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Getting Started with Vinyl for Electronic Cutting Machines: Vinyl Graphics Supplies, Tips & Tricks

Getting Started with Vinyl for Electronic Cutting Machines EverydaySavvy.com

Tips and Resources for Creating with Vinyl with Electronic Cutting machines

 

Crafting with different types of vinyl in my electronic cutter is one of my favorite things to do. Vinyl is so fun to work with and I have created lots of cute personalized party favors, teacher gifts, straw cups for sports, t-shirts and more. My kids and their friends love to receive their own personalized items with their name, initials or favorite characters on them. Soon you will find yourself personalizing anything with a blank spot on it!

I have used many different vinyl products and a few different cutting machines. It took me a while to figure out what products and machines work best. I am sharing my favorite tips, tricks and resources below on vinyl graphics supplies to use with your electronic cutting machine.

 

To save this information for later, press the “pin-it” button at the top of the page.

 

Adhesive Vinyl

You can buy both removable/indoor and permanent/outdoor adhesive vinyl. Temporary vinyl can be removed easier than the permanent variety and works great for walls and other items that will remain indoors. I actually prefer permanent or outdoor vinyl for things like car decals, straw tumblers, water bottles, decorating my kids’ school supplies and more. It holds up well through washing. Once your item is cut, you will need transfer tape to apply your vinyl. You can buy either paper tape or clear transfer tape. I prefer clear so I can easily see where I am placing my design. Once your design is cut, remove the negative of your design and cover the top of your design with transfer tape. Peel off the backing and apply your vinyl.

Craft stores do not sell the quality of vinyl that I like to work with. It is best to order your adhesive vinyl graphics supplies online. My favorite brand of vinyl is Oracal Vinyl made by Orofol. There are also a few other brands that work great like Greenstar, which is similar to Oracal quality. If you are in a hurry to get started, I highly recommend the outdoor vinyl variety pack in the links below. Oracal 631 is the most popular indoor or removable vinyl. Oracal 651 is the most popular permanent or outdoor vinyl. I love my 100 yard roll of 6 inch transfer tape. The clear is easy to use and it will last a long, long time. Once you invest in your transfer tape, there is no need to constantly purchase more.

 

Monogramming with Silhouette Frosted Glass Vinyl

 

Some of my favorite vinyl resources:

1. Expressions Vinyl – Oracal 631 and 651

2. MyVinylDirect.com for Affordable Vinyl by the Sheet

3. H&H Sign Supply-  Rolls of Vinyl   (Use coupon code TENOFF for 10% off your first order of $50 or more)

4. Variety Pack – 12 x 24 inch – 30 Sheets of Assorted Glossy Colors of Permanent Adhesive-Backed Vinyl for Craft Cutters  (ships free and fairly quick from Amazon)

 

Transfer Tape

1. Expressions Vinyl – Transfer Tape

2. H&H Sign Supply – Transfer Tape

 

Heat Transfer Vinyl

For t-shirts, you need something called heat transfer vinyl (HTV). HTV can be applied to shirts or other fabric either with a heat press or with a home iron and comes in many different colors, metallic and even prints. If you are using a home iron, be sure to use extremely firm pressing (not gliding) motions with your iron and make sure you have a very hard surface underneath, like smooth tile or a metal cookie sheet.  HTV comes on its own carrier sheet (like transfer tape). When cutting HTV, make sure you put the shiny side down on your mat and mirror your design, so the writing or design appears flipped or backwards. After you remove the negative part of your design, place the whole carrier sheet on top of your t-shirt or fabric and press or iron according to the product directions. It is also recommended that you place a Teflon sheet on top of your carrier sheet to help the heat to be evenly distributed on your design.

Heat Transfer Vinyl is very expensive and hard-to-find in the craft stores. Also, many brands will not last through a washing, so it’s best to order quality HTV online. My favorite brands of HTV are Siser Easyweed or Thermoflex. They are the easiest to work with and give the best results.

 

Regular HTV:

1. Expressions Vinyl – Siser HTV

2. H&H Sign Supply Siser Easyweed 5-pack, 1 foot each

3. MyVinylDirect – HTV  Vinyl by the Sheet

 

Glitter HTV:

1. Expressions Vinyl – Glitter HTV

2. H&H Sign Supply Siser Easyweed Glitter HTV by the foot

 

Teflon Sheet

1. Teflon Cover Sheet 16″X16″

 

Heat Presses

If you plan to create tons of t-shirts, personalized bags or other designs on fabric, you might consider buying a heat press. Heat presses use an exact temperature and pressure to set your HTV easily. There are several smaller machines that work for home use.

 

Heat Presses with good reviews:

1. PowerPress Industrial-Quality Digital 15 x 15-Inch T-Shirt Heat Press

2. GECKO 15×15 T-Shirt Heat Press Machine

 

Electronic Cutting Machines

 

I personally have own several Cricut machines and a Silhouette Cameo. My Silhouette Cameo is my absolute favorite crafting machine. I am able to design all of my vinyl cuts right on my computer and then easily cut them out. The Sizzix Eclips 2 is another new electronic cutting machine on the market for home use that would work great for vinyl cutting. It’s features are similar to the Silhouette Cameo and this new and improved model has gotten excellent reviews so far.

Cricut has a new Cricut Explore machine that is computer-based. Although pricier than the Silhouette, it’s worth checking out. Keep in mind that you will need internet access at all times to use this machine. I love that my Silhouette machine works without Internet Access.

 

Click to See Any of these Machines:

1. Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle Kit

2. Silhouette Portrait (smaller cutting area)

3. Sizzix eclips2 Starter Kit

4. Cricut Explore Electronic Cutting Machine

 

 

Tools for Vinyl

Tools for Crafting with Vinyl EverydaySavvy.com

If you are planning exploring vinyl cutting, you will need just a few simple tools. If you are cutting adhesive vinyl, you will need transfer tape to easily transfer your design from the carrier sheet and place your design on your item. For example, if you are cutting a name, the transfer tape keeps it straight or just as you designed it and you are able to transfer entire names, words or phrases all at once. Other tools include a hook for “weeding” out the negative vinyl around your design or those little shapes inside letters like “A and R”. I also own a great scraper or squeegee tool to help stick the vinyl to my transfer tape and to the item. After placing the transfer tape on top of my decal, I go over it with my scraper to make sure it picks up every detail of my design before I peel off the backing paper to apply it.

 

Some of my favorite tools for vinyl

1. 3M Vinyl Squeegee

2. Silhouette Hook Tool

3. Silhouette Digital Cutter TOOL PACKAGE

4. Transfer Tape

 

 

Tips for Using Machine Mats and Blades

It is best to make sure your mat still has plenty of adhesive to hold your vinyl in place to avoid sliding. Your mat should be free of paper debris so it will cut properly. Be sure to start with a new blade for vinyl for a clean cut. To prolong the life of your blade, keep a blade specifically for cutting vinyl. I mark my Silhouette blade with a metallic sharpie with a “V” for vinyl and save it to only use with my vinyl graphics supplies. I keep a blade for every type of medium that I cut whether it’s vinyl, paper, stamping material or fabric. I find that the best prices for mats and blades seem to be online.

 

Mats

1. Silhouette Cameo Replacement Cutting Mat

2. Silhouette Portrait Cutting Mat

3. Sizzix eclips Cutting Mats

4. Cricut StandardGrip Adhesive Cutting Mats

 

Blades

1. Silhouette Replacement Blade

2. Sizzix Eclips Blades

3. Cricut Replacement Blade

 

 

Machine Cut Settings for Different Types of Vinyl

Different types of vinyl require different cut settings in your machine. Below are some guidelines for cut settings, but it is always recommended to do a test cut before wasting any of your precious vinyl. Also, machines may vary, so use these settings as a starting point with your cutting machine.

 

1. Silhouette Vinyl Cut Settings

2. Silhouette Version 3 Software Cut Settings

3. Cricut Vinyl Cut Settings

 

Affordable Vinyl For Craft Cutters

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Awesome info, Heidi.. thanks!!! I keep thinking about learning how to do the vinyl thing on my own but haven’t tackled it yet! This is all the info I need in one spot! Thanks!!

    And Melissa… thanks for that tip on the Starbuck’s groupon last week! Somehow I missed seeing that if it came through Groupon emails to me, but I was able to snag one after seeing your post! Yippee!

  2. You are welcome! I love to vinyl everything, including my kids’ Sonicare toothbrushes. :)

  3. Big fan of Expressions Vinyl products. Nice selection, very comprehensive. Thanks

  4. Thank you so much for recommending Siser Easyweed and H&H Sign Supply! I had made a t-shirt using the Cricut brand iron-on material and found that it was overpriced and it didn’t adhere well to the fabric. You needed to go over it repeatedly with a hot iron for it to stay down. I’m not looking forward to washing it! When I received my order of Siser from H&H, the transfer was much quicker with less ironing. Also on your recommendation, I got a teflon sheet so I can throw away my burnt pillow case.

    • You are so welcome! I use a home iron also and it helps to put tons of pressure when pressing. I put a large piece of smooth tile inside my shirt and press as hard as I can! It also works great if you are doing HTV on both sides of your shirt and if you only want to press one side at a time.

      H&H is one of my favorite places and I shop there often. If you are facebook friends with them, they have shipping discounts every once in a while. :) They do offer that coupon for first orders though. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks for the detailed information.

  6. Thanks so much for writing this! I am brand new to the world of vinyl and will be making some Halloween themed tshirts with HTV and my Cameo soon. I’ve been scouring the internet for tutorials/information and appreciate how you’ve broken this down and made it easy to understand.

    This is probably a dumb question but are the Teflon sheets reuseable? Also, when you say you put a piece of smooth tile inside a shirt when doing HTV, do you mean like a ceramic floor tile?

  7. You are welcome! Yes, you can reuse the Teflon sheet over and over. You lay it over your carrier sheet before ironing and it helps the heat distribute evenly. Just be sure your presses with your iron are very firm and don’t move the iron side-to-side. I press with a lot of force!

    Yes, I purchased a smooth piece of 12 x 18 floor tile from Home Depot for around $2. I put it inside my shirts. It works great as a hard surface to get a firm pressing or if you are doing vinyl on both sides of your shirt, it will keep from heating the other side when you are working on side 2 of the shirt, if you know what I mean. Just be sure you find a smooth tile as many are textured to look like stone.

    If you are new and using a Cameo, just don’t forget to mirror (reverse) your design just before cutting and put the shiny side of the HTV on your mat.

  8. I enjoyed your article! I have a Silhouette Cameo also :) I am curious if you’ve tried signwarehouse.com before? I purchase my Oracal 631 vinyl there as well as my transfer tape. The vinyl is 12″X10 yards and half the price of the websites you shared in your article ($12.65 per roll vs. $23.99.)

    I’ve had great luck with them and wonderful customer service. They have over 30 colors available….just thought I’d share!

    Susan

    • I have not tried that website, although I buy the 12 inch, 10 yard in the 5 pack (5 different colors in the pack, each a 10-yard roll) at H & H and the price is comparable. It is Oracal 651, not 631. Besides walls, I use Oracal 651 on most things. The also carry GT brand vinyl which is a little bit cheaper ($10/roll) and I have heard it is comparable to 651. H & H also sometimes has shipping deals and so that helps. Thanks for the info! I’ll have to check out Sign Warehouse. :)

  9. Hi, loved your tips! Did you know that you can cut the vinyl without a cutting mat? The blade setting on the Silhouette is 1. It just cuts through the vinyl and not through the backing. Doing it this way allows you to cut much bigger sizes. I have made a tree 2meters x 1.5meters. You can cut pieces up to about 3m long. The downside is that you have to cut strips of 12″ and then piece them together like a puzzle. Pardon the measures. In South Africa we use the metric system and I’m not too familiar with inches and yards. Great website! Thanks! !! XxX

    • Yes, you can cut without a mat and there is a new vinyl roll holder if you use 12 inch rolls. Very cool feature for big cuts. I personally love cutting smaller items with my mat.

  10. I am anxiously waiting for my Silhouette Cameo to arrive from Overstock.com. I am excited to start crafting with vinyl and anything else I can get my hands on. Your information will help me with my future endeavors in the vinyl world. I look forward to many busy days of crafting. I hope to get many compliments on my treasures and look forward to surprising my family with loads of personal gifts.

  11. I got a silhouette cameo last Christmas and have been Intimidated to use it because I have no idea where to start. Your post has answered a lot of questions I had. Thank you so much!

  12. So helpful!!!! Thank you for writing this!!!

  13. I am wanting to purchase either the silhouette or the cricut. can you help me sort out which would be the best to buy and easiest to use? I am low to medium tech oriented and would like one that cuts cleanly and easy to use. i have constant wifi so that is not an issue. thank you for your blog. very excited to try all the fun things out on my grandchildren!!

    • Hi Kendra,
      I have both a Silhouette Cameo and a Cricut Expression. The Expression worked pretty well, but I did not care for the cartridges and their cost. Cricut now has a competing Cricut Explore machine, but it does not look easy-to-learn, if you want my opinion. I do like that they lowered the cost of the images. The Silhouette machines do have a bit of a learning curve, but after watching several Youtubes, I learned how to use my machine pretty easily. I basically kept watching videos until I felt I was ready to cut something. Now, I have done so much with my machine that I can’t wait to try new projects. If you are choosing between two models, definitely the Silhouette Cameo or the Cricut Explore. Both of these machines cut pretty cleanly. Just be sure that if you are cutting cardstock, that it is not too fiberous. American Crafts and Michael’s Recollections brand cut the best.

      I hope this helps. If you have more questions, let me know!

      ~Heidi, EverydaySavvy.com


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