First of all, I love this little cutting machine. It is a great time saver, it cuts beautifully, there is so much you can do with it and it is fairly simple to use. That does not mean, however, that it did not require some trial and error on my part.
There are many users who have discovered that the Silhouette is not only a toy for scrapbooking, but that it can also cut fabric for applique, but they are a bit too intimidated to try. I therefore want to go over my experience cutting the picture on the left out of fabric. Perhaps, someone will learn from my mishaps and take that first step.
I like to draw my own designs, but there are lots of designs on the Silhouette website and I sell designs ready for cutting on my website.
So, I started by drawing some flowers and leaves and then arranged them to my liking. They were, however, all separate and would have resulted in lots of unnecessary cut lines. We’re in luck though, because the silhouette has a nice feature that can weld things together. My picture is a bit over 14″ wide and I first had to move the pieces that would not fit on my 12″ mat out of the way. I then welded all the pieces in the main part together. That can be done in the modify window, either by right clicking and choosing weld or by clicking on the weld button in the top right toolbar. I kept the extra pieces in the same file because the Silhouette will not cut any pieces that are not showing on the mat.
Once I had my design organized the way that pleased me, I was ready to cut. I did not have any Heat and Bond so I applied Lite Steam a Seam II to the back. It adhered very nicely to my chosen fabric and at first the cutting went very well. But then it reached a very narrow stem and the blade pulled up the fabric. Perhaps I had not pressed my fabric firmly enough on the mat or perhaps the stem was just too narrow. Anyway, I had to start over again. I widened the stems a bit and this time I made sure that the fabric was securely pressed to the mat. It cut without any problem, but when I tried to lift the fabric off the mat, there were other issues. Because the piece was large and limp it tangled up and some parts got stuck together. So, back to the drawing board, or rather the cutting machine. Before starting over again I first saturated the fabric with Terial Magic to stiffen it and then fused the Steam a Seam to the back. I was worried that it would not adhere properly, but it did without a problem. What I like about Steam a Seam is that you can use a really hot iron, with or without steam, as hot and as long as your fabric can take the heat. This third time everything worked great. It cut beautifully, lifted off the mat easily, and was easy to fuse to the background fabric. With the first part cut I moved it off the mat in my Silhouette software and replaced it with the extra pieces. When they were cut I only had to decide where to fuse the birds and the flowers.
I hope these steps will show some people to not be discouraged right away. If something does not work one way, you can always try something else.
I am fairly new to the Silhouette, but I have been designing digital quilting patterns for longarms for over 10 years and the designing process is not all that different. Here is one other design. I have not yet cut this one from fabric, but it cuts very nicely from vinyl. There are more designs available on my website. They all include SVG, WMF, and PDF formats. SVG files can be opened in the Silhouette as long as you have the Designer edition. The WMF (Windows Metafile) can be imported into the Art Canvas of the Bernina Designer Plus software for digitizing either as an applique or embroidery. Both of these files are vector files which means that they are fully resizable without any distortion. I would like to know if any other software can import WFM. Please leave a comment if you know. Last but not least, I have also added a black and white and a color PDF as I know that some embroidery software can import that format. If you are interested in purchasing graphic designs, please check www.quiltersniche.com/SVG-Applique/SVG-Applique-1.htm. I plan to add more designs on a regular basis.