Getting frustrated when you try to weed vinyl? Here are 5 tips that will make the task so much easier.
I don’t know about you, but weeding vinyl is probably my least favorite step of any vinyl project. I have to admit that I shy away from intricate designs because weeding intricate vinyl designs can get very tedious and the frustration level gets out of control. So today I’ve got 5 tips for you on how to weed vinyl so you don’t go completely crazy and abandon your project altogether.
Before I dive into how to weed vinyl, you’re going to need a basic knowledge of how to work with SVG files in your cutting machine. Below are some intro posts to help you get started. Once you have your design cut, then the weeding fun begins.
BASIC SVG & SILHOUETTE STUDIO POSTS
- How to Use Silhouette Cameo 4: A Guide to Getting Started
- How to Use SVG files: Tips, Tricks & Ideas
- How to Import Files Into Silhouette Studio
WHAT DOES WEEDING VINYL MEAN?
Weeding vinyl is the process of removing the excess vinyl (negative space) from your design after it has been cut with your Silhouette, Cricut, or other personal cutting machines. Both adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl need to be weeded after cutting and before you can apply your design to your project. When you weed, you are removing the excess around your design and also the tiny pieces inside your design. Weeding vinyl is tricky and can be downright hard and frustrating if you are a beginner (and even if you are a seasoned-pro). These tips are meant to make this process easier so you can get to the fun part of putting your project together.
TIP 1 – Use a sharp blade when cutting your design
This tip is all about being prepared before you start to weed. Make sure the blade on your Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine is not dull. If you use a dull blade, you will not get clean cuts and the vinyl may tear when you begin to weed it. If you find that your blade is dull and you don’t have an extra blade, you can adjust the depth of your blade in the cutting software. This means that more of your blade will protrude from the casing, leading to a deeper cut.
TIP 2 – Use a weeding tool
There are many tools for weeding vinyl. I have used my Cricut weeding hook forever so it is my go-to tool. A weeding hook is a handheld tool with a sharp hook on the end used to pull up the excess vinyl. There are many brands of weeding hooks on the market so try a few to find one that works for you.
You can also use a weeding pen. A weeding pen is a pen with a sharp retractable point. It works the same way as a weeding hook. I have not used a weeding pen but I definitely want to try one soon to see if I like it better than the hook.
If you do not have a weeding hook or weeding pen, don’t worry! You can use anything with a sharp point such as a craft knife, straight pin or even tweezers. To use the weeding tool, start in the corner of your rectangle weeding box (see Bonus Tip, below) and use your tool to pull up the excess vinyl, removing it from the vinyl backing (adhesive vinyl) or carrier sheet liner (heat transfer vinyl). Gradually pull away all vinyl until all that is left is your design. This process is the same for both adhesive and heat transfer vinyl (HTV). The only difference is that you will need to cut the excess adhesive vinyl as you go because it will be sticky. You don’t have to cut the excess when using HTV.
TIP 3 – Use a light pad
Sometimes it is hard to see the cut lines in your vinyl, especially if you craft in a room that does not have good light or lots of natural light.
First, I recommend good lighting. My craft room unfortunately does not have good lighting so it’s a constant struggle for me. If the lighting in your room is not great and you are having trouble seeing the weeding lines, place your piece of vinyl on a light pad. The light will shine up through your design, making the cut lines easier to see. There are many light pads on the market. The one that I use (shown below) is one that I got from Amazon. Cricut also makes its own light pad called a Cricut BrightPad. Whatever brand you get, I highly recommend a light pad.
TIP 4 – Cut off excess vinyl with scissors
This tip is specifically for adhesive vinyl. Once you start weeding, cut off the excess vinyl with scissors as you move across your design. If you do not cut off the excess vinyl, the exposed sticky side of the piece that you have weeded can get stuck to your design, and then you have a mess that you don’t want to deal with. Trust me on this one. I have ruined way too many designs this way. Go slowly and cut away the excess.
Having a place to store your adhesive vinyl scraps before throwing them in the trash makes the weeding process go quicker. I usually just stick my scraps to the edge of my craft table while I work. You can also use an empty tissue box or any small container that fits on your workstation.
TIP 5 – Keep vinyl on cutting mat
Unless you are using a light pad, keep your vinyl on the cutting mat while weeding. If you are using a sheet of vinyl this may not make a difference but if you are using vinyl from a roll, this ensures that your vinyl doesn’t roll up under itself while you are trying to weed. If you are having trouble keeping your vinyl flat on a light pad, I recommend sticking the edges down with either painter’s tape or washi tape while you weed.
Place a rectangle box around your design before cutting. Placing a weed box around your design in your cutting software allows you to weed only what is necessary and not waste vinyl (see the photo above). It also makes it easier to start weeding because it adds a cut line that you can start from.
Try reverse weeding. Reverse weeding can be used when you have small lettering or small details. With reverse weeding, place a piece of transfer tape over the entire piece of vinyl before weeding. Remove the backing paper and peel the excess vinyl away from your design. I plan to do an entire post on this process soon.
After you have weeded your vinyl, you can adhere it to your project using transfer tape or use this guide for working with heat transfer vinyl. I hope these tips are helpful and that your next vinyl project turns out amazing! If this post has helped you, please consider sharing it so other people can find it.
WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO ON HOW TO WEED ADHESIVE VINYL
LOVE IT? PIN IT!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
The Beginners Guide to Heat Transfer Vinyl
The Easiest Way to Layer Vinyl Perfectly
How to Cut Multiple Colors of Vinyl with the Silhouette
These are such good tips.
Thank you so much.
I’m a beginner with already one disastrous weed under my belt so this has been invaluable! Thank you 🙂
Hi Jennifer! I’m glad the tutorial helped you!