Transferring long vinyl decals

August 13, 2010 at 6:05 am | Posted in crafts | 1 Comment
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I love using craft supplies for things that they were never meant to do.  I have a cricut machine, which is made to cut vinyl, paper, and chipboard for scrap booking, card making, and home decor projects.  One of the home decor project ideas is to cut a vinyl quote, and hang it on the wall with transfer tape.   Not my style, but the lettering looks nice.  As a variation on that idea I have used the machine to cut vinyl out for ornaments, bumper stickers, and small yard signs.  When my in laws needed lettering on their full sized company vans, I figured I could do that too.

I used three colors of vinyl, and spent about 25 hours working on the two vans.  I had to piece together the lettering since the largest single piece I can cut is 24″ long, but it wasn’t difficult at all.  I don’t know if anyone else would even want to put lettering on their vehicle, but if you do – it can be done with easily available craft supplies.  I used commercial grade vinyl from the local sign supply shop, but I have also used contact paper for bumper stickers on my car and it holds up surprisingly well.

The transfer tape (clear contact paper can also be used) holds everything in position so the results don’t look at all home made. All you do is weed out the negative vinyl, leaving just the lettering on your backing paper.  Apply the transfer tape, and line it up on your vehicle (or wall) using masking tape to hold it in place.

Make sure the tape is holding the entire top edge of the backing and transfer tape in place.  Cut through the backing and transfer tape in between every few letters, leaving the masking tape in tact.  Wipe an almost dry paper towel on the vehicle beneath the section of letters that you are going to transfer (in this case, beneath the  “Lis”.)  Lift up the flap, remove the backing paper, and carefully smooth down the vinyl.  Wait a minute of two, and peel off the transfer tape.  Smooth out any bubbles immediately.

The transfer tape helps the lettering hold its shape and spacing.  The masking tape keeps everything even.  By cutting in between the letters, you are able to carefully apply manageable sections, avoiding most bubbles and wrinkles.  Any small air bubbles are easy to get out since  the vehicle was slightly moistened, and the small amount of water dries quickly without retarding the adhesive.  And you would never guess that the results were homemade.


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  1. […] Part two, how to transfer your vinyl to your surface, is here for small to medium sized images, and here for large images and long […]

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