13 Days of Cricut Halloween – a fail and a save

This blog was supposed to be about a spooky letter banner that said Happy Halloween.

But then it cut like this.

And I was too tired and stressed to deal with it. So I searched Cricut Access and found myself a simpler project.

Cutting was not exactly smooth sailing. When I applied the transfer tape and flipped it over, after I removed the backing paper I discovered that the vinyl wasn’t cut all the way through.

This particular sheet of vinyl was from a pack of randoms from SignMakingAndSupplies, and I had no idea what type or brand it was. This little exercise taught me that it was THICC though.

I cut again, using a deeper setting, and selecting “more” on the pressure option. And when it had finished I checked it before I unloaded the mat. Then, because it hadn’t cut through, I sent it through the Cricut again.

Finally I had my skull. Time to weed.

This took a lot longer than anticipated too. And it was difficult to see, even with a light box. Plus, because I was reverse weeding I was getting very sticky. I ended up using a piece of silicone paper to lean on.

Eventually I had it weeded and ready to be applied. Unlike the project from Cricut Access, I wasn’t going to put mine on a pumpkin. Instead, I put it on this shiny copper notebook I got for my birthday. It’s so very pretty!

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Creepy Cute

These little crack decals from Burton Avenue are listed as creepy, but I can’t help but find them cute.

But whether they’re creepy or cute or a third adjective altogether, I had to do them.

I aligned all the pieces on one mat, and used scrap pieces of vinyl.

I’ve gotten into the habit of reverse weeding, so I applied transfer tape to the cracks. I was going to cut this into five, so I had five seperate decals I could apply later. It was nearly impossible to see the cuts though.

A lightbox helped me see where to cut and I had five odd shaped decals. Weeding them was easy, but I realised I wasn’t going to be able to make complete decals this way. I wouldn’t be able to get the eyes on without peeling the vinyl from the transfer tape.

After sorting the eyes I had five pairs of decals, ready to be applied when I figured out where.

Smudge helped me place the first one.

And I found homes for the whole set in various places around my house.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Brad

When compiling ideas for this series I had a look at what was available on Cricut Access. One of the ones I found was this happy skeleton dude.

I hid the banner, and the envelope, because I wasn’t interested in those. Then I cut out the black backing, on card.

Then, after looking at it carefully, I put these bits in the bin and cut the correct parts from black card.

I may have cut off one of his fingers by accident.

Then I cut out the white parts on white vinyl.

Lining it up was fun. You didn’t really get a second chance. As soon as the vinyl touched the card it was stuck. So it isn’t perfect, but nothing I make ever is.

I couldn’t figure out why I had a spare pelvis. I looked closely at the layers and found this, but I still don’t know why it’s there.

Time to attach. The instructions say to use brads, which was fine. There weren’t any holes or cuts in the pattern though. I did consider adding them on Design Space but I couldn’t be bothered basically.

I used a pointy tool to poke holes in all the right places, and a craft knife to make a small slice so the “pins” of the brad would go through.

Putting a brad through the bowtie just didn’t work…

… but eventually I had Brad assembled.

I wasn’t completely happy with him – there were some issues – including the pins of the brads facing the wrong way – so I decided to make a Brad Jr.

I fiddled with the size and scale a bit – made him a bit chonkier so that there was more room for the brad holes. And I cut the base out of white card.

I coloured in his bowtie, and I did little cross cuts instead of slits for the brads. That meant that when I constructed him I could position the pins so that they were hidden.

It wasn’t without issue though. This time I fully broke his wrist.

For Brad Jr, I did his detail in black vinyl, and it looked a lot cleaner.

It has just occurred to me though that he doesn’t have a mouth. Brad Jr isn’t much of a talker.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Boike

When I was doing my initial research before getting a Cricut, I ended up with a long list of tutorials I wanted to follow. One of which was the one by Jennifer Maker where she showed how to make cardstock cut outs that are bigger than the size of the mat.

So when I was compiling this series, I included doing something bigger than the mat. Originally I was going to do a Halloween themed character, then I settled on something better.

Instead of making a big piece of cardstock that would sit in my house and be out of season within a few weeks, I’d make something that could change with the seasons. I was going to make a large cardstock cut out of one of my monsters, and I’d also make things to add on to it for Halloween, and Christmas and so on.

First I designed a new monster, because I love designing monsters. I settled on rainbow, because rainbows are awesome.

Then I uploaded it into Design Space ready to use a tutorial by Kayla’s Cricut Creations on how to turn a single layer image into multiple layers.

Except that I’d remembered the tutorial wrong and forgot that she’d used an outline.

No problem. I went back in to my tablet and saved a file of just the outline.

I split it into layers using the Contour feature, and moved on to the next step.

Time to work out how big this thing was going to be. I didn’t wanna be too ridiculous, so I settled on one mat wide, and two mats tall. I also decided to cut the black background layer four times – to make it sturdier – with the join in different places so as not to have a weak space.

All of the other bits and pieces would fit on one mat, so that wasn’t a problem.

Cutting wasn’t really a problem. Time consuming though. There were 17 mats. I used the six light- and standard- stick mats that I have, so there was some time saved with prep, but it still took some time. Eventually though I had what I needed.

The first step was to assemble the black body. I used cellotape. On both sides for three of them, then not on one side for the final piece so the tape wouldn’t show when he was finished. Then I used a standard glue stick to glue the four pieces together.

I glued on the grey body and antenna parts, and then moved on to the colour. I’d done these bits with vinyl to save saturating the piece with glue and making a mess.

I had a small mishap when cutting the different sections apart, but eventually I had a nice layout of rainbow bits and pieces.

I started with his face – which I got all wonky because the teeth came off the transfer tape, and because Fatty was helping.

I kept things attached in Design Space, and when I cut them I left the corresponding pieces on the same piece of backing paper. But for whatever reason, they didn’t align nicely, so each piece was added individually.

I ended up with a nearly-complete monster. He was missing a couple of his stripes – one was cut in half during my mishap, and one just wouldn’t line up right. And I didn’t glue on his eyes because his entire face looked off. It needed an outline.

So I went back to Design Space. I sorted out the contours to create the outline for his face, and got ready to re-cut the face and his missing stripes. Instead of using four mats, I went with this technique instead.

It worked really well. I mean, walk about cutting it close.

I did mess up on the sizing for a couple of parts of his eyes, though. So I had to re-re-cut those.

But I finally ended up with a completed figure.

Before I moved on to his accessories, I figured this guy needed a name. I asked for suggestions on my social media but didn’t get any responses. So I took to Google. I found a website called FantasyNameGenerators.com and was completely smitten instantly.

There are HUNDREDS of different types of generators – fantasy names, real names, place names, mutant species names, forest names, instrument names, alchemy ingredients, Power Ranger teams, pain descriptions, dungeon creators, and so on. I used a few to come up with some ideas – these are from the Lord of the Rings Dwarf name generator, the Harry Potter House Elf name generator, the fairy name generator, and the unicorn name generator.

Seriously, this website is awesome. It even has a random generator generator! I see lots of use of this website in the future.

Now, for the name. I settled on Boike. Because it’s fun to say.

Time to dress Boike up for Halloween. I selected some parts of some free Halloween SVGs from HelloSVG and cut them from more cardstock.

I did measure the brim of the hat before cutting, but I didn’t factor in his antenna.

So I remade the hat, and then attached it (and the spider) to Boike with washi tape.

I may have already made him some Christmas accessories too – also from HelloSVG.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Skeleton Hands

In this Cricut series I’ve been trying to do a variety of different functions of Cricut, with different types of project. Well I haven’t done any heat transfer vinyl yet. Let me correct that.

In my searching I found two t-shirt ideas that I really liked. Both boob-centric.

The bloody hands is just an image from Pinterest, and the pumpkins are from Gao Designs.

There are lots of iterations of the pumpkins online – usually with the words “Hands off my pumpkins!” I did consider adding the words but I decided not to in the end.

I don’t have a lot of experience with HTV yet. I added a unicorn to the hem of a t-shirt when I first got my (first) Cricut, but I forgot that the shirt was a longline one, and when I wore it the hem rolled up over my belly. Plus, I don’t think it was attached very well.

After some research – mostly in how to do it with a household iron – I had a second attempt with a cute little unicorn silhouette on a canvas pencil case. This turned out a lot better.

So on to the shirts! First up, the bloody hands.

I put on my shirt, and marked where I wanted to put the hands. I uploaded the image to Design Space and sized them just right. Then I cut them.

The wrong way round. I put the vinyl on the mat upside down.

So I cut them again. Except this time I realised that the vinyl I was using wasn’t actually iron on.

So I cut them a third time. On actual iron on vinyl. And I successfully ironed them on to my shirt!

It wasn’t until I was all finished that I realised one of the fingers had a very flat tip. I don’t know whether I placed the vinyl on the mat wrong, or if I cut it off, but still. Who cares.

Ignore all the cat hair. I usually do.

I had a few more struggles with the pumpkin shirt. Firstly for some reason I cut the orange pattern out of the black vinyl. I don’t know whether that was my error or Design Space.

When I turned the sheet of vinyl to use the rest of it for the correct cut I realised that there’s a problem with the way I label my vinyl. Note to self: label the shiny side of iron on vinyl.

Weeding these hands was difficult. I think maybe I should have used a deeper pressure for the blade, but little finger bones kept peeling up and I lost a couple completely.

Then, when I ironed on the first pumpkin I think I shifted the vinyl after the glue melted but before it set.

I had trouble lining up the skeleton in the gap for this one too – maybe I moved something while weeding.

The second pumpkin and hand came out much better, although there are two different coloured cat hairs embedded in it. Which I knew was going to happen eventually.

I have also just realised I put them on the wrong sides. I followed the orientation of the bloody hands I think. Oh well.

There are lots of issues, but for my first t-shirts I don’t think they’re too bad.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Frames and Accordions

This post, like Tuesday’s, has a bonus project! Basically, I had too many ideas for projects and I couldn’t completely cull the list. So there are more than 13 projects this year.

First up today is some spooky frames I found on Caluya Designs. They’re just so awesome, I had to do something with them.

I also found this set on the same website, but I decided to go with the skeleton couple for this year.

I cut them on A4 black cardstock. I was a little disconcerted by the look of it when it was fresh out of the machine. Lots of sticky up bits and moved bits.

But when I peeled off the mat, it neatly left all the extra bits stuck to the mat. Most of them anyway.

I applied some sticky foam pads to the back, then attached it to a piece of white cardstock.

It’s probably not centered, but I’m not too bothered. I really like the slightly raised look too.

On to the lady.

This time the cut didn’t peel from the mat quite as easily. We had a spider casualty.

And there was a bit where the cut didn’t quite go through, and the other spider had a funky looking leg. I think my blade was starting to go dull.

I didn’t bother trying to reattach the lost spider – it was way too fiddly for a seasonal decoration that probably wouldn’t last til next year. (Says the girl who still has Christmas decorations up from two years ago.)

I did the same thing as I did with the gentleman skeleton. I applied sticky foam pads and then attached it to white cardstock. This one is definitely not centered. The pads stuck to the cardstock before I was ready, and I didn’t want to tear it all up. But it still looks good.

I used more foam pads to stick them to my wall, which is when I realised I probably could have applied them to a piece of A3 card. But they look cool nonetheless.

The second project today is a similar craft – cut from black card stock.

This is an accordion Halloween village from Extreme Papercrafting.

I made sure my blade and housing were clear and unclogged. And I stabbed the blade into a scrunched up ball of tin foil multiple times. I know this doesn’t actually sharpen the blade, but it does help clear microscopic dirt apparently.

The cut certainly seemed cleaner.

When I was poking out all the extra pieces I spotted a few issues though. There was some feathering, but I could cut that off easily.

And some of the pieces didn’t want to come away. I am impatient and also imprecise so I didn’t grab my craft knife to complete the cuts. I just tugged gently and left all the tearing on the same side of the card.

Next I took the two doors that looked like they should be open, and opened them.

Finally I had two pieces of Halloween village all ready to attach. Fatty was helping.

I dabbed little amounts of tacky glue to the tabs of the second piece and attached it to the first piece.

If you have one of the 12 x 24” Cricut mats, or if you cut it smaller, you can weld the pieces in Design Space and cut it as one piece. But this was simple enough.

Finally I folded between the houses.

I think it looks pretty cute.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Print & Cut Witch

Several months ago my friend Nina retweeted someone who had shared an internet tool that might be of interest to artists.

A new way to select a palette? Count me in! So I went to the website. Here’s the number that my birthdate produced:

29ae962cbd00eab3a1729edd8eb4a316416de8e503a87b0d10ea5ecdebb5f05d

And here’s that split into 6 digits sections:
29ae96
2cbd00
eab3a1
729edd
8eb4a3
16416d
e8e503
a87b0d
10ea5e
cdebb5
F05d

I took to Google and searched for those. A couple of them, like 16416d didn’t translate to a hex code, but Google kindly found the nearest one. In this case it was 16426d.

Here are the colours I ended up with.

Now, what to do with it. Given that I’m posting this during my 13 Days of Cricut Halloween series, I’m sure you have suspected that it has something to do with my Cricut, and something to do with Halloween. You’d be right on both counts!

Step one though, is drawing.

In a Figure Friday (which I haven’t blogged yet) I ended up with a figure I was really proud of, so I’d set it aside to turn into a character at some point. This was that point!

I sketched, and sketched some more, until I had something I was happy with. Ignore the fact that her hat is currently off-kilter.

Eventually I had a drawing I was happy with. Sort of. Her face is a little… off. And don’t look too closely at her hands.

Time to colour.

This palette was quite a tough challenge for me. They weren’t colours I’d normally pick, and certainly not in that configuration. I’m glad I had a skin colour though. And a colour that could be hair.

I added the yellow pops, and the blues for the accessories. After that the rest of them just seemed to fall into place.

And even though I still think her face is a little off and her hands are weird, I’m happy with her.

“Hey, Colette,” I hear you cry. “What about the Cricut?”

For this project I decided to use the Print and Cut feature on the Cricut. I planned to find a background pattern to draw onto paper, then use that feature to print the witch onto some sticker vinyl and when it was cut out I’d set it on the background.

I found a background I liked on Cricut Access. Given that my character is tall and thin I didn’t want to stick her in the middle of a 12 x 12” page and look completely lost. I was going with A4.

I tried to slice the background into shape but it did something weird.

Instead of struggling with it for ages, I hacked it. I put my A4 card in the middle of the mat and surrounded it with scrap paper.

The Print and Cut worked perfectly. Although when I peeled the mat away I realised that because I’d used a transparent PNG it had cut out the eyes and teeth – leaving her face looking even more off.

I wasn’t bothered though, because she was going to be place on white paper, which would bring back her eyes and teeth.

Once I had the witch in place, I decided that there was way too much white space. The urge to colour in some of those spaces was strong.

I grabbed some scrap card of the same type, and swatched my alcohol markers to find ones that matched.

I started with one or two shapes for each colour, and that wasn’t enough. I kept adding more a few at a time, but this was actually really hard. It’s one of those situations where it’s hard to know where to stop.

I think I reached a nice point though. I’m really happy with the final piece.

Colouring in that background was so much fun though. I may have printed off a 12 x 12” version to colour in my own time.

PS: I picked today to publish this post because today is my birthday! And I’m currently running a sale on my store. Until 11:59pm GMT tomorrow, everything in my Etsy store is 38% off. Can you guess how old I am?

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Jack O’ Lanterns

Pumpkins aren’t as prevalent here in the UK as in other parts of the world – I’m looking at you America. And I don’t really like them anyway. But I had an ingenious idea to make some little Jack O’ Lanterns, and not have massive rotting squashes in my house for weeks. And it involved using the Cricut too!

The first step was finding Jack O Lantern faces. It wasn’t difficult. I got several bajillion from CraftStarters.

What was difficult was narrowing down which faces to use. It was tough, but I eventually picked eight. Then I cut them simply and easily out of vinyl.

Now, what was I going to put my faces on?

Oranges! Well. I’m not exactly sure what these are. They’re sold as “easy peelers”. I tend to lump satsumas/clementines/tangerines into the same group. They’re all oranges.

I started off using transfer tape, but the vinyl wouldn’t stick to the orange peel and I ended up having to peel them off the transfer tape. They were simple enough shapes that it was easy to just peel them like stickers from the backing paper and position them onto the oranges.

I did accidentally put one face on upside down, but who cares.

I spent a good twenty minutes trying to get them to stack. Eventually getting a badly framed shot because my finger is holding that top orange in place.

Then I lined them up instead.

Yes, there are six oranges and I’d originally picked eight faces. I like oranges too much and I ate some before I started.

After that I peeled all the stickers off, put it back on the backing paper, and ate the oranges.

Mwah, ha ha!!!!

I didn’t wanna just chuck the vinyl faces though. So I searched Cricut Access for pumpkins and cut out eight pumpkin shapes from cardstock.

These turned out really cute. I might make them into ATCs next year.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s right, this blog has a bonus project!

While scrolling Facebook I came across this.

It’s a brilliant idea. Trick or Treating isn’t as common in the UK as it is in the USA. It does happen, although not much in my area. But this was a very cool and cute idea, and a good excuse to use the Cricut to make a pumpkin decal.

I used this SVG from Printable Cuttable Creatables.

I removed the shadow from the bottom, since I didn’t want that bit. And since I didn’t have two shades of orange, I cut the outline from black – fiddling with the stalk a little.

I wanted to stick this to the window, so I needed the sticky on the top of the image. I sat and stared at the pieces for ages trying to figure out how to do that, and eventually decided I couldn’t be bothered.

I was just going to layer it, and then stick it to the window with transfer tape.

Putting it together was awkard – with the stretchy outlines of the pumpkin, and the entire time I was doing it something felt wrong.

Once I’d finished I realised what was wrong. You don’t generally add the outline on top when layering vinyl. You cut seperate pieces and leave the black from the base layer to create the outline.

So I went back to Design Space, played with the contours and re-cut.

And naturally, this was much easier to layer.

I peeled them carefully from their backing papers and stuck them onto transfer tape, then I cut an edge around them.

Now they’re stuck on my window waiting for kids on Halloween. Don’t they look pretty 🙂

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Washiween

For this year’s Washiween I definitely had to use my Cricut. And not just because I’d decided to a blog series about Cricut Halloween crafts. Think of the possibilities! It would be so much easier to cut washi tape with the Cricut.

Soon after Sam, the creator of Washiween, posted the prompt list for the year, I had some ideas.

I had a scene in my head of bats bursting from a book – perhaps some magic performed by wolves. I used images from Cricut Access to create a scene on Design Space.

I had a very clear plan.

Step 1: Mirror the image and have the Cricut draw it out on 12 x 12″ white cardstock.
Step 2: Flip the cardstock and put it on a lightbox.
Step 3: Colour in the moon around the bats.
Step 4: Apply washi tape where the characters and features would be.
Step 5: Put back through the Cricut to do all the cutting.
Step 6: Peel off excess washi tape.
Step 7: Admire my own genius.

Yeah. That’s not quite how it happened.

I dug out all the green, red, and grey washi tapes that I had.

Then, before I threw it at the Cricut, I figured I needed to test the tapes. I did a line of tapes, and measured it so I knew what I had to work with. Fatty helped.

This very light grey didn’t like the machine too much. I don’t think it was sticky enough.

But the cut depth was just right. Cutting through the tape, but not the card.

Some tapes were a little too sticky and tore the paper up.

But I had proof of concept.

I had an idea of layering sticky back plastic on the card, thinking that the tapes would peel up a lot easier.

I was right.

Okay, time to begin.

Step 1: Draw out the design.

Step 2: Flip over and place on a lightbox.

Step 3: Start colouring the moon.

Step 4: Realise you forgot to mirror it.

Step 5: Redraw it.

Step 6: Flip over and place on a lightbox.

Step 7: Decide to cut out a moon shape instead.

Step 8: Lightly glue into place.

Step 9: Start applying washi tape.

Step 10: Remember you were gonna place sticky back plastic under the washi tape.

Step 10: Peel off washi, apply sticky back plastic.

Step 11: Apply washi tape. I realised the bat over the book was gonna be difficult so I decided to cut one seperately and apply it afterwards.

Step 12: Admire how messy the piece looks right now.

Step 13: Realise you hadn’t considered how you were gonna line the card up again.

Step 14: Add a little mark and that not-very-sticky-tape somewhere you can align on Design Space.

Step 15: Align as best as you can.

Step 16: Send through the Cricut to cut.

Step 17: Curse the little bits of tape that didn’t stay stuck.

Step 18: Apply to lightbox and realise you weren’t aligned correcly.

Step 19: Decide to proceed anyway, since you won’t see the lines in the finished piece.

Step 20: Be impressed with the lettering.

Step 21: Be more impressed with the lettering with the lightbox turned off.

Step 22: Struggle with whole piece. The bats didn’t all cut fully, it was hard to see the cut lines and the draw lines just confused everything. The book was completely impossible.

Step 23: Be vaguely disappointed.

Step 24: Decide to make something new entirely.

Step 25: Dig out a set of rainbow tapes, because rainbow makes everything better.

Step 26: Design something simple but cute on Design Space.

Step 27: Fill a black piece of card with washi – no need for the sticky back plastic because this tape peels nicely.

Step 28: Send through the Cricut.

Step 29: Be a little worried about all the bits that peeeld up.

Step 30: Relish the way the tape peels smoothly.

Step 31: Apply black tape in a border

Step 32: Dig out the paper trimmer to make the edges neat.

Step 33: Love how it turned out and wish you’d done this in the first place.

13 Days of Cricut Halloween – Colouring Pages

For the first in this series there were a few different colouring pages I wanted to try, and different ways of getting them. I was planning on using the 0.4 black pen that came with the Cricut to draw them.

First up is this set of haunted house digital stamps from CraftStarters.

I really liked that bottom left one, but I wanted to do one with the witch as well. So I uploaded both SVGs to Design Space, sliced the witch out, and added her to the haunted house image.

Because it’s not designed to be a draw file, it drew with double lines, but I can deal with that.

As you can see, I also added two circles to the top of the page. These were for testing the ink with alcohol markers and water-based markers, so I’d know which were safe to draw with.

I had fun colouring this one, making the house look cute and Halloween-y. I reached the point where I was done with just about everything but filling in the lines…

…and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to add a sky or not. It looked awfully blank without one, but such a big patch of marker could easily be messed up – as I know well from experience. In the end I decided to go with it, and I’m glad I did.

Next up was another set of digital stamps from CraftStarters – this time adorable little monsters – almost in my own style.

I selected some of my favourite ones, and then aligned them all up neatly in Design Space.

One of them (the top middle one) wasn’t looking right and I realised I’d uploaded it as a print & cut, not a cut file. So I re-uploaded it, which is when I realised that for all of them I’d uploaded the PNGs and not the SVGs. It wasn’t that much of a big deal for such simple images, but I need to remember to keep an eye on that in the future.

For the third piece I hunted on Design Space for a Halloween colouring page and found this raven. At least this one wouldn’t have double lines. I didn’t notice however that the main rectangle was a cut line. And because my Cricut was having cutting problems at the time (which you will know about if you read yesterday’s post), it didn’t cut fully all the way round. Luckily, I have a paper trimmer. Easy fix.

Colouring this one was simple. I didn’t wanna get too complex with it, but I stuck with my Halloween palette.

The final page I did was candy corn, even though I don’t like candy corn. I’ve had this JPG on my computer for ages, and have no idea where it’s from, but I wanted to colour it.

I uploaded it, spending about half an hour clicking out all the white spaces. I sent it off to draw and it took a long time. Lots of detail. After more than an hour, with the project at 90%, my laptop battery died. The cricut just stopped. The load button was on but not flashing, so was the Cricut Go button. I’d never encountered this before, but I hoped that I once I powered the laptop back up it would restart.

It didn’t. I decided not to redraw. Instead I got my paper trimmer out and make a more abstract version.

I’d been sticking to Halloween colours so far but I just HAD to include rainbows somewhere. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. I coloured a section of each candy corn with rainbow, and then stuck to white (light grey), yellows and oranges for the rest. Once I’d finished I filled in the outlines.

When I was nearly finished colouring, I started to think about maybe colouring the background black. As I was doing the outlining I liked that idea more and more, so I did. And I LOVE how it turned out.

Tune in tomorrow for more Cricut Halloween fun.