How to Foil Adhesive Vinyl

Wait, what??? ... Foil works with vinyl, too! ... Who knew?? I wrote my first article on laser foil back in 1993 and I couldn’t be happier to see the shiny stuff making such a strong comeback. Since a lot of you don’t have laser printers, but you do have diecutters, I want to let you know of yet another method you can use for foiling. Foil sticks to the plastic in adhesive vinyl (gloss finish works best), just like it does to toner, so have at it!

IMPORTANT: Please use caution when using parchment or copy paper instead of the folders. If the combined stack is not large enough or stiff enough it can wrap around the rollers and possibly damage your machine.

May 28, 2015 at 3:22 pm 55 comments

Foolproof Print and Cut with a Silhouette

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 8.29.37 PM

Print and cut on the Silhouette is one of the great joys of life, and if you have a Silhouette and are not enjoying this you are missing out! The idea is remarkably simple: the 3 marks and your images inside them have to be printed at exactly the same size and position as the Silhouette’s eye expects, or your cuts will not match the prints.

In practice, though, there are a whole lot of things we can do to unintentionally foul this up (mostly things that the software should catch but don”t get me started on that), so I’ve attempted to put together a fool proof sequence. Once you learn the basic principle (that the paper has to match the screen exactly) then you will be able to loosen up, but I want you to experience success, so I have included everything I can possibly think of that could trip us up.

I highly recommend that you use plain white card stock while you are learning (or if you are having problems) to rule out paper color/surface finish as the issue (makes it hard for the optical eye to find or read the marks accurately). Also, while 3rd party mats usually work fine, it is best to learn print and cut using a Silhouette brand mat, so as to not introduce another possible source of error. Once you’ve got the process down, there are workarounds for colored/specialty stock and you can feel free to use a different brand mat.

The order of these steps is very important, and what I think has been missing in the instructions coming out of Silhouette America, so step through them sequentially. V2 screen shots have a teal border, V3 screen shots (included only when different) have a white border.

-From a new document in Silhouette Studio Open the Page panel and select your Cutting Mat. In V3 also check Show Print Border and Show Cut Border.

pnc1 pncv3a

-Set your Page Size and Orientation in your Printer’s settings
on a Mac: File>Page Setup select your printer, paper size and orientation and verify it is set to 100%

on a PC: File>Print, select Printer, then Click Preferences, set Page Size and Orientation, then OK, then Apply, then x out. (may differ slightly depending on your printer)


-On the Page panel in Silhouette Studio V2 click Use Printer Setting. In V3 select “Current Printer” from the pulldown menu. You should see the virtual paper on your screen change to match the settings you chose.

pnc3 pncv3b

-On the Registration Marks panel for V2 click Show Registration Marks, and select Auto from the Reg Mark Format box. In V3, select the appropriate style of marks for your machine from the pulldown.
Make sure you have the correct marks for your machine (a square and 2 L shapes for Cameo or Portrait). Click Restore Defaults as it is best to use default positions while you are learning or return to them if you have problems (Especially important in V3).

pnc4 pncv3c

-Prepare your design. I highly recommend you start with a print and cut file from the Silhouette store because all you have to do is place it on the mat. You should have some in your library already. Preparing other types of files is covered thoroughly in other tutorials but basically for a “tag” style (text inside shape), type your text and fill it with a color using the Paint Bucket button (very important), draw tag shape and position, set the tag shape to Cut Edge. Or for a “fussy cut,” Trace Outer Edge to create the cut line. See this video for a detailed tutorial on tracing for print and cut.


-Duplicate and/or position your design(s) on the page verifying that printing does not encroach on the crosshatched area and that the cuts do not extend past red cut margins.
 SS Page Zonespncv3d pncv3i

-Do a print preview to verify that the planned print looks correct.
On a Mac, File>Print>PDF>Open PDF in Preview

Windows users: install a PDF print driver such as Bullzip or PDF Creator if you do not already have a print preview option available.


-Carefully inspect the preview image to check that all 3 registration marks are displaying fully and that all lines and objects you want are visible and complete. Verify that cut lines are not printing.


To correct shapes that are missing either fill them with color (Paint Bucket Button) or check “Print Lines of Selected Shapes” on the Line Styles (button with Black Horizontal lines) panel.


-Do a “cut preview” by opening the Cut Styes panel. Shapes set to be cut will be highlighted by thick red outlines. (If using Advanced settings in V3, thick outlines may be other colors besides red)
Activate/inactivate cut lines as necessary by selecting shapes and clicking the buttons on the right.

pnc7 pnc3e

-Select File>Print and choose print settings to ensure 100% size (not fit to page, etc) and those appropriate for your paper type. Details will vary depending on your printer, driver and operating system. Representative Mac and Windows 7 screens shots follow respectively.



-Load paper into your printer and print.

Important: This is the point of no return. After printing you can not move any objects or change any settings that effect the margins or the mat without jeopardizing your print and cut accuracy. Consider your design frozen and change only settings in the Silhouette Cut Settings panel from here on out. If you need to make other changes you should plan to reprint your file.

-Open the Cut Settings window and set/verify settings appropriate for your media.

pnc8 pncv3f

-Place the print on your mat according to the image on your screen and be sure it is attached firmly.

-Compare the mat/printout in your hands to the image on your screen Did the registration marks print completely? Are the page, design and objects in the proper orientation and relative positions? (Crosshatches and margin lines will not print.)

IMG_3882    pnc9

-Set the physical blade depth according to your material and verify that the rollers on your machine are in the proper position as shown on the screen.

-Verify that Load Cutting Mat(Cameo) or Load w/Carrier(SD) is selected on the machine’s LCD


-Align the mat with the shorter leftmost line on the base of the machine and load the mat (on Portrait use Load Mat button).


-Leave the lid of your machine open and ensure adequate ambient lighting.

-Press the Cut button on the Silhouette Cut Settings panel or click the Send to Silhouette Button.

pnc8-1 pncv3g

if prompted, click to Skip Printing, Continue and Detect Automatically (V2 only).

-If automatic detection fails, try manual detection, following the instructions on your screen.

-Review your results. This should be when the rush of happiness occurs, but if not, don’t give up!

Slight misregistrations are normal and can be hidden with design tricks like printing a bleed area the same color as the outer edge of your design or cutting slightly inside the design. I used this technique on the angel below and cut just inside the black outline.


If your cuts are less than a few mm off, try calibrating your machine according to the instructions in the Users Manual under the Help menu.
If your cuts are 1/4 inch off or more, or get worse as you go down the page, go back though the steps above and/or through the SA Troubleshooting steps.

For really great print and cut tutorials and projects visit Under a Cherry Tree.

May 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm 12 comments

Distress kit for Silhouette Studio

Easily add a fully adjustable distress effect to your Silhouette files! I get lots of questions about how to get the grunge or distressed look in Silhouette Studio and I think I finally have a good solution for you! Download my new free distress kit file here and watch the video below to learn how to use it to easily add a fully adjustable level of distress to your cut files. For those of you who like written instructions, here are the general steps.

-Open the file. -File>Merge to add your image to the distress kit document. (Instructions assume a black image.)

-Size your image to the desired size.

-Place either of the distress overlays (bounded in pink) on top (right click and Bring to Front or, if using V3DE, open the layers panel and drag your image layer to the top of the list) of your image and size to fit. Note: The overlay on the bottom is lower density and seamless.

-Adjust the scale, angle and position of the overlay using the Pattern Fill>Advanced settings. Multiple overlays can be overlapped for different effects.

-When your image looks satisfactory, click the Trace button and select Trace Area, being careful to avoid the overlay’s pink boundary.

-Uncheck the High Pass box and click Trace.

-Separate pieces and copy your newly distressed shape to a new document for cutting.

April 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm 40 comments

Class of 2015 free SVG

Time for posting the 2015 edition of my “class of” SVG and .studio files. Hope you enjoy the file and congrats to all your graduates!


Click here to download in SVG format

Click here to download in .studio format

Terms: Free for personal and commercial use. Just don’t sell the file in digital form. Please share the link to this post, rather than the file itself. Thank you!

2011 is here

2012 is here

2013 is here

2014 is here

April 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm 33 comments

Updated Cheat Sheet: File Formats in Silhouette Studio

Finally updated my Silh Studio File Formats Cheat Sheet for V3. Click here for a printable PDF.


The changes from version 2: Macs lost the ability to open .ai files, Mac basic users lost the abililty to open .pdf files. Win DE users gained the ability to open PDFs, and all DE users can take full advantage of vector PDFs as of version 3.3. BE added new vector options.

I’ve also prepared a new chart just to help you understand how to handle a PDF depending on its content and what version of Silhouette Studio you have.

PDFs in SS

To determine if a PDF has vector or bitmap content, zoom in to at least 800% and if the lines are still crisp, it is a vector. If the lines are blurry or pixellated, it is a bitmap. If you need help understanding the difference between vectors and bitmaps in general, this video should help.


February 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm 26 comments

Print and cut rebus valentine


The theme for this month’s Silhouette Challenge was right in my wheelhouse…print and cut. It was hard to pick a project because almost everything I do is print and cut, so I decided to go with a valentine card I was going to be making anyway. This card has all my favorite elements … nerdy wordplay, a robot, matching patterns from Lettering Delights and a wobbly character. The rectangular layers are print and cut, with the robot print and cut with an offset and rising off the page with an Action Wobble. Hard to beat for a quick, easy and fun Valentines card.
Tip: Blank out the center of obscured layers to save ink.


Here’s where to find the images I used in this card

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Print and Cut Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing p&c projects on our blogs today, so have a look-see below for a ton of inspiration, and don’t forget we all appreciate some comment love!

Print and Cut Rebus Valentine Tigger Printable Heat Transfer T-Shirt Love You Valentine’s Jar {tutorial} + Print & Cut Blog Hop Valentine BINGO with {FREE} Printable and Cut File DIY Conversation Hearts Temporary Tattoos {Heart} Dance! Custom Birthday Party Invitations using Silhouette's Print and Cut Milk & Cookies Valentine's Treat Print & Cut Valentine's Day Banner Old wooden box Love Print and Cut Fabric Labels Be Mine Banner Love is all you need - Print & Cut Valentine Journal Cards Free Printable: Snickers Valentine Tag Labor & Delivery Nurse Thank You Bags Valentine Robot Shirt with Print and Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl Print and Cut Fish Valentines 3D Print and Cut Magnets (And Tons More Silhouette Print and Cut Ideas) Baby Month Stickers with a FREE cut file Super Easy Print and Cut Journal Card Valentines Simple Silhouette Valentine Card Valentine Hugs and Kisses Canning Jar Craft Frozen Inspired Tattoos Be My Valentine Mini Album Print and Cut Valentine Pudding Cup Wrappers - February Silhouette Challenge Print & Cut Birthday Invitations

1. Clever Someday // 2. TitiCrafty // 3. // 4. My Paper Craze // 5. Simply Kelly Designs // 6. Little Blue’s Room // 7. Mama Sonshine // 8. Small Stuff Counts // 9. Dragonfly & Lily Pads // 10. GiveMeAPaintbrush // 11. Please Excuse My Craftermath… // 12. Barb’s Life // 13. GetSilvered // 14. Lil’ Mrs. Tori // 15. Minted Strawberry // 16. unOriginal Mom // 17. Where The Smiles Have Been // 18. Persia Lou // 19. Silhouette School // 20. From Whine to Whine // 21. DailyDwelling // 22. Creative Ramblings // 23. Paper Garden Projects // 24. It Happens in a Blink // 25. Perfectly Fabulous // 26. Adventures in All Things Food // 27. Create & Babble

February 9, 2015 at 10:00 am 17 comments

A new free font for stand up lettering

Several years ago, the gift packaging project pictured below was posted on Martha Stewart’s site.


It’s no longer there, but it continues to live on via Pinterest and gets circulated in the various craft groups every so often. When it first appeared, I started working on a font to make it easy to create these stand up letters with a digital diecutter. Soon, however, new features like the eraser tool were added to our diecutting software that made a specialty font unnecessary. But now that Cricut Design Space has hit the scene, I’m dusting off some old resources that can be really useful given its limited feature set. And this one is a time saver no matter which software you use.

So meet the font that I’m calling Top College (because it is a college style slab serif with its bottom missing)…

Download Top College here (If you like it, I’d appreciate a pin, a tweet or a mention in your favorite diecutting group)

To use Top College in your diecutting software, simply type. All of the letters are upper case, but when you use upper case on your keyboard, you get letters with score marks and when you use lower case on your keyboard the letters will appear without score marks. This way you can decide which works best for your project. To use, simply type. If you want the letters to stand up from the top of a downward folded card, be sure to position the base of the text so that it rests on the vertical center line of your card as shown here.


I should mention that this font has very thin lines that will seem to disappear in pull down menus, so you may have to locate it by typing into the search box instead of scrolling.



And because no one likes single layer text (and Top College font can’t be offset properly), I designed it to work as a background/mat/shadow for a thinner font called CollegiateInsideFLF. The companion font is widely available online but I’m including it in the download package for your convenience. Be sure to type in all caps when using CollegiateInsideFLF. You will have to isolate letters and use the arrow keys to correct the spacing in Cricut Design Space, but it will line up perfectly in other programs as long as the font size and character spacing settings are the same as the Top College layer.

Here are some samples I put together to show you how Top College works with and without CollegiateInsideFLF. At the back is the corner of what I envision as a placemat, with the stand up portion used as the shadow for the blue letters cut from the companion font. In front is a ribbon that I split and inserted the strip of cut letters through. (This allows you to have a ribbon that is longer than your paper.) And my favorite is the black placecard, made by drawing the companion font with a sketch fill using a metallic pen in Silhouette Studio, and then cutting the unscored version of Top College from the center of the card. I can’t wait to see your projects.


Here’s a video where I show how to use Top College in Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio.

If you don’t know how to install fonts in Windows, click here and for Mac, click here.

February 2, 2015 at 10:17 pm 21 comments

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