DIY Monogrammed Tumbler

I used to have a terrible problem.  I was the kind of person who would wait until the absolute last minute to give a gift.  Or sometimes weeks later.  There were such good intentions, but with procrastination in the mix, I ended up being a TERRIBLE gift giver.  My memory tends to be lacking, but I distinctly remember my family commenting on how I either 1. Gave a kinda-sorta-terribly-wrapped gift because I didn’t have time.  2.  Gave a “It’s almost finished but here are the pieces that will eventually go together.  3. Gave a “I’ll make/buy this for you eventually.”

Now, I still have my moments of procrastination [I may have started actually putting everything together for this project at like 9:30 last night.  and finished them before work this morning]. BUT I’ve been working on improving my gift giving and thoughtfulness over the years.  One thing I’m doing is trying to be very intentional about gifts I give.  That means having an ongoing list on my Evernote where I write down any ideas I have for gift giving.  Sometimes that may mean enthusiastically squealing in excitement, getting out my phone, and ignoring my loved ones looks of confusion as I say “never mind!” This also means being creative and using Pinterest to find ideas, modify them, and make them my own.  I’m SUPER excited about this one, because I really did work hard to make it fabulous!

I wanted to do something special for my coworkers for Christmas and found this lovely tutorial on Pinterest.

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I loved her idea, but wanted something with swirls.  So I got brainstorming and testing.  Here’s what I came up with.

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For this project, you will need:

  • Die-cutting machine and program that you can add JPG or SVG to create custom cuts.  I have a Cricut die-cutting machine and Sure Cuts A Lot 2.  I love my SCAL; however, they no longer support Cricut.  I was lucky and got it a week before this mess happened.  If you’re thinking about getting a new die-cutting machine, go with something that allows the use of some sort of computer program rather than cartridges.  It’s usually more $$ up front, but you won’t regret it!!  Make sure you have a new blade for your die-cutting – if it’s not a fresh blade, it may not cut cleanly enough!
  • Tumbler or water bottle. Make sure you get something that is smooth.  So no silicone sleeve or bumps.  I would also go with something that is double-walled so there is no chance the condensation or heat will negatively affect the vinyl. I love me some Tervis. Head to Bed Bath and Beyond and check out clearance and/or use a 20% off coupon!  For this Christmas, I went with the Joann’s route – they had the cutest ombre, chevron, and polka dot tumblers!  $7.99 and I used a 50% off coupon.  $4 for a quality cup.
  • Outdoor Vinyl.  I ordered a bunch of colors of Oracal 651 from Expressions Vinyl.  I’ve read the outdoor vinyl will last even when used in the dishwasher!  We’ll see if that’s true (it has so far for me!)  You can get normal vinyl at craft stores, but DON’T DO IT!  It’s not as durable, and it’s at least twice the price.
  • Transfer Tape.  I ordered it from Expressions Vinyl as well.  Don’t forget this.  And don’t be afraid to order a roll – I regret not doing so.  I saw a tutorial on Pinterest for using Glad Press and Seal to transfer vinyl.  Terrible mistake.  I have not successfully done it with that method.  However, I’ve only had 1 problem when I’ve used the transfer tape.

STEP 1: Creating the monogram

I liked the concept, but wasn’t a huge fan of the font on the above tutorial.  I found a great script monogram, but it seemed too skinny to do well with the Cricut/vinyl.  I had so many high hopes for designing my own script monograms using a bold script font, but that just didn’t go well (too time consuming and not my cup-of-tea).

SO I found this awesome website that creates a monogram using a pretty user friendly template.  Here are the directions for creating a FREE monogram through printablemonogram.com.  Make sure to choose a high contrasting color. Click on the pictures below for the templates I used.  Only use script font if you can make the monogram at least 3″ wide, otherwise the thin lines may not cut properly.  I did most of mine at 3.5″.

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I created the monogram in the PDF, but I didn’t save it there.  I used my lovely MacBookPro to screen-shot it (command+shift+4).  Then, you can find the images on your desktop.  If you use a PC, here are some ways you can take a screen-shot.  You could also download IrfanView, a program that allows you to take a screen shot in a few simple steps.

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STEP 2: Adjust monogram in your computer program

I needed to remove the leftover circle and in my “test” cut, I noticed some of the swirls didn’t work well because there were two thin ones next to each other.

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In SCAL2, I used the “break apart” function, and then selected those pieces and deleted them so that it looked like this:

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Resize so it will look good on your tumbler and yet not be too small to cut effectively.  For my larger tumblers with the swirl, I did about 3.5″ or 3.75.”  The circle anchor font can be done at about 2.25.”

NOTE: I found this Mark & Graham monogram maker just today.  Check it out if you want something different.  They will e-mail you the graphic.

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STEP 3: Cut the monogram

Use your machine to cut it.  Make sure you use a “kiss cut method.”  That means it will only cut through the vinyl, and not through the white backing.  On my Cricut, that means my speed is at 2 or 3, my pressure is at 3, and my blade depth is at 3.  If these settings don’t work for yours – adjust it as needed.  I changed the blade, and needed to adjust my blade depth to make it cut correctly.

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[[Here’s a great tutorial on how to cut vinyl using a Cricut.]]

STEP 4: Weeding

Remove all the pieces you do not need.  Here is a great tutorial on weeding vinyl if you need further instructions.

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STEP 5: Transferring the vinyl

For a great video tutorial, click here.  Cut the transfer tape slightly larger than your image.  Start peeling the back of your transfer tape – you can take the whole thing off at once, or you can start peeling it and just place one side – this does make it easier to line up if you choose to do so.

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Use a gift card, scraper, or your fingers to firmly press on the vinyl to the transfer tape.

Over at The House Hunter Blog, she cut the backing/transfer tape so it would go on smoothly, but for me, that just made it more complicated to remove the transfer tape. I only had one monogram (out of 17+) that did not go on smoothly.

STEP 6: Applying the vinyl to your tumbler

Peel the white backing off your vinyl that is still adhered to the transfer tape.  If some of the vinyl tries to stay on the backing, just press down the transfer tape again or try to peel it off from a different direction.

Line up the vinyl on your tumbler.  It’s MUCH easier to do this if you lined up the transfer tape to your monogram.  Otherwise, it ends up confusing matters 🙂

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It helped me to press on the center of the monogram all the way down (thank you to my sweet engineer friend who helped me put about 8 of these on!), and then move out from there.  Make sure you move from the center outward.  If it messes up, you can occasionally lift a small piece of it to reposition, but it isn’t always successful.

STEP 7: Peel off the transfer tape

This is pretty simple!  Peel off the lined transfer tape – if any vinyl tries to come back with it, STOP, go back, and press it back down.  If it continues, press the transfer tape and vinyl back to the tumbler and remove from another side.

STEP 8: Gift or enjoy your personalized tumbler!! 

Monogrammed Cups

**You can also make a personalized tumbler with an image a loved one will appreciate.  My aforementioned engineer friend loves owls, so I made her this awesome Tervis:

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My boyfriend is restoring a 1964 Airstream.  With the help of my amazing engineering friend, we made a vector of his actual airstream, down to the window placement, the vent, and everything.  I used the airstream font to add his hashtag.  He loves it!

I also monogrammed my computer.  I haven’t gone monogram crazy or anything 🙂

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