How to Apply Vinyl with the Wet Method: Great for Intricate Designs!

How to Apply Vinyl with the Wet Method: Great for Intricate Designs!

How to apply vinyl with the wet method + free intricate hearts cut file

Lean how to apply vinyl with the wet method to get perfect placement every time!

Whether you are new to the Cricut crafting world or a seasoned professional, you know that one of the most popular materials to make crafts with is vinyl. You can use vinyl to make all sorts of things from coffee mugs to decals for your wall! But if you’ve been working with vinyl for any length of time you also know vinyl can be tricky. It can be hard to weed, position and lay flat without bubbles or creases because it’s just so sticky. So today I’m going to show you an amazing technique that will take the hassle out of vinyl and tech you how to apply vinyl with the wet method using some beautiful and intricate hearts!

Watch the full step-by-step tutorial video on how to apply vinyl with the wet method coming soon!

Depending on how familiar you are with vinyl, you may or may not know that placing vinyl on anything can be tricky. The vinyl immediately wants to stick, making it really hard to put it exactly where you want it. And when you do get it into place, it can be tough to push out all the bubbles and avoid creases. But there is an easier way…and all it takes is a little soapy water.

This soapy water trick is a game-changer and I’m going to show you exactly how it works to make a beautiful shadowbox.

To use the wet vinyl transfer method, you’ll need some permanent vinyl, any color is fine.

For transfer paper, you can use either regular standard grip transfer tape OR transfer paper. I will compare how they work so you can decide which is best for you!

And to make the magic happen you’re going to need a spray bottle filled with water and some Dawn dish soap. I’ll explain exactly how much to put in the bottle in this tutorial.

If you also want to make the intricate heart shadow box shown in this tutorial, you’ll need a shadow box. I used a 10-inch shadowbox, but you can use any size you like.

To cut the vinyl for our project, the Cricut cutting machine does a great job! You can use any Cricut for this project! If you do use a Cricut, you’ll also want a green machine mat, a weeding tool, brayer, scraper, some scissors, and a measuring tape.

And I’m going to use my Cricut BrightPad to weed the white vinyl, as it’s hard to see white vinyl and this will help me see it better. But this is completely optional.

You’ll also want rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth to clean the glass of the shadowbox.

These gorgeously intricate hearts are perfect for the wet vinyl method, and I’m sharing these SVG cut files free! See the material list below for links to everything!

Ready to make these gorgeous and intricate hearts with the wet vinyl method? I’m super excited to show you how! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.

Quick Links to Information in this Post

Materials to Apply Vinyl with the Wet Method

View my Amazon shopping list with the exact items we used to make this project!

If you want to make the shadow box like I did in this tutorial, you also need:

How to Make an Intricate Heart Shadowbox with the Wet Vinyl Transfer Method

Intricate Hearts - Wet Vinyl Technique

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Estimated Cost: $15

Learn how to use the wet vinyl method to easily place detailed vinyl designs like my Intricate Hearts on glass with no bubbles!


If you have any experience with vinyl you know placing a large piece of vinyl on anything can be tricky. The vinyl immediately wants to stick, making it really hard to position the vinyl, push out all the bubbles and avoid creases. But there is an easier way. Let me show you how to apply vinyl with the wet method. A little soapy water is all you need.

You can use this technique with both transfer TAPE and transfer PAPER. I’m going to go over both techniques and share which method I like best at the very end. 

NOTE: You won't need any fonts to make these shadow boxes, but I listed all the fonts I used to design the SVG decals in the Notes section below.


The first step is to download my Intricate Hearts designs from my free resource library-- it's design #370.

TIP: If you are not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this helpful video training series I made. If you are on an iPad or iPhone, here is how to download and upload SVG files to the Cricut Design Space app.

This is what my two intricate hearts SVG files look like when they are uploaded to Cricut Design Space.

STEP 2: Prepare decal in Design Space

Determine where on the frame’s glass you’d like to place your decal, and measure the space you’d like to fill. I’m using a 10” x 10” shadow box and want the decal to span nearly the width of the glass, so I want my decal to measure 8” wide. To change the size of any decal to fit your space, you can click and drag the resize handle on the bottom right corner of the decal box on the canvas.

TIP: You can also resize your decal by entering the dimensions in the fields under "Size" in the top menu. For this decal, you would enter "8" under Width and keep the padlock locked to maintain the proportions.

That's all we have to do. Now select your machine on the top menu bar and then click “Make It.”

Unless you’re using Smart Vinyl on a Cricut Maker 3, Explore 3 or Joy, select “On Mat” and click “Done.”

We can apply the decal on the inside of the shadow box glass or the outside. If you want to put your decal on the inside, you will cut it in reverse. To do this, click the toggle under "Mirror" to select that option. If you plan to put it on the outside of the glass you can skip this step. Then click "Continue."

Select your Base Material when prompted. I used "Premium Vinyl-Permanent Glossy" in Red. If you don't see the material you are looking for under "Favorites" or "Popular", click "Browse All Materials" to search for it. And I always recommend “More” pressure to ensure the best cut.

If you’re using a mat like I did, place your vinyl on a Green StandardGrip Cutting Mat. The vinyl should be placed in the top upper left-hand corner of the mat.


When you’re all set up, load your mat and click the flashing "Start" button.

Once the cut is finished, unload the mat, flip it over and gently peel the mat off the vinyl.

Weed your design carefully, removing all of the excess vinyl you do not need. Be sure that all the small dots and pieces stay adhered to the carrier sheet, while making sure you remove all the small centers to your letters.

One thing I sometimes do is tape my decal to a Cricut BrightPad Go to help me see better while weeding.

TIP: If you ever struggle with weeding, you are not alone! I have lots of super helpful weeding tips on my Cricut Best Tips and Tricks post.


I cut two of the same designs. We will add transfer tape to one and transfer paper to the other. We will start with transfer tape.

First cut a piece of Cricut Transfer Tape a size just larger than your vinyl decal. Remove the backing from the transfer tape. Apply the transfer tape to your vinyl decal by holding the transfer tape in the shape of a taco or “U” shape. Then put the bottom of your “taco” onto the middle of your design.

TIP: Try to line up the lines of the transfer tape perfectly under some of your lines of text. The straighter your transfer tape is, the easier it is to align your decal on your frame.

Smooth the tape over the decal from the center outward making sure to press out and remove any bubbles. When the transfer tape is in place, use a scraper tool or other hard and flat-edged item (like a store loyalty card) to transfer the vinyl decal design to the transfer tape. It’s important to scrape it well to transfer the vinyl decal. It helps to scrape it from both the transfer tape side AND the carrier sheet side.

Next, let’s apply the transfer paper to our design.


Now we will prepare our shadow box. Remove the back of the frame and then also remove the glass. If your frame glass has protective plastic on it, make sure to take it off and discard it. Thoroughly clean both sides of the glass with Isopropyl Alcohol using a lint-free cloth or coffee filter.

I used cardstock as my background inside the shadow boxes. Measure the size of the inner backer board to see what size cardstock you will need. Use a Cricut Trimmer or pair of scissors to cut your cardstock down to size if necessary. For my Intricate Hearts frame, I used a single piece of 12” x 12” cardstock cut down to 10” x 10” to fit my 10” x 10” shadow box.


Now, let’s apply the decal to the glass of the shadow box using the transfer tape and soapy water method.

Carefully peel the carrier sheet off the decal. TIP: If little bits don’t want to transfer to your tape, scrape it again and pay careful attention to those problem areas.

Place that to the side.

Next, grab your spray bottle and remove the top. Add ONE drop of Dawn dish soap to 16 ounces of lukewarm water. Shake it to mix well.

Set the nozzle to a fine mist and SPARINGLY mist the adhesive side of the decal and the glass surface. TIP: Too much water will prevent your decal from adhering well to the glass. So be sure to just spray the minimum amount of water on both surfaces until they are just moistened.

Now place your decal on your glass. The soapy water will give you a little flexibility to move the decal around a bit to get it perfectly aligned.

Once your decal is straight and centered on the glass, use a scraper tool to carefully push out the water outwards from the center. You want to remove as much water as possible. You’ll notice that as you push out the water, any bubbles or creases will smooth out. You may want to keep a rag or paper towel underneath the glass or handy to help mop up the liquid you squeeze out.

Let your decal dry on the glass for a couple hours. The exact time will depend on your local climate. Squeegeeing your decal every so often with the scraper tool while it dries will help quicken the process.

Once your decal seems dry, carefully peel up a corner of the transfer tape and make sure the decal is adhered. If it is, then peel back the transfer tape against itself to remove it.

You can see from the underside of the glass that there are no bubbles in the vinyl!

Now let’s test out the transfer paper and see how it compares. I followed all the same steps above, but this time applied the transfer paper instead of the transfer tape.


While I found BOTH transfer tape and paper worked, the transfer paper was a little easier to work with.

The transfer tape slides around a little more freely but with a much shorter time frame to get the decal in place because it grabs the glass fairly quickly when compared with the paper.

The transfer paper doesn't glide quite as freely but allows more play time. I could even lift it completely off glass without the vinyl grabbing.

While the transfer tape required waiting about two hours until the decal was dry enough to peel the tape off without the vinyl lifting off the glass, with the paper I could peel it off a little earlier -- after about 45 minutes -- while it was still wet. Your wait time may be even shorter if you live in a drier climate. NOTE: With other types of vinyls I can sometimes remove the paper right away!

Overall, it was just easier to place the decal on the glass using the paper, the wait time was shorter, and the paper released from the vinyl VERY easily. But either way, both transfer types -- tape or paper -- work!


Now, place the glass in your frame. If you mirrored your image before cutting it, just make sure the decal is on the inside.

Layer your piece of cardstock and backer piece in the frame and then close it all up. TIP: My frame sandwiched together very easily so I didn’t glue or tape my cardstock down. Depending on your frame, you may want to secure your cardstock to the backer piece using glue or tape.

This is what my finished Intricate Hearts frame looks like when you apply vinyl with the wet method.

And this is a comparison between the two wet vinyl methods using transfer tape and paper. You’ll notice they both turned out perfectly!

Recommended Products

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© JenniferMaker
Project Type: Vinyl / Category: Cricut

Questions About Using the Wet Method for Applying Vinyl

What vinyl doesn’t work with soap and water wet application?

Iron on vinyl (aka, heat transfer vinyl or HTV) doesn’t work with the wet transfer method. Also, some vinyls have water based adhesives, and if the vinyl you have is like that, it will not work with a wet application. Cricut vinyl adhesive is NOT water based. If you do have a vinyl with a water-based adhesive, you can use a product like RapidTac to apply it in a similar way.

Get my free SVG files for the Intricate Heart Designs!

I’d love to see your vinyl projects using the wet vinyl method! If you make a shadow box or anything else with this method, please share a photo in our Facebook group, email it to me at, or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.


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The post How to Apply Vinyl with the Wet Method: Great for Intricate Designs! appeared first on Jennifer Maker.

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