Spiral Betty photo designs have exploded in popularity! These eye catching spiral designs are fun to make and easier than you might think! Learn all about how you can make your own with this easy step by step tutorial.
I always spend some time every day in my Cricut group because I love to see what projects people are making. In the past week or two, these really intriguing spiral art designs have been showing up over and over. They definitely caught my eye and I decided to look further into this new project, called a Spiral Betty. I know the idea of taking a picture and turning it into a piece of art is always a popular topic in my group and I have shown how to put a photo on a candle and how to make your own photo puzzles. A Spiral Betty is a new way to use your photos in crafting! This is an excellent project for any level of crafter because Spiral Betty designs are easy to make and will not take a significant amount of time from beginning to end. I am excited to show you how to make Spiral Betty designs in a simple step by step tutorial!
First, what is a Spiral Betty design? This is a really fun concept where you convert an image into a single spiral line. The line is made up variable widths, not dissimilar from the grooves in a vinyl record, and this variation creates the image when the spiral is viewed as a whole. And because a Spiral Betty design is a single line, that means you can weed these designs much easier than other projects … at least usually!
The first thing you will need to do is choose an image that works for a Spiral Betty design. After a lot of experimenting, I have discovered you need a simple high contrast image without a lot of small detail otherwise it will not translate well into a Spiral Betty. Close ups of faces (human or animal) have worked the best for me. If you choose something too busy, the images will not look clear and crisp. Your image also needs to fit well within the circle shape.
Once you have your image, you need to upload your photo to the Spiral Betty website. Don’t worry, this step is actually very easy, even if you are not tech savvy. Once you upload it, you can resize it and move it around until you have your image centered the way you want and then hit the check mark. Then the magic happens! After you are happy with your design, you will save your design as a jpeg and then upload it to Design Space. I’ll show you how to clean it up in this tutorial.
Note: The Spiral Betty online app is free for non-commercial use. If you’d like to use the spiral designs you make commercially, you can purchase a 1-year crafters license to sell your designs to individual consumers, or simply a per-image download that you can resell or share anyway you like. Please support the site creator!
Once you have a Spiral Betty design, what do you do with it? Most people seem most interested in cutting the designs from vinyl, so that’s what we’ll do in this tutorial, but just know that you could also print it or cut it from paper. I used black premium vinyl because I plan to put it on a white canvas and I really like the color contrast with the black and white.
Remember, if you plan to put your Spiral Betty on a canvas, you will want to prep the canvas ahead of time with permanent spray adhesive and let it dry completely. This will help the vinyl stick to the canvas. I never skip this step now that I have discovered this trick!
I used my Cricut cutting machine to cut the vinyl along with the fine point blade and standard grip mat. After it is cut, go very slow with the weeding because one of the most common mistakes is people weeding the wrong part of their Spiral Betty! Make sure you start with the outside piece!
Once the Spiral Betty vinyl design is weeded, I used standard grip transfer tape to apply my design to my treated canvas. Do not use StrongGrip transfer tape — it will be much too strong and sticky for this project.
I think a Spiral Betty design makes an incredibly unique gift idea for anyone and can be applied to many different mediums! Besides canvas, you can put these on a shirt, a tote bag, or any surface large enough to hold your design!
Let me show you how to make a spiral betty design! 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)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Materials to Make a Spiral Betty Vinyl Design on a Stretched Canvas
- Premium Permanent Adhesive Vinyl (I used black) -or- iron-on vinyl
- Cricut Standard Grip Transfer Tape (only used with the permanent adhesive vinyl)
- Canvas (I used a 12″ x 12″ white canvas)
- Tacky spray adhesive (I used this on the canvas to prepare it for adhesive vinyl)
- Shadow Box (optional if you don’t want to use the canvas)
- White Cotton Tote Bag (optional if you use iron on vinyl)
- White T-shirt (optional if you use iron on vinyl)
- Spiral Betty website (use this to spiralize your image)
- Green Standard Grip Cutting Mat
- Weeding tool
- Scraper tool
- Measuring Tape
- A way to cut your vinyl for the stencil (I used the amazing Cricut cutting machine!)
How to Make a Spiral Betty Project with Permanent Vinyl and a Stretched Canvas
- Premium Permanent Adhesive Vinyl (I used black for this tutorial) or Iron-On Vinyl
- Cricut Standard Grip Transfer Tape (used with permanent vinyl)
- Canvas (use with permanent vinyl -- I used a 12" x 12" white canvas for this tutorial)
- Spray adhesive (I used this on the canvas to prepare it for the vinyl)
- Shadow Box (optional - use with permanent vinyl)
- White Cotton Tote Bag (optional - use with iron-on vinyl)
- White T-shirt (optional - use with iron-on vinyl)
- Spiral Betty website (Use this to spiralize your image)
STEP 1: PICK YOUR FAVORITE PICTURE
First things first, you need to pick a picture for your project. I don't know about you but I take A LOT of pictures, so just picking one is not an easy task. But I do have one important tip when it comes to picking the right picture for this project:
The simpler and higher contrast, the better.
Here are a few examples of a photos that will look good with this technique.
The first is one of Greg and I at the beach.
And these are our dogs Hunter and Chloe doing what they do best... lounging on the couch:
And here's a photo that will not turn out as well. It's too busy, the subjects are too far apart, and they blend into their backgrounds.
STEP 2: UPLOAD YOUR PHOTO TO "SPIRAL BETTY" WEBSITE
Now, once you've got the perfect photo, it's time to give it the "Spiral Betty" treatment!
If you're not computer savvy this might sound like something completely over your head, but it's not, I promise!
Here's what you should see. It's a really simple website:
Now you want to upload your photo to SpiralBetty. There are different ways to do this depending on your device.
Option #1: You can drag and drop your photo right into the middle where it says "Upload Image"
Option #2: You can click where it says "Upload Image" and that should pull up a window where you can find and choose your image.
Once your image is uploaded you can resize and move it around to get it right where you want it. Just drag the slider under the circle to zoom in or out and click and hold on the image to move it around. I think a close up works best.
Now click on the check box to the right of the slider at the bottom...
...and watch the magic happen.
It automagically defaults to the spiral width that works best for your image, but you can adjust that as well by clicking where it says "Rings."
You can also adjust the scale, brightness and the contrast. Again, the higher contrast the better, so feel free to experiment.
Caution: Too few rings and your image will be hard to see. Too many and you'll find it hard to read. I used the DEFAULT settings to achieve my successful images.
Along the right side or bottom (depending on how wide your browser screen is) you will see your image in a rainbow of different color options. I chose black and white, and I recommend you do the same.
Once you're happy with the way it looks click the down arrow to the right of the image to download the new Spiral Betty photo to your device! (It's free to download, but you can leave them a tip if you like. If you plan to sell your share your images, please purchase a license from SpiralBetty here.)
STEP 3: UPLOAD YOUR PHOTO TO DESIGN SPACE
Next it's time to upload your "Spiral Betty" image to Cricut Design Space. The image you saved from the Spiral Betty website is a JPEG and that's what you want to upload.
First, open Cricut Design Space, select "New Project" and then click on "Upload" on the bottom of the left-hand column, then click "Upload Image."
Now click "Browse" to find the image on your computer or device.
Next, select your image by clicking on it to highlight it and then hit "Open."
Now you will see a screen that asks you to "Select image type". Click on "Complex" and hit "Continue."
On the next screen simply click anywhere outside of the image (the white space) to remove the background which will make it transparent. Depending on your image, you may need to click multiple times on white sections. Continue clicking the white areas until all of the white background is removed. When you see just black and the blue-and-white checkered background, click "Continue."
Tip: If your image is just so complex that you cannot remove that white background easily, click on Advanced Options, then Color tolerance, and increase it to something like 50. Then try clicking on the white background.
On the next screen where it says "Select Upload Type" you will choose the image on the left where it says "Cut Image" and hit "Upload." This is very important!
On the next screen you will select the image you just uploaded, a green outline will appear around the image, and click on the green "Insert Images" button on the bottom the right.
From here you can resize your image if needed. This all depends on what you are going to put your cut image on. I'm putting mine on a 12" x 12" canvas and I want it to take up most of the surface of the canvas, so mine is sized at 11.5" x 11.5". Once you have yours at the right size click "Make It."
Next, you will click "Continue" on the bottom right.
Next you will be prompted to choose your material. I'm using Premium Vinyl. If it's not in your favorites you can use the search window to find it, simply search vinyl.
And I always choose "More" under pressure.
STEP 4: CUT YOUR SPIRAL BETTY IMAGE
As I mentioned, I'm using black vinyl for this project and I'm going to put my finished Spiral Betty image on a 12" x 12" blank white canvas.
TIP: If you're going to use a canvas, spray your canvas with Tacky Spray and let it dry completely before applying your vinyl. This will help the vinyl stick, it's really a game-changer!
Now place your vinyl on your Green StandardGrip Mat.
Then click on the flashing arrow button to load it into your cutting machine.
And then press the flashing button to start your cut.
I found it fun to watch this cut, kind of mesmerizing watching the blade go round and round, first one way then the other.
When the cut is done unload your mat by pressing the flashing arrow button.
STEP 5: WEED YOUR DESIGN AND PUT IT ON YOUR CANVAS
Now it's time to weed. I left my vinyl on the mat for this part.
You will notice the beginning of the spiral starts in the left lower corner of the mat.
Grab your weeding tool and pull up the corner of the vinyl and slowly start to pull away from the carrier sheet.
TIP: Go slow when you start weeding, you don't want to weed the wrong part of the design or you'll have to start all over and we don't want that!
Once I pulled up the bottom left piece of the vinyl I used scissors to cut it away
When you start pulling up the vinyl, make sure to start from the far outside of the spiral.
As long as you start on the far outside of the spiral you should be fine peeling the rest away in a big spiral. This part was a lot of fun and it was so cool to see the image coming to life!
Now you will want to apply a piece of transfer tape large enough to cover your design.
Use your scraper to make sure it sticks. Take your time and do your best to remove all the bubbles if there are any. You will want to turn it over and use the scraper on the back too. Be patient because this takes time.
Next it's time to pull back the transfer tape to remove the vinyl from the carrier sheet. Again, take your time because the vinyl is very thin.
Set that to the side, making sure the sticky side is up and grab your canvas.
TIP: It's a good idea to spray your canvas with permanent spray adhesive ahead of time and make sure to let it dry completely. This will help the vinyl stick to the canvas and I promise, you don't want to skip this step.
Now apply your vinyl to the canvas. Make sure it's centered and there's enough space on the top, bottom and sides before you smooth it down. You may be able to pull it back up if it's not lined up just right, but be careful not to tear the vinyl.
Once you have it where you want it, press it firmly on the canvas starting in the center and working your way out.
To help make sure the vinyl sticks to the canvas, grab a book or something similar, I used a box, and put it underneath the canvas to support it and use the scraper to continue to burnish the vinyl to the canvas.
Now peel off the transfer tape. I started to peel it up from the corner, then used scissors to cut a small slice on the side so I could peel it up in sections. Do whatever works best for you.
STEP 6: SHOW IT OFF
Now it's time to show it off your Spiral Betty. How cool is this? Doesn't it look like an album?
I thought so, so I made another Spiral Betty Canvas featuring my dogs, Hunter and Chloe. I added a label in the center with their names and a funny sentiment, "Thick as Thieves".
I think these Spiral Betty designs have a real wow factor and would make a fun and unique gift for just about anyone for any occasion. You can put the design on all sorts of things: T-shirts, Tote Bags, Makeup Bags...the possibilities are endless.
I used the Tingler Font Duo for Hunter and Chloe's names on the label.
Answers to Your Questions About How to Make a Spiral Betty Photo Design
Q: What’s the best material to cut a Spiral Betty from?
Iron-on vinyl (HTV) is the easiest to cut and weed this particular project (just be sure to mirror the design). Permanent adhesive is second easiest (you do not need to mirror adhesive vinyl). Here is a Spiral Betty design I did with red iron-on vinyl (my very first):
Q: Can I use removable vinyl?
Although you can use removable vinyl, I suggest using permanent vinyl because it will be easier to cut and to transfer to your canvas. Removable vinyl is great for wall decals, indoor signs, stencils, and any time you want a temporary application. But if you use it for a spiral betty vinyl project, you may find your vinyl comes off the liner while you’re cutting and creates a mess.
Q: Can this be put on a real record?
A: Vinyl is best applied to smooth clean surfaces. All records do have some texture to them that may show through the design. If using a record for your surface, be certain to clean it well with alcohol to remove fingerprints or dust prior to application.
Q: How did you put the center on your Spiral Betty?
I added it in Cricut Design Space. I imported the Spiral Betty photo, then added a circle shape in Design Space, and duplicated the circle. One circle I positioned over the center of my photo and sliced it out of the design. The other circle I added my text to, sliced the text out of it, and then positioned and welded the center over the empty circle in the design.
Q: Will the Spiral Betty work with multiple people in a photograph?
It will, but I want to caution you to not pick an image that is too intricate! I have only tried with two people, an image of myself and Greg, but you would have to be careful adding more people. Those lines can become very fine and hard to weed.
Q: Can you transfer this to a shadow box?
Absolutely, this would look great in a shadow box! The shadow box glass be cleaned with alcohol and allowed to dry before you apply the vinyl. If the vinyl is to be applied to the inside glass of a shadow box make sure you mirror the image prior to cutting! Make sure to use regular transfer tape to apply the vinyl to the shadow box glass and use a scraper tool to apply the design onto the glass before gently removing the transfer tape from the design.
Q: If I put this on a shirt do I need to mirror the image?
Yes, you will use heat transfer vinyl (iron-on vinyl) and mirror the image!
Q: Will this work if I resize it small enough to cut on the Cricut Joy?
Yes, but it is important to know that the smaller you make it, the harder it will be to weed! I think it would be very challenging to weed if cut on a Joy unless you had fewer rings than usual in your spiral design.
Q: When I upload my image to Design Space, it becomes a black square. What am I doing wrong?
Make sure you have uploaded a JPEG file and then you need to clean up your image before you save it in Design Space as I show in this tutorial.
Q: When I cut my Spiral Betty design, it looks really jagged. Why?
It’s supposed to! Those “jagged” and variable-width lines are what creates your image after you remove the excess vinyl. Follow this tutorial to remove the vinyl and you’ll see what we mean.
Q: When I cut my Spiral Betty design, the vinyl began to lift up from the cutting mat and wrapped itself around my roller. Why?
This happened to me too. I checked my vinyl and realized it was older vinyl, probably 3 years or older. Vinyl has a shelf life of 1-2 years. So I went to the store and bought a new package of vinyl. I cut this new vinyl on the same mat, with the same blade, and the same settings… and it worked perfectly. So if you’re having issues, try a newer package of vinyl.
Q: When I weeded my design, the vinyl pulled up other sections of lines. Why?
Your cut was probably not clean enough and it pulled at vinyl as you weeded it. I recommend you increase the pressure when you cut again to avoid this.
A: When I transferred my Spiral Betty design vinyl to my canvas, some of the lines moved out of place. What can I do to fix this?
You can go back afterward with a weeding tool and gently nudge the lines back into position, then press down again so they stay in place.
Q: What can I use Spiral Betty designs for in finished projects?
If you do not want to make a simple canvas as I have in this tutorial, here are more ideas:
- Cut iron-on vinyl to make a T-shirt or totebag
- Add some dates or even a Spotify code and frame it!
- Put it into a shadowbox and surround it with paper flowers
- Get a wood round or metal pizza pan and make a hanging plaque
- Put it on a mirror and then decorate the mirror
- See dozens of more Spiral Betty ideas from our crafters in our Cricut Crafters & Makers Facebook group!
Get my free SVG files to make many other fun projects!
I’d love to see YOUR spiral betty photo projects! Please share a photo in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.