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!

Disclaimer

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.

26 comments:

  1. Thank you for this information! I want to use my Silhouette for fabric more than anything else. I haven't found many tutorials for it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi! Do you think it would work if the fabric was stiffened with something other than that starch- but with a homemade fabric stiffener? Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't see why not! The whole idea is to get the fibers in the fabric to hold still while the blade is cutting them. So dipping the fabric in a homemade starch solution before ironing should work just as well as the spray starch. Let me know how it works!

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the tutorial. I don't have one of these, but I enjoyed learning how it works. Faultless is my favorite spray starch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I have been trying to figure out if fabrics can be cut without the interfacing for months now. I could have tried myself, but was too afraid of ruining my machine.
    What happens to the mat? Is it still sticky afterwards, or all linty?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to help! It doesn't affect the mat at all, as far as I've been able to tell. The starch keeps all the fibers in place. Have fun!

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much. My test run worked. I have been looking for this info. and fretting because I want a fabric lamb profile for some chenille work on a baby rug. I can't use interfacing. I have to wash this rug to make it fuzz up. The starch will be washed out then. Yippee!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for this!!!! I have been wanting to cut fabric, but the interfacing they sell is so expensive! So excited to try this out!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This method worked great! Saved me from using interfacing or freezer paper. I like to starch the crud out of my quilting fabric anyways :)
    I just mix up 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to about 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and save a lot (as I use a lot).
    Also, letting your starch SOAK into the fabric before ironing. I spray and stack all my fabric and let it soak in a few minutes before ironing. This prevents flaking and shining.
    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Worked awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to post. This was a great help.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The fabric cutting blade is something extra you have to buy? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I know, the blue fabric blade is exactly like the regular blade, just with a different color so you can tell it apart. But just like you wouldn't use your regular paper scissors to cut fabric, you should use a dedicated blade to cut fabric on your Silhouette.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! Just the info I was looking for! I am going to buy the cameo soon, but Michaels has all the Silhouette accessories 40% off this week. I wanted to purchase some extra mats and blades but all the "regular" blades were sold out. They had plenty of "fabric" blades though... Guess where I'll be going tomorrow! I can mark the housing with a sharpie marker to remind myself if the blade is for fabric or paper! :)

      Delete
  10. Hi, I just got my cameo and I'm trying to a letter S out of fabric with heat and bond on the fabric. I am having trouble it keeps telling me it can't detect the registration marks not sure what to do can you please help?

    Vanessa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The registration marks are just for "print and cut" projects. If you're just cutting the fabric, there shouldn't be any registration marks. Check the user's guide for info on what those marks are for, and when to use them. Good luck!

      Delete
  11. I have cut 5" circles aprov 15 of them at a time, with NO interfacing and NO starch Just have a NEW 12X24 mat and smoothe the fabric on and let her go..Ther only a few spots it misses that I have to cus by hand but I think it save alot of time when I am making my yo-yo;s..n KatGV

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am SO glad I found this before I tried to cut fabric - which will be next week! I continue to look for alternatives to some of Silhouette's expensive products. LOVE my Cameo, but some of the products are cost prohibitive. I'm a heavy spray starch user, so that is always on hand. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you SO much for posting this tutorial! I'm new to the Silhouette and will be using it mainly for quilting and other fabric applique projects. This will save me a ton of money on interfacing, which I didn't want to use anyway. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. So excited to see this method as this is how I do my pieced templates since I don't want fusbile webbing on back like my appliques. Only difference is I used liquid starch in spray bottle. Great article - we need more on fabric and the silhouette.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Loved this article. This is exactly what I did yesterday except I used liquid starch. I think whatever makes the fabric stiff would work. We need more fabric sillhouette articles.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm very interested in this machine, and loved your article.Just a doubt concerning size.How many centimeters it cuts? I mean, what is maximum length, we can get with this machine? Thanks for the great explanations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fatima, the Silhouette cuts anything up to 12 inches wide, which is just over 30cm. They don't recommend cutting projects longer than 24 inches (about 61cm).

      Delete
  17. Thanks Welmoed for your reply.In fact, Iam very interested in this machine, but what I really want is to make wall decals for decoration.So, I don't know if it will be so useful, as you said the cutting projects recommended, should be no longer than 61cm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use the silhouette to cut vinyl for wall decoration.

      Delete
  18. I am about to attempt my first "real" quilt (I've done some rag quilts) and thought my silhouette would help me make sure my cuts are accurate so everything fits together well. Thanks for this tutorial. It will make it sooo much easier!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Glad I found your site. I am in the process of making appliqued shirts and I use the heat bond for most pieces. However, I wanted a ragged edge cross and it will not rag if you put heat bond on the back. Could have experimented, you saved me some time. By the way I am enjoying using mine to cut my pieces for machine applique.

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear your thoughts... Please share!