When I am brainstorming blog topics/ideas in general, I often find myself saying “Why bother writing a post about that, there are so many out there already.” This Cricut Explore for Home Decor series definitely fell into that category because there are indeed SO many great resources and tutorials already published on the web. Despite that, however, these posts are becoming some of the most popular on my site, and I have been getting questions and requests to cover different aspects of working with the Cricut Explore and in Cricut Design Space. One of the main questions I get (and have seen on other tutorials and message boards) is how to get your images/text to cut/write exactly as they appear on the design screen in Design Space. It seems like it should be an easy thing (and it is!), but it’s not an obvious or intuitive part of the design process. Today, I am going to teach you how to master the “Attach” function in Cricut Design Space so your projects turn out just right, every time!
The “Attach” function in Cricut Design Space (Cricut’s online design platform) is best explained and understood through a series of different projects. Here we go!!!
How and Why to Use the “Attach” Function in Cricut Design Space
I was recently making some quick labels for our identical kitchen trash cans to help Henry out. I picked out two symbols (trash and recycling), as well as two circle borders to go around each one.
I then used the “Align” functions (right there on the toolbar) to center the symbols inside the circle frames.
When everything was spaced to my liking, I clicked the green “Go” button to send my design to the cutter.
On the cut preview screen, my spacing is completely undone; and each element is going be cut individually rather than as a single image (which conserves vinyl and makes for easier transferring).
Raise your hand if this has happened to you, and you’ve grown exasperated trying to fix it!!! Well, my friends…the solution is easy, albeit not very intuitive. In order to get your images to cut all together as you have them designed:
- Select all the images you want cut together
- Right click
- Select “Attach”….
“Attach” essentially means you are attaching the selected shapes to each other. The instinct for many is to “Group” the items rather than “Attach” them. (Grouping is only used when moving, sizing, copying items in the design screen and does not translate to how a design is cut). However, once the images are attached to each other and you hit “Go,” you end up with your images ready to cut exactly as you designed them!
Why is this such a big deal? Well…if your image(s) are cut in separate units, it will be up to you to transfer each one individually to your final project. Not only is this a bit more work since you will be transferring one item at a time, but you’ll have to eye-ball your spacing to get it right. Also…it uses up extra material since the images are more spread out.
With your images attached and everything cut as a single unit, all you have to do is weed out the excess vinyl and transfer your image once, leaving all your perfect spacing in tact! (Click HERE for some help with weeding and transferring vinyl!)
Using the “Attach” Function to Make Patterns
The “Attach” function ultimately ensures that the spacing you set in the design screen is translated to your final cut. This is especially helpful when trying to make patterns.
Let’s say you want to cut out 30 hot pink vinyl circles to do a wall decal project.
The Cricut Explore is automatically set to conserve material, so if you send one circle to be cut, you can adjust how many you want/need in the cut preview screen. By typing in a number and hitting “Apply,” the program will automatically determine how to cut out the circles in order to save space.
This method is ideal if you are going to randomly place your circles onto your final project by hand (like I did on my Dot Wall here). And even if you need to work around specific prints or space on your cutting mat/materials, you can drag and drop the circles to different places right on the cut preview screen.
But let’s say you want your circles to be in a very specific pattern. Sure you can drag and drop in the cut preview screen, but it’s pretty hard to get the spacing precise. So instead, you spend the time to perfectly space each circle and line everything up back in the design screen…
Once you hit “Go” though, all the circles yet again lump together to conserve space on the cutting mat.
BUT….if you go back to the design screen, select all the circles, right click, and select “Attach,”…
…your spacing will translate to the cut preview screen and ultimately your project!
So now you might be wondering…
“Do I need to ‘Attach’ my images every single time?”
Not necessarily…it all depends on the nature of your project. My dresser project from earlier this year illustrates this perfectly!
Here is the pattern I designed for the dresser:
If you look closely, you can see the basic shapes I used to create the pattern. Let’s look at the red first. The first row has 4 of the same flower-frame shape all in one line. I then rotated the shape 90 degrees and offset them for the next line. Although this pattern was created out of dozens of the same shape, I wanted them cut in this very specific arrangement (so I wouldn’t have to place each one by hand). As such, I “attached” all the red images to each other so that the entire design was cut (and eventually applied) in a single iteration.
But now let’s look at the blue flowers inside each red frame. I knew that trying to apply all the blue flowers just right during a single application (so that they ended up in the centers of the red frames) would be frustrating and near impossible. Plus it would waste a TON of vinyl since the blue flowers are so spread out in the final design. As such, I decided NOT to “Attach” the blue flowers to each other and just let the machine “autofill” them on my mat.
This meant I had to place each flower individually (which was actually easier than trying to apply all of them at once)…since the machine did not preserve my designed spacing.
So whether it is to conserve your material, control your spacing, or control how you apply cuts to your final project, there is certainly a use for both the “Attach” and non-attached function!
Using the “Attach” Function with Text
A majority of the questions I get regarding the Cricut Explore is about text: “When I design my project in the design screen, my text is on top of my shape. But when I send it to cut and write, it’s not in the right place! How do I get the text to write right on my shape?”
Any guesses to the answer? Yep!!!! You have to “Attach” the text to the shape!
Last Spring, when I made these simple labels for my craft room baskets, I designed the labels and text in Cricut Design Space and used the machine and the Cricut pens to do the entire thing (rather than the Print and Cut feature). Here is my design screen for the labels…
I carefully centered all of my words on the white circles and even selected to “Group” them, which really only allows me to move these items around the screen and/or size them all together. Even though they are “Grouped,” you can see in the side panel that the circle and the text are still two separate elements.
As such, when I send them to be cut…my spacing is not maintained.
But if I go back, select the white circle and the word I want on it, right click, and select “Attach,” you will notice they become an attached item in the side panel. Once I attach each word to each circle…
…the machine will write and cut the labels exactly as I designed them!
If you want to see how these labels come together, click HERE!
The “Attach” Function Summarized
I hope these few project examples help fully illustrate how to use the “Attach” function to get your projects to turn out right. In summary, here is how I determine if I need to “Attach” my items or not:
Use Attach When…
- You want your images to cut exactly as it is designed on your Cricut Design Space design screen, with all of the sizing and spacing perfectly maintained
- You want text written directly onto a specific shape and/or in a specific place
- Things are the same color and can/should be cut together (by attaching two images, both shapes will be cut from the same color)
Don’t Use Attach When…
- You need (many) cuts of the same (or different!) shape in the same color, but don’t need the spacing/pattern maintained because either:
- You are going to place cuts individually, by hand, onto your final project
- You are trying to conserve your cutting material
- You want an image cut in a very specific spot on your cutting mat. Instead, drag and drop the image to where you want it on the CUT PREVIEW screen.
Creating with Your Cricut!
I realize there are so many great Cricut tutorials and resources available on the web…many of which I use. However, I’ve picked up some useful tips, tricks, and shortcuts by using my machines so much, and this series is all about sharing and explaining everything I know! If there is something you want me to cover, be sure to leave me a comment! Otherwise, be sure to check out all the posts in this series by clicking on the images below and check out my Cricut Project Gallery for even more ideas!
I hope this post clears up a very simple yet often-misunderstood function of the Cricut Explore! Once you master it, getting your project spacing to turn out just right will become quick and intuitive!
I hope your week is off to a great start…I’ll be back here on Thursday with my end-of-the-month recap which will include a pregnancy update, moving-in update, and more! See you then!Posted In 3 - Cricut, California '16, Cricut Explore for Home Decor Series, Sewing & Crafts, Tips & Tricks