How to get the Best Fabric Cut from your Silhouette Cameo

Before Christmas I was working on a quilt that had lots of tiny applique pieces that needed to be cut. I did what has been working very successful for quite a while – Lite Heat N Bond on the back of my applique fabric, leave the backing paper on, put it on the Silhouette Cameo cutting mat and cut. The pieces were pretty close together but I’d cut bigger pieces that were close together. After a few seconds of cutting, instead of having some beautifully cut applique shapes, I had a mass of frayed fabric wrapped around the blade. Not good at all.

I decided to do some testing to find a formula for achieving great cuts all the time, especially when cutting intricate shapes that can have a tendency to get messed up. The spiral below was my test subject – it’s 3″ wide and by the time you get into the center, it’s getting to be quite intricate.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo

 

I decided to try 2 different types of fusible webbing:

  • Lite Heat N Bond (which has been giving me great cuts for bigger shapes) 
  • Shades Softfuse (which has not been cutting well at all).

For each type of fusible webbing, I had 3 different fabric treatments :

  • Plain fabric as it comes off the bolt.
  • Fabric treated with Best Press.
  • Fabric treated with Terial Magic.

 

Terial Magic vs. Best Press

I cut 6 squares of fabric, each 4″ x 4″.

I then prepared the fabric: on the left plain fabric, in the middle fabric + Terial Magic and on the right fabric + Best Press. For both Terial Magic and Best Press, I applied a light spray to the fabric, I didn’t soak the fabric.

The top row then had a 4″x4″ square of Lite Heat N Bond applied to it.

The bottom row had a 4″ x 4″ square of Shades Softfuse applied to it.

The Fabric Cutting Test

 

In the Silhouette Studio software, I laid out my 6 spirals, giving each one a different line color so that I could cut them one at a time.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo

 

As recommended in the software, I set my blade to depth 3.

Silhouette Cameo Blade

 

As a side note, I have taken to writing the date on my blades – as well as what I am using it to cut. Did you know that the only difference between the black and blue Silhouette Cameo blades is the color of the casing? There isn’t any difference in the actual cutting blade.

Silhouette Cameo Blade

 

Here is the end result…

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo

 

Let’s take a closer look!

The first cut was the square with Lite Heat N Bond on the back that had been treated with Terial Magic. As you can see… beautifully clean all the way into the center of the spiral and out again.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #1

 

The second cut was the square with Lite Heat N Bond on the back that had been treated with Best Press. This actually did quite well with the exception of right in the center of the spiral.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #2

 

The third cut was the square with Lite Heat N Bond on the back and no fabric treatment. The cut started out very well, but it was a good job I was standing watching the cutting as everything got tangled around the blade in the center of the spiral, so I cancelled the cut before the mess got irretrievably bad!

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #3

 

Next up, Softfuse + Terial Magic. This actually cut very well until it got caught up in the center of the spiral.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #4

 

Softfuse plus Best Press did not fare very well at all. Sorry about the blurry photo, but I think you can still see that the blade was not cutting cleanly through the fabric.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #5

 

Softfuse by itself did not go well at all, not even making it into the center of the spiral before I cancelled the cut as the square was lifting off the cutting mat.

Cutting a Spiral with the Silhouette Cameo #6

 

So here are my conclusions:

  • Lite Heat N Bond gives by far the best cuts.
    • For larger shapes, no fabric treatment is necessary.
    • For tiny shapes and sharp turns (as in the center of the spiral), apply a light mist of Terial Magic to the fabric before applying the Lite Heat N Bond. The thing to beware of is that your fabric may well end up stiff as a board!
    • If you don’t want your fabric to end up stiff as a board but you need a bit of something to help create a super clean cut, use a light mist of Best Press.
  • Shades Softfuse needs to be used with fabric that has been treated with Terial Magic if a clean cut is going to be attained. Keep to bigger shapes with no sharp corners.

I hope this helps you to create some great fabric cuts with your Silhouette Cameo! You can try it out with these design collections:

Happy stitching (or should I say cutting!),

Sarah Vedeler Designs

 

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering about the quilt with all the tiny applique pieces in it, check out the May/June 2015 edition of McCall’s Quilting!

P.P.S. An update… Check out the quilt with the tiny applique pieces by clicking here!

19 Comments

  1. Could we please pictures of these results????

  2. Nelda Himmelman

    are there any pictures of the spiral cuts? It would be nice to see the pictures of these results. Nelda

  3. Vickie M Higginbotham

    I am so excited about your Blog concerning the Cameo. I have a dumb question. How do I follow your blog? I don’t see a box where I can sign up to receive you blog updates to my email?

    • Hi Vickie,
      You’re already on my email list and I sent out an email when I post a new blog so that’s the best way!

      • Sarah,
        Thanks for your post. In your first attempt you said you left the paper backing on on placed it on the cutting mat. Did you leave the backing on in your other attemptsvwhen you use the startch? Have trouble with the fabric fraying and the fusible( lite steam2steam ) sticking to the mat.

        • Hi Evalyne,
          I always leave the backing paper on. Not sure that I would use Steam A Seam with the Cameo – it’s not sticky enough to hold the fabric together, so that’s probably why your fabric is fraying.

  4. Hello! I am teaching the Stitch Connection’s “Stitcher’s Garden” for the Quilter’s Ranch in Tempe.
    I own and teach the BERNINA Cutwork Tool in my class, but some of my students own other brands. So, my boss asked me to learn and use the Silhouette in class so that they may “Try before they Buy”.
    Unfortunately, the instructions call for Wonder Under instead of Heat n Bond. The main reason I can think of is we are appliqueing to quilt blocks that we pre-quilt.
    Do you think if I have my students Terial Magic their fabric first, then use the Wonder Under that we might have problems?
    Yikes!

    • I would use Heat N Bond anyway. You will get much better – and more predictable – results. Wonder Under is a fusible webbing but I have no experience using it with the Silhouette Cameo. I don’t know of any reason why changing the brand of fusible webbing would make a difference to your project, but it does make a difference to the cutting machine! Hope this helps. Sarah 🙂

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  7. What about regular Heat and Bond? I know it is gummy to the needle, but clean cuts would be nice. I have a Cricut and have the same problems.

  8. Diane J Brienza

    All the comments I have read are very helpful. I am just getting started using my Cameo. I have seen the results of using the products you have recommended by other instructors and fully agree with you as do they. Use what works well is my thinking.

  9. Just got a Cameo and haven’t used it yet.. Still reading up on everything.. I am wanting to cut flower petals , some small some large.. I make flowers now by using the brass heating tools and to get the petals to form, I use Freeze 24 Hair spray on the fabric and dry it with hair dryer.. My question is I am wondering if anyone has ever stiffened fabric this way before putting in the machine?

    • I haven’t heard of using hairspray. Terial Magic would be my choice if I want to make the fabric stiffer. A gentle mist and then press – don’t follow the instructions on the bottle!

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