Printable Vinyl 101 – Learn how to print on vinyl to make your own awesome DIY vinyl decals at home! Custom printable vinyl stickers are perfect for labeling and decorating all your stuff. Once you see how easy it is to make custom vinyl stickers you are going to be labeling all the things! A big thanks to Expressions Vinyl for sponsoring this post, which also contains affiliate links that help to support this site at no extra cost to you.
I am really excited to share today’s tutorial with you all! As much as I love working with vinyl, I know that it can be really intimidating if you have never worked with it before! I am working on putting together a bunch of Vinyl 101 posts to help you all get past any fear of working with vinyl and just starting making! Today, we are kicking things off with a complete guide to working with printable adhesive vinyl!
I love printable vinyl because it is a super easy way to create beautiful multi-colored designs. Plus, its easy to use even if you don’t have a Silhouette or other cutting machine. I’m going to specifically be focused on printable adhesive vinyl today, but don’t worry, I have a post on printable heat transfer vinyl in the works.
Printable adhesive vinyl can be used to easily make custom decals and stickers in whatever designs you like! These decals are durable, water and weather resistant, and have a permanent adhesive. They can be adhered to any hard, smooth surface indoors or outdoors. I applied my decals to some notebooks and waterbottles, but they can be used in so many ways! (I have even used printable vinyl to make a DIY laptop skin in the past)
Okay, are you ready to make your own awesome DIY vinyl decals?? Here’s everything you need to get working with printable vinyl.
DIY Vinyl Decals Supplies:
- Inkjet Vinyl (you can buy it by the sheet or in a starter pack that comes with laminate overlay included)
- Vinyl Laminate (available in an “economy” matter finish or “premium” glossy finish)
- Application Tool
- Inkjet Printer
- Silhouette Cameo or other electronic cutting machine (optional, but very nice to have)
- Your Sticker Designs (I used some cute little illustrations included as bonuses with the Unicorny font, which you can get right HERE)
Psst – If you are brand new to working with printable vinyl, then the Expressions Vinyl inkjet vinyl starter pack ^ is a great option because it comes with enough material to make several sheets of decals and to try out the different laminate types.
Printable Vinyl Guide: How to Print on Vinyl
Printable adhesive vinyl works great with an electronic cutting machine, but I just want to make it clear that you absolutely do NOT have to have a fancy cutting machine to make your own vinyl decals. You can easily work with printable vinyl with just a pair of scissors or a craft knife.
However, if you are cutting an intricate design, lots of decals, or if you just want a really nice, precise cut, then I would recommend a cutting machine like the Silhouette or Cricut. I use a Silhouette, and will walk you through the basic steps of working with that machine, but the basic steps will work for if you are cutting with a Cricut or by hand.
Step One – Prepare Your Design and Print.
If you are cutting your decals by hand, then you just need to use any photo editing software (or Word would even work) to place your designs on a 8.5 x 11 size page and print them off using your inkjet printer. That’s it!
If you are working with a Silhouette, you need to set up your document in the Studio software before printing. In the page settings tab, start by setting the page size to 8.5 x 11 (or whatever size printable vinyl sheet you are using – just remember you need to use a size your printer can handle). Next, make sure you have the registration marks turned on. You have to have the registration marks turned on for the machine to cut the decals!
Next, open up your designs in the software and arrange them on your page. I used these adorable designs that come as bonuses with the Unicorny font for my stickers. As you place your designs, you can rotate them to fit as many as possible on your page. You don’t want to waste any of that vinyl! Just make sure to avoid the hashmarked areas and to keep all your cut lines within the red line.
After you have your designs all placed, it’s time to create a cut line around the edges of each of your designs. To do this, open the trace window and click select trace area. Then drag to create a rectangle around all of your designs. Next, adjust the threshold setting until the design is completely yellow. Finally, click “Trace Outer Edge” to create cut lines around the edge of each shape. A red line should appear around the edge of each of your designs where the Silhouette will cut.
Now it’s time to print! Load your vinyl sheet into your printer so that the image will print on the matte side. Click File > Print to send the page to your printer. Remember, this vinyl is designed to work with inkjet printers. After it’s done printing, it should look something like this:
Step Two – Apply Vinyl Laminate.
At this point, you could simple cut and apply your decals, but if you want them to be extra durable (and especially if you want them to be washable), then you should first apply a vinyl laminate overlay. On it’s own, inkjet printable vinyl is rated to last outdoor for one year, but when you add a laminate overlay, it will last for 4-5 years. I made my laptop skin a year and a half ago, and it still looks great, and I think the laminate is why it has held up so well. You can choose from a glossy or a matte finish. For these decals I went with the glossy overlay.
Start off by cutting your laminate down to 8.5 x 11. Peel one edge of the laminate away from the backing and carefully line it up with the edge of your page. Using your application tool (or an old credit card would work pretty well too), slowly smooth the laminate down onto your vinyl while pulling the backing away.
Use your application tool to burnish the laminate overlay onto the printed vinyl sheet.
Step Three – Cut Vinyl Decals.
Now that your designs are printed onto the vinyl and the laminate has been applied, you are ready to cut! If you are cutting by hand, simply use a pair of sharp scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat to carefully cut along the edge of your designs. If you are cutting with the Silhouette, place the vinyl onto your cutting mat and load it into the machine. Adjust your cut settings. For printable vinyl with a laminate overlay, I recommend these settings: Blade: 2, Thickness/Depth: 33, and Speed: 5.
Send the file to cut, and the machine will use the registration marks to cut right along the edge of your designs. It’s so cool!
Step Four – Peel and Stick!
All that’s left to do at this point is to peel the stickers off the backing and apply them where ever you want! I used mine to decorate some new notebooks and personalize my kids’ waterbottles.
Printable vinyl is kind of perfect for making cute labels for all of your kids’ stuff, don’t you think? Because printable vinyl decals have a permanent adhesive, they can stand up to washing well. Hand washing is recommended, however, to keep the decals looking good as long as possible.
And now you know how to print on vinyl! What do you guys think? Have you used printable vinyl before? What kinds of DIY vinyl decals are you going to make? Tell me all about it in the comments, and let me know if you have any questions there too. 🙂
Check out more vinyl ideas here: