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MAKE THIS CUTE REUSABLE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL SIGN USING MY FREE PRINTABLE PDF OR CUT IT OUT OF VINYL WITH MY FREE SVG! PERFECT FOR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PHOTOS – WITHOUT SHARING TOO MUCH PERSONAL INFORMATION!
If you’re looking to get that adorable unforgettable first day of school image of your little one this school year, then I’ve got the perfect first day of school sign project for you! You can make your own sign with anything from a chalk board, white board, picture frame, or even… left over vinyl flooring! You can either print my design or cut it out of vinyl AND the best part… My template capture all those precious memories without sharing too much personal information.
Years ago, I remember searching for a back to school sign and was shocked that so many of them included the school name, teacher name, kids name etc. If you think about it, the info that goes on most first day of school signs is a bit much. Too much to share on Facebook for the world to see!
That’s why I started making my own! So if you’re sensitive about sharing too much information about your kids but still want to take one of those cute photos to share with family and friends online, my free first day of school template might be right for you!
There are a few different ways that you could make this craft, so I’m going to share the different options with you here along with a few tips to help you pull this easy craft together quickly – so don’t worry if you feel you started this project late! I’ve got you!
Let’s get started on how to make this easy first day of school sign!
Do you prefer to learn by watching videos? No problem! Watch this step-by-step video tutorial on how to make this sign by cutting it out of vinyl!
Quick Links to Information in this Post
MATERIALS Needed To Make This First Day of School Sign Out of Vinyl
To easily shop all the products you’re going to need, check out my Amazon Shopping List! I even include a few different options for each item you’ll need that I recommend!
- My free First Day of School sign template (Get my designs in PNG, PDF and SVG format for FREE! It’s design C13.)
- A cutting Machine (I love my Cricut Explore Air and my Cricut Maker machines. Either will work)
- Standard grip mat
- Permanent vinyl
- Transfer Tape
- Weeding, scraping and cutting tools
- Something to make your sign out of (like a piece of wood, a small whiteboard or chalkboard or even left over flooring!)
- Fine point blade
- Lightbox (optional)
- Rubbing Alcohol (optional)
When you download my free template for this sign, you’re going to get 2 version in 3 file types and you can use whichever you prefer!
Version 1 has thinner letters for part of the sign that look more hand drawn. I love the look but they are a bit harder to weed. The second version has thicker blocky letters that are much easier to weed but have a different “look”. I love them both and wanted to make both versions available to you!
Also, since I know that not everyone has a Cricut machine, I wanted to share this as a PNG and PDF too so that you can use it however you like! For example, you can print the designs on paper, put it inside of a picture frame, and then write on the glass with dry erase marker!
If you have a Cricut machine, or want and can afford one, I personally love how the vinyl looks best! If you’re interested in learning more about Cricut machines and if it’s a fit for you, check out this review! It’s mostly focused on the Explore Air 2 because that’s the best value but does talk about the other machines too!
If you’re a fan of this project, you will want to check out my how to make vinyl labels post too! Once you get started making gorgeous labels for jars and bottles in your home, the sky is the limit and it will make your home gorgeous!
How To Make A First Day of School Sign
Time needed: 1 hour
There are two key ways to use my free first day of school template.
The first is by printing the design on paper and then putting it on a clip board, gluing it to something, or even putting it in a picture frame. If you put it in a picture frame, you can then use dry erase markers on the glass like I mentioned above!
I love making these signs more permanent – like a work of art! So instead of just being made for a first day of school photo, you can save these signs forever! That’s why I like to make them out of vinyl.
If you make them more permanent, you can also clip or glue a photo of your kid holding up the sign to the sign and save the memento forever!
The process for making this is very similar to how we
made the vinyl labels – so if you’re new to using vinyl, I highly recommend reading that post and watching the video for more vinyl tips before getting started!
- Download my FREE First Day of School Sign Template
Click the link or fill out the forms in this post to get free access to this SVG and PDF template! When you do that, you’re going to get access to this template and so many more! After you sign up, you’ll get a password to my exclusive resource library. You’ll head there, scroll to “C13” or search for “first day of school” and download this project template! If you already have access, you know the drill! Just head to the library and use your password. It’s in my newsletters if you ever forget what it is.
- Choose the version you’d like to cut out of vinyl
There are two versions to pick from. One is a more “handwritten” style and the other has blocky letters. The handwritten version is a bit harder to cut and weed so if you’re vinyl of choice is hard to weed or you are new to vinyl, I recommend starting with the second version. Here are what the two versions look like.
- Upload the SVG version of your choice to Cricut Design Space
Once you’ve selected your first day of school sign SVG, just upload it to design space!
If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry! It’s easy and I’ll walk you through every step… Here’s what you do:
1. Unzip the file you downloaded from my exclusive resource library.
2. Open Cricut Design Space
3. Click “New Project”
4. Click “Upload”
5. Click “Upload Image”
6. Select the SVG file that you’d like to use
7. Click “Upload”
8. Select the file you just uploaded from the library
9. Click “Insert Images”
- Resize your SVG as you need to
Measure the item you want to apply my 1st Day of School sign template to and decide what dimensions you’d like the design to be. Keep in mind that you will likely want a little space around the edge of the design. I recommend leaving at least one inch all around.
Once you know what size you want the design to be, go to the height and width fields in Design Space (as shown in the image below) and adjust the size. If you need different proportions, you can click the unlock icon to unlock the aspect ratio and then stretch the design a bit. You won’t want to stretch it too much but a little should be okay. Especially if you use the second design with more block-like letters!
- Cut your vinyl
Now it’s time to click “Make It.” If prompted, choose to cut it on a mat, then click “Continue.”
Now you will be prompted to select your material settings. I usually choose “Premium Vinyl” for most permanent vinyl – you can select that or click browse and find a more applicable vinyl material option if needed..
Cut a piece of vinyl by hand that’s at least an inch or so bigger all around than the size you selected in the last step. Then place your vinyl on a Green StandardGrip machine mat, load it into the machine and press “Go.” Once the cut is done, unload your mat by pressing the double arrow button.
If you’re brand new to using your Cricut, you load your mat into the machine by sliding the mat into the machine and clicking the double arrow button which should be flashing. If it’s not flashing, then you need to check Design Space since it may not be ready.
- Weed your vinyl
This may be the hardest part of the project. People either love or hate weeding. for me it depends on my state of mind – sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. If you’re rushing or have had a hard day (and don’t already know that you find weeding relaxing), pause and come back to this step later!
With that out of the way … Weeding means removing extra vinyl. So in this step we’re going to remove all the extra vinyl (the white space) and leave only the parts we want visible on our sign!
If you find weeding difficult, make sure to watch my video to see a tip for how to make this process a bit easier.
Here’s how to weed…
Using your fingers first, carefully peel back the vinyl from one of the corners. Do this very slowly and watch to make sure that the letters aren’t coming up as you pull back. If they do start to come up, try to use a weeding tool to hold them down as you peel the extra back.
After you’re done removing the big extra pieces from your first day of school sign, go back with your weeding tool and remove the little pieces inside of the letters. To do this, you “poke” the piece you want to remove and pull back carefully.
This can be a bit tough depending on your brand of vinyl and how sharp your blade is. Here are some tips that may help you if you run into trouble:
Tip 1: If you have trouble removing the small pieces inside of the letters because the letters come up when you try, consider reverse weeding! To do this, skip ahead to the next step, apply the transfer tape and then remove the small pieces from the transfer tape! This can work better becasue the transfer tape will hold on to the letter so it won’t budge.
Tip 2: If you try to weed the vinyl and it the extra pieces don’t come up easily and it seems like it’s not cut all the way through, try this. Start with a fresh piece of vinyl but press down extra hard on the mat when applying the vinyl to make sure it adheres extra well to the mat. Then cut the vinyl again as you did last time except when it’s done, don’t immediately unload the mat. Leave the mat in the machine and click the “c” button again to cut it a second time. It won’t be flashing this time but if you press it again, it will cut a second time. After the second cut, unload and try weeding again.
- Apply Transfer Tape
Once your design is weeded, cut a piece of transfer tape the same size as your design. Peel back just an inch or so of the backing from your transfer tape and place the exposed transfer tape on the top of your weeded vinyl. Now press the transfer tape onto the vinyl while slowing pulling the rest of the backing from the transfer tape off. Watch my video for how I do this. Using this method is important when doing a bigger project like this. If you pull all the backing off at once, it may not apply flat and you can’t undo that mistake easily (sometimes not at all).
Once the transfer tape is completely applied to the cut vinyl, use your scraper and scrape across the transfer tape. Then flip it over and scrap against the backing of the vinyl. If you don’t have a scraper, a credit card works too!
- Prepare your surface (Optional)
To help your vinyl adhere to the surface you’re putting it on, you can wipe it down with some rubbing alcohol and a lint-free towel. This step is optional but it can help! Just make sure it dries fully before adding the vinyl in the next step.
- Apply your vinyl
Now we are going to apply our vinyl to our board (or whatever other material you choose for your first day of school sign!). Peel back about an inch of the backing and fold it back. Make sure, though, that when you pull it back you’re not exposing full letters – You want only half or so of a letter to be exposed when you peel the backing.
Now center your design the way you’d like and press the exposed part down. Let go and step back – make sure that your design is placed where you want it and straight. If it’s not, you can lift it back up and try again – but only if entire letters aren’t attached (that’s why we try to only expose about half of the letters).
Once you have it where you want it, hold the scraper in one hand and hold the backing in the other hand. Scrape towards the backing while peeling the backing back so that you make sure that the transfer paper and vinyl apply flat with as few bubbles as possible. You can watch my video above to see this in action!
Once you are done, you’re going to scrap against the transfer paper for a bit to make sure that it’s really on there. The more you do this, the easier the next step will be.
- Remove transfer tape
Now carefully remove your transfer tape. To do this peel it back very slowly. You don’t want to accidentally lift any letters off in the process and not realize until it’s too late so peel it slowly and watch for anything that doesn’t stay behind like it should.
If you find that your letters are coming up with the transfer tape, your transfer tape may be too strong. This happens sometimes – especially if it’s a brand new piece.
If this happens, there are two things that can help.
1. Use your weeding tool to hold some of the pieces against your board as you peel back the trasnfer tape to keep it from coming up. This helps if only one or two have this problem.
2. Use a hair dryer or heat gun VERY carefully to warm up the transfer tape. This can sometimes help it release the vinyl better. Be very careful when you do this so that you don’t accidentally burn anything!
That’s it’! You’re done – congratulations! Here’s how our Design #1 turned out! He can’t wait to take a first day of school picture with this sign!
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT MAKING A 1st Day of School Sign
Absolutely! All you need to do is pick out a small chalkboard sign or framed chalkboard and apply the vinyl to that! If you can’t find you like, you can also paint a board with chalkboard paint and then apply the vinyl! I recommend writing on it with chalkboard markers rather than pieces of chalk because you’ll get a finer tip and have more control if you do it that way.
You sure can! Especially if you don’t intend to make it permanent. Just keep in mind that it may not last as long or adhere as well.
Plan ahead! Don’t take the photo when you’re already behind schedule and rushing or you and your little one won’t be happy which will show through in the photos and potentially ruin their exciting first day! Also, thing about your background and lighting. Your background shouldn’t be busy or messy. Sometimes it’s best to take this photo just outside your front door, or maybe in the backyard. Or in front of the school if there is time. You don’t want a pile of toys, dishes, or clothes in the background though. Also, while portrait mode can be great, a blurred messy background is still messy – so don’t expect that to be the solution. Also, you don’ want the main source of light to be behind your kid of you’ll get a silhouette effect. You also don’t want super harsh light which will cause bad shadows and make your kid squint. So be prepared to change locations depending on the lighting and be flexible! Lastly, it’s JUST a photo and isn’t worth getting too stressed out about. You want your kid to go to school excited and happy so… if the photo doesn’t work out at the start of the day, try again later! If all else fails, embrace the chaos of parenting and show off your “less than perfect” first day of school pictures with pride!
Yes! I include a PDF version of this 2 signs in my resource library along with my cut file versions. So if you either don’t have enough time to make it out of vinyl or you don’t have a cutting machine, you can 100% print the PDF version of your choice and use that!
I’d love to see YOUR 1st day of school signs! Please share a photo in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #analyticalmommycrafts or @analyticalmommy! I can’t wait to see how they turned out!