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How To Layer Vinyl
Hello fellow crafters! Today I’m going to show you how to layer adhesive vinyl an easy way. It can be a little tricky to get multiple colors perfectly lined up. When I first started I ended up with a big ball of sticky vinyl mess.
But I’ve learned a few things along the way to get multiple colors of vinyl layered quickly without too much hassle.
You’ll learn some of the same tips and tricks for layering adhesive vinyl using Cricut design space. But the concept will work using any design software.
Let’s get to it.
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Layering Vinyl Supplies Needed
- Transfer Paper -I prefer to use clear contact paper
- Adhesive Vinyl -If you want your project to last it’s best to use Oracle 651 Permanent Adhesive Vinyl, you can find a great price on a starter pack here.
- Cutting Machine – I’m using my Cricut Explore
- Fun SVG Cut Files (I’m using Mamma’s Kitchen grab it on sale here)
Cricut Layering Tutorial
The first trick to layering vinyl happens before you even cut your design. As I mentioned earlier I’ll be showing these steps in Cricut design space, but the concept is the same with any cutting machine.
So start with your multi-colored design in Design Space. If you need help uploading SVG files to Design Space see this post.
I’m using this Mamma’s Kitchen knockout design with two colors. You can see both of the colors listed in the layers menu in Design Space.
After you have your design uploaded to design space we are going to add some guides to make the layering easy.
So go to the left menu and select shapes and then the square. Reduce the size of the square and place it on the top left of your design.
By default the squares are grey. So go over to the layers menu and change the color to black, or the main color of your design.
After the color is changed right click on the square and select duplicate. Now you have two squares exactly the same. Move the second square to the top right of your design.
From this point- we have two options.
One – You can select everything and click attach on the bottom right menu. And then cut the whole design twice, once in each color.
After the design is cut in each color you just weed out all of the parts you don’t need for that color. Be sure to leave the squares though. I usually have to look at the picture to keep from messing this up and weeding the wrong things lol.
The second option is the one I prefer to use, I find it much easier and less wasteful in the long run.
Making Guides For Each Color
So to do the second option we need another set of squares for our second color. Select one of the black squares and right click and duplicate it again.
Change the color to red or the same shade as your second color. And then right click on the red square and duplicate it.
So now you have two black squares and two red squares.
Select the black square on the left and note the position of it. You’ll want to write these numbers down.
In this case my black square is at x 9.014 and y 1.917. (I promise we aren’t doing Algebra)
Now select a red square and change its position to match the black square. You can just type in the numbers for the position instead of messing with the up-down arrows.
This will automatically move your red square to the top of your black square.
Repeat that same process for the set of squares on the right. When you’re done, both red squares should be directly above both black squares.
Now we have our guides in place, but if we click the make it button -it will all go to the cut mats in a jumbled mess. Because that’s the way Cricut rolls.
So next we’re going to fix it so everything stays exactly where we want it when the design is cut.
Preparing to Cut the Adhesive Vinyl
To do this we are going to use the layers menu on the right.
You can select parts of your design right in the layers menu. When a part is selected it turns a darker shade of gray.
What we want to do is have the black part of the design stay with the black squares. And the red part of the design stay with the red squares.
So in the layers menus select the black part of your design first. And while holding down the shift key, select each of the black squares. All three parts should be that darker shade of gray.
Once all three parts are selected click the weld button on the bottom of the layers menu. This will keep everything together when it’s cut.
Repeat the same process for the three parts of your second color. Select them all by holding down the shift key and weld them together.
After you are done your layers menu should look like this. … …
Now your squares will stay in place so you can use them as guides after it’s cut.
Go ahead and click the make it button and cut both of your colors. When you’re weeding the vinyl after it’s cut be sure to keep the squares.
*This will work for more colors too. If you have a third or fourth color make squares and repeat the process for each color.
Next we actually get to layer the adhesive vinyl for our project
Layering Adhesive Vinyl
Ok so your vinyl is cut, you have it weeded and now we’re going to put it all together.
Start with adding your transfer tape to one of your vinyl colors and burnishing (rub real hard so it sticks) it well.
Next you’ll want to remove one corner of the backing under one of the squares.
Removing just one corner will allow us to easily line it up. Otherwise you might end of with a big ball of sticky vinyl mess.
Now grab your second color of vinyl so we can put them together.
You need to place the squares directly on top of each other. Take your time and get it as close as you can. Typically once the vinyl touches, it’s stuck.
But since you only have one little corner of the stickiness exposed, you’ll have a much easier time concentrating on lining up your squares.
After your first square is lined up, pull the backing back just enough to expose your second square guide.
Line those squares up directly on top of each other. This one will be slightly easier to line up. When I’m lining up the guides I like to start with one corner.
After you have the second set of squares lined up you’re gonna remove the rest of the backing.
As you’re pulling the backing off with one hand, smooth down the transfer paper with your other hand like so….
Go ahead and peel back the transfer tape and remove your squares, you don’t want them on your final project.
And then rub everything down really hard with your Cricut scraper to get it ready to transfer.
Layering Adhesive Vinyl Tips
I’m leaving this in to show it’s not always as easy as it looks. I’ve done this successfully dozens of times, but every once in a while you get a screw-up. It just happens.
This one is off by a fraction of a millimeter, but that gap sticks out like a sore thumb.
So here are some tips to try to avoid that:
- Start with smaller designs. They’re easier to work with and you won’t cry so many tears over ruined vinyl if it doesn’t turn out.
- Really take your time lining up those squares -try to have a distraction-free zone. My kids kept pestering me when I was doing this which caused me to try to get it done faster.
- If you can –avoid designs like this where one color has to match up exactly to another color. It’s much more evident when they don’t line up.
Here is another design I did using the same technique for someone who ordered a mug. I could be off by a millimeter here too.
But if I am you’ll never be able to tell.
There are a few different mistakes I could point out on this mug. But fixing them is for another post.
Now you know how to layer adhesive vinyl like the pros. You can make so many great things with this technique. Just remember to go slow, start small and choose easier designs in the beginning.
Love the Mamma’s Kitchen knockout designs? You can grab them in my shop here, they’re on sale for a limited time!
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.