Monday, July 27, 2015

Playing with my Silhouette Cameo

Well, I bit the bullet and bought myself a new Silhouette Cameo! I have watched other teachers create amazing  projects with their machines and I knew that this was the next crafty-task that I wanted to venture into. You should check out my friend Kaci's awesome Etsy store. She sells personalized cups that are super cute! For now I'm sticking with creating projects for my home and classroom. 

Here is the Silhouette Cameo machine that I bought. I found mine new but used once on a local buy/sell/trade website and only paid $180 - but the going price is about $269. They were recently on sale on Amazon for $188, but that's a rare deal. Now, these are not for people who lack in patience. I've learned that trial and error are the best ways to jump in and practice.
Also, be prepared for the serious cost of starting up (you need to buy some basic things to get started).
I went to my local Michael's craft store and Target and picked up these items:
  • 1 Silhouette Scraper (see pic below)
  • Packages of Cardstock (they were $2 for a pack) - I bought colored, black, and white paper
  • 2 rolls of permanent adhesive vinyl. I got black and sparkly silver. 
  • 1 roll of clear contact paper

I already had my computer (laptop, and the Cameo "pick me up tool"). 

So, to begin I watched several you tube videos and just started playing around with the machine.  I watched some videos from Foto Bella, and others.


1. Use the cutting mat:
I learned that you need to put your cardstock or vinyl on the sticky cutting mat. Then you load that mat into the machine. Make sure the loading "wheel" rollers are on top of the sides of the cutting mat - this holds the paper/vinyl/mat in place. Some videos said you can load the vinyl in without using the mat - but I tried this and it was a disaster! USE THE MAT!

2. Cut your vinyl or paper down to size:
If you're cutting out bulletin board letters there's no need to cut the paper first. However, if you're doing a design that includes lettering - try to work with the smallest chunk of vinyl possible to do your project. You don't want to waste it.

3. Save your scraps:
If you have a 2" x 2" scrap that is big enough to save. You can use these scraps for little hearts, flowers, letters, etc. Save them!

My Vinyl Decal Computer Project
I have a hard "shell" computer covering on my computer. I wanted to decorate it with a quote to dress it up. So I'll take you step by step through the process of what I did to make it.

In the Silhouette program I designed the text that I wanted to use:
I typed the cursive font with Kg Eyes Wide Open. I used Hello Engineer for the all capital font. The curlicues are from the free Silhouette library and the font is from Kg Heart Doodles.
You will notice that the cursive font (enlarged below) originally shows red cut-lines that overlap inside of each letter - this means each letter will be cut apart and that's NOT what we want. You need to use the WELD tool to make the cursive letters all one piece. 
Here's how to use the WELD tool:
Click on the tool at the top right that has a gray rectangle with a blue letter "M" in a circle (colored blue in the photo below). This will let your modify the text. Choose the WELD option from the box that pops up. This will join the letters together.
See how the cursive letters in the word let are joined without the extra cuts inside the e and t. 

So next you should look at your design and figure out how big of a piece of vinyl you need count the guide line squares to figure out the size of vinyl that you need. I unrolled the black vinyl and kept the backing on it. Then I cut a 12" x 5" piece because my design was long and narrow. I stuck it on the sticky mat with the black (good) side up. I have my razor set to #1. 

Next, load the cut mat by lining up the mat (with vinyl) on it by pushing the Load Cut Mat button. The machine pulls the cut mat inside it a little bit. 

 Then back at the computer click the PEN tool (it's on the far right up on top). You will notice that the red cut lines get thicker and the guide roll wheels appear. Simply click the bottom right button: Send to Silhouette. You will hear your machine start zooming around. Make sure nothing is behind the machine because as your design is cut - the cut-mat will pop out of the other side.

When the machine stops the button on the Cameo screen will say UNLOAD - click that. 

Now it's time for "Weeding." That means that you pick all the vinyl off the mat that is NOT part of your design. All of the letters that you are using should STAY on the vinyl backing paper. 
You can see here that I'm pulling the black vinyl up while the white backing is still stuck on the sticky mat.

Carefully remove the outside vinyl and then you will see the letters are filled in with vinyl. You need to use a tool to pick the little bits out of the holes. 
Here I'm using the Pick Me Up Silhouette tool to scrape the insides out of the letters. 
Now your lettering should be stuck to the vinyl backing. 

Cut a piece of clear contact paper that is a little larger than the size of your design. Lay the contact paper right on top of your design and then use the scraper tool to rub over the top of it. The letters should stick to the contact paper. Peel it up carefully making sure the letters stick. If they don't, then press the design down and rub it some more until it sticks. 

 Place your design on the surface that you want it to go on.
 Use the scraping tool to rub over the contact paper and push the vinyl design on to the surface you want it to stick to.
 Carefully peel the contact paper up making sure that the letters stay down.

 Here is my finished project!

Now if you're like me, you're going to have some mistakes along the way. When I applied my design I broke the word "done." I had to re-cut that individual word because during my weeding process I broke the loop. No bueno!
See picture below. This is when you say, "Ah, man!" Take a break - and then regroup and go start the process over!

I used a small scrap of vinyl and stuck it to the cutting mat to fix my oops!

I cut and pasted the word I needed to fix into a new document on the Silhouette program. Make sure that you line up the design to match where your vinyl is stuck *see how both the vinyl and text are in the top left corner.

Then I sent it to the Silhouette, cut it, unloaded it, weeded it carefully and applied it with contact paper. 

I hope this little tutorial was helpful. I'm still new at using the machine and today marks my one-week anniversary of having the Cameo. If I can do it so can you! Happy crafting!


  1. Awesome tutorial, Laura! Thanks for sharing!
    Teaching With Style

  2. Thanks Laura! I bought a Silhouette a year ago, used it once, got frustrated and haven't touched it since!!
    I am going to give it a second chance now!!

    The Resourceful Apple

  3. So glad I found this post. My vinyl will be here tomorrow. I can't wait to start cutting and decorating. I Must do my computer for sure.

  4. Great post! My Silhouette arrives today, and I am less intimidated after reading this! Thanks! Beautiful design idea!


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