Friday, April 12, 2013

Cut Fabric with a Silhouette Cameo? YES!

It's no surprise that I love my Silhouette Cameo cutter. I keep finding new ways to use it! The latest discovery is that I can cut fabric on it, without having to fuse the fabric to an interfacing first! This is great, because interfacing permanently changes the hand of the fabric, and sometimes I just don't want that. But cutting fabric without it can result in a snarled mess. So what's the answer?

You need a Secret Weapon:

Secret Weapon: Spray Starch

Good old-fashioned spray starch!

Lay the fabric wrong-side-up on your work surface and give it a good, long spray with the starch. You want to really saturate the fabric.

Saturate the fabric with the starch

Let it soak in for a few seconds, then lay a press cloth on top (to protect your iron) and press the fabric, using the hottest setting you can. Since this is quilting cotton, I've got my Rowenta cranked up to maximum. Don't use steam!

Press with a hot iron

When it's dry, spray it again and press it again. Make sure it's absolutely bone-dry.

The whole idea is to stabilize the fibers in the fabric so they are cut by the blade, rather than stretching and snagging on it. Spraying the back side of the fabric and using the press cloth helps minimize the shine from the starch.

Here's the fabric before starching:

Fabric before starching

And here it is after. I'm holding the pieces the same way, so you can see clearly that the treated fabric is much stiffer!

Fabric after starching

Now you need to adhere the fabric to the cutting mat. Make sure the fabric is entirely within the adhesive area; you don't want any stray threads floating around while the mat is going through the machine.

Apply to adhesive mat

Here is trick #2: Use a hard, flat object and burnish the fabric to the cutting mat, making sure to get the whole piece of fabric bound tightly to the mat.

Burnish well!

Now, load the mat into the machine.

Load mat into machine

Bring up your design in the Silhouette software. Make sure the design fits on the fabric. It's also best to allow about an inch of space between the design and the edge of the fabric, to help prevent snagging.

Load design into Silhouette software

Here are the settings to use:
  • Fabric Cutting Blade (the blue one)
  • Fabric Cotton Print
  • Speed = 4
  • Knife Depth = 3

Send the design on its way to the machine and let it do its thing!

 When it's done, unload the mat and peel off the excess fabric. Then you can carefully remove your perfectly-cut design!

  Perfectly cut fabric!

After you finish your project, the starch in the cut pieces will wash out when you first launder it.

So there you are! Go ahead and cut out your fabric on your Silhouette without having to buy expensive stabilizers or permanently change the hand of the fabric! Let me know if you try this method, and how it works for you!


I haven't done this type of project a lot, but every time I've tried it, it's come out just fine. As the saying goes, Your Mileage May Vary. This method doesn't seem to be officially approved by Silhouette, so I have no idea if it will void the warranty if there are issues.