We are moving right along in our Beginners Guide to Vinyl. Now that we have our vinyl cut and ready to use, this week we are learning How to Prepare Vinyl to Apply. Last week we learned all about How to Load Vinyl in your Silhouette CAMEO. This is a beginner level series but may have some tidbits of knowledge that are helpful for all levels of crafters!
Welcome to our NEWEST series for crafting with your Silhouette CAMEO. This series is all about Adhesive Vinyl. We will cover everything from what it is, to where to get it and how to cut it over the next few weeks.
This post will be your index and keep links to all of the posts for this series as they go live. So first, make sure to do a couple of things to keep up with the series and all of the great information!
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- Know the Basics! If you are new to Silhouette or need more information on using your Silhouette machine in general, make sure and check out our Silhouette Boot Camp where we walk through all the basics of the machine!
How to Prepare Vinyl
Now that you have your vinyl cut and ready… it’s time to prepare your vinyl. This is the fun part, where you get to see your project take shape. Here are a few basic steps:
- Weed the Vinyl
- Apply Transfer Material
- Transfer Vinyl to the Project
Weed the Vinyl
The term “weed” the vinyl is a funny term but it is a step of weeding out all the excess vinyl you do not want in your project.
- When you are using the design for a project, you will weed (remove) all of the pieces out side of the design.
- When you are using a stencil, you remove the inside of the design so that only the outer “stencil” area remains.
There are a few tips and tools you can use when doing this on your project! There are a number of tools that people like to use to weed their designs, from basic to more extravagant, these can help you to get even the tiniest piece of vinyl removed with less time and effort.
- Silhouette Hook Tool– Some people love this tool and use it everyday, I am one of them. Other people say it is too dull and use a sharper object to help them.
- Safety Pin– If you don’t have a tool and need to start weeding, grab a pin and start. This makes a great weeding tool if you are in a pinch.
- Pointed Tweezers– These help grab tiny pieces and get them off of your project.
- Dental Tools– These can be purchased pretty inexpensively online or at discount tool stores like Harbor Freight. These are probably the most widely loved tools for helping to weed vinyl.
- Head Lamp– A head lamp is perfect since it is hands free and can provide ample directional light exactly where you need it.
There are two main methods of weeding.
This method is done by using a tool to remove the unwanted areas of your design. This method is used for 98% of the designs I weed.
This technique comes in handy when your design is made up of lots of smaller pieces that may not stay well when the excess vinyl is removed. When pieces are small and the excess is big, it can not have enough strength to stay down on the backing and so it will be pulled up along with the excess. By using a reverse weeding technique, you pull the design right onto the transfer paper instead of removing the excess from the backing and then transferring to the transfer paper which is explained in detail in the next step. When you reverse weed, you will follow these steps:
- Place the transfer paper on top of the design
- Rub the transfer paper over where the design is
- Flip over the vinyl and peel off the back of the vinyl so that none of the vinyl comes up
- Slowly peel up the excess vinyl- the vinyl you do not want in your design
I usually have scissors around me when I am weeding a project to remove vinyl as I pull it up so it doesn’t fall down and stick to my project.
Apply Transfer Material
Now that you have all your excess vinyl removed, you are one step closer to applying your vinyl. This material allows you to lift your design and apply it to your project. I have a whole post on How to Use Transfer Paper with Vinyl, check it out, it’s full of a lot of great information.
It could be tempting to want to just peel the vinyl up like a sticker and place it on by hand, but trust me, this rarely goes well! A roll of transfer paper or tape cost very little per square foot, generally last even very busy crafters a long time, and are the key to a professional quality application. Let’s look at the two types of transfer material.
Transfer Paper– This paper is translucent, is sticky on one side and has a grid on the other. It comes in a roll and has a backing on it that is peeled of for use. This is great because the grid can help you align things on your project. This has less visibility than transfer tape.
Transfer Tape– This tape is sticky and mostly clear. It comes in rolls and there is no backing. This tape saves a bit of time because there is no backing to remove. Sometimes this is hard to line up perfectly because it does not have a grid.
How to Apply Transfer Material
- Cut a piece of transfer paper the same size as your weeded project.
- Start at the top, and smooth over the design eliminating wrinkles.
- Use a scraper tool to press down or burnish on the design ( I also use a credit card). This helps the tape adhere to the vinyl.
Now you should have a piece of vinyl backing attached with a piece of transfer material roughly the same size and covering the entire project area over the cut vinyl. Once you have burnished it, then you are ready to move on to the final step of applying the vinyl to the project surface.
That’s it, now you are ready to apply the design, but that lesson is for next week! I hope I have answered all your questions about weeding and transferring your design in preparation for applying your design.