Notes Re Cutting Fabric with Electronic Cutter

Over time I have tried many different ways to cut fabric with the Silhouette Cameo and the Brother Scan N Cut and the Sizzix eCal. The machines and technology have changed over time–for the better. This includes information that you probably already know, with the hope that this will help some who are new to the machine.

This is fairly new technology for fabric cutting although it’s been used for many years for paper. When I first got my Silhouette I used fusible backed fabric, removed the paper, and adhered the fabric with the fusible side to the mat. This resulted in fairly good cuts after some adjustments. However, I realized after awhile that the mat was getting bits of fusible and some fabric strings left behind from the fabric. After washing the mat with soap and water to remove the fusible and strings, the stickiness returned–not as good as new–but acceptable.

After that I used fusible with the paper attached and was able to get very good cuts and the mat stayed cleaner longer. My preferred fusible is Wonder Under Lite. I find that the paper is more easily removable if it has “cured” for a day after fusing to fabric.

After reading some blog posts from various writers about using fabric without fusible, I tried that and have been able to get good cuts with the fabric adhered directly to the mat. It does leave strings behind that have to be removed, whereas paper backed fusible does not. It also leaves more “blade tracks” on the mat than paper backed fusible.

Different fabrics cut differently whether they are adhered directly to the mat or with fusible and paper attached. For me, batiks and tighter weaves give the cleanest cuts. After some experience, it is easier to guesstimate any adjustments you may need to make for different fabrics.

My recent experiment with the fusible side up and no paper backing didn’t work very well.

There is a difference in mats. The Brother SNC has a fabric support sheet that can be adhered to a regular mat. It is very, very sticky, and I like to use it when it is new and stickiest with paper backed fusible, and later as the stickiness is reduced, it is good for non fusible fabric. I have used the Brother SNC fabric support sheet on the Silhouette mat too. The Brother SNC will read only Brother mats. The Silhouette will accept any mat that is the right size and some people use other mats (cut to size) in their Silhouette machine. Both machines also have 12 x 24″ mats. Silhouette mats have improved over time and I find myself not worrying about the fabric support sheet so much any more.

And I have read about other methods that are used. For example, some have used page-sized label sheets as a fabric support sheet on the silhouette mat. That didn’t work as well for me, but just as in quilting, each person finds methods that work best for them. I don’t think I would try to cut fabric without a mat as I don’t know what that would do to the machine, although I do cut vinyl without a mat. Likewise, the Terial Magic that has been discussed sounds like a good idea–I haven’t tried it, but probably will.

These are my personal experiences, and I encourage everyone to experiment and find what works best for them. I hope this sheds some light for those who are just starting and answers some questions.

Today, I am drawing a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Art and Stitch for my 3-year old grandson who loves dinosaurs–and the applique shapes will be cut with an electronic cutter. Merry Christmas to all!

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