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How to make a stencil with a Cricut, easy step by step tutorial

In this step-by-step guide on to how to make a stencil with a Cricut we will explore the art of designing and creating stencils. Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or a beginner eager to unleash your creativity, making reusable stencils is a fantastic way to personalize your projects. 

Regular readers of the blog will know that this year I have loved learning and playing with gelli plate printing. Learning to make my own reusable stencils is the natural next step in this creative journey.

There are many uses for stencils from card making, interior decor (such a wall border or floor tiles), glass etching, to wooden signs, to sketch book covers. The possibilities are endless.

Different Stencil Materials for your Cricut

Cricut Stencil Vinyl:

  • Pros: Durable, reusable. Ideal for intricate designs.
  • Cons: Can be more expensive than other materials, not suitable for heavy-duty applications.

Regular Removable Vinyl

This is not designed for use as a stencil so it may tear when being removed form the surface, for this reason this material is suitable for a one-time use stencil only..

Freezer Paper:

  • Pros: Affordable, widely available, and easy to cut. Suitable for simple designs and one-time use. Great for use on fabric as can be ironed to the surface
  • Cons: Can only be ironed onto fabric once.

Plastic Sheets:

  • Pros: Sturdy, readily available, and budget-friendly. Suitable for a variety of applications. A good material for a reusable stencil.
  • Cons: Thickness may limit intricate designs, not as translucent as Mylar.


  • Pros: Cost-effective, readily available, and suitable for lightweight projects.
  • Cons: Not as durable for multiple uses, may absorb paint or ink over time. May rip when being removed from the surface

Personally I have experimented with different types of plastic sheets.

How to make a stencil with a cricut

Design your negative space stencil within Cricut Design Space Software

Let’s start by opening the design space Cricut software and choosing Canvas. Our first step is to create an outlined box that forms the edge of the finished stencil.

On the left hand side select a square shape and insert onto the canvas. Add a second square which is a little smaller, I suggest 1cm (1/4″|) as the gap between the two squares (all round).

On the top menu select all, then under the align button center. This ensures your second square is centered into the middle of the larger square.

Choose Select All then click the slice tool on the bottom right hand side. Now click on the smaller square and select delete on your keyboard. You will now have an outlined square to build your stencil design within.

Insert shape/design into your square outline,  there are many free designs within cricut design space to choose from. You can find good stencil images by using the search terms “stencil” or “pattern” and selecting free (you do not need to be a paid member).

Ensure the shape touches at least two edges of the square outline, but preferably more.

Click select all (top menu) then choose combine tab bottom right and click on weld. This joins the outline and inserted shape/s together.

The Cricut will cut the stencil out, when you use this for printing you will be printing the negative space (as shown in white above).

Designing Your Positive Space Stencil with Cricut Design Space

Open design space Cricut software. Our first step is to create the box/shape of the finished stencil on a canvas.

I suggest loading a shape from the left hand menu, this is the outline of the finished stencil.

Insert images/shapes within your shape. I have chosen to add a range of sizes of circles.

The Cricut will cut out the outline of the inserted shapes, so for this stencil I will be able to print circles.

Import your own freestyle design into Cricut Design Space

Start be drawing/designing your stencil. Draw the design using black on white. Once your design is ready photograph or scan and import it into Cricut Design Space. The import button is on the left hand side of the canvas page.

Edit the image, if you are a paid member I suggest using background remover, if you are not you can use the erase button.

Save the image as a cut and then return to the canvas.

As per the negative space instructions create an outline box/rectangle for the stencil.

Adjust the size of the design according to your project requirements and make sure it fits within the cutting mat dimensions.

Now click on upload on the left hand side, and choose your preprepared image. Insert onto the canvas and size so it fits and buts up to at least two edges of your stencil outline.

Click select all (top menu) then select weld on the combine tab bottom right. This joins the outline and inserted shape/s together.

Cutting Your Stencil

Step 1: Set Cutting Parameters

In Cricut Design Space, select the appropriate material setting for your chosen stencil material. This ensures the Cricut machine cuts through the material accurately. Adjust the blade depth and pressure settings accordingly. I suggest running a test piece before cutting your stencil so you can play with the settings if needbe.

Step 2: Load the Material

Secure your chosen stencil material onto the Cricut cutting mat and load it into the machine. Load a fine cutting blade. Follow the on-screen prompts in Cricut Design Space to start the cutting process.

Step 3: Weed the Design

Once the cutting is complete, carefully remove the excess material around your design using a weeding tool. Take your time to ensure that the stencil design is clean and free of any unwanted bits. Remove your stencil.

Material choices for making reusable stencils for Gelli Printing

Regular readers of the blog will know I have over the last year become a little obsessed with Gelli Plate Printing. My desire to learn how to use the Cricut for stencil stems from this obsession!

For my stencils I am using plastic sheets designed for cake sleeves, place on a light grip matt with the cricut set to card stock, with a fine point blade. I have found these plastic stencils work great with acrylic paint.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I reuse my stencil multiple times? Absolutely! The key to extending the life of your stencil is proper cleaning after each use. Use a gentle soap and warm water to remove any paint or ink residue, and your stencil will be ready for the next project.

Can I use any material with my Cricut machine? While Cricut machines are versatile, it’s essential to use materials compatible with your specific machine model. Refer to the Cricut machine’s manual or online resources to determine the recommended materials.

How do I store my reusable stencils? Store your stencils flat in a cool, dry place to prevent warping or distortion. Consider placing a protective sheet between stencils to avoid any sticking or damage during storage.

Can I create multi-layered stencils with a Cricut machine? Yes, you can! To create multi-layered stencils, design each layer separately in your digital design software and cut them sequentially. Use transfer tape to position each layer accurately.

Are there specific paints or inks I should use with my stencils? Water-based paints and inks work well with most stencil materials. Experiment with different mediums to achieve the desired effect, and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the chosen material.

Congratulations on mastering the art of designing and making stencils with your Cricut machine! Armed with this newfound skill, you can elevate your crafting projects and add a personalized touch to gifts, home decor, and more. Remember to explore different stencil materials and techniques to find what works best for your unique creations. Happy crafting!

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