Welcome back for Part 4 of how to make vinyl labels like a pro. I’ve been pouring all of my knowledge gained from years of making vinyl labels into this blog series to help you get starting making your own. If you missed Parts 1-3, be sure to check those out in the Guides section of the blog. This week I’ll be giving you a step by step Cricut Joy tutorial. What’s a Cricut Joy? I talked all about the different types of machines in this post on supplies. I chose to do this tutorial for the Cricut Joy because it’s a greater starter machine for a labeling hobbyist and fairly simple to use. Also, if you follow me on Instagram, I polled my audience there and they chose this tutorial. So here we are! This is probably going to get a bit lengthy so let’s just dive in.
Cricut Joy App
To create labels and designs with the Cricut Joy, you’ll need to install the Cricut Joy app. I *think* there is a desktop version, but, unless you’re a Cricut enthusiast I think the mobile app will be the way to go. Once you download and create an account you’ll see there are several options to create. As you scroll through the options the first of note is “Quick Labels”. Quick Labels is a really intuitive and easy way to make simple labels. I won’t go into specifics since it is really self explanatory. Quick Labels does not offer as many options as creating custom, so keep that in mind. I’ll be covering the custom option in depth below.
Having used the app a bit I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s really good about being user friendly, offering tutorials within the app, and using pictures/video at certain critical points in the process. It’s not without its frustrations, however. I’ve had it just freeze up when getting to the cutting stage. It might have been a flaw in my design, but the app didn’t give me any kind of error so I’m just guessing.
Design Your Own Vinyl Decals
Creating your own custom design will give you the most options. It also requires a little bit more knowledge of app features which I’ll share here.
After you click “Start Designing” the next screen will require you to pick a design orientation. Your selection will depend on a couple things. First is the vinyl sheet you are cutting from. If you a whole sheet feel free to pick from either landscape or portrait. This decision really does not affect your design, just how you view the design screen. For this reason, I personally prefer portrait. If you are using a scrap piece of vinyl select landscape, portrait, or square. Once you make a selection it will ask for dimensions. This is the dimension of your vinyl sheet. Cricut Joy restricts the width (in portrait mode) or height (in landscape mode) to a max of 4.25 inches, even though the Joy vinyl rolls are 5.5 inches. This ensures a proper margin so that your design doesn’t run off of the available cutting space. The height (or width depending on orientation) can be as large as your sheet of vinyl. If you’re only making a few, though, go smaller so your design screen is more manageable. Once you’ve made your selections click “Next” in the top right corner.
You’ll now enter the design screen. This is where you will create custom labels for cutting. When you enter you’ll see 2 options at the bottom of the screen. Let’s start with the “+” icon which pops up 4 additional icons that we’ll cover individually.
- The upward arrow with a bar is for uploading SVG files. An SVG is a graphic file you may have purchased or obtained elsewhere and want to use in your design.
- The hot air balloon is for inserting Cricut images. There is a search bar to quickly find designs. Once you search (I’m using heart as an example) you’ll see in the top right a check box from “Free”. Cricut offers some images for free, and others at additional cost through the Cricut Access membership. Images for purchase are denoted with an “a” in the corner of a gray triangle. To include an image in your design just tap on it and hit the check mark at the bottom.
- The triangle and circle icon is for inserting shapes. There are free, and paid shapes here as well.
- The “T” is for adding text. In the next section we’ll cover the additional buttons for editing text.
The paint palette button allows you to add color to your design elements. Simply tap on an item that you have added, in this example it’s a heart, and then tap the paint palette and pick your color.
Once you’ve added an image, shape, or text, you’ll see additional buttons surrounding the item.
- The “X” in the upper left corner is to delete the element.
- The rounded arrow in the top right corner allows you to rotate or flip. To rotate you can hold the rounded arrow and drag or pull the big white circle at the bottom left or right. There are also buttons on the bottom to flip the design horizontally or vertically.
- The arrows pointing out on the bottom right allows you to resign the design by either dragging with your finger or manually typing dimensions at the bottom.
- The stacked blocks on the bottom left is to create a duplicate. This is really useful when you want to create multiple labels and keep them a consistent size.
- The “A” underneath is for changing text font. Again you’ll notice some fonts are free, and others are paid. Some fonts offer different styles (like bold, or italic). The Style button will be grayed out if it’s not an option for a particular font. You can also select text alignment.
- The scissor icon is for when you are combing elements and the selection tells the machine what you want to cut. As you see in the example below I’ve placed text inside of a shape. When the text is highlighted there are three options. The scissors alone will just cut the outside shape and not your text. The scissors with a white box will cut both the text and the shape. And the pencil icon is for writeable vinyl. In this example the shape would be cut and then you would switch the blade out for a marker and it would draw the lettering onto the vinyl.
Once you have your design(s) how you want it, then it’s best to do some rearranging on your sheet. Wherever your design is will be where it is cut on your actual sheet of vinyl so you’ll want to move it to avoid a bunch of waste in the cutting process. When finished rearranging tap “Done” in the upper right hand corner. You’ll see a preview screen and can go back to editing by tapping at the bottom or move on the cutting by tapping “Next” at the top right.
Cutting Your Label
The last step in the process is to make your label. You’ll start at the prep screen where the cut settings will be selected. Start by tapping “Material” and selecting the type of material you will be cutting from the options. The next selection is “Material Load”. This is where you will indicate if you are using a cutting mat (needed for scrap pieces) or not. “Mirror Design” means it will cut your design backwards. This is used mainly for iron-on designs. The “Material Size” was set when you selected dimensions at the beginning of the process. If you want to take one last look at your project before cutting, tap “Preview” at the bottom. When complete, tap the “Make It” button on the top right.
The app will search for your Cricut Joy machine via bluetooth. Once you select your machine, the app will then walk you through how to load the vinyl into the machine and a cutting blade. After you tap “Go” the machine will do it’s thing and when it’s done tap “Unload”. The app will then bring up a tutorial to show you next steps to weed and apply your design. After tapping “Done” you’ll also be given the option to save your design for future use.
Congrats! You’ve just made your first label. It wasn’t too hard was it? I hope this Cricut Joy tutorial was really helpful. I have some more tips to share in a follow up blog post on weeding (the process of removing excess vinyl from your cut design) and label application because that can be a whole process in itself. Until then, happy labeling!