Today, I’m taking a look at the work around for making Print Then Cut stickers with the Cricut Joy. It’s pretty clever and while not 100% perfect all the time, it’s close.
I am frankly impressed that it can even be done, given the seeming limitations of the Joy. But, I’m not sure why I’m surprised because this tiny machine continues to punch above its weight in my experience. It’s working on becoming my favorite machine…
This work around may seem a bit complicated, but if you follow the directions below, it’s actually not as hard as it may seem and you should also be impressed with the stickers you’ll be able to make with your Cricut Joy.
I used the HTVRONT Printable Sticker Paper for this project as well as in last week’s sponsored video and while I’m not reviewing the product here, I want to mention that it is pretty awesome for this technique. Click the link just below for the full review video.
Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:
Step 1: Create a Shape Template in Canva
To trick your Cricut Joy into doing print then cut functions, we’re basically creating a template shape that we will fill with images to be cut out. The template shape provides a framework that the Joy uses as a reference to cut everything that’s inside of it. It wants to cut the template too, but we can avoid that by hitting “Pause” at the right time (more on that later).
For me, the easiest way to create a shape template is to do it in Canva.com. Canva is a free graphics website/program that you can access online at, you guessed it, Canva.com. Just sign up for a free account and then follow these instructions to create your template.
On your Canva home page, click on Custom Size on the right side of the blue bar in the middle of the screen.
A flyout box appears. Click on PX to change the unit of measure from Pixels to Inches.
Then, in the width box, type 4 and in the height box type 9 and click Create New Design.
An empty 4″ x 9″ canvas will appear on the next screen. From the left hand menu, click on Elements.
From the choices that appear in the adjacent box/section, go to the Lines & Shapes section and click on See All.
Scroll down until you find the outline of a square with sharp corners. Click on it to insert it on to the empty canvas.
Click on each of the white handles in the centers of the sides of the square and drag to resize the shape out to the edges of the canvas. It should snap to the edges of the rectangle once you get close to them.
If desired, change the color of the outline by clicking on the Fill Color box in the upper left and selecting the black square from the choices that appear.
Then, give the rectangle a name by clicking and typing in the box on the upper right next to the Download button.
Check that the design has saved (left side of blue bar) and then click the Download button. A dropdown menu will appear.
The choice for Download type usually defaults to PNG. I’d go with that but you can also click on the dropdown arrow to choose a different file type like JPG, if you prefer. Then click Download at the bottom of the menu and the design will download to your computer.
You may notice that I have the option to check a Transparent Background box on teh Download flyout menu. That appears because I am using the paid, Pro version of Canva (which I highly recommend BTW if you make a lot of graphics). That will not be a choice in the Free version and even though a transparent background is really what we want, we will easily fix that in the next step.
Upload the Canva Template to Cricut Design Space
Now, open a new blank project in Cricut Design Space and click on Upload at the bottom of the left hand tool bar to open the Upload screen.
On the Uploads screen, click on Upload Image>Browse. Then navigate to your Downloads folder in the computer window that opens and select the Canva Template that just downloaded. On a PC, it should be the last item downloaded right at the top of the list. If on a Mac, you will have to scroll through the list to find it by file name. Click on it to select it and the template will now appear on what I call the Select Image Type screen.
Click on Complex (even though it isn’t really complex – just go with it) and then click Continue in the bottom right corner. Now you will be on the Background Remover screen. Use the default tool – Manual Select crosshairs to click on the white fill in the middle of the Canva template to remove it, leaving only the black rectangle outline.
Click Apply & Continue in the lower right.
On the Select Upload Type screen, click on Print Then Cut to select it. You can also add a name to the image and tags if desired on this screen. When done, click Upload in the lower right.
The template should now be the first image under My Uploads. Click on it to select it and then click the Add to Canvas button in the lower right to put it on to your blank project canvas.
Adjust the Shape Template in Cricut Design Space
The rectangle template will come into the canvas at a different size than 4″ x 9.” Why? I have no idea. You need to resize it back down, so go to the Size section on the upper toolbar. Make sure the Aspect Ratio lock is locked (it should be) and then change the Width to 4″. The rectangle will size down to 4″ x 8.999″ (why not 9″? – no idea again).
In the upper right corner, next to the Make It button, set the machine to your Joy (if it’s not already). Then go to the Operation section of the upper toolbar and click the dropdown menu. Change the rectangle from Print Then Cut to Draw>Pen. Click on the question mark or possibly colored square next to the drop down menu and select the 0.4 mm Black pen.
The rectangle will change to an outlined shape. Now click Make It in the upper right.
Choose On Mat when the “How will you load materials?” window appears and then Click Done. The outlined rectangle will now appear on the 4.5″ x 12″ Joy mat. You don’t need to do anything to it, just click Continue in the lower right.
Choose any paper or cardstock material under Select Base Material. I picked Medium Cardstock. It doesn’t matter because we aren’t actually using any material. We will draw the rectangle directly on to the mat. After selecting the material and being prompted to load the pen and mat, go to your machine.
Draw the Shape Template on the Cricut Joy Mat
Load the 0.4 mm Black Pen into the Joy carriage and then load the 4.5″ x 12″ mat into the machine. This probably seems weird, but trust me, it will make sense in a bit.
Click Go in Cricut Design Space and let the Joy draw the rectangle outline directly on to the mat. When it’s done, click Unload in Cricut Design Space to unload the mat. You now have a 4″ x 9″ outline of a rectangle drawn on the mat.
You just finished Step One.
Step 2: Choose and Print Your Stickers from Cricut Design Space
Return to Cricut Design Space and choose Finish. Click Cancel until you return to the main canvas with the rectangle template.
In the upper right, change the machine from the Joy to the Maker or any of the other choices. It just needs to be a machine that supports Print Then Cut functions. Even if you don’t own one of those, just pick one. It will let you.
Now select the rectangle and in the Operation box, change it from Draw to Print Then Cut>Standard. The rectangle will change from an outline to a filled in line.
Now, use the tool bar on the left to upload or search for and select the images you want to use as stickers and insert them on to the Canvas. They all need to fit inside the rectangle shape without overlapping so resize them as needed. You should also add an offset to any images that don’t have one since this work around will not be able to cut images without a border. If you need step by step instructions on how to add images, please see this post.
Since this is not a 100% perfect technique, I suggest using a wider offset (like .125″ at least) around your images. A wider border makes any spacing mistakes that can happen during the cutting less obvious (eg. one side is cut closer to the image than the other). The video tutorial goes through how to add an offset.
I also drew a large black square and placed it behind everything so I could more easily see the white borders around my stickers and make sure they didn’t overlap. Then I just hid the large square before going to the next step. You don’t have to do this, but it worked well for me.
Once you have all of your images inside the rectangle and none are overlapping, go to the Layers panel and select any image where you added an offset, hold down Shift and select its offset Layer as well (usually the layer under the image). Then go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and click Attach OR Flatten.
I used Attach but honestly, Flatten is the better choice because it combines the image with its border into one layer.
Once all of the images have been flattened (or Attached), go down the list of Layers and make sure they are all set to Print Then Cut>Standard. Change any as needed.
Then click and drag over the rectangle and everything in it to select it and then click Attach at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will keep the rectangle and the stickers grouped exactly as you see them when you go to Make It.
Go to the upper right corner and click on Make It.
Printer Settings in Cricut Design Space
Now you’ll be in the Mat screen that will show the layout of the stickers within the rectangle template that will also be inside the Print Then Cut box (black outline all the way around the design). We won’t need that outer box when we cut everything, but we do for the program to actually print the stickers.
Click Continue in the lower right to go to the Print screen.
After you click Continue, you will be in the Print screen. Click on the Send to Printer button to bring up the Printer window.
On the Print Setup window, you’ll see the layout of your stickers on the left and a few choices on the right. The top box will show the printer selected. You can change that if needed by clicking the dropdown arrow and selecting the correct printer. Next, toggle off ‘Add Bleed.’ Then toggle on ‘Use System Dialog.” Click Print.
The system dialog box for your printer will appear. Check behind the Cricut Design Space window if you don’t see it. Go to Preferences and then change the Media Type to your printer’s version of ‘Photo Paper – Glossy’ if printing on Glossy Sticker Paper. Change it to ‘Photo Paper – Matte’ if printing on Matte Sticker Paper. Then set the Print Quality to your printer’s version of ‘High’ or ‘Best.’
Once you’ve changed the settings, click on OK and then Print to print the stickers. That’s the end of Step 2.
I printed one set on the HTVRONT Glossy Printable Vinyl Sticker Paper and one set on the Matte paper to see how they would look on each.
Step 3: Trim the Printed Stickers and Place on the Joy Mat
For the Cricut Joy to cut our printed stickers properly, we will be using the drawn black rectangle on the mat from Step 1. Essentially, the Joy now thinks it will be cutting that rectangle and all of the shapes inside it. In reality, we’re going to have the Joy cut the shapes inside the rectangle but not the rectangle itself. Instead, we will cut off the rectangle from our printed stickers and instead, use the rectangle drawn on the mat as a template to place the printed stickers on the mat so they will be cut correctly.
To do this, trim off the printed paper right along the inside edge of the inner black rectangle on all four sides.
I used a paper trimmer for this but you could also do it by hand with scissors. Try to be as straight as possible and as close to the inner edge of the rectangle as possible when cutting it off. How well you cut off the rectangle will determine how accurately the borders are cut around the stickers.
Modify the Layout in Cricut Design Space to Cut the Stickers with the Cricut Joy
Once the stickers are printed, click Cancel until you return to the main canvas with the rectangle template and stickers.
Select each Layer and change it from Print Then Cut>Standard to Cut>Basic.
IF you used Attach like I did in Step 2 with the items that have an Offset, you will need to Hide the actual design element by turning off the eye on its layer and then only change the Offset layer to Cut>Basic. If you used Flatten, you just change the one layer to Cut>Basic.
Once all of the Layers are set to Cut>Basic or Hidden and Offsets set to Cut>Basic, including the actual rectangle template!, check that everything inside the rectangle and the rectangle itself are still Attached. If not, click and drag to select them all and click Attach at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Change the machine selected from the Maker/Explore Air (whichever one you choose to print the stickers) to the Cricut Joy. Now you are ready to cut the stickers out with the Joy.
Click the Make It button. Choose On Mat when given the choice of how to load materials and click Continue. Then choose the appropriate Base Material depending on the sticker paper you are using. For the HTVRONT Matte Paper that I used the laminate sheet with, I chose Heavy Cardstock because that will cut 2x. The laminated sheet is heavier than the non-laminated so 2x cutting is needed. For the HTVRONT Glossy Paper without laminate, I used Medium Cardstock and set the Pressure to MORE.
Cut Out the Print Then Cut Stickers with Your Cricut Joy
Carefully press the printed (and trimmed) sticker sheet down on to the mat just inside the rectangle drawn on the mat. You want to line up the edges of the paper with the inside edges of the drawn rectangle. Press the printed sticker paper down on the mat thoroughly with a scraper or brayer.
Load the mat into the Cricut Joy and press Go in Cricut Design Space to cut out the stickers.
The Joy will cut the images on the inside of the rectangle first, so keep close watch on it as it cuts. As soon as the machine pushes the mat forward and the blade returns to the upper left corner of the mat to start cutting out the rectangle, click Pause in Cricut Design Space to stop the cutting. Then click Cancel.
When finished, Unload the mat via Cricut Design Space. Flip the mat over and pull it away from the stickers to remove them and prevent curling.
Both of my versions – glossy and matter turned out well. I did a bit better lining up the Glossy stickers with the edges of the rectangle so the borders are a bit more even around those stickers. But, over all I am pleased with the result.
Honestly, I never get perfectly even borders with regular Print Then Cut Stickers I cut with my Maker, so I think that is just something you have to learn to live with when making them. That’s a big reason I use a larger white border around them and honestly, these are handmade so they will never truly be perfect and that’s 100% okay! Be proud of what you made and enjoy them!!
Questions or Comments?
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon. Want to just tell me how much you loved this tutorial? Please leave me a comment below – lol!
I would also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas Workspace) and any suggestions you may have on projects to create with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!
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