Making custom ornaments with your Cricut is easy, but how do you apply vinyl to an ornament without wrinkling? Here are my best tips and tricks for making the perfect DIY ornament.
I recently took a poll about Christmas projects in my Cricut Academy Facebook group. The number one thing people wanted to learn was how to apply vinyl to a round ornament without it getting wrinkled.
Today I’m going to share a few tips and tricks to apply vinyl to an ornament—these should help making your own ornaments a lot easier. YES, this can be a frustrating craft and YES you are probably going to want to throw your ornament out the window on the first try or two. But hopefully these tips will help you put vinyl to an ornament a little more easily in the future.
How to Apply Vinyl to an Ornament
Choose the Right Ornament
The rounder your ornament, the harder it is going to be to apply vinyl. The best ornaments, in my opinion, are the completely flat disks. They can be made of glass, plastic, porcelain, wood, and more. You can basically put any design with any vinyl and have great luck.
Second best are the flat globe ornaments, either plastic or glass (I prefer plastic with two four-year-olds running around here). These still have a flatter surface to work on, but you can still fill them if you’d like. I’ve used a little craft paint to color mine (see my How to Paint the Inside of an Ornament tutorial), but you can also use crinkle paper, wedding invitations or baby announcements, photos, faux snow, glitter, and more.
Round globe ornaments will be the hardest—that full sphere is HARD.
Choose the Right Vinyl
I have found that glitter vinyl works a lot better than a solid color. I am not sure if it’s the process for making the vinyl itself, it’s a little stretchier, or that glitter vinyl does a better job of hiding any bubbles, but it’s definitely better. Good thing glitter is festive!
My problem is, though…I don’t love glitter (I know, I know). So I’m using regular adhesive vinyl for this project. I went with a monochromatic look—dark teal vinyl on a mint ornament, light pink on coral.
Choose the Right Design
Picking the right design for your ornament can make or break your project. I prefer “open-ended” designs, meaning there aren’t a lot of loops (like the letter “O”). Circles are just hard to place on a round object, because…science or math, or something. Small loops are fine, but big loops are harder. The font Tingler is a favorite of mine—there are no loops (it’s for stencils, but works great in this case too).
For this project I’m using two design space files: #MDD512B9 and #MF762560.
Thick designs with a lot of surface are also difficult. The more vinyl you have, the more bubbles you’ll get.
On the other hand, the more small pieces…the better. I feel like this is one of the only time I’ll be offering this advice, but the smaller your pieces, the more you can adjust as you go using the Clip As You Go method outlined below.
When working on your design, know that the flattest part of your ornament is the center. The closer you get to the edges, the more bubble you’ll get because the ornament curves more. Again, math.
Secure Your Ornament
The last thing you need is your round ornament rolling around your table as you’re trying to apply your vinyl. My go-to method is using a tape roll—just set the ornament in the roll and it will be more stable when you’re applying your vinyl. I find this is more important on a full sphere than a disk, but if you find it helpful, go for it!
Use Transfer Tape
Like with most adhesive vinyl projects, you’ll want to use transfer tape to move your vinyl from the backing sheet to the ornament. Here’s my favorite transfer tape from Expressions Vinyl.
For an in-depth tutorial, see Using Transfer Tape.
Clip Your Transfer Tape
Because you’re working with a curve and transfer tape and your design are flat, cut slits around the edges of your transfer tape. This allows you to work with the curve of the ornament better.
Apply Vinyl From the Center Out
Start in the center of design and work toward the edges. Starting from one side is a recipe for disaster. You can also use the Hinge Method, if you prefer.
Don’t Burnish Until You’re Happy
Try to keep from pressing the vinyl really hard until you’re happy. Vinyl likes to stick to ornaments—I’ve done this so many times and have never had an issue with vinyl sticking to an ornament, even with strong transfer tape. Waiting until you’re happy to really press everything down allows you to adjust if needed.
Once you’re happy, press down the vinyl and peel back the transfer tape!
Fixing Bubbles and Bumps
Repeat after me: Bubbles. Will. Happen. Working with a flat material on a curved surface is difficult and most projects will find you with places your vinyl didn’t adhere perfectly. Here are a few ways to fix bubbles and bumps.
The Splice Method
If you have a thin strip of vinyl that has a bump, you can use a craft knife to actually cut the vinyl, allowing the two ends of the strip to overlap a bit.
The Lift Method
This is my preferred method for most bumps. Use your weeding tool or tweezers to carefully work under the vinyl, lifting it up so you can re-apply it properly.
The Pin Method
If you have bubbles (vs. bumps), you can use a pin to prick a little hole in the bubble. Over time (not right away), the bubble will settle.
The Aw-Who-Cares Method
If your bubbles aren’t terrible, you can always just leave them. Sometimes they’ll work their way out on their own. Sometimes they won’t. But aw, who cares?
If you have particular questions about applying vinyl to an ornament, I’d love to answer them in the comments!