There are so many things you can create with vinyl. With a whole new world of vinyl applications and different ways to use it, my goal is to help you understand the different types of vinyl, types of projects and uses for vinyl, and great practices for cutting and applying vinyl. One of my favorite things about my Silhouette is all the cool things you can do with vinyl.
My goal is to walk you through vinyl projects step by step giving you all the information you need to really know your way around using vinyl. This post is part of our Beginners Guide to Using Adhesive Vinyl Series where we share weekly lessons on everything about vinyl and using it with your Silhouette. Before we get started, here are a few things to help you!
- You can find ALL the lessons for the Beginners Guide to Using Adhesive Vinyl Series here!
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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!
Using your Silhouette for the first couple of times can be very intimidating. After I completed my first project I felt so much better and felt like I could tackle anything. So let’s get started with our first lesson!
Types and Brands of Vinyl
As you have probably figured out there are a few different types of vinyl. The most commonly used is adhesive vinyl. That is what I use 99 percent of the time.
This vinyl has an adhesive on the back and can be cut into any design with your Silhouette. The most common uses for this vinyl is decals, or a decal to be used to paint on wood, fabric, or another item. Think of vinyl like a sticker, but this sticker is more durable and can be both more permanent, or repositionable depending on they type that you use. You will see adhesive vinyl decals on car windshields, tumblers, books, binders, windows, coffee mugs and more.
The best thing about vinyl is the huge assortment of colors, patterns, and textures. These options give you the ability to create so many different designs.
Sizes Vinyl Comes in:
Vinyl most commonly comes in the form of sheets or rolls. I will explain the difference below.
- Sheets– Sheets are great for beginners because they are usually the size of your Silhouette cutting mat and they lay flat. This makes the vinyl easy to work with since you can use a cutting mat.The best thing about sheets is the fact that many different vendors, like Expressions Vinyl and Amazon, offer a pack full of a variety of colors. I love to keep these packs on hand because I have whatever color available whenever I need them or are feeling inspired to create something new. You may not want to buy a 5 ft roll of coral, but having one sheet on hand can come in very handy!
You can find sheets readily available in 12 in x 12 in and 12 in by 24 in.
- Rolls– I often buy vinyl in rolls because it is usually cheaper and I can order in large quantities. Rolls usually come in 12in wide by 3 feet, 5 feet, 10 feet, 20 feet and even longer!A huge benefit of using a roll is that you make a design longer than 12 inches by cutting without a cutting mat. The Silhouette CAMEO will cut up to 10 feet in one design, so using a roll of vinyl can open the door to much larger designs. The one challenge with using a roll is the it can curl or veer to the side while cutting but it’s nothing you can’t learn to manage with a little practice.
Important Tip: Make sure when you are buying your vinyl whether it is a sheet or roll, that the width is 12 inches. If your vinyl is bigger than this, you will have to cut it down before you use it with your Silhouette CAMEO and it makes starting a project very cumbersome.
Brands of Vinyl:
There are a wide variety of different brands of vinyl. Some of the pros prefer ones over the other, but the best advice is to just find one that works for you and stick with it!
- Silhouette Brand Vinyl– Silhouette sells their own brand of vinyl which comes in a variety of colors and sizes. This vinyl runs on the higher end of the price spectrum. I have use this vinyl and it has worked well for me. Some crafters say this vinyl is hard to work with, but I have not experienced this.
Silhouette also now carries a Silhouette Branded Oracal 631 (see below). You can purchase this
- Cricut Brand Vinyl– Even though it says Cricut on the vinyl, you can still use it in your Silhouette. This vinyl is similar to the Silhouette brand but isn’t preferred much by professional crafters. The good thing about Cricut and Silhouette brand is they are readily available in your local craft stores if your are in a bind and need the vinyl sooner rather than later.
- Oracal– This is one of the most popular brands available to crafters. This brand is well known and comes in a variety of “strengths” to fit all your needs. The two strengths used most in your crafting needs are 631 and 651. These are sold in rolls and sheets.
- Oracal 631– This strength of vinyl is common for indoor use. This vinyl is known as short term… up to 3 years. This vinyl is safe for painted surfaces and will stick to decor nicely. You can remove this vinyl, if issues arise, fairly easily. This vinyl does not do well if it gets wet.
- Oracal 651– This vinyl is considered a permanent vinyl in the crafting community. This vinyl can last up to 6 years on projects. Use this strength of vinyl if you are working with outside projects or items that can get wet in the dishwasher or everyday use. Remember to use this vinyl on projects you don’t plan on removing the vinyl since it has a stronger adhesive.
- Expressions Vinyl– Expressions vinyl is a popular supplier used often by professional crafters. This vinyl runs on the pricey side but is one of my favorites. Every time I use this vinyl I have great results and find it super easy to cut. They offer a wide variety of colors, patterns, and different options for types of vinyl.
- Other Brands– There are lots of different off brands available both on Amazon and at other retailers, but make sure you are researching reviews before you buy them because the quality can vary from awesome to extremely frustrating and poor quality.
There are so many different styles, and colors when it comes to vinyl. There are several different kinds of vinyl that you can use when creating your projects.
- Heat Transfer Vinyl– Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) is one of my favorite vinyls to use. You use this vinyl to apply designs to clothing by using heat. Applying this vinyl is very different than the standard vinyl application. You can find the Beginners Guide to Heat Transfer Vinyl here.
- Chalkboard Vinyl– This vinyl has a chalkboard finish, and is most often used for labels.
- Glow in the Dark Vinyl– This vinyl can be use anywhere are will glow once the lights go out.
- Patterned Vinyl– This fun and creative vinyl comes in any pattern you wish. My favorites are the buffalo check and animal print.
- Inkjet Printable Vinyl– You can use this vinyl to print your image then use your Silhouette to cut out that image perfectly.
- Fluorescent Vinyl– There is a large variety of fun fluorescent colors available.
- Reflective Vinyl– This vinyl gives a reflective look like that you see on runners shoes.
- Glitter Vinyl– Who doesn’t love a little glitter..? These give the look of real glitter and can be applied anywhere vinyl can be applied. Offered in a variety of colors.
- Metallic Vinyl- Available in a variety of metallic finishes and looks like these from shiny metallics from Expressions Vinyl and these brushed metallics from Silhouette.
- Etched Glass Vinyl– This vinyl gives the look of etched glass when applied to a clear glass surface.
- Window Cling Vinyl– Vinyl that will cling to glass or mirrored surfaces.
- Speciality Finish Vinyl– Fun finishes like holograms, foil finishes, pearl and lustre.
Well there you have it, all you ever wanted to know about the different types and brands of vinyl and maybe even a little bit more! If you have additional questions I didn’t answer here, make sure to leave me a note in the comments. Tune in next week to learn all about my best resources for Where to Buy Vinyl!