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How to Cut Free Printables with Your Cricut

By Amanda Chittenden on April 9, 2020
This is a Cricut Tutorial that shows you how to use the SLICE feature and FLATTEN feature in Cricut Design Space to get the Cricut to cut them out for you!

I Love Free Printables, But I Hate Cutting Them by Hand

Is anyone with me?  The internet is FULL of free printables that are adorable, but the fact of the matter is, I'm spoiled.  

My Cricut has spoiled me.  

I don't cut much by hand anymore unless it's a paper animal pattern, or a coupon for the grocery store.  So, it became necessary for me to figure out how to cut free printables with my Cricut, because I certainly wasn't going to do it!  Lemme show you!

Before You Cut, You Need to Import Your File

First things first, you need to get your free printable file into Cricut Design Space.  I did a whole post AND step by step video tutorial on how to do this.  The issue is that most free printable files are downloaded as a .pdf file.  PDF is not a file format that is supported by Cricut Design Space.  So you need to tinker a little, but I show you how to do that in the tutorial linked above.  

The file I used in today's tutorial is a free Easter printable from Lia Griffith.  I love Lia Griffith.  Lia Griffith's website ( is one of those sites I go to when I want to cheer myself up.  Everything there is lovely and joyful.  

Once You Have Your File in Design Space, Then What?

Ok, now the fun starts.  Here is what happens when you import your file into Design Space and it has a lot of white space near the edges.  The white bits disappear!

Free printable imported into Cricut for cutting

Do not panic.  We're going to fix that as part of our process.  If you didn't want the stickers with the missing clouds, you could totally stop here.  All you would need to do is shrink the page a little, hit "make it" and have your machine print them and cut them out.  That would be the easiest way to have your Cricut cut your free printables.  

But I want that image with missing clouds and I want a little border around each one.  So, I want to separate these stickers into individual stickers instead of a giant single sheet.  I'm going to teach you how to use some of the tools in the Design Space tools section in order to do it.

Master the Slice Tool

I used to find the entire tool section really intimidating.  Anyone else?  It wasn't until I needed to do something and said to myself "I wish I could just use my scissors" that I started to understand what they did.  

The slice tool is easily the Cricut tool I use most.  And what we are about to do here, is the most common way that I use it.  

In order to separate a sticker from the page, I wished I just had a pair of scissors so I could just reach in there and cut off the sticker I wanted.  Well, we have those scissors, they are just virtual scissors!

First, go to the left side and select a square from the shapes menu:

Select a square from shapes

Drag the square into a rectangle and make sure it covers the part of the image you want to cut away, or slice, away from the rest.  I'm starting with the upper left sticker. Once you cover the item you want to slice off, use your mouse and select the rectangle AND the sheet of stickers. 

Put rectangle on item you want to slice

When they are both selected, you will notice at the bottom right, the slice tool is now available to use. NOTE: the slice tool only works when you are separating two things.  I think about the slice tool the same way I think about traditional scissors.  We wouldn't be able to cut more than one thing out at a time if we were doing it by hand.  We would cut one, and then go cut the next one.  That's what we are doing here, just with our virtual scissors.

Once items are selected, the slice tool is able to be used

When you hit the slice button, you cut through all of the layers.  As you pick the layers apart, you have both the cut away part of the rectangle, plus a grey shape in the shape you sliced, and finally, your sliced image.

Sliced image pieces from free printable cut with cricut

You can delete all of the grey pieces.  All you want is your sticker, and now it's free and ready to live it's best life!  You can move it away from it's friends and we can fix the missing clouds with my second favorite tool.

To do this, grab the same square you grabbed before form the shapes menu on the left, and drag it over to your sticker.  Choose a border size you want around your sticker (if you want a border, otherwise line it up with the top edge of the sticker).

Next, make sure the rectangle is selected, and then head up to the color selector at the top of the page and change that rectangle from grey to white.

Design Space color selector panel
Sticker background is now white

Now, It's Time to Use the Flatten Tool!

Your rectangle is white, but it's still not connected to your sticker.  You need to make it permanent.  In order to do that, make sure the sliced image AND the white rectangle are both selected, then head down to the tool bar and select flatten.  Flatten squishes those two items together, so now they will print as one, and the cut will be only around the edge of the rectangle.

I followed the same process for each sticker that I wanted to use.  For the circular images, instead of grabbing a square from the shapes menu, I guessed it, the circle.  Boom.

I printed my stickers on printable vinyl, but you could use sticker paper, or labels, or regular paper and just glue them on if you're in a pinch!

Stickers on Cricut printable vinyl
Placing cut sticker inside box
Sticker on inside of box
Finished bunny box

My stickers went on the inside flap of my bunny boxes, because the flap kept wanting to pop apart.  Plus, I thought it was a fun surprise graphic when you open the box!

Of course, I recorded the whole tutorial for you guys, so there is a video link below.  In the video, I show you the circle example as well.  Getting your Cricut to cut your free printables is a liberating skill to have, especially considering how many free printables are available online. 

What Else Can You Do with Cut Free Printables?

When I look at free printables NOW, I don't think "those are cute, but I don't want to waste my time cutting them out".  I think "I'm going to get my Cricut to cut those printables for me and make them into labels, or stickers for my planner, or printable iron-ons for a t-shirt", etc. etc. etc. 🙂

One more thing I like to do with free printables is just cut them out to use as elements in cards.  There are some elements that are perfect for birthday cards (think party hat images, or little cupcakes or cakes) that I get my Cricut to cut so I can slap into a card as a pop up element.  

Since you can separate each printable image in Design Space, you can make them any size you want.  You're not restricted to the size of the printable in your downloaded pdf.  

Like I said, liberating.  

Having your Cricut cut free printables also means you can cut multiples of things!  How easy would it be to just make yourself a sheet of envelope seals, for example? How about mini sticker sheets for a birthday party? Or stickers to seal a goodie bag?

Materials Used:

Material links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the links below, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this channel. 

Materials used for this project are only my home inkjet printer, and the Cricut printable vinyl sheets, which can be purchased here at the Cricut website.  Cricut often has great materials sales and as I am writing this is currently about half as expensive as Amazon: or you can purchase on Amazon here.

Enjoy the tutorial, and the new-found freedom to make your Cricut do all the hard work for you! 🙂


Article written by Amanda Chittenden

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I’m Amanda, and I put the AMANDA in A MANDAtory Activity (and I like a good bad pun). I run a blog, A Mandatory Activity, focused on baking and crafting for gatherings and gifts.

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