Once you have your Cricut, Silhouette, or other cutting machine and learn the basics of the software, it’s time to start cutting some beautiful vinyl to make shirts, tote bags, mugs, signs, and so many other crafts! But with all the vinyl out there, where do you begin? First, you need to determine which kind of vinyl you need. Keep reading to find out which vinyl to use on some common projects along with my favorite vinyl (and I’ll note some of the ones I have tried and disliked along the way too).
Which Vinyl Do I Need?
As a beginner, you may be wondering, which vinyl do I need? Before you go out and buy everything, think of a couple projects you want to make first. Are you interested in making t-shirts for you and your family? Have you seen the wooden door hanger signs and want to give that a try? Do you want to personalize a travel mug or water bottle? Different vinyl works best for each project.
Adhesive – As the name suggests, this is the sticky stuff. Many brands come with both permanent and temporary, but do note that permanent is not really permanent. This vinyl is best for personalizing travel mugs and water bottles, it is an option for wood signs, and making car decals.
HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) – Also known as iron on vinyl, this is the stuff you need an iron or heat press to adhere to fabric. I have heard many people like using HTV on wood signs. This may be fine if your sign will be indoors and protected from harsh weather, but I have not tried this method yet so I can’t recommend it at this time. I use HTV for fabric items like shirts, tote bags, and kitchen towels.
Stencil Vinyl/Film – As the name suggests, this is great for making stencils. I love stencil vinyl and use it mostly for making wood signs and for glass etching.
Now let’s look at my favorite vinyl for each category!
My standard go-to for adhesive vinyl is Oracal. The most common options for Oracal are 631 (temporary) and 651 (permanent).
631 is great for indoor signs. It has a matte finish and will still hold up for a few years with proper application. I used 631 for labels on oil bottles 2 years ago and they still look great! If you are interested in glass etching, stencil vinyl is my favorite, but you can use 631. When I was first tried glass etching, I wanted to try it with vinyl I already had on hand so I used 631. It worked well and left clean, crisp lines so it’s a very good option for glass etching too. I’ve heard of others using it for stenciling on wood signs, but I find it’s a little too sticky and peels up paint so for painting wood signs I do recommend stencil vinyl.
651 is great for things that may be subject to some rain/water such as outdoor signs, car decals, and labels for water bottles or items that will be (hand) washed regularly. 651 is glossy in black, white, and many colors and also comes in matte black and white. If I am going to use vinyl on signs, I prefer matte, but that’s just personal preference. I have done many travel mugs with 651 and they hold up well. Just remember that it’s hand-wash only. Don’t put it in the dishwasher (and also don’t microwave it).
When I’m looking for a little more sparkle, which is often, I love holographic vinyl. My favorite holographic vinyl is available on Amazon from Teckwrap (Holographic Opal). They have different packs of colors available and I have purchased multiple packs over the years. This vinyl weeds so easily and sticks for years – and the holographic designs are still looking shiny and beautiful! You can check it out here. I tend to buy sheets, but it’s also available in rolls.
For HTV, I originally tried Cricut’s everyday iron-on, but had trouble ironing it onto shirts, especially with thinner fonts, with an iron or Cricut Easy Press. I don’t have a heat press yet, but do have a Cricut Easy Press, but I just can’t get enough pressure with the Easy Press to get the Cricut everyday iron-on to stick.
My standard go-to for HTV is by far my favorite vinyl find (so far)! It’s cheap, weeds extremely easily, and irons on very well. It’s available on Amazon from Caregy and comes in standard colors and metallic (bring on more sparkle!). You can check it out here. I usually buy the rolls of this vinyl. 5′ rolls are $6.99 (as of the time of writing this) so it’s an amazing deal and a very high quality product.
As much as I don’t love Cricut’s everyday iron-on, I do love their iron-on in rose gold. The metallic color vinyl seems to be a little thinner and irons on very well. It’s a little tougher to weed than Caregy, but I love the color so much that I always keep this on hand.
For stencil vinyl/film, my favorite is Oracal Oramask 813. Some of my favorite things to do with my cutting machine are making stencils for wood signs and glass etching and Oramask is the best for both activities. I previously used 631, but I made the switch to 813 and never going back! The biggest difference, which is especially useful for wood signs if you paint/stain them first, is that 813 is slightly transparent so you can see paint lines or the wood grain through the vinyl and ensure everything is lined up. I usually buy the 25′ rolls from Amazon and you can get it here.
I hope this information helps you on your crafting journey and that some of these become your favorites too! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, message me on Facebook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your favorite vinyl?