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Vinyl Nail Decal Tips and Sizing Guidelines: Silhouette Tutorial

If you've joined the vinyl nail art club - welcome! I've been using vinyl to decorate my own, as well as my daughter's finger and toenails, for almost as long as I've owned a Silhouette.  Whenever I share a photo of our vinyl nail art I get questions - most about cutting such small designs and sizing the decals. Today I am going to answer the three biggest questions I get about Silhouette vinyl nail designs so you can get decorating your nails, too!

The three most common questions I get about vinyl nail art are:
  1. How do you successfully get the Silhouette to cut so small without tearing the vinyl?
  2. What size should the vinyl decals be to fit my nails? Or my child's?
  3. How do you get the vinyl to stick to your nails for any length of time? 

Tips for Successfully Cutting Tiny Vinyl Designs on Silhouette

Cutting vinyl as small as it needs to be is not difficult if you're using the right blade, a mat that's sticky enough to hold the vinyl firmly in place, have the correct cut settings and pick the right design.

USA July 4 vinyl nail decals nails patriotic nails nail art
It all starts with picking the right design. When you're cutting this small it's best not to pick designs that are overly intricate. Designs that are 'solid' as opposed to those that have cut outs (like the ones above) within the design are easiest to cut.

Ideally, the Silhouette Premium Blade or the CB09 should be used when cutting small intricate vinyl designs. The blade drags through the vinyl at a different angle than the regular ratchet blade preventing the vinyl from tearing as it makes the tiny cuts.

Slowing the speed to a 2 in the Cut Settings window in Silhouette Studio will also help you get a better cut on small designs, especially intricate designs.

penn state vinyl nail decals toenails sizing tipsFinally, make sure your mat is sticky enough to hold the  vinyl in place while it's being cut. An unsticky mat will let the vinyl scrap move around while it's cut and you won't get a clean cut - or a cut at all.

vinyl nail decals disney world sizing mickey mouse silhouette cameo

Vinyl Nail Decal Sizes

Before you cut anything you want to make sure your designs are sized to fit your nails. The size of the nail art decals will depend on where you're placing the vinyl nail designs:  your fingers or toes or a child's fingers or toes.

vinyl nail decals halloween silhouette cameo

In general, I have found nail decals in the following dimensions to work best.  Of course, depending on the size and length of your nails or the age of the child, you may need to adjust the sizing slightly.

Big Toe: 0.4" x 0.45"
Fingers: .025" - 0.32" x 0.35"
Polka Dots: .09" - 0.11"

Big Toe: 0.32" x 0.35"
Fingers: 0.20" x 0.22"
Polka Dots: .09"

vinyl nail art decal sizing kids toenails valentines day
vinyl nail art decal sizing kids fingernails valentines day silhouette cameo

Keeping Vinyl Nail Decals On!

There are several things you can do to help keep nail decals in place longer.  The first thing you want to do is start with the right vinyl and that's 651 permanent outdoor vinyl. This vinyl has a stronger adhesive which will help it stick to your nails longer.
You also want to wait for several hours after painting your nails to apply the vinyl decals using a small piece of transfer tape or paper. After you've applied the vinyl nail decal, use a clear coat over it to help keep it in place.  You can add a new clearly coat daily if you'd like.

Nail decals will stay on your toe nails far longer than your finger nails.  I've had vinyl decals on my toes for several weeks.

patriotic july 4 toenails nail art red white blue silhouette cameo vinyl decals

The longest I've been able to keep a vinyl nail decal on my finger nails is about 6 days - it even outlasted my nail polish during a recent trip to Disney!  The larger the nail art the longer it should stick - this solid design stayed on my finger nail about twice as long as very small polka dots simply due to the surface area of the adhesive.

vinyl nail art silhouette cameo

I am also include a free shamrock design already sized for vinyl nail decals. I included a few different sizes for women and girls. You can download the Shamrock nail vinyl design here.   

Try these tricks the next time you decide to give DIY nail art a try at home with your Silhouette and vinyl!  You may also want to check out this video of applying vinyl nail art that I shared on Facebook.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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  1. Great! How do I find the disney one? Thanks!

  2. Oh it's a fun project to refresh old shoes :) Thank you for sharing. I guess I will do something with my old shoes

  3. Maybe this would be a good use of the printable vinyl?

  4. This is so much fun!!

    My daughters and I were so excited to try this. My vinyl dots have been on 5 days (and outlasted the polish). My 8yr olds flowers and dots are also staying on great. My 4yr olds flowers are gone ... But, so is all of her who knows what happened there, lol.
    We've been swimming and applying our normal wear and tear... And clear polish:)
    Great idea!!
    Leslie P

  5. Love this idea for me and my three-year old! Thanks for sharing it and all the tips you have here.

  6. I have tried this with simple designs and it works. But when it comes to the vine monograms I see all the time it does not work for me. Is there a specific file I should purchase for this?


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