This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link we may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. This helps us keep our freebies, content, and tutorials FREE ALWAYS for you! We really appreciate your support!

How to Use Transfer Paper with Vinyl

If you are new to owning your Silhouette CAMEO or Protrait and want to work with vinyl, learning how to use transfer tape is the first step!

Personalize everything! Love these easy personalized water bottles!!

When you get your first Silhouette machine, it can be overwhelming.  That might even be an understatement.  There is so much to learn and so much new terminology to wrap your head around.  It doesn’t take long before it is all second nature so it is easy to forget what it was like as a newbie.

A few months back my friend Dawn from By Dawn Nicole and I started a Facebook group just for support with your Silhouette machine and to get some crazy awesome inspiration from 20,000 of your new best crafting friends.  {If you want to get inspired, request to join here!} Being in the group has reminded me how steep that learning curve in when you start. So I decided to do a Silhouette 101 series where I talk about all the basic things you need to know when you start.  So make sure to pin this post for reference to your Silhouette Pinterest board and then come back often to learn more.

What the basic idea of what we are doing here is taking a vinyl cut and using a sheet of transfer paper, also called transfer tape, to pick up the design and move it perfectly to the surface that you want to adhere it to.  The reason you want to use transfer tape is that even though vinyl looks just like a sticker, it isn’t as stiff as a sticker.  This makes it nearly impossible to peel it up and place it down in exactly the way that it was designed.  It gets even harder when the design is big or intricate.  And then there is the whole issue of lining everything up just perfectly as you designed and cut it.  It would be almost impossible to do by hand.

Using transfer tape you can pick up the whole design at once and TRANSFER it over to your project.

Now that makes sense, right?!
Silhouette Cameo 101: What is weeding vinyl

Using transfer paper might sound a bit scary, but it is really super simple.  If you don’t have your transfer paper yet, you can grab transfer paper from Silhouette here or on Amazon here.  There are two main kinds of paper, clear and translucent.  I wouldn’t say one works better than the other, but it is more a matter of preference. Although I am using the clear in this tutorial, I tend to prefer the translucent because it has grid lines that I think make it easier to keep your projects perfectly aligned.

The first thing we are going to do is to weed the design.  All weed means is that we are going to peel off all of the pieces of the design that we aren’t using and get rid of them.  You can use a Silhouette hook tool to make the job super easy.

You can see in the picture above, I am trying to put the names I cut in vinyl onto the water bottles in the top picture. So in this case I weeded all of the excess vinyl, leaving the letters and the dot of the i. If I was making a stencil I would have done the opposite, by taking out the letters and leaving the excess to use as a stencil.  One list tip:  I like to cut down the pieces of vinyl closely around the area I want to make weeding easier.


Silhouette CAMEO 101: How to use transfer tape with Vinyl designs

Next you will want to cut your transfer paper roughly the same size as your piece of vinyl.  Start to peel off the backing and line up and stick that edge to your vinyl design as shown in the picture above.  You can then peel the backing off and stick down the rest of the transfer paper sticking it down as you peel.  You could just peel the whole thing and stick it down, but I tend to get a lot of bubbles when I do that so this method works about 100x better for me!

Once you have the transfer tape on use a scraper tool, or an old gift card to scrape over the design to make sure the transfer tape is adhering to the vinyl nice and tight.  Then slowly start to peel up your transfer tape at any corner.  As you peel, the vinyl should come off the backing with the transfer tape.  Sometimes it can get a little stubborn and in that case I just use my fingernail to coax the edge of the vinyl piece up and it usually pops right up to the tape and you can keep peeling.

Once you are done you should have the entire design you hope to transfer on the transfer tape and off of the backing.  Make sure to pay extra close attention to dots on i’s and periods and other small punctuations.  They can be tricky and are easy to miss!

How to use transfer paper with your Silhouette CAMEO or Cricut machine

The only thing left to do now is apply your design to your project.  Line up your design on your project and press the transfer tape firmly down.  Then get out your scraper tool again and score over the whole design to make sure that it adheres to the water bottle evenly and securely.

Then start at any corner and peel back the transfer tape taking special care not to pull up any of the letters or small characters.  Peel it back slowly until you reach the end and there you have it!  You just transferred your first vinyl design easy as that!

If you love learning all about how to use your Silhouette machine I have a few more posts you just might love!
How to use Heat Transfer Vinyl - Tips and Tricks No One Ever Told You! PLUS Silhouette Sale with Promo Code PINNING

Heat Transfer for Beginners

Over 50 tips, tricks and ideas on how to save time, money and effort when using your Silhouette CAMEO, Cricut or any craft cutting machine.

50 Tips and Tricks for your Silhouette – You can thank me later!

Get easy craft ideas, DIY project inspiration, Silhouette tutorials and FREE home decor prints to your inbox!
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
New Comment


  1. says

    Thank your for sharing this tutorial. 😀 I just got a Cricut and I am planning on working with vinyl, so this tutorial (even though it’s for the Silhouette) is helpful. I did want to ask, have you used vinyl on cups and glasses, and if yes, have you had any problems with the vinyl staying on when you wash the cups/glasses by hand or in the dishwasher?

  2. babs says

    I’m super frustrated with vinyl – it’s sticking more to the transfer tape than to the wall! Anyone have any suggestions that can help me?

    • says

      You are so right! It can be frustrating sometimes!! I think it is really helpful to do a couple of things-
      1. Make sure you score it well before you try to remove
      2. The thinner your design is, the harder it will be and the slower you will need to go.
      3. After you stick to the surface, start peeling from one corner and when you get to where the vinyl is go very slowly. You can use a spatula tool or your fingernail to pull down the corner of the vinyl if it is not sticking the the wall. Then continue to hold it while you slowly pull up the rest. It will help the rest stay where it should when you get the first corner down.

  3. Chastity R Corbett says

    Thank you so much! I just got my Cameo 2 and I destroyed the mat the first day I got it. I peeled the adhesive off the vinyl and stuck it on the sticky side of the mat. I couldn’t get the vinyl off. Needless to say I bought a new mat yesterday. Yes, I just got my Cameo on Good Friday. LOL the videos I tried watching weren’t detailed enough with the instructions. You’re my hero! Thank you! I have to find instructions for using multiple colors on heat transfer and the regular vinyl can’t be used for heat transfer right? I’m a novice. I will be a Pro soon thanks to you! What is the name of the FB group because the link is not working.

  4. says

    Oh I hope you can help me! I just recently got my Cameo, and am so excited to create things with both vinyl and paper. But, I’m on the verge of tossing it out the window! I’ve used the vinyl that came in my starter bundle – Silhouette brand – and it was a pain in the rear to weed, but adhered to the transfer tape beautifully. So I tried Oracal vinyl (after several friends suggested it), and it weeded like a charm! But it takes two people and about 20 minutes to get it to adhere to the transfer paper. Please help! I have so many ideas, but I don’t want to spend hours doing what others accomplish in minutes! PS – It does this with both thin and thick fonts, small and large.

  5. Heather says

    Hello! For this project, once the decal is on the transfer paper, is the back of the vinyl sticky? If I wanted to mail someone something like what would I do? I am clearly very new! :) I guess you can do a mirror image but then do you put the color vinyl in backwards? Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Heather! No problem… I welcome all newbies! We were all there once. When you peel the vinyl off of it’s backing on to the transfer paper it is sticky which is what carries the design over to what you want to apply it on without it getting any wrinkles or distortion. In instances where you don’t want to apply it right away, I recommend applying the transfer tape, peeling the design off and then sticking the whole thing back to the backing from the transfer tape. Hope this helps!

  6. says

    I know I am commenting a year late, but I am looking for some advice on transfer tape and vinyls! My Cricut brand of TT is really struggling pulling up my Cricut brand of glitter vinyl. Can you for someone else give a newbie some help?!

    • Stacey says

      I have the same problem. Unless you use the paper it came with, nothing else seems to work. And they do not give you near enough paper! I typically don’t use cricut brand vinyl, but the glitter was really pretty. Everything else I have tried doesnt work.

  7. Shelleen Bowman says

    I have been trying to use transfer tape with my vinyl and have been unsuccessful in getting the vinyl to stick to the transfer tape. I have used various different settings and made sure I burnished the vinyl well and still no luck. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    • says

      Sometimes you have to help the first edge of the vinyl up with your fingernail and once it is on the tape the rest should peel up easily. You might also try a different brand. Each brand has it’s own level of stickiness. Hope that helps.

    • says

      Hi Sarah- It is called Brushed on my font menu, but the name it downloads as is something else and I don’t quite remember. I have tried to look it up before but it is tricky with that name. I hope that helps!

  8. lana says

    I am having problems getting my vinyl letters to stick to the wall. I have rubbed but the letters will not release from the clear carrier paper. My wall is painted with a semi-glossy paint on lightly textured wall. I tried and was successful at getting them to release on my dryer so I assume it’s the wall surface. What other surface could I use to apply this to and hang on the wall?

    • says

      You could try using dollar tree contact paper. It tends to be a little less sticky so it might be a bit easier to get to release on the wall. Some surfaces vinyl just won’t stick well to though and texture does tend to make it much harder!

  9. Danica says

    I am new to cricut and am just wondering if the vinyl washes well when you put it on cups? Is it dishwasher safe? Great tutorial :) I found this very helpful


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *