DIY Patio Update on a Budget with the Cricut Explore Air

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut for Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

I always hated yard work. I'm not sure if it was because so much of my time as a new homeowner was spent weeding during my kids' naptimes only to find myself in an endless loop. It seemed that as soon as I started weeding one area I'd return to where I started only to have to do it all over again. It was exhausting and not one where I could really enjoy the fruits of my labor. My kids have gotten older and I have been a homeowner for two decades now and I'm cautiously going to admit that I think I've fallen into a new love of gardening. It's so satisfying to see new life bloom, spread, and grow and I'm getting more confident in my skills that now it seems like I can sit back and enjoy it. Which is why creating an outdoor patio area where I can sit back and relax is important to me.

Like all things, I'm always on a budget and hit my local thrift shop for some items to help me upcycle my patio space just in time for summer. I used my Cricut Explore Air 2 and I'm excited about the fun updates. I'm going to show you how you can take some thrift shop finds and update them to create a space you can enjoy all summer long! 

diy patio upcycle on budget with cricut

DIY Patio Update on a Budget with the Cricut Explore Air 

patio upcycle cricut

What to Look For at Thrift Stores for Your Patio or Outdoor Area

It's hard to share items from a thrift store and tell you how to replicate them because so much of what you find is unique to your store and your area. However, there are a few items you'll find every time you walk into your local thrift store and these are a few of the items we can focus on as items you can upcycle, update and personalize using your Cricut Explore Air.

**I've spent the past year falling in love with my Cricut Joy machine. It's small but mighty! Just see how I "wallpapered" a room using my Cricut Joy and some vinyl. You can upcycle many of these projects by using the Cricut Joy too. 

glassware at thrift store

1. Glassware

There is rarely any shortage of glassware at your local thrift shop. There is usually such an abundance of items that this is where you can take the time to scout out a real deal. I found a set of four matching glasses that were just waiting for some embellishment using my Cricut and some transparent vinyl. Many thrift shops offer a weekly colored tag that is on sale, watch for those items. I was able to score my glasses for half off!

serveware thrift store

2. Serveware

If you are entertaining outdoors, you might want to keep in mind that things are likely to get bumped around and you can play it safe{er} with plastic serveware. I like to look in the serving section for unique bowls and platters that make outdoor entertaining easy. 

Pro tip: look for large bowls that could double as outdoor garden planters!

3. Pillows and Textiles

Remember when I shared some must-have thrift store decor finds? I upcycled this pillow using infusible ink. Get the tutorial here.

I always look in the textiles section because you can always find an abundance of blankets, pillows and fabric that can be used to upcycle any space, especially an outdoor patio space. Sometimes it requires thinking outside of the box a bit to reimagine an item, but it's fun to see a pattern and start dreaming!

Pro tip: a large sheet can be used as a table cloth for your patio or as fabric for a sewing project!

pillow upcycle thrift store cricut

4. Furniture

I buy a lot of our furniture second-hand. Did you know that there is "designer" furniture out there? Much like designer brands, there are furniture brands and styles that are hot ticket items. I've found some real deals at my local thrift store. If you have a covered patio space like I do, you have more options to use "normal" furniture outside. Just remember that it will take more of a beating outdoors because of the exposure to the elements even if it's not taking a direct hit. 

For more Must-Have Thrift Store Decor Finds, check out this post.

How to Use What You Love to Decorate

After a trip to a living history museum with my kids about a decade ago, I started to learn more about trading blankets. Most trade blankets are woven wool with amazing geometric patterns. Living in the Pacific Northwest where there is a history of Native Americans who often traded blankets, gave me a mission to start looking for them at thrift stores and garage sales. 

Three years ago, I was at a garage sale where I spotted a vintage Hudson's Bay blanket being used as a tablecloth and I asked it was for sale. The blanket was cut up and worn but she sold it to me for $8. The other woman, who was shopping like me, overheard our conversation and wondered why I'd want old wool blankets. 

hudson bay vintage wool blanket

A few years prior I found one at a garage sale for $1 that this family had used as a liner in the back of their station wagon. I'd been on the hunt since. I'd always check the thrift shops for old wool blankets and anytime I'd spot one at a garage sale {which wasn't often!} I'd do my best to get my hands on them.

This woman took my name and number and told me she didn't know why I'd be interested in collecting old scratchy wool blankets, but let me know that she had an old Hudson Bay point blanket in her mom's hope chest at home. 

I never assumed she'd follow up and call me, but she did! We met at our local grocery store and she told me that she didn't have children she'd want to pass this on to, but wanted me to be able to enjoy something that was tucked away. She told me her mother had it as long as she could remember and if her mother was alive today she'd be 125 years old! You can read the whole story here.

That blanket has become a special keepsake of mine because it reminds me that there is goodness and kindness in this world and that everyone has a story they want you to hear. That blanket has become a bit of a signature piece here on and you can see it sprinkled all over my social media and through my images.

party mugs plastic upcycle

It's why when I found this vintage set of plastic mugs that I immediately knew the direction that I wanted to go with my patio upcycle! I wanted to take the classic Hudson's Bay point blanket, which is now similarly used by Pendleton in their Glacier National Park print. 

Pro Tip: Sometimes one item will drive the whole direction of a project! Jump on board and enjoy the ride!

Upcycle Plastic Mugs with the Cricut Explore Air

diy striped mug cricut

glacier national park striped mug

Cricut had the perfect product to help make my vision a reality. I love the Cricut premium vinyl because not only is it water-resistant {perfect for glassware}, it's UV-resistant and can hold up, even outdoors for up to three years {or more!}.

The Cricut Premium Vinyl, sampler brights is actually on SUPER sale right now too!

I love the Cricut Access Design plan, but for this project, you are literally just taking a square and making it into a rectangle that will be your stripe and will fit on the area you want to create. It's so easy! 

Don't miss this: The one thing I had to learn was how to select the little lock in the design software as you are creating so that you can make custom dimensions. If the lock is on it wants to keep the item you are creating proportionate. For this image, you are using a square, but you want to make it into a stripe {a rectangle} so you'll need to unlock it so you can design it. 

I cut out several different colors of the vinyl stripes and then trimmed them down. 

cricut vinyl

The design is not intricate, so you really can treat your vinyl for this project more like a sticker. You won't need to use transfer tape for this project. 

I just eyeballed it as I placed the vinyl on the mug and tried to line up each stripe as best as I could with one another and with the same gap between them.

striped mug like pendleton glacier bay or point blanket


Transparent Vinyl on Wine Glasses


As I mentioned before, there is usually no shortage of glassware at your local thrift store or garage sale. You can usually find quite a deal. 

When it comes to entertaining, having a glass that looks that same will often leave party guests wondering which cup is theirs. But not anymore!

Forget the wine charms, use vinyl to create similar but different images for each glass so there is no mixing up glasses at your next party!

Tips for Using Vinyl on Wine Glasses

applying vinyl on a curved surface

Stay away from intricate images on curved surfaces. The vinyl image will bubble or buckle and you'll get discouraged. Stick with an image that has some space to easily wrap around the glass. 

Look for an image that has only one layer. You can narrow down the search in Cricut Access to make it easier.

Resize the image to fit on your glass

If you are using an image that has various colors, make sure you color sync to create all the different colored images on one space so it will cut on one page.

When you are cutting using transparent vinyl, select custom on your Cricut Explore Air machine and follow the prompts to select the transparent vinyl. If you accidentally cut using the vinyl setting, it may be more difficult to weed your image. Ask me how I know.

Prep your glass surface using goof off or acetone if necessary.

Weed your image. Because the transparent vinyl is hard to see, I find holding it up to the light helps me get all the cuts weeded properly.

transparent vinyl on wine glass

Use transfer tape to get your cut image from the carrier sheet

transfer tape

As you apply your image, start in the center and carefully move out to the edges. Work slowly to prevent any bubbles in your vinyl as you curve around the surface.

wine glasses using vinyl

**I also purchased a plastic bowl that my engineer husband was quick to tell me was far too rounded for the plan I had. Did you know that the Cricut design software has templates {including bowls!} that will help you curve text and get the proper placement on everything from crockpots to t-shirts? 

It's what I did for this snack bowl I made. I used the curve text feature to help me cut the vinyl for the bowl.

curved text vinyl cricut

Custom Dog Bowl Using Cricut Vinyl

cricut vinyl striped dog bowl

Did I mention that I LOVE Cricut Premium Vinyl because it is waterproof and can be used outdoors for years! When I started to look for items at the thrift store that would fit my vision to match my Hudson's Bay Point Blanket, I found this solid pottery bowl.

I'm pretty sure it's not a dog bowl, but remember, the number one tip to thrifting?

Think outside the box!

cricut vinyl dog bowl

I used the same Cricut Premium Vinyl that I did for the stripes in the colorful mugs and used the same technique of designing my own image {can we call it that if you just make stripes?} using the geometric square to make rectangle lines. I also used a font from Cricut Access. Did you know there are more than 500 fonts? There are.

stripes point blanket dog bowl accessories

I made a wide white stripe and then added Milo's name in red on top. Layering vinyl is easy my friends! A good transfer tape with a grid pattern is helpful.

Then, I eyeballed the stripes and put them on almost like stickers. No transfer tape needed for those.

As the temperature heats up, Milo now has an outdoor water bowl he can enjoy. I think he likes it!

ceramic water bowl dog vinyl cricut

backyard patio cricut upcycle

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backyard patio upcyle with cricut

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

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