Learn the RIGHT way to put vinyl on mugs, including how to pick out the best mug, design, and vinyl for results that look great and last!
This was a well-requested tutorial! Many thanks to the readers and viewers who requested I show how to put vinyl on mugs (Anita H., Connie S., Melissa, Christina S., Stephanie P., Susan B., Lynda, Melissa, Cheryl W., Natalie, Sarah S., Cathy M., Crystal T., and Karen L.).
Key concepts taught in the video tutorial include how to select the right mug, design, and vinyl, how to transfer the vinyl to the curved surface of a mug, how to layer vinyl for a mug, and how to treat your vinyl appliquéd mug.
See exactly how to put vinyl on mugs in this step-by-step video below:
Let me show you how to put vinyl on a mug! 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 for Vinyl Transfer Mugs
- Ceramic mugs (avoid anything powder coated or textured)
- Outdoor permanent adhesive vinyl (I recommend Oracal 651)
- Transfer sheets
- Rubbing alcohol
- Scraper or card
- A way to cut your materials (I used the amazing Cricut)
- My free SVG/DXF/PDF cut files/patterns (available in my free resource library—get the password at the bottom of this post)Note: Here are the fonts I used in this tutorial
How to Put Vinyl on a Mug
Step 1: Find a Design For Your Mug
First, you need some cute designs for your mugs! I made some for you that you can download it from my free resource library (you can get a password for it at the bottom of this page). If you’re going to cut the vinyl decals out on your cutting machine, upload the file to your design software. If you’re not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this helpful video training series I made. If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, here’s how to download and upload SVG files to the Cricut Design Space app.
Note: The unicorn crown is in a separate file because it is a Print Then Cut image. Just upload it and add it to your canvas with the other mug designs — resize as necessary.
You should NOT mirror adhesive vinyl the way you would iron-on vinyl.
Step 2: Cut Out Your Vinyl
Place your permanent adhesive vinyl shiny color side UP (right side up) on your cutting mat. Cut the vinyl with the fine-point blade.
When you are done cutting, flip the mat over onto your work surface and peel it away from the vinyl carefully.
Step 3: Weed Your Vinyl
Once you cut out your vinyl, you want to weed it which means to remove all the extra bits that you don’t want to transfer to your mug. You might be able to do this with your fingernail, but you might want to use a weeding tool (I do).
After the vinyl is weeded, you need a piece of transfer tape to transfer your design to our mugs. So you just want to cut out a piece of transfer tape that is roughly the same size, or at least the same size as your design. Take the backing off of the transfer tape and you put it onto the front of your vinyl decal. Start at the corner and move outwards so that you don’t get creases and bubbles in your transfer tape.
Note: Don’t put the vinyl sticky side down of your work surface because that will just mess with your vinyl’s ability to adhere to a mug.
Step 4: Apply the Vinyl to the Mug
Clean the surface of your mug first with 91% isopropyl alcohol. This will remove any oil or dirt and get our surface as clean as possible. This will make a difference in the vinyl decal sticks and stays stuck. We want our decals to stick as good as possible, right? It’s no fun putting something on and having it come right off.
Make small snips around the edges of the transfer tape on your vinyl decal. These snips allow your transfer tape to bend with the curve of the mug and allow you to apply it on that curve without any creases.
Apply the vinyl to the mug, and allow the vinyl to move where it wants to go naturally. Don’t force it into a position. Just smooth it all down, and because you cut snips in the transfer tape, it will smooth and move into place.
So even though you may have creases in your transfer tape, you won’t have creases in our vinyl. This is the secret to putting vinyl around a curved surface like this.
Take off all the transfer tape. Your goal is to see perfectly smooth and clear vinyl on your mug with no creases.
To learn how to apply a layered vinyl decal to a mug, please watch the video.
Get my free SVG cut files and patterns for the Vinyl Transfer Mugs
Vinyl mugs are fun and easy IF you do it the right way. Now, even though I did the dishwasher test, I still tend to hand wash my vinyl mugs. It’s your choice. So go ahead and put your mugs in the dishwasher, but with the understanding that after the 100th time they might not look so great. But hey, you can always remake it, right?
If you make one of these vinyl transfer mugs, please share a photo in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #makershowandtell.
See all of the projects, tutorials and free designs in The Great Maker Show and Tell Challenge! There is one for each day of the 25 Days of Christmas! This is my gift to you for the tremendous support, enthusiasm, and love you’ve shown to me and my little blog over the past two years. To “open” a gift, hover over the day’s image and click the download icon.