There are many ways to make a stencil with your Cricut using contact paper, vinyl, transfer tape or reusable mylar sheets.
There are many ways to make stencils with the Cricut. This tutorial will cover how to make stencils with both the Cricut Maker and Explore Air.
I was on a stenciling kick for a while mostly because I was tired of HTV peeling off things. Stenciling on fabric or even wood can look so much more professional if you do it right.
With a cutting machine like the Cricut Explorer or Cricut Maker, stenciling becomes that much easier. Now you can make custom designs whenever you feel like it.
If you want this set of “Home” and “Love” SVG files, they are available for FREE in my resource library.
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Let’s start by demonstrating how to make your own stencils in Cricut Design Space and identifying some of the best Cricut fonts for stencils.
How to make your own stencils in Cricut Design Space
The key thing to making designs for stencils is thinking about the negative space that you are creating and how to keep the positive space intact.
My method generally starts with a graphic of some sort. It can be anything, a whole design, some letters a monogram, an illustration… and then using that as a starting point.
You want to make a cutout for the Cricut machine that stays together. This means you can’t have floating elements or pieces of your design.
Lets take this Antler SVG as an example. One of the branches has a center cutout that is floating.
There are 2 solutions to making this a better stencil.
- You can just let it be and eyeball where the center piece goes when painting.
- Change the design so there is no floating cutout
Lets talk about how to change the design. The easiest way is to make a sliver of a rectangle and slice the branch.
To slice a pathway so that there is no floating element in the stencil, first make a small rectangle using the square Shape in the tool bar.
Then place the sliver where you want to slice. Select both items and use the Slice tool in the bottom right corner.
How to make letter stencils with Cricut
The floating design piece issues happens most frequently with letters. There is an easy way around this.
I like to slice my enclosed letters at the thinnest part using the rectangle sliver technique noted above.
Best Cricut font for stencil
There are many great stencil suitable fonts in Cricut Design Space that do not have any floating elements:
- 3 Birds on paradise
- Circut Alphabet-Circle
- Dinosaur Tracks
- Don Juan
- Doodle Type
- Girly Stencil
- Glaser Stencil
- Blippo Com Stencil
- Iwan Stencil
- Wednesday Stencil
Best stencil material for Cricut cutting machines
You can make stencils out of many different materials from paper to vinyl to plastic and everything in between.
I like to use different materials depending on what paint I’m using, the blank material and the design itself.
Best materials for reusable stencils
If you are using a non-permanent medium, it might be worth while to create a reusable stencil as to not waste material. Keep in mind, if your design has any floating elements, you will have to use a silk screen.
Best material for cooking related stencils
I love to stencil my own cookies. While it is possible to use Mylar Sheets, they are technically not food grade material.
- Parchment Paper
- Wax Paper
- Grafix Clear Sheets
*Grafix is a manufacturer that makes food-grade safe plastic sheets. Mylar is a branded plastic sheet. There are many grades of Mylar.
Best disposable materials for stencils
When I’m stenciling on fabric, I frequently will just use a disposable material because the paint gets everywhere and is hard to clean up. These materials are also sticky and make it easier to work with floating elements in your design.
How to make reusable stencils with Cricut Explore Air or Maker
My recommendation for resuable stencils is to use Mylar plastic sheets. I find they are easiest to use and keep in place.
They are also easiest to wash.
Mylar plastic sheets Cricut settings
For the Grafix/mylar clear sheets and the purple mat with custom- stencil film-0.4mm setting with Pressure = more.
As you can see, the mylar sheet is very similar to the Cricut mat cover. In fact, I sometimes just use cover to old mats I’ve tossed to make my stencils.
I find the Maker works slightly better with the deep cut knife and sometimes will use it with the Grafix/mylar sheets. In this scenario, it really depends on the brand. I would play around with the different settings under the plastic category.
Cricut setting for contact paper
I’ve tried various settings for contact paper on the Cricut. The problem with contact paper is it is actually quite weak so it tends to snag. For stencils, I like to just set it on Vinyl less. It occasionally cuts through but that is fine given I am using it as a stencil.
I like to use a blue light grip mat because it peel easier.
Parchment and Wax Paper Cricut Settings
For parchment and wax paper, I like to use the copy paper setting and either the blue or green mat.
For stencils, I would much rather it error on the side of cutting through rather than not cutting deep enough and snagging.
For removable vinyl sheets, I have found it sometimes sticks to the green mat so I almost always use a blue light grip mat with vinyl setting and default pressure setting. For non-Cricut brand vinyl, I use the less pressure version vinyl session.
How to make a stencil for painting with Cricut
There are many surface to paint with a stencil and the Cricut allows you to make stencils out of most materials popular for stencil making.
The most popular stencil painting materials include fabric, wood, canvas, chalkboard and ceramics.
Adhesive stencils tend to work the best when it comes to painting. Regardless of the viscosity of your paint, it is likely to run or bleed with a non-adhesive stencil.
I would stick to adhesive stencil materials for painting like removable vinyl, contact paper, transfer paper and sticky laminating sheets.
For more a more porous medium like wood, I would use mod podge to seal the edges of the cutout before applying the paint. Just dab a layer of mod podge on the cutout parts of the stencil after it is on the wood.
It is also important to use a sponge or sponge brush for painting with stencils to minimize bleeding from excess paint.
Do you let paint dry before removing stencil?
One of the most frequently asked questions when painting with stencils is do you peel the stencil before or after it dries?
I have found the best time to peel is when it is dry to the touch. You risk smearing the paint if peeled wet and it might chip if peeled too dry.
If you base material is stretchy and you peel the stencil when it is too wet, it stretched the design in undesirable ways.
But this is not scientific so you don’t have to be super precise about it.
Just getting started with the Cricut?
If all of this seems overwhelming, check out my quick reference ebook Cracking the Cricut. I provide a comprehensive overview of Cricut Design Space for all devices: