When a special friend is expecting her first baby, it calls for a special gift. I am so excited by how this DIY Growth Chart came out, I can’t wait to give it to her. The new Cricut Maker 3 made creating this large gift easy with one big, long cut. No measuring required! The Cricut Maker 3 cuts the whole chart in one cut that can be applied in one piece. The end result is a DIY growth chart perfect for a growing family.
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DIY Growth Chart
Before the Cricut Maker 3, in order to make this project, I would have had to make the growth chart in pieces. This meant a lot of measuring to get it right. It’s something I’ve always wanted to make, but it was daunting. As soon as the Cricut Maker 3 and the Smart Vinyl came out, I knew this would be my first project. Earlier versions of Cricut limited cut-size to 24 inches – the longest mat. With Smart Vinyl, there is no need for a mat so the cut can be as long as the vinyl – up to 21 FEET! This allowed me to cut the entire six-foot ruler in a single cut — no measuring required.
Only the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Explorer 3 are capable of cutting without a mat. I chose a Maker 3 vs an Explorer 3 because it has other premium features for other projects.
The most intimidating part of this project is the sheer size of it. Working with a six-foot project has some challenges. But not having to measure every inch makes it so much. It was a great first test of my new Cricut Maker 3. I would rate this an intermediate project. While it isn’t hard to cut, working with six feet of vinyl takes a bit of finesse and I imagine would be a bit too much for a first project.
To make this project easier for everyone, I’m sharing my design directly from Design Space. Trust me – getting all of those little marks one inch apart was the hardest part of this project. I spent more time on the design than anything else.
Cricut Maker 3
The biggest, most obvious upgrade from the Cricut Maker to the Cricut Maker 3 is the ability to cut without a mat using Cricut Smart products – Smart Vinyl and Smart Paper. Not only does this allow for a long cut, like this project. But I also love the ease of just loading material. There is no worry about the material slipping off the mat. That said, you can use a traditional mat with traditional features as well.
The less visible, but no less important feature is how fast this machine is. Even with my six-foot cut, the entire cut (including the machine measuring the material before cutting) was only 3 minutes and 40 seconds. I sped up the video below considerably, but I was amazed that the entire cut was done in under four minutes.
The Cricut Explorer 3 boasts similar upgrades over the Cricut Explorer 2, however, the Maker 3 still has all of the extra features of a Maker vs Explorer. For example, the ability to use a rotary blade to cut fabric, a knife blade to cut balsa wood and more.
How to Make A DIY Growth Chart With A Cricut Maker 3
While most of the DIY growth charts I’ve seen are made to lean up against a wall, this makes me incredibly nervous with a baby. So, you will notice that my design starts at 7 inches. This was done so the board can be hung on a wall above my friend’s 5-inch baseboards. This can be adjusted in the design if you like, but it has the added benefit of making the chart taller than six feet. Since the baby’s dad is over 6 feet, they can measure mom and dad on the board and make it a family growth chart to see how tall their child will be.
- Six feet by six inch board (I used pine)
- Sandpaper 80 grit and 120 grit
- Wood stain (I used grey)
- Wood sealer
- Rag towel
- Foam brush
- Cricut Maker 3 OR Cricut Explorer 3
- Cricut Roll Holder (trust me!)
- Cricut Permanente Smart Vinyl 12 feet or 21 feet (I used white)
- Cricut Transfer Tape 12 feet or 21 feet
- Cricut Scissors
- Cricut Weeder
- Cricut Scraper
- Growth Chart Cut File
The first step of the project is to prep your wood. I picked up my board at Home Depot, and I made sure to pick a board that had a nice grain pattern. I think the board was around $14 when I bought it (wood prices are considerably higher than normal at this time).
Sand down any rough spots with the 80 grit paper, and then smooth the whole board with the 120 grit. You will know that your board is ready when it feels smooth when you run your hand across it.
Use an old rag (I used an old burp cloth!) to apply the stain. Wipe the stain on liberally, and then rub it into the board. I only needed one coat of stain to achieve my desired look.
When the stain is fully dry, it is time to seal the board so the vinyl will better adhere. Use a foam brush to brush on the sealant. The sealant will appear milky white and dry clear. Take care to brush it on smoothly without bubbles and big streaks.
While your board is drying, you can get the vinyl ready.
Cricut users can access the cut file my public project in Design Space HERE.
There are two versions of the board in Design Space the one I made that is 1/2 foot – 6 1/2 feet and one that is from 0-6 feet. Hide the project that you don’t want to make, and you are ready to go.
I highly recommend the Cricut Roll Holder to keep your material in place, especially if you are using the 21-foot roll as I did. It easily snaps onto the front lid of your Cricut. It also includes a slicer so you can trim your project before unloading it.
Smart Vinyl loads just like a mat, except that it gets the command for loading from Design Space. Once you click “Make It,” Design Space will recognize that the project is too big for a mat and automatically select without a mat. (If making a smaller project Design Space will ask if you want to use a matt or not.) At this point, the load button will begin flashing and you can load the Smart Vinyl.
After selecting your material, in this case, permanent smart vinyl the machine will be ready to cut.
The Cricut machine will now measure the material inserted to make sure it is long enough for the cut. To do so, the entire length of your project will feed into your machine and then back out.
*** REAL TALK *** I knew the machine would measure the material, so I pulled my rolling cabinet away from the wall so there was plenty of room. What I didn’t consider was the dust accumulated on the floor under the cabinet. When the material fed through the machine it ran under the cabinet and then back through the machine. The static cling of the vinyl brought with it a lot of dust. Dust under your cabinet before you begin a large cut.
The entire cut time, including the machine measuring the material, was 3:38. That’s for a six-foot project. No question the Maker 3 is faster than my old Maker!
After cutting the design, I cut off the unused part of the vinyl. I’m still not sure how this works with the machine, but I am hoping I can still use this Smart Vinyl for another project even if I have to put it on a matt (or use it in a Cricut Joy).
Tip – I use a flashlight under my vinyl to see the lines to figure out where to cut, then I flip over the project and cut down the grid line.
Weed your project, removing the extra vinyl.
Then cut a six-foot by six-inch piece of transfer tape. Peel away a few inches of transfer tape and line it up with the end of your project. Carefully apply the transfer tape to the project, using your Cricut Scraper as you go.
Once the transfer tape is on the project, flip over the project and peel back the Smart Vinyl backing. I found this to be a little trickier than normal vinyl backing because it is thicker. Be sure to have your scraper tool handy to help adhere the vinyl to the transfer tape.
At this point, you will need a second person to assist you.
Have someone hold one end of the project while you hold the other and flip it over onto your board. I suggest having the other person hold the transfer tape up above the board while you line up your end and make your way down the transfer tape pressing it in place.
Use the scraper to make sure the vinyl is pressed into the board, and carefully peel back the transfer tape.
Ordinarily, I place my transfer tape back on its backing to use for another project, but with six feet it ended up bunched together (as you can see on the video) so I trashed it. If you want to reuse it, be more careful of it than I was.
Press each hash mark and number into the board again with your fingers making sure everything is stuck down well.
The DYI growth chart can be hung with ribbon or twine attached to the back or hung on a picture hook. But my plan is to gift the DIY growth chart with a package of Command Velcro Strips. Each large strip is rated to hold 16 lbs. I plan to do overkill and attach 6-8 to the back of the board so it is secure. I love Command Velcro Strips and have nearly everything in my house hung with them.
I can’t wait to walk into the baby shower toting a six-food board with a bow on it.