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It’s not long at all now until the start of the new term so I’m back with another First Day of School DIY for you.
Everyone loves to do back to school photos and something that is becoming increasingly popular is doing photos with back to school chalkboards. You can buy already made boards but it’s much more fun to create your own and I’ve put together a tutorial to show you exactly how to do that!
First Day of School Chalkboard DIY
Here’s what you’ll need
- A4 sized chalkboard – I used this one from Amazon
- Cricut Machine or other vinyl cutting machine – Fancy winning a brand new Cricut Maker? Enter our giveaway!
- Adhesive Vinyl
- Transfer Tape
- Light Hold Cutting Mat
- Weeding Tool
- SVG File from Design Bundles
- Chalk pens (to fill in after)
Find a First Day of School Chalkboard SVG file
Design Bundles have a lot of First Day of School Chalkboard SVGs to choose from, I chose this file as I liked the layout and the fact that it has space to write the school year in so it can be used multiple times.
Once you’ve purchased your SVG file, download and save it somewhere that is easy to access on your computer (I drag mine from my downloads folder to my desktop)
Set your design area
Grab a ruler or tape measure and double-check the exact size of the workable area on your chalkboard. Mine is 20x27cm and I like to have a small border around the edge of a design so I’m going to say my design area is 19x26cm.
Open up Design Space and start a new project, select the shapes option from the left-hand toolbar and select a square. Click on the little padlock on the bottom left corner of the shape to ‘unlock’ it, this means we can manipulate the shape to any size we want. Adjust it to fit the measurements of your chalkboard and then press the padlock again to lock it in place.
Upload SVG to Design Space
In the left-hand toolbar you have the upload option – click that and then click Upload Image. Once it’s uploaded, select the image from your library and click ‘Insert Images’.
It will now appear on your mat and you can manipulate the size of it to fit in your design area box we laid out in the previous step.
Organising your layers
Each coloured section of your SVG is currently laid out as sperate elements but it’s grouped together to give you the layout, this is how most SVG files are organised.
What I’m going to do now it ‘Ungroup’ the layers so that I can weld certain parts together to make it easier to apply to the chalkboard once it is cut.
The file I’m using has 6 colours – white, blue, green, pink, purple and yellow. So I am highlighting each element in a colour group (by holding the cmd key on my mac (shift key on Windows) whilst clicking them with the mouse and then pressing the weld button.
Tips & Tricks – Welding vs Attaching
When you weld layers it keeps their layout fixed within your working area, if you just attach them then when you go to cut the pieces Design Space will move them around on your vinyl to give the ‘best fit’. If you are happy to line stuff up by eye then this isn’t an issue but I much prefer to have things properly spaced out on the cut vinyl (even if it means I’m wasting a bit of vinyl) especially on a project such as this were the layout is important to the design. As you can see in the images above, Welding the coloured layers means that I can drag them around the canvas without them losing their placement in relation to each other.
Tips & Tricks – Using registration marks
To make this project even easier to line up I’m adding registration marks to the top two corners. To do this I make a small square and duplicate it into each colour I am using. I then line them all up using the centre option on the align function. I make sure I have them all selected and add it into the top left-hand corner of my project. I duplicate that stack of squares and add it to the right-hand top corner.
The final step is to select the coloured squares in the layers panel and weld them with your other pieces of the same colour.
Cutting the vinyl
Once you have all your colour layers welded, click on the ‘Make It’ button and follow the Cricut prompts. You can see from the image above how welding the layers has made it much easier to see the layout of the vinyl on the cut preview.
Layering the Vinyl
Once you’ve weeded all of your sheets its time to layer them up. I do this by having one sheet of transfer tape that can cover the whole design and use that to pick up each layer as you can see in the above video. If you lose any of your design (I lost an ‘N’) don’t worry about it too much it’s easier to re-cut a section and add it in later once you have the rest in its final position.
Placing your design
Another time the registration marks come in handy is when you are placing your design – I used them to line up with the edges of the frame on the chalkboard.
It’s important to note that I don’t squeegee down the transfer tap on to the blackboard, this is because if the transfer tape is particularly sticky it can lift some of the blackboard paint off when you peel it back. If some of the vinyl doesn’t adhere fully as you pull the transfer tape back then just push it down gently with your nail, you only need it to adhere enough to come away from the transfer tape, then you can smooth it out after.
I’d love to see if you give this tutorial a go!
Make sure to tag me in any post you put of the finished results on Facebook or Instagram so I can share them around for you 😉