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In this Cricut tutorial I’m going to show you how to make a stencil in Design Space. It’s overwhelming to figure it out on your own. And you’re probably ready to rip your hair out after a failed attempt. But once you know the simple steps in order, it’s really quite easy.
This tutorial +video is going to cover vinyl stencils, which are a one time use. I also have a post on how to make reusable stencils with your Cricut that you can find here.
So to create a stencil you can either make your own design or upload a ready-made design to Cricut. I’ll show you both ways, plus how to turn that design into a stencil.
I love making my own. I have the one I’m using in this tutorial available in my resource library if you would like to use it. All the info is at the bottom of this post.
I’ve watched a variety of crazy tutorials for making stencils, and this is by far the easiest way I’ve found to do it.
So let’s get started.
The Easy Way to Make a Stencil With Cricut Plus Painting Tips Video
How To Make A Stencil From Your Own Design in Cricut Design Space
Do you have a saying you really love and want to put it on a sign? You can totally do that. I’ll go through the basics of starting from scratch to turning it into a stencil.
Start with hitting the text button I have highlighted on the left. On the top bar is where you choose your font (also highlighted). When you click on the font dropdown it shows you all fonts, yours and Cricuts. But there is a tab within the fonts box that says system. If you click on that, you will see just your own fonts.
It’s easiest to have one text box per line so you can space things how you want it. So my first line is ‘it’s so good to be’ in corbel font which is a Microsoft font that was already on my computer.
After your first line is done, hit the text box again.
A new box will appear to type your second line. Repeat this process for every line of text you have.
My second line simply says ‘Home’. This is Magnolia Sky font which I purchased here.
Ungrouping and Welding Script Text
You’ll notice in design space all of the script fonts have separated letters. It looks kinda funny, so we want to move them together.
To do this, while your text is selected (as shown above) click the ungroup button I have highlighted on the top right.
After you hit ungroup you will see in your layer panel (highlighted) that all of the letters are now separated. You can click and drag each letter to where you want it. Make sure the letters overlap each other and it looks natural.
Now you can see all of the script letters are touching. But notice the layer panel on the right? Each letter is still showing individually. Cricut will cut each letter individually and we don’t want that.
To fix it, highlight or select your script text (start in one corner and hold down the mouse key while moving the mouse over your text). After it’s highlighted you will see the box appear around it as shown. Then click the weld key in the bottom right corner that I have highlighted.
Now it will cut as one continuous word. (Yay!)
Attaching Everything Together to Make One Stencil
Now you can arrange your text lines how you want. I made the word Home really big and the rest of the text small.
When you are happy with how everything looks, you need to attach it all together. Otherwise, when you go to the cut mat Cricut will arrange everything for the most economical cut.
To attach, highlight all of your text (make sure all letter parts are in the box) and then click the attach button I have highlighted on the bottom right of your screen. There’s a little paper clip above it.
After it’s attached the whole thing should move and stay together when you click and drag.
Yay now your stencil design is done! But there are a few more steps to make it a stencil.
In the next section, I’m going to show you how to upload an SVG file into design space to make a stencil. If you don’t need that info you can skip ahead to “How to make a stencil”
How to Upload a File in Design Space to Make a Stencil
If you are not up to creating your own stencil, no problem. There are hundreds and thousands out there you can use. They are for sale on Etsy and often found free many places too!
If you want to swipe my free file for ‘it’s good to be home’ I have it available in my Resource Library at the bottom of the page.
Uploading the Design
After you find the design you want, download it to your computer. It’s most likely in a Zip File so it will need to be extracted.
Open design space and select new project. On the left panel at the bottom select upload. And then on the new screen select upload image.
You can drag and drop your file into the upload box, or select it from the file on your computer.
Cricut may say that the file contains text elements that are not supported. It’s fine, just select the continue button.
Your upload will appear and you will have the option of naming it and adding tags so it’s easy to find again. When you are done click save.
Then you will be back at the screen that shows all of your uploads. Select the one you want and click insert images.
Now you are back in design space and you should see the image you just uploaded. If you don’t, try hitting the zoom out button (bottom left). I’ve had a few get lost in there, but they are usually found when I zoom out.
And if zooming out doesn’t happen to work, on the right of the top bar you will see position keys, if they are a negative number, move them to zero or a positive number.
Preparing The File For Cutting
Before you make a stencil, your file will need to be all one cut.
Some files you upload may need to be welded or attached together before you can make a stencil. Check the layers bar on the right side, If you see letters and shapes listed individually you will need to do some welding and attaching.
See the steps up above for welding and attaching if that’s the case.
How To Make It A Stencil
At this point, you could cut the design if you wanted to just put the vinyl on wood. This is called the PVPP method which stands for paint, vinyl, paint, peel.
But I find stenciling much easier than PVPP.
So to make a stencil you need to go to the left toolbar and click shapes (highlighted) and then select the square. When your square pops up on the bottom left click the little lock. This will unlock the proportions so we can stretch it into a rectangle.
Move your box to the top left of your design and then start stretching your box out to cover the whole design. At some point when your box is getting bigger, you can right click on the box and select move to back.
This will bring your design back to the front and you will be able to see the box behind it.
Working with black text on a black box is kind of hard, so I switched the text color to white. You could also switch your box color, it doesn’t matter as long as you can see what you are doing.
To change the color select the little color circle (highlighted) in the layers box next to the object you want to change.
Sizing Your Stencil
Here’s a tip for this little rectangle. Make it the exact same size as your project, and it will be super simple to line up straight.
So if the board you are painting on is 10″ x 8″, make your rectangle 10″ x 8″.
After my rectangle is set to my project size, I center the design onto the rectangle.
After everything is good and centered, we need to attach it together.
Start in one corner again and hold down your mouse key while you move over your design. Once the whole thing is in the blue box, click the attach button on the bottom right toolbar. (the one with the paper clip!)
After everything is attached, the white goes away and you can see the lines that the Cricut is going to cut. You are ready to hit the ‘Make It’ button!
Design Space will switch to the cutting mat view and warn you if your design is too large. I sized mine to be 20 inches long, so I need to use the 24″ cutting mat. You will want to keep your design at least 1/2″ smaller than the cutting mat or Cricut will not cut it correctly.
I cut a 12″x20″ piece of vinyl and placed it on my cutting mat. Next load the mat into your Cricut machine and then hit the start button.
After the Cricut is done, remove the excess vinyl from around your rectangle. Use your weeding tool to pull out the vinyl from the letters. Be sure to keep the centers of letters like ‘o’ or ‘e’ there.
Now you are ready to transfer your design to your project!
See that wasn’t so bad. Simply knowing the right steps in order takes you from wanting to rip out your hair to a stencil making pro.
In the next post, I cover transferring the stencil to your project. Plus my method to paint the perfect sign every time . From getting the stencil on easily, to stopping the paint from bleeding and getting the stencil back off without pulling up any paint. You can read it here.
Now you need more SVG files to make stencils with! Be sure to check out my shop and save 50% off anything with code OHYEA.
Or sign up down below for exclusive access to the free resource library.
Which Vinyl to Use For Stencils
This can be a matter of preference and you may just have to try to see what you like. For this tutorial, I am using Cricut brand vinyl, and it did ok.
I prefer using Oramask 813 Stencil vinyl, and others like 631 removable vinyl. I order from Expressions vinyl (linked), they have great prices and good quality.
I do NOT recommend you order your vinyl from Amazon. I’m not sure if they roll them to tight or what the issue is. But all the vinyl I have ordered from them has been a bear to work with. It’s still workable and will do in a pinch, but it’s a bear.
I have a vinyl guide here if you need more help.
Swipe My Cut File
If you would like to use my ‘it’s so good to be home’ design, I have the SVG file available in my free resource library. Simply fill out the form below to get instant access. The file is for the last design pictured with the swirly at the end of the ‘e’ Here it is cut.
Exclusive Access to the Free Resource Library and the “it’s so good to be home” SVG file.
Pin How To Make A Stencil The Easy Way With Your Cricut
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.
How did you get the “e” to continue on like that?
With glyphs or special characters. I explain how to do that in my post here https://dailydoseofdiy.com/how-to-edit-text-cricut-design-space/
I also have a guidebook full of Cricut Cheat sheets that has special characters in it for PC and iPhone/iPad that you can get here https://dailydoseofdiy.com/cricut-guide/
I was told you have to slice letters like a, b, p, o, in order for them to come out right on a stencil, but i noticed you don’t do that. How do you get them to come out right ?
Debbie – a newbie
Hi Debbie! Nope you don’t have to slice. I think that just makes more steps to do. Once you place your design over the square/rectangle select everything and attach, that will keep everything in place and they will cut correctly
How do you keep the center of letters in place while painting? TIA
Hi Kristi! The vinyl is sticky so they stick in place pretty well.
Thank you so very much, that was the most well written tutorial I have read on all the sites I have been too
I, too, am a Jesus lover. Lord bless you and please keep teaching us newbies out here.
Hi which cricut machine should I use to make stencils?
You can use any of the Cricut machines to make stencils. I primarily use my Explore, but they will all work.
Hi chris , what about transfer tape do I need it ?
Yes, you will need transfer tape when you apply the stencil. I talk about that in this post https://dailydoseofdiy.com/vinyl-stencil-on-wood-secrets-to-a-perfect-hand-painted-sign/
I’ve made four failed attempts at my first stencil using my Cricut Explore Air. The package for the Dritz no-melt mylar template plastic sheets doesn’t tell me how thick the sheets are. I’ve tried using a 1 mil setting, a .6 mil setting, the posterboard setting on the dial, the stencil setting, and none of the cuts go through all the way through the sheet. Chris, do you or anyone else have a suggestion as to a setting I can use that will make a cut deeper than the 1 mil sitting?
When making reusable stencils how do I keep the center of e intact?
Hi Elizabeth! I talk about that in my reusable stencils post here. https://dailydoseofdiy.com/diy-reusable-stencil-cricut-explore/
Basically you’ll need to make a line to attach the centers or use a stencil font so it’s already attached for you.
Barbara Conroy says
I thought I did every step but my option does not light up to move the black square to the back!!
I’m trying to make a vinyl stencil for etching purposes but I can’t get the dots in a e d and g to stay with the stencil. What am I doing wrong?
I’m assuming your using transfer tape. Are you burnishing those areas really well? (rubbing really hard) . If all else fails you can use your pik to place them where needed.
Help! I believe I have ordered your buffalo plaid stencil…Sweeney I cut it out, I have no attaching lines on it anywhere, so it is impossible to transfer to a project without losing halfway of the design…what am I doing wrong??!!!
Hi PAm! I don’t sell a buffalo plaid stencil, but if you link me to it I’ll take a look and see if I can find the problem.
Is it possible to have “bridges” on a stencil so that the center of round letters remain attached?
Chris Butler says
Yes it is, I talk about this in my post on making reusable stencils here. https://dailydoseofdiy.com/diy-reusable-stencil-cricut-explore/
With vinyl stencils though, it’s really not necessary.
I want to make 6 inch letter stencils out of cricut stencil vinyl that I can reuse. Is this possible?
Chris Butler says
Hi Allison! Stencil Vinyl is not reusable, it stretches and tears when you pull it off. You can use mylar though, I have a post on it here . –> https://dailydoseofdiy.com/diy-reusable-stencil-cricut-explore/
hello! what transfer paper do you use?
Chris Butler says
Hi Natalie! I use clear contact paper
Are you using the Cricut Explorer 2 or Maker?
Chris Butler says
I use both
Kim CYR says
Hi! I’m absolutely in love with your blog and all your helpful tips!
I have a quick question. What is your favorite vinyl to use for both removable stencils and “stay on vinyl” ? I have bought several kinds of vinyl, and would love your opinion. Thank you for your time
Samira Wardeh says
Hi what is the best vinyl to use for this? I used my cricut stencil vinyl and it bothers me that its clear and very thin. Any recommendations on brand or type of stencil vinyl to use? Thank you! God bless.
Chris Butler says
I love Oracle brand stencil film.
Debbie Walker says
Hello There, I am thinking about purchasing a Cricut to make wood signs and other projects to possibly sell and give as gifts. I am not very computer savvy but you seem to share very good instructions. Which Cricut model do you recommend? I have slot of old windows that I wood like to use vinyl lettering on as well. Your expertise would be very much appreciated. Oh do you happen to sell word art on vinyl or the stencils?
Cindy Fyfe says
Hi, When painting a stencil onto wood does it matter what kind of paint you use? or what’s the best. First attempt to doing this project.
Cindy Fyfe says
Ok I tried stenciling on a wood board that we painted. It was all dry when i pulled the stencil off the paint came with it. So I am not sure what i need to do.
Chris Butler says
Hi Cindy! That could be a few reasonsfor the base coat… either the board wasn’t clean before you painted, you used a poly or protectant that wasn’t cured yet, or the vinyl that you stenciled with wasn’t right for stenciling.
It also helps to pull the stencil off against the grain of wood.
If the letters you stenciled came up that usually happens when the base coat is a gloss or was covered in poly or too much paint was used on the stencil.
how do I turn a poem into a stencil. I have the poem as an svg. It is very large file.
Mary Jacobson says
I have a picture of 4 birds. They are very simple, but I only want to use one of them as a stencil to paint on a flower pot. I can’t figure out how to just use one and how to make it a stencil I can paint. Do you have a video on how to make a stencil after you upload a file? How to crop it or whatever you have to do to make it ready to cut? Thank you. Mary