Cutting Glitter Vinyl with a Cricut | Everything You Need to Know
As many of you know, I rely on my Cricut machines to make a variety of projects week in and week out, including decor, gifts, labels and more. And one of my very favorite things to create with is vinyl! Many people feel intimidated to work with vinyl, and for good reason: it can be tricky to cut, weed, and apply…and all that is most true when working with glitter vinyl. After years of receiving many questions from exasperated readers about the nuances of glitter vinyl, I finally figured it was time to share some of the best practices I’ve learned when creating super sparkly projects. If you’ve found yourself frustrated when working with glitter vinyl or have been too scared to give it a go, here are my best practices and troubleshooting tricks for cutting glitter vinyl with a Cricut!
What Is Glitter Vinyl?
Glitter vinyl is exactly what it sounds like…glittery, sparkly vinyl. You use it in mostly the same way as adhesive vinyl. But rather than a matte or glossy finish, glitter vinyl gives a pretty, sparkly sheen to your designs. Like standard vinyl, it comes in an array of colors and can be cut with any Cricut machine (Cricut Maker family | Cricut Explore family | Cricut Joy) to make any design you can dream up!
Although the sparkly texture of glitter vinyl sure gives your projects a wonderful, unique finish, it can also be really frustrating and tricky to work with. From finding the perfect cut setting and difficulty seeing weed lines to getting your images to stick to transfer tape and layer correctly, here are my best practices, tips, and tricks for perfect glitter vinyl results…every time!
NOTE! Although this tutorial is geared specifically toward Cricut glitter vinyl, the same tips, tricks, and settings can be applied when working with Glitter Iron-On | Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl | Glitter HTV | Shimmer Vinyl, etc.
Once you’ve designed your project to be cut from glitter vinyl in Cricut Design Space, click the green “Make It” button to send it to your Cricut machine. Then use the following information to ensure your cuts turn out just right!
Loading Glitter Vinyl Into a Cricut Machine
Loading Glitter Vinyl On a Mat
Place the glitter vinyl onto a very sticky mat with the glossy carrier sheet toward the mat and the glitter surface facing up.
Glitter vinyl is a bit stiffer than standard vinyl, so you need to ensure the glitter vinyl is firmly secured to the mat before you start cutting:
- You may notice your glitter vinyl has a strong tendency to curl back on itself. Gently bend the glitter vinyl backwards to help relax it a bit or consider storing it flat.
- Be sure you use a very sticky mat for glitter vinyl. A new mat with a strong stick will keep the sturdier vinyl nice and flat so your designs cut with precision. If you don’t have a really sticky mat, use these tricks to re-stick older mats or try a gently-used Strong-Grip Mat (purple) instead.
Cutting Glitter Vinyl “Mat-Less”
Ensure the glitter side is facing upwards when you feed it into the machine, with the glossy liner toward the machine. Select “Smart Vinyl – Shimmer” (or Smart Iron-On – Glitter) from the Materials Menu; and if needed, use the same recommendations outlined below to adjust blade depth for cleaner cuts.
Selecting (& Adjusting) the Right Glitter Vinyl Settings
Because of the sparkly, rough texture of glitter vinyl, it can be tricky to get it to cut perfectly clean through. Selecting (and often adjusting) your machine’s settings is almost always required!
Proper Dial Setting
If your machine has a Smart Set Dial (Cricut Explore & Cricut Explore Air 2 models), do not use the “Vinyl” setting. Instead, set your dial to “Custom,” and then use the instructions below for the right blade settings for glitter vinyl.
Choose “Glitter Vinyl” from Materials Menu
For all other machines, you will be prompted to select your material from the “All Materials” menu on the final cut screen in Cricut Design Space. Glitter vinyl requires more blade pressure than standard vinyl, so be sure you browse through and select the exact glitter vinyl you are using (e.g., Shimmer, Glitter, Iron-On, etc).
Increase Default Pressure
Selecting the right material is a great first step, but you may find this still isn’t quite enough to get clean cuts on your glitter vinyl. So your next step is to increase the blade pressure to “More” (located on the final cut screen in Cricut Design Space). For me personally, this simple increase in pressure is usually enough to get clean cuts on my glitter vinyl designs.
Manually Adjust Custom Material Settings
However, if you still can’t get perfectly clean cuts on your glitter vinyl, you may want to manually adjust the custom vinyl settings even more:
- On the final cut screen, select “Materials.”
- Select “Browse All Materials.”
- Down at the bottom, in small green letters, it says “Material Settings.”
- Select “Glitter Vinyl,” increase the pressure and/or pass count, and then save the cut settings.
NOTE: If you choose to do this, you may have to run a few test projects until you find the right depth and number of pass for your specific machine.
Always Check Before Unloading
Finally, I always always always recommend quickly checking your cut before unloading mat/material from the machine.
Simply use a weeding tool to lift up a part of your project (usually the top left-hand corner of the mat)…
- If the design separates from the surrounding vinyl cleanly and without tugging, go ahead and unload your project and proceed with weeding and transferring.
- If the glitter vinyl does not seem perfectly cut through (it sticks or pulls), re-run your project (by clicking the Cricut/Go button) at least one more time before unloading. Keep checking before unloading until you get the cut results you want.
Once you get your glitter designs perfectly cut through, you might think you’re in the home stretch. However, it’s in both the weeding and transferring of glitter vinyl designs that most run into trouble.
Weeding Glitter Vinyl
That sparkly texture that makes your projects look so great is also what makes your cut lines VERY difficult to see, which in turn creates quite the weeding challenge. Since it is so frustrating to accidentally poke or weed out parts of the design you actually need, try these two methods to “light up” those lines:
Use a Window
One of the best (and free!) ways to illuminate your cut lines is to use a window. After your design is cut, remove the entire sheet of vinyl (backing and all) from the mat and hold it up to a window (during daylight).
- If your design is simple, holding it up to quickly see the cut lines is usually sufficient.
- If your design is complex, tape it to the window using scraps of StrongGrip Transfer Tape and weed it entirely.
Use Cricut’s Bright Pad
Admittedly, I didn’t think I’d use this gadget a whole lot, but I LOVE its sleek design, ease of use, and how well it lights up projects. All those intricate cut lines become perfectly illuminated, making them a breeze to weed!
TIP! Use extra scraps of StrongGrip Transfer Tape to secure your design to the Cricut Bright Pad in order to keep it still/flat while weeding.
Transferring Glitter Vinyl
Do You Have to Use Transfer Tape with Glitter Vinyl?
One of the coolest things about glitter vinyl is that you don’t necessarily have to fuss with transfer tape! The stiffer, firmer texture that makes it so tricky to cut actually helps glitter vinyl act more like a sticker than standard vinyl. Meaning? Glitter vinyl isn’t nearly as flimsy as regular vinyl, so it won’t fly around, distort, create bubbles, or stick to itself in the same way.
If you have a fairly simple design that doesn’t require precise layering or spacing, you likely don’t need to use transfer tape. Simply peel it up off the paper backing (use tools if necessary to lift up a leading edge), and place it as you would a sticker (see image below).
I cannot tell you exactly when you do and do not need to use transfer tape on glitter vinyl projects, but here’s a good guideline: if you can easily peel up the entire design without ripping or distorting it, you likely don’t need to use transfer tape.
However, if you can’t lift your design easily, Strong-Grip Transfer Tape will be required.
All About StrongGrip Transfer Tape
There may be times when you absolutely should use transfer tap with glitter vinyl. Some examples include:
- A project that requires very precise spacing (like my mermaid backpack)
- Designs that have disconnected elements (also, like the mermaid scales)
- Small details that could easily rip/distort
- Multiple layers
In these instances, transfer tape will enable you to move the design from your cut mat to your final project with much better results.
BUT!!!! You can’t use just any old transfer tape you have lying around! That same gritty texture that makes glitter vinyl difficult to cut and weed also makes it more difficult to pick up with traditional transfer paper.
Therefore, Cricut makes a StrongGrip Transfer Tape specially designed for glitter vinyl projects.
Every roll of Cricut-brand glitter vinyl comes with a sheet of Strong-Grip Transfer Tape inside the roll. If you find you need more than what is provided, you can also buy it by the roll.
NOTE: The difference in “stickiness” between regular and StrongGrip Transfer Tape is significant. If you are working with regular vinyl and cannot get the transfer tape to let go of your project, double-check that you aren’t using the StrongGrip version. It has purple gridlines and will say “Strong-Grip Transfer Tape” right on the roll!
How to Transfer Glitter Vinyl
Once you have StrongGrip Transfer Tape in hand, the transfer process is the same as any other vinyl project. If you need help with this, see my comprehensive application instructions here: How to Transfer Vinyl
Can You Layer Glitter Vinyl?
Technically speaking (direct from Cricut itself), it is not recommended to layer over glitter vinyl. Because of its sparkly texture, it can be difficult to get really good, clean adhesion that holds in place long-term.
That said, if you really want to use glitter vinyl in a layered design, use these tips:
- Use regular vinyl for all bottom layers and glitter vinyl for the top-most layer only.
- Use StrongGrip Transfer Taper to layer designs with precision (see more: How to Layer Vinyl Projects)
- Only layer 2-3 colors together because the design can get quite thick.
- If you do layer glitter over glitter, use a scraper to vigorously rub the two layers together to improve adhesion.
My Best Transferring Advice
I’ll be honest with you: working with glitter vinyl and StrongGrip Transfer Tape requires patience...a lot of it. Here’s why: the StrongGrip Transfer Tape is VERY sticky, so getting it to pick up your glitter vinyl design isn’t too hard. But getting it to “let go” of your vinyl design onto your final project can be very, very challenging. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t rush.
- Take a deep breath.
- Don’t work with children underfoot. Seriously.
- Use your scraper tool with a lot of pressure, on the outside of your transfer tape, to really stick the vinyl to your project.
- Use your weeding tool to carefully separate the lead edge of your design from the transfer tape. Once the lead edge of each element is stuck to your project, it will usually separate from the transfer tape as you carefully pull it away (shown below).
- Don’t rush. Yes, I repeated this on purpose.
- Feeling frustrated? Just step away. Take a deep breath, and come back when you’re ready.
Troubleshooting Your Glitter Vinyl Projects
Tip 1: Check Your Mat
If your mat is not sufficiently sticky, you will not get clean cuts (no matter how much pressure you use). Use these tricks to re-stick your mat or consider opening a fresh one for your glitter projects.
Tip 2: Check Your Blade Condition
Glitter and other rough textures can gum up and even dull your Premium Fine-Point Blade. If you are using a clean mat, have adjusted your settings as described above, and ensured you have a clean blade free of debris, consider swapping out your blade for a fresh one.
TIP! Sill having trouble? Try switching to a Deep Cut Blade Housing. Although it’s not technically necessary for glitter vinyl, I find that this stronger, deeper blade always gives me great cuts, no matter what I’m working on!
Ready to Master Other Cricut Materials?
Once you giveHolographic Vinyl a try, go on and master these other Cricut vinyls with my comprehensive guides:
- How to Cut Vinyl with a Cricut
- How to Cut Holographic Vinyl with a Cricut
- How to Cut Iron-on Vinyl with a Cricut
- How to Cut Smart Label Writable Vinyl with a Cricut
- How to Cut Stencil Vinyl with a Cricut
- How to Cut Color Changing Vinyl with a Cricut
Glitter vinyl is a great medium for adding pretty, sparkly details to your projects. But that gorgeousness comes at a price: glitter vinyl can be very trick to cut, weed, and transfer. I hope all the tips, tricks, and best practices I’ve outlined here bring you frustration-free success on your next glitter vinyl project. And remember, above all: patience and practice are key…you can do this!