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Learn how to fill a shape with words and make your own home decor!

Have you seen trendy word cloud designs with dozens of words in beautiful colors? Want to learn how to make your own? Check out my new tutorial on how to fill a shape with words using Cricut Design Space! Plus, I have some free useful fonts that make creating your custom text designs fun and easy. We’ll sublimate the design on a pillow, but you can create a card using Print then Cut, stickers with printable vinyl, or even a T-shirt!

Want to save this project? Enter your email below and we’ll send the project straight to your inbox.
 

Watch the full step-by-step tutorial on how to fill a shape with words on my Youtube channel!

Get the free SVG cut file for this project

There are many different ways to fill a shape with words depending the tool you prefer. Some tutorials recommend Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, and other typing or drawing tools. Then there are online word cloud art generators that will fill in a shape outline in seconds, but I wanted more control of the result. Cricut Design Space is in the perfect blend of simplicity and control (in my opinion) to make cute custom word art pillows! Now it’s your turn!

My tutorial shows you how to make a word list, pick a fitting typeface, how a text layer is different from a shape layer, learn how to adjust the font size, and play with the color of the text to fill a heart shape! Once you know the basics, you can apply the technique to custom shapes and make a paragraph of text into art!

I’ll show you how to use a few of my free fonts (and how to install them) but you can control the look and feel of your design by using other options. To make it easy to find, install, and pick the best one for your Cricut projects, I made a printable cheat sheet with typeface tips, tricks, and my favorite Cricut fonts list! It’s all updated for 2024, too!

Click here to get my Cricut fonts list cheat sheet!

If the above link does not work for you, get the printable cheat sheet here!

When you’re creating a design like these, It’s most important that the words match the edges of the shape so it’s still easily recognizable when you remove the outline. That can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with long words, so make sure you have some short options on your list. They help fill in around the edges!

And of course, color is important! We’ll make a simple one color design, but I’ll also show you how to make a fun gradient using different fill colors. You can make the colors in the gradient stop wherever you like because Cricut Design Space gives you more control than word cloud generators.

Plus, I’ll show you where to find LOTS of patterns you can also use to fill the words in the shape area!

While I’ll make mine into a sublimation transfer for a pillow, you can print yours on a card, or even use vinyl to make a fun custom T-shirt!

If you want to make a sublimation pillow like me, I have links to the materials and tools you’ll need below. While we’re using Cricut software to prepare the designs, we’ll do all the cutting by hand so you don’t need to use the cutting machine.

And Heat presses are not all the same, so I have information for different press types in my Sublimation Cookbook. And be sure to check my tools and materials list for all the items you’ll need to get started!

Let me show you how to fill a shape with letters! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more, there is no additional cost)! Read my full disclosure policy.

How To Fill A Shape With Words To Make Your Own Sublimation Pillow

How To Fill A Shape With Words

How To Fill A Shape With Words

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 1 hour
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Estimated Cost: $15

Learn how to fill a shape with words in Cricut Design Space!

Instructions

STEP 1: GET MY FREE WORD SHAPE DESIGNS

First, download my Fill a Shape with Words designs from my free library -- look for Design #585. Alternatively, you can use the Save This Project form near the top of this post and the design link will be emailed to you.

In the download folder, there are heart cut files in the SVG and DXF folders.

There are some pre-made designs in the PNG and PDF folders: a butterfly with a watercolor gradient, one with a solid rainbow gradient, and a heart with a watercolor gradient.

I’ll show you how to use the heart in the SVG folder to create similar designs in Cricut Design Space.

TIP: If you’re not sure how to upload, go to jennifermaker.com/svgs to learn how to unzip and upload files to Cricut Design Space.



STEP 2: PREPARE AND PRINT YOUR DESIGNS

MEASURE YOUR BLANK

You can check the pillowcase’s packaging for dimensions, but it’s always good to measure the height and width just in case. Mine is about 15.5” square, which works well for a design in the middle.
Use a tape measure to verify the size of the blank sublimation pillow case.

CRICUT DESIGN SPACE

  1. Open Cricut Design Space and click “New Project.”
  2. Click “Upload” and then “Upload Image.”
  3. Click “Browse.”
  4. Select the heart outline SVG.
  5. Click “Upload.”
  6. On the next screen, select your design and click “Add to Canvas.”
    Fill Shapes blank heart svg uploaded to Cricut Design Space canvas showing dimensions.
  7. The final design will be created using the print portion of Design Space’s Print Then Cut feature, which has size limitations. To make sure your design will print, click the “Operation” menu and select “Print Then Cut” from the dropdown options.
  8. With the Lock icon closed, adjust the design’s dimensions to fit the area you want to decorate.
  9. If there is a red icon in the Layers Panel, click it and make sure the paper size mentioned matches your material. If not, click “Change Page Size” and adjust it. I’m using 8.5” x 11” paper.
    Design Space warning that image is too large for Print Then Cut feature.
  10. If the warning icon is still there, click it and select “Auto-Resize Image” to automatically make it the largest dimensions possible.
    Autp-resize image is a link to allow Design Space to resize the image to fit within the Print Then Cut guidelines.
  11. Once the shape is the correct size, click the “Operation” menu and select “Guide,” so you’ll have a see-through shape that isn’t part of the final design.
  12. Click the “Text” icon.
  13. Type the first word you want to use.
    TIP: Depending on your typeface choice, using all caps might fill the rectangle of your word better.
  14. Select the “Font” menu. Click on the Font menu dropdown to search for the font you want to use.
  15. Click “System” to see your added typefaces and search for “JM Sweet,” then click it.
  16. Close the Font pop-up.
  17. Drag the word to the side.
    NOTE: Don’t worry about the text size yet.
  18. Click “Duplicate” to make a new text box with the same settings.
    Select the word text layer and click the Duplicate icon above the layers panel.
  19. Double-click the new text box to activate editing mode, then type the next word.
    TIP: It’s helpful to have a mix of words that have different lengths. A short word can help fill in small spots where you need just a little extra space to create the shape’s outline.
  20. Drag the new word below the last one on the Canvas.
    NOTE: You’ll use many copies of each word, so keep the originals at the side for future use.
  21. Use Steps 18-20 to add all the words you want to use to the Canvas in a list.
    Arrange all of the main words for the design to the side of the heart shape on the Design Space canvas.
    TIP: Check your spelling now!
  22. Select the longest word, or the one you want to be the focus.
  23. Click “Duplicate” to make a copy to use in the design.
    Select the first word, click Duplicate, and place the duplicated word in the heart shape.
  24. Drag the main word to the largest section of the shape.
  25. With the Lock icon closed, drag a corner of the word’s bounding box to resize it to fit in the shape.
    NOTE: You can make the word completely span the shape, or leave some space on either side to add more words later to fill in the space.
  26. Use Steps 21-25 to place a copy of each word in your shape, varying their sizes as you prefer.
    Continue duplicating the words to place them in the heart shape using varying sizes.
    NOTE: If a word gets very close to the shape’s edge, it’s ok, you can fine tune the placement once you have more words in place.
  27. Pick an open area between the Guide’s edge and a word you’ve positioned.
  28. Use Steps 21-25 to place smaller copies of each word in the open area, filling from an edge to the closest large word in place. Try to position your words to match the shape’s outline as much as possible. You can adjust each word’s dimensions as you go to fill in spaces, and move the existing text as needed to create the look you want.
    TIP: As you get into filling smaller spaces, opening the Lock icon to adjust a word’s height and width independently can make it easier.
    The upper left side of the heart shape is filled with varying word sizes.
  29. After you’ve filled in one section, move to the next open area and fill from that edge to a positioned word using the same techniques.
    The right side of the heart shape is filled with varying word sizes.
  30. Use the same technique to fill the rest of the Guide shape with words.
    NOTE: You may need to adjust some words where the filling areas meet, so take your time!
  31. Check that the shape’s edges are still recognizable when it’s made with the words by clicking the Eye icon in the Guide Layer to hide it. If the edges don’t look right, click the Eye icon again to show the shape and adjust the text in the problem area.
    Click the eye icon next to the heart guide layer to hide it.
  32. When everything looks correct, delete the original list of words.
  33. Click the Eye icon for the Guide Layer to hide it.
  34. Your base design is almost ready, but you must pick a color fill option before making it a finished sublimation project.
    With the guide hidden, review the shape of the words to make any adjustments around the edges.

OPTION 1: SINGLE COLOR

  1. If you want to make your design using a plain color, click “Select All” in the top menu.
  2. Click “Attach” to put all the words into a single Operation group.
    Select all of the text layers and click Attach at the bottom of the Layers panel to keep all of the words together.
  3. Click the Color Box next to the “Operation” menu and select the color you want for your design.
    With the shape selected, click the Color Menu and select red.
  4. With the entire design selected, click the “Operation” menu and select “Print Then Cut.”
    Click on the Operation drop down and select Print Then Cut.
  5. If the red warning icon reappears in your Print Then Cut layer, some of your text may have gone outside the original design. Click the icon and select “Auto-Resize image” to make it fit on your printed sheet again.
  6. Your single color design is ready for printing.

OPTION 2: MANUAL GRADIENT COLORS

  1. Decide how many colors you want to use. That’s how many sections you’ll need to divide your design into. I’ll use three: red, orange, and yellow, so I’ll use a third of the design for each color.
  2. Click and drag your cursor over the top third of the design, where the text area represents the first color for your gradient.
    Click and drag your mouse over the top section of words for manual gradient coloring.
  3. If there are words selected that you want to make a different color, hold your Command key (Mac) or Control key (Windows) and select the layer in the Layers Panel that you want to remove from the selection.
  4. Or, if there’s a word you want to add, hold your Shift key and click it in the Layers Panel to add it to the selection.
    Press the Shift key to manually select or deselect any words in the Layers panel.
  5. Click the Color Box and select the first color you want to use. I’ll use red.
    With the words selected, click the Color Menu and select red for the first color.
  6. Use Steps 2-5 to select the other sections for your gradient and change their colors. I’ll make the middle orange and the bottom a gold yellow.
  7. Click “Select All” in the top menu.
  8. Click “Flatten” to put all the words into a single Operation group.
    Once all of the color selections are made, select all of the layers and click Flatten at the bottom of the Layers panel.
    NOTE: If the red warning icon reappears in your Print Then Cut layer, some of your text may have gone outside the original design. Click the icon and select “Auto-Resize image” to make it fit on your printed sheet again.
  9. Your gradient design is ready for printing.

OPTION 3: PATTERN FILL

  1. Click “Select All” in the top menu.
  2. Click “Attach” to put all the words into a single Operation group.
  3. Click the “Operation” menu and select “Print Then Cut.”
  4. Click the Color Box next to Operation.
  5. Under “Print Type” select “Pattern.”
    Under the Print Type dropdown menu, select Pattern.
  6. Click “Filter” and pick a color to explore different Pattern options.
    Click the Filter link to select certain colors to filter the pattern selections.
  7. Select a Pattern.
  8. Click off of the design so the Pattern can render.
  9. To adjust the Pattern, click the design again, then click the Color Box and select “Edit Pattern.”
    Click Edit Pattern to open optional settings for the pattern.
  10. You can use these tools to adjust the pattern and see the new results in the preview.
  11. “Scale” increases or decreases the size of the pattern on the shape. You can zoom in and out using the slider.
    Adjust the scale to change the pattern design.
  12. “Horizontal” or “Vertical” moves the pattern side to side or up and down.
    Use the arrows next to Horizontal to make pattern adjustments.
  13. “Rotate” rotates the pattern on the shape.
    Use the arrows to rotate the direction of the pattern.
  14. And the left Flip icon flips the pattern horizontally, while the right icon flips it vertically.
    Edit the patten flip to change the orientation of the pattern fill design.
  15. Edit the Pattern until you like the result, then close the pop-up to see the final result.
    Edited custom heart design with a pattern fill in Cricut Design Space.
  16. If the red warning icon reappears in your Print Then Cut layer, some of your text may have gone outside the original design. Click the icon and select “Auto-Resize image” to make it fit on your printed sheet again.
  17. If you see a yellow warning icon in the Layers Panel, it’s Design Space saying that the image has low resolution, or not enough detail in the file to make a nice-looking print at a big size. It will print just fine at the size needed for the project, I promise, but going much bigger won’t look as nice.
  18. Your pattern fill design is ready for printing.


FOR ANY COLOR OPTION

  1. Make sure the correct machine is selected in the top right.
  2. Click “Make.”
  3. If prompted, click "On Mat," choose your mat size, and click “Confirm.”
  4. On the Prepare Screen, make sure your Material Size is set to “8.5 in x 11 in (Letter).”
  5. Click “Mirror” since we’ll apply the design face down when sublimating.
    On the Prepare screen, toggle Mirror to the on position to flip the image for sublimation.
  6. Click “Continue.”

PRINTING

  1. On the Make Screen, click “Send to Printer.”
  2. Select your printer from the Printer dropdown.
  3. Toggle “Add Bleed” off since we don’t want extra ink around the design.
  4. Toggle “Use System Dialog” on.
  5. Click “Print.”
    TIP: You may need to minimize or move your Design Space window to see the print dialog window. It sometimes appears behind Design Space. Each printer is different, so consult your printer's user guide for additional support.
    Toggle Add Bleed to the off position and toggle Use System Dialog to the On position and click Print.
  6. The print dialog box should have the correct printer selected, the Media set to “Premium Photo Matte,” and the Quality set to “Best.” “Flip Horizontally” should be unchecked.
    Set the printer settings to photo matte paper and set the quality to best.
    NOTE: Your screen and settings may look different, but use mine as a guide to pick the closest options you have available.
  7. Make sure the sublimation paper is loaded correctly in your printer.
  8. Click “Print.”
  9. Set the print aside to let it dry. Be careful not to smudge it.
    Custom filled heart design printed on sublimation paper.
  10. We’ll cut the pieces by hand, so you can close Cricut Design Space.

CUTTING

  1. For a normal Print Then Cut project, we’d put the printed image on a machine mat and use the Cricut to cut out the shape. But since we’re sublimating the design, just cut a square around the design.
    NOTE: Leave about a quarter inch of white space around the design’s largest parts, but make sure you trim away the black registration marks.
    Trimmed design to remove registration marks around the design.
    TIP: Sometimes a blunt cut edge can leave an indent in the fabric after pressing, so tearing (called feathering) the paper makes it more gradual.
  2. Fold the left edge to the right edge so the design’s widest section matches up, and crease just on the white paper at the top and bottom edge to mark the middle.
    NOTE: Don’t crease the ink or the transfer may be damaged.
  3. Repeat by folding the bottom edge to the top and creasing the sides to find the middle.
    Gentle creases along the horizontal and verical centers of the design.



STEP 3: PREPARE AND SUBLIMATE YOUR PILLOW

CAUTION: Good ventilation is important any time you use sublimation. Have your windows open and a fan going to help the fumes dissipate quickly. And don’t breathe in very close to the project while it’s still warm.
NOTE: Your design’s colors will be influenced by the printer profile you use and will not exactly match what is on the printed paper. It’s a good idea to sublimate a test design on some scrap white polyester fabric using these steps before moving to your final project.

  1. Set your heat press to the correct temperature and time. According to my Sublimation Cookbook, the EasyPress 2 needs to be set at 385° F (196° C) for 60 seconds for a polyester pillowcase.
  2. Place your pressing mat on the pressing area.
  3. Lay out the pillowcase face up, making sure it’s not stretched or wrinkly.
    Place a blank sublimation pillow case on the pressing mat.
  4. Lint roll the design area to remove dust or debris.
  5. Fold the bottom edge up to match the top, which creates a horizontal line at the center point.
    Fold the pillow case in half to prepare to preheat the design.
  6. Put fresh white butcher paper on top of the pillow case to protect it from direct heat.
    Cover the blank pillow case with butcher paper to preheat.
  7. Lightly press the crease and design area for 10 seconds to remove excess moisture from the material, smooth out any extra wrinkles, and create the horizontal crease.
    NOTE: If your press is larger than the pillowcase, make sure the zipper, especially the zipper head, is not under your heat press because it could get damaged.
  8. Unfold the pillowcase to show the first crease.
    Pillowcase with horizontal and vertical center creases.
  9. Use Steps 5-8 to add a vertical crease by folding and pressing the side edges together.
    NOTE: The creases intersect at the pillowcase’s middle to help you position the design perfectly in the center.
  10. If you only have a pressing pad, put clean white cardstock inside the pillowcase to protect the back layer from excess ink.
    NOTE: Position the pillowcase on the pressing mat face up with the zippered edge closest to you so the opening will be at the least visible edge once the design is added.
  11. Move the zippered edge down and off the pressing pad’s edge so the rest of the pillowcase is flat and you can press the design without issue.
    Pressing pad inserted inside the sublimation pillow case.
  12. If you have a pressing pillow that will fit inside the case and is larger than your design, set the bottom pressing pad aside.
    NOTE: Putting the pressing pillow inside the pillow case can lift the design area away from the zipper, making a better transfer.
  13. Put the pressing pillow inside the pillowcase under the design area to lift the fabric away from the edges and zipper.
    NOTE: Position the pillowcase face up with the zippered edge closest to you so the opening will be at the least visible edge once the design is added.
  14. Add white cardstock inside the pillowcase on top of the pressing pillow to protect it and the back layer from excess ink.
    White cardstock inserted inside the sublimation pillow case to protect from ink bleeding.
  15. Place the design face down on the pillowcase so the image is correctly oriented for the opening.
  16. Align the creases on the paper with those on the pillowcase to center it.
    Align the crease marks to center place the design face-down on the pillow case.
  17. Secure the design in place with heat-resistant tape.
    Place heat resistant tape around the edge of the design to secure it to the blank pillow case.
  18. Place butcher paper on top of the pillowcase and taped design.
  19. Press the design with light pressure for 60 seconds at the correct temperature.
    Press the sublimation design to the pillow case at 385 degrees for 60 seconds.
  20. When the time is up, lift the press straight up and return it to its base.
  21. After pressing, allow the design to sit for approximately 10 seconds to help prevent ghosting.
  22. Remove the butcher paper, tape, and transfer sheet to reveal the sublimated design.
    Tape, butcher paper, and sublimation paper removed to show design sublimated on pillow case.
  23. Insert the pillow form and zip the pillowcase closed.

STEP 4: SHOW IT OFF!

Here is what my finished sublimation pillow looks like!
Finished Fill a Shape with custom heart pillow.

Notes

Finished Size: 15” x 15”
Care: Wait at least 24 hours before washing. If you need to wash the pillowcase, remove the insert and zip it closed. Machine wash with cold or warm water and a mild detergent. Hang dry or dry with low heat.

Typefaces Used

JM Sweet, JM Groovy, and JM Lemonade from Design #542

JM Block Caps from Design #565

Answers to Your Questions About How To Fill A Shape With Words In Cricut Design Space

Q: How do I fill a shape with text?

A: You can follow my tutorial to use Cricut Design Space, which covers selecting a typeface that will work well to fill a new shape and positioning the words to recreate the design.

Q: How do I change the color of text in Cricut Design Space?

A: Click the color picker box at the top menu to see the different options available. Then select select the color you want. Or if you want to, click “Pattern” to see the patterns you can also use in the drop-down menu. There are plenty of options, like gradient fill variations!

Q: How do I come up with a list of words?

A: You can use names, places, characteristics, anything you like! If you’re having trouble, try making a few mind maps about different topics to see what you’re drawn to. 

Q: What app turns words into shapes?

A: Cricut Design Space has apps for iPhones, Android phones, and iPads that do almost everything the desktop version offers, including helping you fill a shape with words.

Q: How do you turn words into art?

A: In Cricut Design Space, you can combine different font options, colors, patterns, and shapes to make fun word art like my flower design!

Q: What kind of pillow case is best for sublimation?

A: Blank pillowcases (or with white areas) that are at least 65% polyester will work for sublimation. 

Q: Can you sublimate on any pillow case?

A: The fabric should have at least 65% polyester content and be white so the translucent sublimation ink will sow correctly.

Q: How do I care for a sublimation pillow?

A: Wait about 24 hours before cleaning your custom pillow case. Then wash it on gentle with mild detergent. Hang it to dry for the best results. Unlike screen printing, the design becomes part of the fibers, so the design should last as long as the item!

Q: Why is my sublimation print color so dull?

A: Sublimation prints look much duller on the paper than they do after they’re sublimated, so don’t worry if your printed design looks faded or different colors than you expect. Good news, the vibrant colors will show when transferred to the sublimation blanks!

Q: What if I don’t have a sublimation printer?

A: You can print your word art on paper to make a card, cut it out of vinyl, or print it on compatible vinyl!

Q: What is a pressing pillow?

A: Pressing a design onto a pillow case is pretty easy, but you do need to keep the zipper and seams from causing rippling in the surface. That’s why I recommend having a few pressing pillows on hand. They sound like the pressing pad that works with your Cricut EasyPress (which is the heat press I used for the project!) but they’re slightly different. The heat-safe exterior is also non-stick and protects foam on the inside. They come in different shapes and sizes so you can place them just where you need to lift fabric away from seams to get a flat transfer area. 

Get my free SVG files to fill a shape with words!

I love seeing what you make with my designs and how you use them! Please share a photo of your sublimation pillows or other projects in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.

Love,

JenniferMaker.com

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