You need a Secret Weapon:
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.
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!
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:
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!
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.
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.
Now, load the mat into the 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.
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!
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!