Over 50 tips, tricks and ideas on how to save time, money and effort when using your Silhouette CAMEO, Cricut or any craft cutting machine.
If you have had your Silhouette or Cricut any length of time you know that it is AMAZING what these machines can do! The ability to be able to cut anything out that your mind can imagine opens up a whole new world to crafters and makers of all kinds. I have used my Silhouette for everything from monogramming everything under the sun, to making templates to cut wood, to painting signs, to party decor, etching glass, and even making custom shirts. The sky is the limit… or rather my amount of free time and our budget is the limit.
My friend Dawn from By Dawn Nicole and I have a Silhouette group on Facebook where we trade inspiration with about 20,000 of our closest crafting friends. We have everyone from people about to purchase a machine, to extremely seasoned pros! I have been thinking about this post for a long time since I have developed quite a few little tips and tricks to save time and money with my machine, but when I asked for more ideas in the group, I was overwhelmed with all of the many genius time and money saving ideas they had and were so generous as to let me share with you. If you want in on all of the fun, you can request to join us here!
Some of these tips are specific to one machine or the other, but most are universal to all! So sit back, relax, and prepare to be amazed at the secrets of the trade my crafty friends!
Disclaimer: I have not tried all of these tips personally. Some of them may save time or money at the risk of damaging your machine or creation. Use your best judgement and try at your own risk.
Tool Hacks to use with your machine:
- Use a safety pin to weed and lift tiny pieces of vinyl
- Add a small magnet to the side of your machine so you always have your safety pin handy
- Use an old gift card or hotel key instead of a scraper to get paper scraps off of your mat
- You can use an Exacto knife to add weeding lines if you forget to do it in the software
- Dental tools can be your best friend for weeding
- Pointed tweezers make for a great weeding tool
- Dip the tip of a tweezer or paper piecer in glue just enough to make it tacky to pick up small loose pieces like freezer paper or card stock.
- Use a light box for weeding. The light makes the lines much more visible!
- Use foil to resharpen your blade.
- 2″ putty knife instead of the tiny spatula to get things off the mat.
Transfer paper hacks:
- Clear shelf paper instead of transfer paper. There is usually a lot more in the roll for much less money and you can get it at Dollar Tree if you have one near you.
- Painter tape makes great on fly transfer tape, and there is 60 yards on this roll!
- When in a pinch for transfer paper, use a roll of adhesive lint remover!
- Scotch tape can even be used as transfer tape for smaller transfers.
Cutting Mat Hacks:
- Inexpensive flexible cutting boards can be used as a cutting mat. Cut to size and position media or small pieces of vinyl with painters tape. These can be found for about $1-$2 each!
- Respray your mat with Krylon repositionable adhesive when the mat isn’t sticky anymore. Make sure to tape off the edges of the mat with painter’s tape, then spray, peel off the tape, and let dry.
- If you accidentally cut through your mat, you can repair it with sturdy packing tape on the back of the mat. I like to use Gorilla brand because it is super flexible and sturdy.
- Using Aileen’s Tack it Over & Over to re-tack your mat after you clean it completely. Mix 1 part Aileen’s to 1 part water take a sponge brush and brush on one coat let dry then apply a second coat. This will last like a new mat. Let dry completely after the second coat.
- Baby wipes are great for maintaining your mat. Use them to clean your mat after each project session.
- Blue painters tape can secure things to a mat that lost it’s stickiness.
- Use a Cricut Mat with a Silhouette Machine. They are less expensive and some think more durable.
- If you use a Cricut mat with your Silhouette machine make a line on the right side of your machine with a sharpie when you have your mat in correctly so you know where to place it every time.
- Use double sided tape to keep corners down on a mat that has lost it’s stick in some spots. Scotch brand make a removable variety and it is small and handy to keep with your supplies.
- Washi tape can hold paper on the mat if it is moving. And let’s face it… It is definitely the cutest way to keep things secure!
- You can use a lint roller to remove bits of paper from your mat.
- Turn your mat around and feed it through backwards if you are repeating the same cut over and over to avoid cuts.
- Wash mat with soap and water to regain stickiness. It is like magic!
- Use washi tape to attach two 12×12 mats if you are cutting something longer than 12 inches. This will give you up to a 24″ length of cutting space
- Clorox wipes can also be used to clean cutting mats between projects.
- Cut a 12×24” mat in half to make 2 12×12 mats.
- Want to cut all the way to the end of a roll of vinyl? Tape a piece of paper across the entire width of the loose end. The rollers still have something to grab when all the length of the vinyl is under the blade when cutting without a mat.
- Use contact paper to cut stencils so you don’t waste more expensive vinyl.
- Cut empty toilet paper rolls to place around vinyl rolls. This will keep vinyl from unrolling and help it stay organized.
- Reverse weed small designs or monograms. You can see a great tutorial on this here.
- Reverse weed simple designs then place the back of the transfer paper back on, to save the negative space on a design you will use so you can use the design now and negative space as as a stencil later.
Heat Transfer Vinyl Hacks:
- Sharpie the guide line so its more visible
- Parchement paper for ironing over the heat transfer, or if you need to reiron if it starts peeling.
- Using sketch pens to outline your heat transfer vinyl can help with weeding.
- You can also use kraft paper to iron over HTV. It works just like the Teflon sheet but doesn’t make the HTV all super shiny which is great if you prefer it to be more of a matte finish.
- Add a reminder right on your machine to flip or mirror your image if you do a lot of HTV projects.
- Use a wooden cutting board instead of an ironing board if you are using an iron for HTV. The hard surface makes it easier to apply more pressure to get it to adhere well.
Sketch Pen Hacks:
- Take out the inside felt and ink inside a kids marker and the shell of the marker can be used to hold any pen you have like gel pens, sharpies or ballpoint pens! Instant pen holder!
- If your pen is too thin for the pen holder, add tape around the barrel of the hollowed out marker to make it fit in the sil holder
- Favorites to use in place of sketch pens include original Sharpies, ultra fine point Sharpies and gel pens. This gel pen gift set is like a dream!
- To get a chalkboard look on black paper use white gel pens.
- Putting ruler marks on the edge of your cutting table so you can always measure correctly without having to break out the tape measure or ruler.
- If you want to save money on images and cut files, there are a number of sites offering free .svg or cut files. You can see a big list of sites that offer .svg freebies here and we also share a weekly free Silhouette file in our Silhouette CAMEO Project Inspiration Facebook group. **** IMPORTANT Note: To use an .svg file with your Silhouette you will need the Designer Edition software. You can get a code emailed to you on Amazon so you can download immediately and not have to wait for shipping or wait for it to be shipped for a few dollars less.*****
- Instead of a light box put the design you are weeding on a glass coffee table and turn the flashlight on (or use your phone,) set it on the floor under the table. Boom instant light box.
- Wear a headlamp for weeding. An inexpensive and conveniently hands free way to get a lot of light!
- Always make extra dots for the tops of j’s and i’s or periods. A lot of extras, those darn things like to disappear in a blink of an eye!
- Note the name and size of the font used off to the side of each design in case you need it again. Once you modify a font, you can not see what its name it in the Silhouette software.
- Monogram it app
Well that was a wealth of knowledge wasn’t it!? I am so excited to give many of these a try. I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know if you have a favorite tip, trick or money saving idea you use with your cutting machine or materials!