Cut Shrinky Dinks With Cricut + Sweet DIY Gift Ideas

I’ve got a serious sweet tooth, but lately I’ve been avoiding sugar for health reasons, which is a whole other post. Today instead we’re going to relish in some zero-calorie sugary goodness, and I’m going to share my tips for how to use a Cricut machine to cut Shrinky Dinks shrink film.

If you are familiar with the Shrinky Dink process then you’re going to probably think it’s a great idea to use the Cricut to save time cutting! If you’re new to Shrinky Dinks then you’re really in for a treat — prepare to be amazed!!

Cricut settings for shrinky dinks shrink film
DIY Sweet Treats Charm Bracelet - tutorial for cutting Shrinky Dink shrink film with Cricut via @PagingSupermom

If you’re not familiar with the plastic shrinky film: it most closely resembles overhead transparency plastic sheets (the kind old school teachers would write on and project on the board with those big overhead projectors). When you heat these plastic shrinky sheets up, amazingly they melt and get thicker. It’s pretty much magic!

My daughter Attalie loves Shrinky Dinks! She has also been teaching herself to use ProCreate to draw on our iPad. She got carried away with a Sweet Shoppe theme and drew lots of adorable treats that you’d certainly like to eat if they weren’t made of plastic. It’s actually been so fun partnering with my daughter on these projects. She loves drawing the graphics and then I’m teaching her how to vectorize them and turn them into SVGs. Right now I still handle most of that part, but I love that she wants to learn how to do these fun things that I do. (UPDATE: Attalie now has a website of her own to share her music and art!)

What are SVG files?

I usually share a PDF file to download, but when it comes to a cut file you really want an SVG file. What are SVG files you ask? Good question! SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which means you can resize from tiny to gigantic without sacrificing any image quality. That’s why they are perfect for using with cutting machines so you can make your final project any size you want! You can use SVG files for a wide range of projects just like you would for other image formats in digital scrapbooking or cardmaking. SVG files are the best file format for designs to cut with a Cricut, Silhouette or other cutting machines.

SVG files are graphics that are totally scaleable so you can use them for a wide range of projects, especially with cutting machines like Cricut.

Attalie used her Sugar Babies SVG files to make an adorable Shrinky Dink candy charm bracelet, and I’ll walk you through how to use the Cricut to cut Shrinky Dinks in a second so you can make that too. I used my “Sugar Baby Sugar” hand-lettered phrase to make a fun shirt for one of my other daughters. Download this free Sugar Babies Cut File bundle at the end of this post!

How to Cut Shrinky Dinks with a Cricut

It took a ton of trial and error to figure out the best Cricut settings for plastic shrink… I had searched online trying to find some Cricut Material settings for Shrinky Dinks but everything I saw was old and the settings didn’t seem to translate to the newer Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air machine.

Lucky for you I’ve wasted all my Shrinky Dink paper so you don’t have to — you’re welcome LOL!

DIY Shrinky Dinks Charms - cut Shrink Film with Cricut

First, Print Your Shrinky Dinks!

I love that Cricut added the Print Then Cut feature — it’s one of my favorite features (directions here). The first time I tested out printing on my white shrink film I was a bit nervous because I figured it would be a different experience then printing on regular paper. Good news — my printer handled it perfectly with a few adjustments (sanding) that we’ll cover in detail in a second.


You can use my same Cricut material settings (found below) to cut clear Shrink film, but the Print-then-Cut feature did NOT work with the clear film because the lines on the mat were visible through the clear film and messed with the Circut machine’s Print-then-Cut sensor.


You will need to import the Sugar Babies SVG files (get my free SVG bundle download from the form at the end of this post) into the Cricut Design Space and print from there since it will automatically add the registration marks needed for cutting later.

The Cricut design software will automatically recognize the different color layers in the SVG file. This is helpful for most cutting projects, but this time we want all the colors to just print together. So click the top layer of the file group, (shown at No. 1 in the screenshot below) and this should select all the parts of the graphic. Next click on the flatten button (No. 2) Once you’ve got your own designs flattened, you’ll want to adjust the size as desired in the area shown at No. 3.

How to Cut Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom

If you want to make a “Sugar Baby Sugar” charm, then you’ll need to add a rectangle border around the letters so the Cricut machine won’t try to cut out each individual letter. This is easy to do in Cricut’s Design Space. After importing the SVG file, go to left bar and select the “Shapes” button then click on “Square” (No. 1). Drag a rectangle around the “Sugar Baby Sugar” graphic. Next right click on the rectangle and select “Move to Back” (No. 2).

How to Cut Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom

When Sizing, Don’t Forget These Will Shrink!

When sizing these, keep in mind that when you heat the Shrinky Dinks they will shrink (DUH!) to almost half size. The shrink film packaging I used said the material will shrink to 50% of the original size. So I made my charms about 2 inches on their long side so I’d end up with charms that were about an inch tall.

Once you have your graphics all flattened and sized, hit the green “Make It” button. Here the Cricut interface will guide you through the whole process — it’s super easy! It will tell you when to print your design from within the Cricut Design Space.

How to Print on Shrink Film

As we discussed, shrink film is slippery plastic so to help out the inkjet printer be sure to lightly sand your white Shrink film using 220-grit or finer sand paper.

I’d like to introduce you to my new Canon PIXMA iP8720 printer — I’m seriously IN LOVE with this thing. The print quality it AH-mazing, and, not that I’m printing that large for this project, but this bad boy can print up to 13×19 inches! (Not that expensive on Amazon!) Just thought you’d like to know ;)

Print Shrinky Dinks Canon


Once you’ve printed, let the printed shrink film dry for about a half hour so it won’t smudge while the Cricut is cutting. It actually takes a full 24 hours for the ink to cure, so you’ll want to try very hard to avoid touching any of the printed parts of the shrink film. Luckily if you do, the smudges also shrink in the oven and sometimes will totally disappear ;) but still be careful!

Cricut Settings to Cut Shrinky Dinks

I love how newer Cricut machines have the settings built-in to control blade depth and other factors — makes things easy peasy. Sadly there is not a built-in setting for shrink film so we’ll do that now! The shrink plastic is tough for the Cricut to cut through, but I finally found settings that worked well.

Here’s how to make sure your Cricut Custom Materials are set to cut Shrinky Dinks. Within the Cricut Design Space, you are going to want to create a custom material. You can do this two places – from the Design Space Canvas you can click the triple-dash icon in the upper left corner then select “Manage Custom Materials.” Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list and click the “Add New Material” button. Enter the settings shown below and save. After printing the project, Cricut’s Design Space will prompt you to select a material, and you’ll want to find the custom shrink film one you created.

You can also add a material after you’ve got your design ready to print. When you click the green “make it” button the interface guides you through the cutting steps, and it will prompt you to select a material. Click the “View All” link on top right, then scroll to the bottom and click the “Add New Material” button. Here are the settings to use:

  • Cricut Custom Material Settings for Shrinky Dinks film
  • Cut Pressure: 350
  • Multi-Cut: 6X
  • Blade Type: Fine Point Blade (Not the Deep Cut Blade!)

I used the Cricut Heavy / Strong Grip Cutting Mat (the purple one in this pack) for this project because the shrinky has to get cut six times and you don’t want it to move at all!

How to cut Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom
DIY Shrinky Dinks Charms - cut Shrink Film with Cricut

Before you Shrink…

Remember to cut holes in your cut designs with a paper punch so you’ll have a way to attach a jump ring to your Shrink Dink charms. I prefer to use an 1/8-inch hole punch, which is about half the size of a standard hole punch. Now you’re ready to bake your Shrinky Dink Charms — this is the magic part!!!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake your cut Shrinky dinks in the oven according to your shrink film’s package instructions. We used 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes. We always watch through the oven window because it’s amazing (seriously your kids will LOVE it), but also to make sure all goes well. If you experience trouble with your shrink film shapes curly and sticking to themselves, you can cover them with second layer of parchment to keep them more flat as they shrink. I tend to do this, but my daughter likes to leave it off so she can have a better view as they shrink.

Making Shrinky Dinks away from home?

If an oven isn’t practical, you can also shrink your designs using a toaster oven or heat gun. Just in case you want to make Shrinky Dinks at girls camp or other youth group activity.

DIY Shrinky Dinks Charms - cut Shrink Film with Cricut
Shrinky Dink Charms - tutorial for cutting Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom

Make a DIY Metal Chain Charm Bracelet

Take the DIY Shrinky Dinks charms out and let them cool. Then you’re ready to assemble your charm bracelet! You can use an already existing metal charm bracelet, but it’s cheaper and super easy to make your own. You’ll need: metal chain, several jump rings (I used both 4mm & 6mm), clasps. Make sure to buy all your jewelry findings in the same metal finish — I used silver plated. You will also need a set of needle nose pliers (like the ones in this jewelry-making plier set on Amazon).

How to Make Shrinky Dinks Charm Bracelet via @PagingSupermom

Begin by cutting a length of chain to your desired length. (Wrap around your wrist to check!) You can use metal cutters or strong scissors for this part. Then attach the clasp to one end with a 4mm jump ring. Attach a larger jump ring to the other end so you have a metal chain bracelet!

How to Make Shrinky Dinks Charm Bracelet via @PagingSupermom

Next attach a larger jump ring to each of your charms then hook them onto the bracelet chain. Be sure to evenly space your charms and voila!

DIY Shrinky Dinks Charm Bracelet + how to cut Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom
DIY Shrinky Dinks Charm Bracelet + how to cut Shrinky Dinks with Cricut via @PagingSupermom

Bettijo Bridges

Administrator at Paging Supermom
Bettijo is the founder and designer of Paging Supermom where she shares creative ideas for family fun. Known for practical and kid-friendly activities, free printables and holiday entertainment. Bettijo was a guest on the Martha Stewart Show and has frequently appeared on local TV. Her work has also been featured in national magazines including Real Simple, O, Redbook, Parents, Family Circle, and Health. She enjoys art, retro-modern design, photography and making new things. Mom of 4 kids.

14 thoughts on “Cut Shrinky Dinks With Cricut + Sweet DIY Gift Ideas”

  1. This is a great tutorial thanks! But I cant seem to avoid the error messasge that the sensor cant read the cut lines even after sanding alot!! Please help!

    • Try putting scotch tape over the lines. Sometimes a material is still too shiny and the cricut sensor can’t read it.


  2. Don’t know if I’ll get a reply since this was posted a while back, but how do you deal with the black border on the printable shrinky dink paper? Since it isn’t lowered in opacity like the charms, it always smudges all over everything when I run it through my cricut machine.
    Would really appreciate a solution! Please and thank you ^^

    • I print on a fairly low quality setting to cut down on the printer ink. I also thought I mentioned in my post (but maybe I forgot?) that I let it print then dry for a while before cutting.

  3. What print settings did you use for your canon printer? I have a similar printer, and when I print, the image comes our smudgy and undefined. Thanks for your help!

    • I printed with as little ink as possible (I think it is a low quality setting) because of the slick nature of the shrinky film. I also think I mentioned in the post that I had to let the ink dry for a day before cutting.

  4. Thanks for this tutorial! I wanted to describe my experience if others are trying this out:

    โ€” I have the same printer as you and the default settings worked great.

    โ€” I just cut them out on my Maker, and I think they started popping out after the 3rd or 4th pass, so I’d recommend keeping an eye on things as they go.

    โ€” Even though I didn’t sand the material, my cuts were positioned very well. I’ve noticed significant offset using other shiny materials, but these sheets worked great!

  5. I have the maker and when i set up my custom settings (thank you for that part), i put in the deep cut blade and left the pressure at default, cuts perfectly at 2 passes.

    Sorry for the all caps, i can’t make it upper and lower on this site.

  6. Hey fellow sweetaholic! Ditching sugar can be tough, but I’m totally here for some zero-calorie sugary delight! Shrinky Dinks with a Cricut sounds like the perfect creative escape, and I’m definitely intrigued! I love the feeling of playing a small world cup because it brings me great joy.

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