February 2011
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So-so Silhouette


I made this cute t-shirt and “experiment” book for my son’s friend, Victoria, who is a fan of the “Franny K. Stein” mad scientiest books. The book is full of easy science experiments collected from different websites and assembled in a great free download at A Lemon Squeezy Home, so all I had to do was print the pages and stick them in an inexpensive photo album.  The t-shirt is painted using freezer paper stencils I created with  my new Silhouette digital cutter.

Confession: I might be the only person in the crafting world who does not love the Silhouette. I WANT to love it, but so far, I don’t.

When I first started seeing them pop up on all the craft blogs last year, I was intrigued, and entered probably dozens of giveaways without luck. I then hinted a bit to my husband, and he and my in-laws generously purchased one for me for Christmas. Now, I admit I have not used it a ton, but that is part of the problem. I feel like it is not holding up well despite the limited use it’s getting.

Within a few days of trying it out, I was finding that paper I was trying to cut was sliding around the sticky mats, resulting in it coming out of the machine totally mangled. When I tried to cut a page full of intricate snowflake designs, it didn’t cut all the way through. Very frustrating. I contacted customer support and was sent a new blade and a new mat. The new blade seems to be helping, but I do think that the mats shouldn’t lose their adhesive properties after less than half a dozen passes through the machine. I’ve read some suggestions about cleaning the mats and spraying them with repositionable adhesive, so I may give that a try.

I do like that you don’t have to buy expensive cartridges like you would with a die cut machine (which I’ve never used) and can pay 99 cents to download designs. You also can use your own designs and images, though there is not much in the way of detailed descriptions on how to do that. By trial and error, I think I’ve figured out how to take a shape, from say Photoshop, get it into the Silhouette software and cut it out. There is a “print and cut” feature that allows you to print something on a separate printer and then cut it out using the Silhouette. Again, not much in the user manual on how to do this, but I finally figured out that you have to make sure none of the image you’re bringing in covers up the registration marks on the Silhouette software screen (even if it’s the “white” background).

I haven’t tried cutting vinyl yet, but in addition to a few paper projects, I have used the Silhouette to cut freezer paper stencils. After the machine mangled my first attempt, I figured out that it works better to put the freezer paper shiny side UP. Overall, I WAS impressed that I could cut out such a detailed design, which I never would have attempted by hand. What I didn’t really realize was that I would have to pick out all those tiny little details and iron them to the shirt, but that wasn’t the Silhouette’s fault.

7 comments to So-so Silhouette

  • Good to know it isn’t universally loved – makes me slightly less envious of owning one =)

  • Holly

    I would be even more upset had they paid full price, but thankfully they didn’t. Still, I expected more given how much raving there has been.

  • This looks great! I really love what you did with it! Thanks for sharing with me and for linking:).

  • I totally agree, I’m having a PITA with all the peeling and mangling. I’ve only tried 5 or 6 images, but only the first one came out cleanly, all the others have been complete wastes.
    plus you have had a way better customer service experience than I, they’re just telling me that I need to clean it. (really, after every use? with plain scrapbook paper?)

  • marsha

    i’ve been looking at diy and craft blog sites and followed a link to your site. the things you’ve made are great! i will be following along and looking back to see what you’ve made.

  • Barbara

    Holly, I’m glad you got to finish your project, and it turned out so perfectly! We do get great service from Silhouette, and I love mine. With more practice I am confident you’ll love yours, too. I make my own print & cuts all the time from designs I already have. I am going to go have a look at the downloadable book to see if it would be appropriate for a 6 years old grandson; he loves math and science.

    When some of the stickiness wears off, I found that cutting works much better, and with much less hard-duty work in weeding. I am using not only my original mats, but I make my own with $3.49 template plastic from JoAnn fabrics (in the quilting department, and you cut it in half to get two mats!) and Krylon Easy-Tack spray. I cut every day and have no problems with mine at all. Stick those new mats on some t-shirts or towels to get rid of some of the heavy duty stickiness. I also put a book on either side of the machine that are just a tiny bit shorter than the machine bed, and everything stays more level, and I think that helps, too. My cuts practically fall off the mats now and no paper gets mangled. Vinyl is incredible – I think I’ve become the glass etching queen with stencils I’ve cut from it. Guess what all my birthday/Christmas gifts are going to be!

    Have fun, and thanks for sharing this lovely project!

  • VALE711

    I absolutely love this!!! I do not have the equipment nor skill to do this. Is it possible you would mail be the stencil for a small fee? I can buy the shirt and place it on there…just can’t manage the stencil part 😉 I want to have it for Halloween!

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