How to Upload, Cut & Make Layered Cardstock Designs on a Cricut

How to Upload, Cut & Make Layered Cardstock Designs on a Cricut

Ever wondered how to make layered cardstock designs with your Cricut machine? Here’s a complete guide on how to upload layered SVGs into Design Space, modify the design to suit your needs, cut it from cardstock and then stick all the layers together!

Projects that involve layering cardstock can seem a little daunting at first, especially if you are new to working with paper and card.

However, don’t let their beautiful, intricate looks fool you. They’re actually pretty simple to make!

But fair warning – once you’ve tried a couple of layered cardstock designs… you might not want to stop!

Layered card designs are my FAVOURITE thing to make with my Cricut. Here’s what the wall in my studio looks like:

Layered cardstock projects made with a Cricut

Pretty colourful, right? I love it! 😍

Now it’s your turn! Keep reading to find out how to make layered cardstock projects with a Cricut cutting machine. I’m sure you’ll love it too! 😊

How to make layered cardstock projects with a Cricut

This video shows the whole process of making layered cardstock projects. Prefer to read rather than watch? Keep scrolling for a step-by-step written tutorial (with photos).

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 – Purchasing layered SVGs from my shop
  • 04:06 – How to download your files
  • 05:00 – How to unzip the folder to see the files (2 ways!)
  • 10:22 – How to upload a SVG into Cricut Design Space and size it correctly
  • 13:50 – How to recolour the design to match your dog
  • 18:35 – How to get it ready to cut, PLUS how to save supplies by moving layers around on the mats
  • 25:09 – What cardstock to use
  • 26:15 – How to cut cardstock on a Cricut machine
  • 26:42 – How to take card off a Cricut mat without it rolling
  • 29:36 – Which 3D foam pads and glue to use
  • 30:58 – How to assemble layered cardstock designs

3D layered paper art with a Cricut

Learn all there is to know about cutting and making layered cardstock designs on a Cricut in this step-by-step tutorial!

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.


Step 1: Choose your Layered SVG

The very first thing you need to do is download your SVG. There are lots of dog breed designs (and others!) in my SVG shop. I also have a huge collection of free layered SVGs to download!

For this tutorial, I will be using my cute French bulldog layered SVG design as an example.


Step 2: Unzip the folder

All the files on my website come in zip folders and a zip folder is basically a way for me to send you multiple files in one contained folder. Instead of having to download each one of these individually, you only have to click ‘download’ once and they’re all in that zip folder.

This works well for making the download process easier and quicker for you, but there is one little step you need to do before you can open these files in Cricut Design Space and that is to unzip the folder.

The instructions on how to unzip a folder will depend on the type of computer or device you are using. Click the links below to find out how to unzip folders on your particular setup:


Step 3: Upload the SVG to Cricut Design Space

Open up Design Space and open up a blank canvas by clicking ‘new project’.

Click ‘upload’ on the left-hand side of your screen.

Design Space Upload button

When you click ‘upload image’ this will open a pop-up that will let you browse the files on your computer.

Make sure you find the unzipped folder that you have just created and then choose the file which starts SVG_ in the filename.

Choose the SVG file

This part is REALLY important, because the other files won’t load in Design Space. You MUST select the one which starts SVG_ in the filename.

Here is what Design Space should look like after you have selected the SVG file. It shows the image in the preview on the left and you can see all of the layers, but they’re all in the correct position.

Upload SVG to Design Space

If after you’ve uploaded it you see all of the layers completely separate from one another, that means you’ve uploaded the png file, and not the SVG. If yours looks like like the image below, click ‘cancel’ and then start again and upload the SVG file.

PNG file uploaded into Design Space

After you have selected your SVG design, click “Upload” and it will appear in your Recently Uploaded Images.

Click the newly uploaded image and then click “Insert Images”.

Uploaded image in Design Space


Step 4: Resize the SVG in Design Space

Use the width and height boxes at the top to resize the design to the size you want to cut it out.

Make sure the padlock icon is LOCKED (closed). That means that you only need to set the width OR the height and the other measurement will automatically change to resize the design in proportion.

For example, when I typed 8.5 inches into the “height” box, the “width” automatically changed to 5.229 inches.

Note: Sometimes when Design Space updates to a new version it can affect the size that SVG files are loaded in at, so it’s really important to check the size before you cut the design.


Step 5: Modify the design if needed

Sometimes you might want to cut the design in different colours to what you see on the screen.

I find it easiest to make the colour changes in Design Space first before cutting from card so that I can check I’m happy with how it’s going to look.

It takes a little bit of practice to get used to changing all the different layers, but here is a guide on how to change the colour of one of my layered SVGs in Design Space.

For this tutorial, I’ll turn the faun coloured French Bulldog into a black dog instead.

When I’m doing a black dog, I like to alternate the layers between a black and a really dark grey so you can still see all the details through. If you cut every single layer out in black, when you stick it together, you’re not really going to see the detail as it’ll just blend in together. By using a dark grey for the more “solid” layers, it helps you to see those details.

Look down the layers on the right-side of the screen. Click each layer individually that you want to change and select a new colour.

Recolour layers in Design Space

Another way you can do it to make sure you are selecting the same “new colours” each time is to use the Color Sync feature.

Change the first layers that you want to make a different colour, as above.

Then, click “Color Sync”. This changes how the layers look so that they are now separated by colour.

Design Space color sync

You can now “click and drag” the layers onto a different colour to change them.

SVG recoloured in Design Space


Step 6: Cut the layered SVG

When you’re ready to cut it out, click ‘make it’ in the top right and it will split out all of the different colours onto separate mats.

Make It screen

Look down the list of mats on the left and find the colours of cardstock you will need from your card collection.

If your card isn’t 12×12 inches in size then you need to use the dropdowns underneath each mat to change the paper size. You need to separately change the paper size for every colour/mat in the list down the left.

If you change the paper size to one that’s smaller, it might change it to needing more mats. For example, now I’ve changed the dark grey to A4 paper size it is going to need three pieces of card.

Change the paper size

Sometimes you can trick Design Space into using less sheets of card by moving the shapes around on the mats.

If you think there is space on a mat to move some of the other shapes to, click the shape you want to move and then click the three little dots on the left.

Move shapes to a different mat

Click “Move object”. This opens a popup that shows all the mats.

Move object to a different mat

Click the mat that you want to move the shape to.

IMPORTANT – You MUST select a mat that’s the SAME COLOUR as the shape you are moving!!

This will move the shape, but it will probably be on top of the other shapes so we need to move it, otherwise it will cut wrong.

Overlapping shapes

To move a shape around, click-and-drag it. Use the arrow button to rotate a shape around.

This is a great Cricut hack for using less materials when you’re cutting a layered SVG!

After moving around, I’m now only going to need two pieces of A4 grey card instead of the three pieces that Design Space tried to make me use.

Rotate and move shapes so they fit on the mat

When you’re happy with the positioning, click “Continue” and then follow the on-screen instructions to out all the layers with your Cricut machine. Watch the video at the top of this page for a detailed step-by-step guide to how to cut cardstock on a Cricut machine.

Top tip: To stop your card “curling” when you take it off the mat, instead of peeling the card off of the mat, turn the mat upside down and peel your mat away from the card. Use your hand to keep the card flat against your desk.

Take cardstock off Cricut mat


Step 7) Assemble the layered design

To stick the layered designs together, you will need some foam pads and some glue. Some of the layers will be stuck together with foam to make that 3D effect, but on some of the thinner ones they will use glue because the layers are too thin to be able to fit the foam pads on.

I use these foam squares from Dot and Dab because I can buy them quite cheaply online. They are quite big so what I often have to do is cut them smaller with a pair of scissors so that they’ll fit. They do cut fairly easily, but you can buy much smaller ones including some micro dots and they are really, really small. If you don’t want to have to cut them that can be a better option.

Dot and dab foam pads

My favourite glue to use is Collall all-purpose glue. It’s transparent and dries clear, plus it doesn’t warp/bend card when you use lots of use like some other glues do.

I put my Collall glue into these needle-tip bottles from Amazon so I can easily get the glue into all the tiny pieces of the card.

I like to lay the pieces one on top the other to check I’ve got everything cut out right and from the correct colours before I start sticking it together.

Card layers on top of each other

Use the assembly guide pdf which came in your purchase/download to see which layers to put on in which order and which ones to stick with foam, and which ones to stick with glue.

Assembly guide example

Work through each layer, one at a time.

To add the foam pads, turn the layer upside down and place the pads around the bottom side of the card.

You want to make sure you add foam to all of the extremity parts; legs and ears on the dogs, so the bits that are sticking out from the rest of it. That’s to make sure that they’re all nicely stuck to the layer beneath it, and they won’t start coming away.

You also need to make sure you put foam in any large spaces in the middle and that’s to stop the card from sagging once you put all the other layers over the top. If you don’t put anything in the middle, then there’s nothing there to stabilize it and that can cause it to sag.

Make sure that the foam doesn’t cover up any of the holes or go outside the design. If it does, then it means you’ll be able to see the foam through it when you turn it over and it will look a little bit messy, so try not to do that.

Foam pad positioning

Once you’re happy with the foam pad positioning, peel off the top paper parts of each piece to unveil the stickiness underneath.

When sticking layers together, I tend to gently lie the pieces on to start with just in case I mess up the positioning and need to try again. Because I only gently drop it on to start with, I can peel it off without damaging the card and try again.

Continue sticking each layer together, following the assembly guide PDF, until you are done!

Finished layered cardstock design

My little French bulldog is all complete! Here he is – he looks really cute! I’m very happy with how he turned out.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to upload, cut & make layered cardstock designs on a Cricut.

Happy crafting,
Sarah x