This week for Cricut 101 we are going to talk about print then cut. To see more of the Cricut 101 series posts click here.
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If you want to use an intricate design or a photo your best option is print then cut. This allows you to print out the image then use Cricut to cut it out. When doing print then cut with Cricut Design Space the main thing to keep in mind is that Cricut will only allow you to use an image that is 6.25” by 9.75”, this does not matter if you are using a normal letter-size sheet of paper. First, let’s talk about what materials you would use with the print then cut feature.
Now, let’s talk about printers, this is one question I see all the time. I do not do a ton of print then cut projects so I find that my HP Deskjet 3630 works just fine. If you are going to be doing a bunch of printing you may want to go with a printer that is a little more cost-effective on ink and provides higher quality printing. One nice thing about HP printers is they have HP Instant Ink which is a monthly plan you pay for based on the number of pages you typically print. Your printer will then send signals when it is low on ink and they will send a new cartridge to you. I do not personally use this service so I would recommend looking into it and reading all the fine print before subscribing.
If you are planning on printing larger quantities I would recommend going with a Canon or Epson printer as those tend to be more professional grade. The one thing to keep in mind regardless of which printer you use you must know whether it is inkjet or laser and purchase the appropriate material. All the materials linked in this post are for inkjet printers.
One of the more common uses for the print then cut feature is to make stickers, either sheets or individual stickers. This allows creators to use an app like Procreate to create hand-drawn images then use Cricut to cut out around those images to create amazing stickers. I love using vinyl sticker paper for stickers I make but I don’t do many sticker sheets if doing sticker sheets using normal sticker paper works best. The vinyl sticker paper I like can be purchased here.
Another use is to make items using waterslide paper. These are transparent sheets that you can print on then seal, place in water, and slide onto the blank creating a flawless image that is far more detailed than you can get with vinyl. Waterslide works well on mugs, wine glasses, tumblers, etc. when using waterslide paper make sure to follow the directions for the specific product you purchased. The waterslide paper I like can be found here.
You can also use print then cut heat transfer vinyl, this product allows you to print an image out then place it on a shirt, tote bag, canvas, etc. You would use this just like you use HTV. There are typically two different options, light fabric, and dark fabric. The light fabric transfers are transparent, this means if you place them on any colored fabric it may distort the colors of your design. The dark fabric transfers have a white background which means no matter what color fabric you place them on you will consistently have bright vibrant colors. This also means any negative space (space without ink) will be white rather than whatever color your fabric is. I use both and believe both have a purpose just make sure you know what you are looking for and use the correct material to get what you are looking for. The light fabric iron-on transfers I use can be found here and the dark fabric found here.
Now that we have covered let’s talk about how to tell Design Space that we want to print then cut rather than just cut out layers. The function we are going to use for this is flatten. The flatten function takes any multi-layer design and turns it into a single layer print then cut image.
One thing to keep in mind is that while this can be undone by selecting unflatten the layers will still be a print then cut image. This means if you accidentally click this button and print then cut is not what you are trying to do; the best option is to use the undo button to revert it back to a cut image. Notice in the layers panel each piece is now a cut|print item rather than a cut item.
Once you have your design ready it is time to click make it. You will need to reference the paper or vinyl you are using to determine whether you will need to mirror the image. For example, my dark fabric iron-on does not require the image to be mirrored while my light fabric iron-on does. You will then click continue. When you do you will have the option to print, this loads all printers installed on your computer. You will select your printer, select how many copies you want to make, and decide whether you want to use bleed or not. Bleed causes the ink to bleed away from the border of your image allowing Cricut to have some wiggle room when cutting, I recommend only using this setting if you are doing a tight cut around your image. If your image has a border I would turn the bleed off.
You can then print your image on whatever type of paper or vinyl you are using. Be sure to load the paper properly in your printer so that it prints on the correct side.
You are then ready to load your mat and cut your design. For most print then cut, it is easiest if you cut all the way through the material rather than kiss-cut like you would for vinyl. The exception to this is if you are making sticker sheets in which case you would want to do a kiss cut to allow the stickers to remain on the backing until you are ready to use them.
If you are using iron-on transfers you will now just follow the pressing directions from the specific material you are using and press it onto your fabric.
Hopefully, this answers all your questions about print then cut and you are ready to tackle your next project! Please let me know down below if you have any questions about print then cut or if there are any other topics you would like me to cover!