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.
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.
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.
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.
As recommended in the software, I set my blade to depth 3.
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.
Here is the end result…
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.
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.
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!
Next up, Softfuse + Terial Magic. This actually cut very well until it got caught up in the center of the spiral.
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.
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.
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!),
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!