I’ve been making vinyl labels for years and have learned a lot through trial and error along the way. To save you from similar heartache and frustration, I’m sharing my secrets this week. Here are my top design considerations so you too can make vinyl labels like a pro.
Go as big as you want (or as big as your sheet of vinyl). Big isn’t necessarily better, it’s generally just easier. When you want to go smaller is where it can get tricky. There are two primary issues with smaller labels. The first is there is no backing to your label. So the smaller the individual letter and the skinnier the font, the less sticky material is left to adhere to your container. The second issue is actually cutting and weeding (the process of manually removing the excess vinyl from your design). Vinyl machines can make amazing cuts, but they do have limitations. Also, if you have a loopy font, for example, all that space in the middle of your loops has to be removed. By hand. It’s tedious and can be difficult when super small. Because of this, I don’t recommend capital letters smaller than a half inch high.
Fonts Aren’t Just Pretty
There are hundreds of fonts you could spend hours exploring (and I have). But before you get lost in font-land, keep a few rules in mind to help narrow down the field.
Rule 1: Font Width
I used to have a font in my shop that I really loved for it’s modern look. But the letters were so wide that it was throwing off my proportions and I eventually had to drop it. If the letters look short and wide, make sure to consider your dimensions. In my example, to get the height I was wanting my labels ended up being way too long. A more compact/narrower font just worked better in the end (like Arial Narrow). This is especially true when making labels for small items, like spice jars for example.
Rule 2: Letter Drops
I’m sure there is a proper term for this, but be sure to look at the letter drops in a font you are considering. By letter drops, I mean letters like p, q, j, and y. Elongated letters can affect how small your overall label can be. Remember the half inch rule, so if a capital letter is a half inch and your work contains an elongated letter, then your overall label size could be much larger than intended. Instead, look for fonts where the drop is much smaller.
Rule 3: Font Thickness
I have a weakness for delicate script fonts. They are so pretty, and yet so difficult to use. If it looks super thin, just stay away. If the dot of an i is teeny tiny, just stay away. There is a way to thicken fonts, at least on the desktop design software for the larger cutting machines, but it’s not always practical. So buyer beware.
Rule 4: Audience
Who is going to be reading your labels? If kids are involved I always recommend something simple. Little ones can have a harder time reading script fonts so I usually select a print font without flourishes.
These rules really only apply to smaller scale labels. If you have a specific project in mind and will be making it large (at least 2″ tall) you can get a little more adventurous. Some basic recommendations are Arial, Futura, Marker Felt (all free in Silhouette). Retro Babe is a newer purchase I’ve been having fun with. But like I said, there are so so many fonts in the Silhouette Design Store or Cricut Access Membership that the perfect font is out there for you. It just might take a little (or a lot) of time looking through them.
Hope these design tips for making vinyl labels are helpful. Be sure to read Part 1 (Intro to Vinyl) and Part 2 (Supplies). Up next in Part 4 I’ll give you step by step instructions for creating custom labels using the Cricut Joy. It’s easier than you think!