Product Review: Silhouette Cameo

I splurged and purchased the Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit Bundle Cutter on Amazon as a birthday present for myself almost six months ago. I had been inspired by a friend at work who made the most amazing 3-D birthday cards for everyone in the office with her Cameo and she had wonderful things to say about the versatility of this machine.

The kit from Amazon came with the Silhouette Cameo, Silhouette Studio software, power and USB cables, 2 cutting mats, 2 cutting blades, a metallic pen set, 51 designs, a $10 gift card for the Silhouette Online Store to purchase more shapes, and a tool to help lift designs from the cutting mat. If you are a bargain hunter you may like to know that it was about $30 cheaper to purchase through Amazon than Silhouette America and you got more items.

There are a variety of electronic die cut machines available for home use. They range in price anywhere from $100-$450. The Cameo is priced in the middle of that range. It works much like it's competitors from Cricut and Sizzix, in that you simply place the material you want to cut onto the adhesive cutting mat, feed it into the machine, and like magic, your design is cut. The Cameo can cut everything from paper and fabric to, thin vinyl, stickers, heat transfer material and card stock. I have even used mine to cut things as thick as cereal boxes.

The Cameo works with your computer. It comes with Silhouette Studio software.  You use the software to create your own cutting designs. If you prefer, you can also purchase designs at the Silhouette Online Store. You will, however, still need to use Silhouette Studio to size and format your project. Once your design is complete and ready to be cut, you can either plug your computer directly into the Cameo or save your design to an SD card that can be opened on the Cameo. Learning the Silhouette Studio software takes a little time. To me, that's time well spent since unlike other die cut machines there are no design cartridges to store. Everything is on your computer. Also, you can use the software to create designs using any true type font that is installed on your computer.

After six months of use on a variety of projects and materials, here is my overall impression of the Silhouette Cameo:

Pros

  • You don't have to buy different fonts for projects.
  • It's easy to resize and customize your designs with the Silhouette Studio software.
  • There are no cartridges to store.
  • You can cut a variety of materials.
  • Silhouette offers a variety of interesting materials for cutting.
  • When you cut things like vinyl, contact paper or stickers, you can adjust the cut settings so that only the adhesive part is cut and not the paper backing.
  • It's easy to adjust the blade depth.
  • Individual shapes and designs are inexpensive to purchase, usually $0.99 or less.
  • The Silhouette Online Store offers a free downloadable shape every week. Also, when they are running sales they offer a free shape every day.
  • Cutting mats last a long time. I haven't replaced my original one in six months and I have done a lot of cutting.
  • Materials with a backing, such as vinyl or heat transfer material, can be cut without the mat.
  • Replacement blades and mats are priced similar to other die cutting machines on the market.
  • The Silhouette Blog has a lot of great project ideas and tips.

Cons

  • It takes some time and some basic computer skills to learn all the features of the Silhouette Studio software.
  • The Silhouette Studio software has pre-set cut settings for all Silhouette products and some other basic materials such as cardstock, paper and fabric. You still may need to figure out the settings for some products you decide to cut. Happily, Silhouette continues to add settings for different materials when the software updates.
  • The cut settings (blade depth, speed, thickness) listed in the user's manual are very general, so there's a little trial and error when you cut a new material.
  • Replacement parts like blades and cutting mats can be difficult to find locally. As I said, my initial purchase was online.  However, I recently noticed that our local Michael's is carrying some Silhouette items.

What I've Learned About My Cameo

  • Occasionally, the Cameo misses spots when you cut directly from your computer. This can be remedied by saving your design on an SD card.
  • The print and cut feature is amazing! I use it to print tags for my Etsy products with my logo and whatever words I choose. After printing my design on cardstock with my home printer, I use my Cameo to cut tags so my text is perfectly placed.
  • Since it takes a little practice to find the proper cut settings for each material, I keep a notepad by my Silhouette to jot down the settings that work best for materials I cut frequently.
  • Materials like vinyl and heat transfers can be cut without a mat, however large pieces tend to slip unless they are well supported on a table.
  • Silhouette cutting mats are VERY sticky for the first couple uses. So much that you should avoid cutting extremely delicate materials with a new mat. The Cameo will cut them perfectly, but it's difficult to lift the shapes off of the mat without tearing them. 
  • You can extend the life of your cutting mat by washing it very gently in warm (NOT HOT) water and letting it air dry. This process removes all the tiny bits of  fabric and paper debris left from  cutting to expose the sticky part of the mat.

So far I have made personalized t-shirts, decoupage key hooks, burlap shopping bags with funny stenciled sayings, snowflake window clings, etched candle holders, stickers, product tags, gift bags, gift tags, vinyl wall words, business card holders, bulletin boards, pop-up birthday cards and more. Here's a peek at just a few of the projects I have made using my Cameo.

 
 
 
 

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Fun Find Friday - Baseball Moms

'PLAY BALL' by ItseeBitsee

Who knew?.....That there were so many baseball related items?

St Louis Cardinals  baseball typography graphic word art on canvas 10 x 20 by stephen fowler - geministudio
St Louis Cardinals bas...
$90
Burlap Baseball Love Wreath - 1BabyToes1
Burlap Baseball Love Wr...
$48
Personalized baseball cuff - MSCjewelry
Personalized baseball c...
$25
Miniature Baseball Stud Earrings - Ball Park Ear Gear - dirtroadsouth
Miniature Baseball Stud...
$4
Chainsaw Carved Baseball Bear - carvnstitch
Chainsaw Carved Basebal...
$300
Baseball Bracelets / Miranda's Original Baseball Bracelets On Sale for one week only due to All Stars - MirandaBateson
Baseball Bracelets / Mi...
$7
Baseball Bat Peg Hat Racks - calchicbyjacquiek
Baseball Bat Peg Hat Ra...
$100
Vintage Baseballs Little Slugger and Ball 8x10 print ,Decorating Ideas, Wall Decor, Wall Art,  Kids Room, Nursery Ideas, Gift Ideas, - shawnstpeter
Vintage Baseballs Littl...
$20
Baseball Bling Flip Flops - BlingBlingbyCyndi
Baseball Bling Flip Flo...
$33
Duct Tape Baseball Cap, 100 Percent Duct Tape, Gray Two Tone - MalleableGifts
Duct Tape Baseball Cap,...
$24
Baseball Lariat Necklace with Rhinestones, Heart and Number, handmade jewelry, pendant - MelissaMarieRussell
Baseball Lariat Necklac...
$27.5
Baseball Mom Silver Hologram Sequins Embroidered Patch - Iron on Rhinestone Transfer Hot Fix Bling Sports - DIY - RhinestonePalace
Baseball Mom Silver Hol...
$11.99
Vintage Baseball cards, Helmar Imperial number 1 Dale Alexander - BeadingNCollections
Vintage Baseball cards,...
$24
Vintage Leather JC Higgins Catchers Mitt Baseball Glove - Vintage05
Vintage Leather JC Higg...
$38
Vintage book purse Baseball's Zaniest Stars - Retro VLV Fun - PocketbookPurses
Vintage book purse Base...
$24.95
Sports Baseball Wall Decal - Boys Room Decor - Children Decor - Vinyl Wall Art - Vinyl Lettering -  28x16 MEDIUM - CadyDesignz
Sports Baseball Wall De...
$22.95

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Die Cut Heat Transfer Team Mom T-Shirts

I love requests for custom items. One of my friends recently asked for personalized t-shirts supporting her sons' baseball teams. I figured it would be a great project to make with my Silhouette Cameo and some heat transfer material. You can easily customize this project to show support for your favorite team.

I bought my Cameo back in November and fell in love. If you are not familiar with this amazing tool, it is an electronic die cutting machine, similar to the Cricut. So far I have used it to make vinyl words for my studio, snowflake window stickers, paper stencils for painting on fabric, pop-up birthday cards, vinyl stencils for glass etching, borders and lettering for bulletin boards and more. Recently I used my Cameo to cut heat transfer material for t-shirts and was impressed by the results.

Materials


Directions


One of the great things about the Cameo is it will cut out words in any font that is installed on your computer. You can also download graphics from the Silhouette Online Store for $0.99 or less or create your own. For this project, the baseball was a free images that came with the Silhouette Studio software. I just typed the words and selected the size and font I wanted. Easy.


First, create your design with the Silhouette Studio software and cut a template out of paper to double check the size and layout before cutting any of the heat transfer material.








I was happy I took the time to cut the design out of paper because I noticed the wording wasn't quite lined up evenly. I was able to fix it before cutting the heat transfer material.







Also, before cutting the heat transfer material, make sure that your design is mirrored so it looks backward on your computer screen.

Once everything is sized correctly, load the heat transfer material into the Cameo and cut it out. I used white, but it is available in other colors. After it's cut, peel away the material you don't want on your shirt leaving just your design on the plastic backing.






Cut away the excess plastic backing.









Arrange the pieces of your design on the t-shirt. Place a thin cloth over the design and iron for 45-60 seconds using pressure and high heat.

Remove the cloth and peel away the plastic backing.






I was impressed by how simple it was to make a crisp, professional looking design with the Silhouette heat transfer material and I look forward to using it again.



Good luck to the Marlins and Bats! I hope you have a great season.

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Fancy Upcycled Paper Gift Bow

If you are looking for a gift bow that is simple and super quick to make, check out my last Nifty & Swifty project. If you have just a little more time and want to make a bow that's even fancier, then give this one a try. It's a spectacular way to top a special gift.

Like the Nifty & Swifty version, you can use just about any kind of paper for this project. Try newspaper, comic books, magazines, used childrens books, or scrapbook paper. Check out my Facebook page to see the bow I made from a Disneyland map. The overall process to create this fancy bow is similar to the Nifty & Swifty version except the strips of paper are narrower and there are more layers.

Materials


  • paper cutter
  • double sided tape or a Tombow Adhesive Dispenser
  • 7 1/2 x 8 inch piece of paper

Directions



Start with your piece of paper. I used a pretty page out of a magazine.









Cut the paper into the following size strips:
          3 - 7 1/2 x 1/2 inches
          3 - 7 1/4 x 1/2 inches
          3 - 7 x 1/2 inches
          3 - 6 3/4 x 1/2 inches
          3 - 6 1/2 x 1/2 inches
          1 - 3 x 1/2 inches


Start with the 7 1/2 inch strips.

Arrange them, face down into an asterisk shape.  You can secure the strips together at the center with double sided tape, but I found using my Tombow Permanent Adhesive Dispenser was quick and easy.





Place a little adhesive at the center of the asterisk, curl in one of the strips to the center and stick it down.








Here's a closer look.

Do the same for the remaining five strips.







You just created the bottom level of the bow.

Repeat these steps with each set of three strips that are the same length.







You will have five layers to your bow.









Secure the 7 1/4 inch layer into the 7 1/2 inch layer.









Next, secure the 7 inch layer in the center of the bow.









Then the 6 3/4 inch layer.









Finally, the 6 1/2 inch layer.









Loop the 3 inch strip around your finger and secure the ends.









Secure the loop at the center of the bow. You can attach your bow to a package with your Tombow or some double sided tape.







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