I got a cutting machine… now what?

Every Christmas at least 5 of my friends gets a Cricut or a Silhouette as a gift and they immediately facebook message me and say “Tell me everything you know!” and I’m like “uhhhhh… I got my first silhouette 5 years ago so that’s a lot of info to just type out over messenger.” But, I get it, these machines can be super intimidating, but also they are so much fun. Here is my best beginner info!

First off, have you already bought your machine? Still trying to decide between Silhouette and Cricut? I have come to find that it is all about personal preference. Some people swear by their Cricut, some by the Cameo. Honestly, I had a Cricut back when they still took cartridges. I upgraded to the Cameo five years ago and there is no turning back for me. Cricut has come a long way, but after playing with the Cricut software and the Silhouette software, Silhouette is still a winner for me. It is so much easier to use and you have so much design freedom. So, if you ask me which machine you should get I will tell you Silhouette every single time. Here is a great price for the Cameo 4 (the newest version) on Amazon. I do not really recommend buying the big bundles with all the extras. I’ll share more resources in this post.

Next, its time to learn how this thing works! Get on facebook and join some silhouette or Cameo groups! You’ll find so much inspiration, tips, and people that can answer questions when you aren’t sure what to do. Also, hop on Youtube and search for tutorials. I found out how to do many things on there such as tracing and trouble shooting!

Vinyl is so much fun and such a good starter for your machine! I would start with permanent, adhesive vinyl and make some decals for cups and car windows. Do not buy the vinyl at the craft store, or at Wal-Mart unless you are having some type of crafting emergency. I recommend Thevinylspectrum.com to everyone I know. They are fast, have an amazing selection, and if you order before 3 pm EST they can usually ship it out that business day. They are all I use for vinyl. And they have a crafting support facebook group. Win, win, win. Go to their site, make an account and get to shopping!

What type of vinyl should you buy? It depends on what you are doing, but if you are starting with cup and car decals you will want Oracle 651. It’s permanent, outdoor vinyl. Also it’s cheap and easy to work with! Start with the solid colors first. They are the least expensive, so great for learning! But they also print their own patterned vinyl and it is super cute! Don’t forget transfer tape! I use AT65 also from the vinyl spectrum!

Heat transfer vinyl is for shirts, bags, koozies, etc. I love Siser Easyweed (pronounced Cesar, btw, I didn’t know that for like 2 years). The vinyl spectrum also has a huge selection!

Speaking of heat transfer, if you are going to make shirts for anything other than your personal use, spend the money and get a heat press. A real heat press. Not an iron or an Easypress. Heat presses are huge and take up space, but they get the job done and are worth the money. Here is a great one from amazon. This is a 15 inch x 15 inch. Trust me, you’ll regret getting the smaller 9×12 press. I did. If you are doing adult shirts, the designs are approx. 10-12 inches tall so that means you will have to press your image and then move it so you can press again. It’s a pain. Mistakes end up happening. I have had all those issues, take it from me. Also, I have had both a swing away heat press and a clam shell. I prefer the clam shell. Some things like pillows and stuffed animals are almost impossible to put in a swing arm. Again, learn from my mistakes.

Blanks could be a whole different blog post, and probably will be at some point but here’s a good starting point! Dollar Tree is amazing for coffee cups. Hobby Lobby has cute cheap shirts, if you need to go somewhere local and want to avoid shipping charges. Also, I tend to find cheap, blank, unisex kids shirts at Walmart in the little boys sections. If you want to order higher quality shirts like Bella Canvas, I use Jiffyshirts.com. You do not have to have a tax ID or a minimum order. You get free shipping after $59 and they have an incredible selection. It’s easy to get carried away on their site.

And most importantly, break that sucker out and practice! Play around. Decorate your machine, that’s a great way to practice.. (says the girl that still hasn’t gotten around to decorating hers). It can be intimidating but it is so.much.fun. and the crafting possibilities are seriously endless. Mine sat in the box for 6 months before I broke it out, because I was terrified of it, and that was kind of ridiculous. Break it out and have fun!

Are you a newbie vinyl crafter? or still on the edge… or maybe never tried it?! Tell me in the comments! And let me know what other crafting info I should post about next!

*This post contains some affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase I will recieve an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you! All opinions remain my own. *

Christmas Stocking Tags

Christmas is less than two weeks away, so naturally I am STILL working on Christmas projects… including my decor.

I am changing all of my Christmas decorations this year, and I bought these super cute buffalo plaid and fur stockings from Hobby Lobby. I don’t really want to put names on them, in case we don’t keep them forever… (check with me again if I ever learn to embroider). So I thought I’d make something to hang from the stocking holders to identify whose is whose.

I found some unfinished wood tags at Dollar General last week and knew they would be perfect! Also, here are some similar ones from Amazon that would be just as great! AND you wouldn’t have to leave your house!

I started with staining the tags. I did this last night so I could let them dry over night.

Today I cut our names out with white HTV. (I’m obsessed with putting HTV on wood these days.) I pressed at 250 degrees for 10 seconds. Make sure to put something like a towel between the heat press and your tag so you don’t get stain on your machine. The font I used is called Shania.

Once these were done I used a 9 inch piece of twine and attached it to the tag.

I love the way they look hanging on the mantle!