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I’ve written here before about my love of novelty bags, but spending $50 every time you need the perfect bag to complete your Disneybound look isn’t always an option for the old wallet. When that happens, I set my sights on inexpensive Amazon finds for a good old fashioned DIY.
For the first Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, I knew I wanted to use the newest black and white Nightmare Before Christmas ears that debuted at the parks to create a Jack Skellington look, and I had the perfect dress and hair clip, but no bag. I searched high and low and I was either underwhelmed with the bag options I found our they were super expensive. I try to limit my novelty bag splurges to pieces that I know I’ll carry often (read: aren’t so “niche”) so dropping dollars on this one was out of the question. Enter my Cricut Explore Air 2 and some inexpensive craft vinyl. Read on for step by step instructions on how to make your own!
What You’ll Need:
- An inexpensive circular white bag. I used this one. It cost around $15.
- Black adhesive craft vinyl sheet (I used glossy, it also comes in matte). You can find single sheets for around $5, but if you are or want to become a hard core vinyl crafter, you can save money buying value packs that have tons of colors options.
- A cutting machine, such as the Cricut Explore Air 2. (Don’t own a Cricut? I’ve got your back! You can still cut your vinyl with a printed pattern and utility knife.)
- Standard grip cutting mat (if you’re using your cutting machine). If you’re planning to cut by hand, a small standard craft cutting mat will do.
- Standard grip vinyl transfer tape (you’ll use this to get the vinyl onto the bag without wanting to pull your hair out).
- Tools: You’ll need a burnishing tool to firmly transfer the vinyl to your final project. If you’re using your cutting machine, you’ll need a weeding knife to remove the excess vinyl. Cricut makes a great set, or there are also better-priced off-brand options available, such as this one.
- A sharp pair of scissors for trimming around your cut design.
- Pattern or cutting file. Click the link below. It will open a window with the pattern image. Right-click the image, and save it to your computer.
Directions (Machine Cutting Method):
Step 1: Set up the cut file in Cricut Design Space.
- Go to Upload -> Upload Image, and navigate to where you’ve saved the image file on your computer.
- Select the image file and click Open. You will see a preview of your image in the preview window.
- Select the image type. This is a high-contrast, fairly simple image, so we are going to select “Simple“, then hit Continue.
- Erase the background of the image. Click on the Magic Wand symbol above “Select and Erase” (it usually defaults to this, so you don’t even have to click it), and then click anywhere in the white space of the image. You will see the white disappear and a blue and white grid appear, indicating the background has been erased. Click Continue.
- The next screen that comes up has two thumbnails of your image. Select the one on the right “Save as a Cut Image“. You can change the image name if you want to (I’ve named it “Jack Face”) and add any tags in the boxes on the right of the screen. When you are done, click Save.
Step 2: Create your project.
- Once you’ve created your cut file and saved it, you will then see it appear in your Recently Uploaded Images library.
- Create a new canvas by selecting New (the plus inside the circle) in the upper left corner of the screen. Then click Upload again, this will take you to your recently uploaded images. Find your image (it should be the first one) and click the green Insert Images button. Your image will appear on your canvas.
Note: I’ve sized this image for the purse I used in the project, which is about 6″ in diameter, but if you are using a bigger or smaller purse you will need to use the image grips to scale the image up or down at this point.
Step 3: Make it!
- Make sure your Cricut is connected to your computer by USB or Bluetooth and click the green Make It button in the upper right hand corner of Design Space. Make sure your Material size is set to 12″x12″, Project copies is set to 1, and the Mirror option is OFF.
- Place your vinyl sheet, black side up, firmly on your cutting grip mat, and load it into the machine.
- Set your cutting dial to “Vinyl Plus” (The node between Vinyl and Iron On).
- Click Continue in Design Space. Once your Cricut has established a connection to the computer, press the blinking “C” button on your machine, and the magic will happen!
Step 4: Weed & Trim
- Use your weeding tool to remove all the excess vinyl from around your design. I like to cut my design out from the large vinyl piece with scissors to make it easier to work with. When you’re finished you should have a perfectly cut design still on its wax paper backing. Leave it on the cutting mat for the next step.
Step 5: Transfer
- Cut out a piece of transfer tape that is slightly larger than your design, and carefully peel the white wax backing off the tape. Place your vinyl design and mat face up on a hard, flat surface, and carefully press the sticky side of the transfer tape to your design. Use your burnishing tool to make sure the vinyl is firmly adhered to the tape with minimal bubbles, then peel the wax backing paper from the vinyl, paying close attention to small corner to ensure the entire design remains on the clear tape.
- Place your bag face up on a hard flat surface. Make sure it’s clean and dry. Position your transfer tape with your vinyl design centered on the bag, and press. Then use your burnishing tool to work over all the pieces of the vinyl that you wish to remain on the bag. You may need to go over small areas several times.
- Once you’ve burnished the entire design onto the bag, carefully begin peeling away the transfer tape, starting in one corner. I like to peel very slowly to make sure I don’t pick up the vinyl with the tape anywhere, and sometimes I use my burnishing tool to hold down small corners of vinyl as I peel away the tape to ensure they remain on my surface.
When you are finished, it should look something like this!
Directions (Hand Cutting Method):
Step 1: Print out the image file on a sheet of white paper.
- Note: I’ve sized this image for the purse I used in the project, which is about 6″ in diameter, but if you are using a bigger or smaller purse you will need to scale the image up or down first before printing, or use a copier to enlarge or reduce your print.
Step 2: Place your craft vinyl face up on your cutting mat, and use painter’s tape or masking tape to firmly tape around all four sides of the vinyl, to ensure it stays in place while you cut.
Step 3: Trim your pattern so that about 1″ of blank space remains around the edges of the design. Place your pattern face up on top of the craft vinyl, and firmly tape around all 4 sides.
Step 4: Use a craft knife or utility knife (I prefer the X-acto Precision grip knife) to carefully cut out around your pattern. Don’t worry if you go all the way through the backing of the vinyl. Remove your paper pattern from the cut design and discard the excess cut vinyl, but try not to move your vinyl design pieces. Don’t worry if you shift them a bit, you can arrange them as you need to before you press the transfer tape to them.
Step 5: Follow Step 5 above from the Machine Cutting Directions, making sure all the wax paper backing has been removed from your vinyl pieces. The rest of the process is exactly the same!
The whole process took me about 30 minutes from start to finish, and cost about $20 (I already owned the machine and all the tools). I love how the bag turned out and can’t wait to carry it a few more times before Halloween season is over! If you try this DIY, leave me a note in the comments and let me know how it went!