4 Helpful Tips for Silhouette Cameo Beginners

Taking the leap to purchase a cutting machine can be nerve racking.

I mean, just typing into Pinterest “Silhouette Cameo” brings up more pins and videos than you could ever have time to go through. How do you begin to tackle such an amazing machine? Here are a few of my favorite tips for Silhouette Cameo users.

1)This machine can do a LOT of things, but don’t try to conquer them all at once.

Chances are that you bought this machine to use with vinyl for t-shirts, cups, car decals, etc. This is definitely the best place to start. It’s not as hard as it looks…

Ok, at first glance it can seem kind of intimidating…

But don’t worry, you don’t need to learn ALL of it’s functions just yet. Here are some of the main functions to get you started:

Also, Here are a few designs to help inspire you to create with your new machine!

Car Mountain Decal

I made this mountain car decal only after a few weeks with my new silhouette. It is MASSIVE, as you can see, and boy was it a job to do! I split the design in half, a top and bottom, and did each half in about 6 feet sections. I did one solid cut of both parts so there were only two pieces to apply to the car. However, I did NOT apply it by myself. I had to enlist the help of two other people in order to get all of the parts lined up. All in all this took about two days after I made the design, but how cool is this?! This was made with Cream Oracal 651 Adhesive Vinyl.

Pineapple Beaches T-Shirt

I know what you’re going to say…where in the world did you get that pineapple vinyl?! Don’t worry, I know just the place! This is one of our prints here at Blue Water Vinyl. I fell in love as soon as I saw it and knew that I needed to use it to make my next vacation tank top. I have received so many compliments (and laughs) at this shirt that was super easy to make! Oh, and what you cannot really tell from the picture is this is Glitter HTV! Even more perfect, right?!
I also used one of the newest colors from Siser’s Easyweed collection for the word “beaches.” It’s called Passion Pink and it is one of my favorites from Siser.  This design was super easy since I used the text tool and found the perfect fonts within minutes. This is a perfect project for beginners!

Gold Glitter Mountain Tumbler

Lastly, this tumbler decal is too cute not to mention. (I have a healthy obsession with mountains, if you haven’t noticed.) For this one I used gold glitter adhesive. I love this glitter color so much! Something about it just says “I’m pretty and I know it.” This little design was actually traced from a picture I found online. It was super easy with the Silhouette tracing tool, and applying to the curved tumbler was easier than it looks.

2) The trace function will save your life!

No, really, if it doesn’t save your life, it will definitely save you time. I find so many of my design ideas from Pinterest or google images and love the fact that if I’m in a hurry and want to make a t-shirt, all I really need to do is find a picture of what I want and trace it in the Silhouette design space.
Somethings to look for when searching for the perfect design to trace are colors, angles, and clarity of the picture. The trace function is AMAZING, but if your picture is not very clear then you will have a tough time getting a solid trace. Also, if the picture is taken from an angle, be sure to make sure your image does not seem distorted like the below design.

See how the box outlining the words is not straight, and how you cannot see the beginning of the word “bound” at the bottom? This is something you want to avoid.
The colors on your image are also very important. Generally, to get a good trace you want a darker/lighter contrast between what you are wanting to trace and the background of your image. Take these initials for example. This pink is not a dark enough contrast to the white background to get a good enough trace.

Once you click on the “trace” button, you want the outline of your image to be a solid yellow like with the dark blue initials below.

This will give you a much better trace job, see!

3) Save. Your. Scraps!!

I cannot stress this point enough! I have completed so many projects using only scraps and did not have to buy any new vinyl becuase I already had everything I needed. You might have to piece together your design, but in the end it’s definitely worth it!

Here is an example of ALL scraps to complete some of my projects.  In this case, all of my projects were small enough that I could fit them all on one cutting mat! Efficient, right!? Oh, and time saving!  Save. Your. Scraps!

4) Don’t be afraid to mess up your design….There’s an Undo button!

You heard that right, that design you just deleted by mistake can be returned back to you! There’s almost an unlimited amount of times you can hit the undo button. It has saved me more times that you would think. One thing, however, that I like to do for every design I make is copy and past my entire design before I start taking it apart to move it to the cutting mat. This helps keep the undo button abuse to a minimum.
Here is an example. On the left I have my full design completed and in the size I need it cut out, and on the right is my completed design in the same size, but ungrouped. Since this design requires two different color vinyls (as seen above), the design must be ungrouped to go on the cutting mat. Having a copy of your completed design will really come in handy when you start working on projects that require upwards of 3 different kinds of vinyl. It’s a good trick to keep in mind as you play around with your new cutting machine.

Whew, that was a lot to go over! But don’t worry, the more you practice (say it with me) the easier it will be. These are just a couple helpful tricks to get you started with your new craft toy!
Don’t be afraid to jump right in to try that really neat t-shirt you found on Pinterest the other day that inspired you to buy your very own Silhouette, or to create your own masterpiece from scratch! The things you can do with vinyl is just about endless so you’ve got to start somewhere.

We sell all of the vinyl we talked about today.

They can either be found at our store front, or here on our website.

We love seeing our customer’s designs, so be sure to join our Facebook VIP group to post your latest project, or to see what everyone else is doing. We also answer machine and product questions in that group. You can find a link to the group here.
I hope these tips for starting our with your new Silhouette were helpful and inspiring! Be sure to check back in with us soon. We have a lot more to say about vinyl, that’s for sure!

– Rachel