to select the squares from the canvas, it will just select the words, since that image is brought to the front when you slice the first square.
Once everything’s sliced, look through the layers menu to verify that everything is accounted for. Move that little tail over to the edge so it doesn’t get lost or deleted by accident, and then you can start pulling things apart.
Separate the squares from everything else, and delete anything that isn’t a square (except that tail, of course!).
So now you have seven pieces: The six squares that have been cut out and the tail. The layers menu will show this as well.
Tip: In the video, you can see that I got a warning message saying one of my squares was too big, even though it was reading as 11.5”x11.5”. This glitch happens sometimes. To fix this, you can reduce the size to 11.49”x11.49”. That will be enough to remove the warning, without affecting the size of the stencil.
Now you can select everything. In the top menu under Linetype, right next to where it says Cut, you should see a question mark. This is because we’ve been working with three different colors. Click on that question mark to change it all to one color.
Now you can click Make It, which brings you over to your mats. You shouldn’t need to change anything there, so go ahead and click Continue.
If you have a Cricut Explore, turn your dial to vinyl. If you have a Cricut Maker select vinyl off of the lists of materials once it recognizes your machine.
Step 3: Cut Out the Design and Weed It
Cut 12-inch-long squares from the roll of stencil film, and then remove the cover from your cut mat. Line up the first square in the top left corner of the mat and smooth it down. Once it’s on the mat, slide it underneath the Cricut tabs and hit the Load button. Hit the Go button once it starts flashing, and Cricut will get to work.
Go ahead and start weeding the first square while the next one is cutting. Pull off the outer edge of the square first. Since this is a stencil, you’ll need to remove the inside (the letters themselves) and leave the outside (the square).
Some people call this reverse weeding. And, of course, you’re also going to leave in the centers of the letters.
Tip: Before you start weeding, flip your mat over and remove it from the project. This keeps it from curling up extra or tearing if you’re working with paper.
Step 4: Use Transfer Paper to Transfer the Design to the Sign
Cut your transfer paper into 12-inch squares. For each square, first peel back just the edge of the backing and crease it. Stick that edge down to the edge of your stencil, and to the edge of the table or your sign.
Then, in one motion, pull off the backing at the same time as you smooth down the front. With big pieces like these, it’s sometimes easiest to use a large scraping tool to smooth it down, but your hand will work too. Then scrape out from the center to make sure everything sticks without
bubbles or wrinkles.
Apply the Stencil to your Board
Now that all of your pieces have transfer paper on them, you just have to put them together, kind of like a big puzzle.
Start with the top left corner. Line up the corner of the stencil with the corner of the board, and make sure it’s straight along both edges.
Then use the same technique you just used with the transfer paper: fold down one edge, line it up along the edge of the board, and slowly peel off the backing as you lay down the stencil.
If you get a bubble, just pick up that edge and smooth it down again. Then scrape everything down to be sure the stencil sticks.
Now you’re ready to remove the transfer paper. Keep the transfer paper flat against itself as you peel it back so that it comes off nice and smooth.
Tip: The stencils on the bottom row don’t use the entire square, so cut off the excess stencil film and save it for other projects. You might want to do this before you put the transfer paper on, but if you forget like I did, you can remove the transfer paper easily enough.
The key for the bottom row is to make sure that the tops of these stencils line up with the ones above them, and that they stay square with the edge of the board.
Take your time to make sure it’s all lined up.
When you are ready to apply a piece that needs to line up in the corner between two stencils, first peel back the edge of the skinnier side and cut off that section of the backing. Then fold back the edge of the longer side, stick it down where it’s lined up on all sides, and smooth it down just like you did with the other pieces.
That last little tail is why you might need a craft knife. (Again, it’s probably easier to do this before you put on the transfer paper, but either way works.)
You’ll notice that this piece has a margin, since we didn’t want to waste an entire square for such a tiny piece. Cut away the margin so that you can line up the tail with the rest of the letter. The film will overlap because of the margin, and that’s fine.
Go ahead and press it down and remove the transfer tape. Now your stencil is complete, and your sign is ready to paint!
Be sure to check out this post for Secrets on How to Paint using Stencils without bleeds or other issues. You’ll find these tips super valuable.
Once again the Faith can move mountains SVG is free for you to use. I keep all of my free SVG files in a resource library for your convenience. It allows you to see all of my freebies in one place!
Just fill out the simple form below and the password will be sent to your right away.
You can totally do this. Just remember to take your time.
Thanks for crafting with me today!
Chris Butler has helped thousands of crafters learn how to use their Cricut machine without feeling overwhelmed. She is a best selling author and an up and coming designer. For fun Chris enjoys designing SVG Files, hanging out with her family (preferably at the lake), traveling, and volunteering at her church. She is a wife and mom of two crazy fun kids.