How to cut & use a stencil w/ a Cricut for beginners!

I made a St. Patrick’s Day reverse canvas sign for my tiered tray today. It turned out perfect using a Dollar Tree stretched canvas. Today I’m going to share the SVG that I created for it and I’m going to show you how to make a DIY stencil with your Cricut. I’m making this a super easy tutorial so even if you’ve just plugged your machine in, you can still do this!

Cricut Stencil featured image graphic

Supplies for a Cricut stencil

  • Cricut- I used Cricut Explore Air.
  • Vinyl
  • Standard grip cutting mat
  • weeding & scraping tool (credit card)
  • SVG- You can download my free download St. Patrick’s Day SVG below.

Supplies for the Dollar Tree Canvas Reverse Sign:

  • 4×6 Dollar Tree stretched canvas
  • Acrylic paint- I used green and black as well as gold.
  • sandpaper (optional)
  • Optional light weight spackle
  • Hot glue or staple gun
  • Cutters or rotary cutters

Prepare the Canvas

Canvases can be used for decor but look better when framed. Good thing for us- Dollar Tree’s stretched canvases have frames underneath! Turn the canvas upside-down and remove the staples. I used a clay tool, but you can also use a small flat-head screwdriver. Once they’re pried up, they can be pulled out by hand pretty easily. If they aren’t, use pliers to pull them out. After they are all gone, you can remove the canvas from the wooden surface.

This step is optional but looks better. Lightweight spackle can be used to cover the metal parts that hold the wood together in its corners. Cover any visible nicks or holes with lightweight spackle. I noticed a gap between the inner corners and the outer corners. I also had some knicks so I filled them in. Let it dry for around an hour.

To remove any unevenness, sand the spackle and the frame.

Once the wood is dry, you can paint or stain it as you wish. I used only one coat of black acrylic paint to make mine black so the wood grain could still be seen.

Painting a 4x6 wood frame with black acrylic paint.

Download Free St. Patrick’s Day SVG

If you’d like to make the same sign I did, you can download this SVG. I created it in color so that you can print it out if you’d rather. You can adjust the size to fit your needs in the print settings.

SVG "not lucky just blessed" with green shamrock.

Upload an image to Design Space

Open Cricut Design Space, and create a new project. Click “Upload” at the bottom of the left-hand toolbar.

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "upload" highlighted. Step 1 in creating a Cricut stencil.

Click “Upload Image.”

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "upload image" highlighted.

Now click “Browse.”

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "browse" highlighted.

The download box will now open. Select the SVG file to be used, and click open.

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "St. Patrick's Day SVG" highlighted.

The transparent background was used in the image I created. If for some strange reason there isn’t a transparent background, just click on the open space to remove it. In the boxes on the right type in the name of the image and below that type in the tags you’d like to use for it. This will allow you to locate it later when you search for. You might type “shamrock,” “St. Patrick’s Day,” “lucky,” etc. Finally, click “Upload.”

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "tags" box & "upload" highlighted. Step 5 in creating a Cricut stencil.

Resize & Prepare Image

Now it’s time to make the image the size that you need. Since I was using my stencil for a 6×4 reverse canvas sign, I needed it to be 3.25″ tall. Your stencil will be sized to fit your shirt, mug, or other items. The top toolbar will show a width box and a height. You can enter your proportions in these boxes.

Cricut Design Space screenshot with "size" & "W" & "H" boxes highlighted. Step 6 in creating a Cricut stencil.

Since we’re making a stencil, we need the image to be one uniform color. Click on “Color Sync” at the top of the right-side toolbar, just under the green “Make It” button. Drag all of the letters and the shamrock into the black toolbar with “not” and “just blessed”

You will need to fix the image before you cut. Click “weld” in the bottom right toolbar.

Step 10 for making a Cricut stencil: "weld" highlighted in Cricut Design Space.

The Cricut Stencil can be cut

Now it’s time to cut the stencil. Click the green “Make It” button in the top right corner.

Step 11 for making a Cricut stencil: "Make It" highlighted in Cricut Design Space.

You will now see the cut screen. Press the circle button on the right side of your machine to turn it on. Next press the “open” button on the left side of the machine.

Turn the wheel on the Cricut to “Vinyl.”

Turning the wheel on the Cricut Explore Air to "vinyl" since that is what we're using for the Cricut stencil.

Back on the computer, click “Continue.” You mat will be black if you moved all of your letters to the black box on the color sync step. You can see the screen better if you change it to green.

Screenshot of the cut screen on Cricut Design space with "Continue" highlighted.

Place your vinyl (it doesn’t matter what color) onto a standard grip mat. I’m using a set from Amazon, but if you’re using a Cricut brand yours will be green. Mine is clear, so I’m sorry that it may be a little hard to see. Line the vinyl up in the middle and press it down so it’s secure.

Placing vinyl on a standard grip mat.

Slide the mat under the tabs on the left or right sides of the machine. Press the flashing arrow button and apply a little pressure towards the mat’s end.

Press the flashing “C” button to start the cut.

Pressing the flashing "C" on the machine.

Once the cut is completed, the arrow button flashes again. To eject the mat, press it.

Pressing the flashing arrow button on the machine to eject the mat with the stencil cut.
The flash began to flash just as I snapped the photo. I jumped the gun on the shutter button lol, but I didn’t hit the arrow until it flashed.

Remove the mat from your machine and remove the vinyl.

This is the cut stencil.

Prepare the Cricut Stencil

Cut the design out of the vinyl sheet. Give yourself a few inches on each side of the image if you’re new to stenciling.

Cutting the stencil from the rest of the sheet of vinyl.

With the design cut out, it’s time to weed the image. You must reverse weed a stencil. You remove the main part of your design and keep the surrounding vinyl. The shamrocks and words should be discarded. Leave the inner parts of the letters like the “e,” “l”, “k,” etc.

Apply the Cricut Stencil on the Canvas

Now that your stencil is ready to be used, you can apply it on the canvas. Cut a piece or transfer paper to fit the stencil. I use contact paper from Dollar Tree, and I’ve been using the same $1 roll for years! Apply the backing to the vinyl using a scraper or credit cards. Pay special attention to the free-floating pieces like the inner “o.” Go over those a little more than the rest since they tend to try to stay on the backing and not transfer to the tape.

Take off the backing.

Place the stencil in the middle of the canvas. I placed the frame over the stencil once I felt that it was properly placed. I wanted to make sure that no lines were visible where the canvas was folded.

Use your credit card, scraping tool, or scraping knife to cover the stencil. Pay special attention to the floating pieces, as well as the edges and letters of the shamrock. This will prevent paint from leaking below. You’ll learn more about this in the next step.

Remove the contact/transfer paper carefully. You can use your credit cards to hold the stencil down while you pull the paper off.

Before moving on to the next stage, I went over the stencil’s edges once more.

Transferring the stencil to the canvas by scraping over it with a credit card.

Paint the Cricut Stencil

Phew. I can see that your wrist may be sore from all the rubbing. We’re finished with all that now. This step can be skipped, but it is definitely worth it. Use a small paintbrush to apply matte Mod Podge along the edges of letters and shamrocks where vinyl and canvas meet. This will seal the paint to the canvas and prevent it from leaking. It should be a thin coat that takes less than five minutes to dry.

Using a paint brush to add Mod Podge to the edges of the letters on the stencil and canvas.

In this photo, you can barely see Mod Podge. You can’t tell it’s there at all once the stencil is painted.

It’s time to paint! You have the option to paint everything in one color or multiple colors, depending on your preference. I used metallic gold and green. I prefer to paint along the edges. But when I had more open space, such as the shamrocks, I used brush strokes. I’m not sure if dabbing made a difference, but I barely had any bleeding, just a few dots.

Allow it to dry for around an hour. You can blow dry it if you’re in a hurry. I was laughing. Once it’s dry, carefully remove the main part of the stencil.

Removing the vinyl stencil from the canvas after painting.

Now, remove the vinyl from the letters. I used a Dollar Tree pick-tool.

Using a metal pick to remove the vinyl from inside the letters after painting.

Here it is before I attached the frame.

The Frame should be reattched

All that’s left to do is place the canvas back on the wood frame.

Place the frame on top of the painting. Once you’re happy with where the frame is placed, flip the frame upside-down. Use a stapler to attach the middle of one side of the wood. Place another staple and stretch the canvas straight across. Teasingly staple each end. I ran out of staples about 5 staples in, but it’s holding nice and tight. If you don’t have a staple gun, you can use hot glue.

Stapling the Cricut stenciled canvas back onto the wood frame.

Now it’s time to cut the excess canvas off. You can do this step before stapling it, but I’m paranoid I’ll make it too short! After all my hard work, that would be a disaster! I use a Rotary cutter. Simply roll the blade along each edge of the wood. You can also cut along the edge of the wood with scissors.

Your Cricut stencil sign can be displayed now!

Isn’t that easy?! Now you can upload an SVG and cut and use a stencil vinyl to create a sign. Here are some photos of my sign. I plan to use it on my St. Patrick’s Day tiered tray. The tutorial for the Shamrock wreath in the background is here!

This sign is my favorite. It reminds me of the Proverbs 31 wife. Proverbs 31:28 ESV says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” That’s what I feel like. Nothing in my life was ever easy. It was all God who poured his blessings from heaven on me and my loved ones. Stay tuned for a devotional that I will add to this post later today. This post was almost finished when I ran out time. I must go to the doctor. YUCK!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

Make sure to pin or share this post using the buttons at bottom so you can return to it later. I would love to have you follow me on social media via the buttons in my sidebar. It would be a huge help to me! I plan on using this sign in my St. Patrick’s Day tiered tray. I have adorable tutorials coming later this week for some DIYs for it, as well as free printable St. Patrick’s Day wall art! Make sure you don’t miss those by entering your email address below. You’ll be notified when I add new posts, including tutorials, home decor, free printables, link parties, and more!

There are many other tutorials and great information on the blog. So stay tuned and check out what you can find. You can also use the sidebar search bar or these ideas!

Another free SVG for a St. Patrick’s Day tea towel coming for this soon!

Follow me on Pinterest to get new ideas every week! If you’re one of my blogger friends, make sure you link up on Happiness is Homemade & Crafty Creators before you leave! Head to the “Link Parties” page to find them. If you’re not a blogger, check those posts out for amazing ideas from bloggers around the world on all things homemade, recipes, crafts, decor, DIYs, kids ideas, fashion, and so much more!

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