5 Awesome Things You Should Know About Your Silhouette Mat

5 AWESOME THINGS you should know about your Silhouette mat to save time, save the mat, and make it easier to work with vinyl & cardstock.

Having worked with my Silhouette mat day in and day out for several years now—well, [grin], not the *same* mat for all that time…I’ve gone through a few, LOL—I’ve discovered some things about it that either save me time, save the mat, or make it easier to work with materials. So, in my ongoing effort to make Silhouetting easier for y’all, here are my top five things…nay, here are my top five *awesome* things about the Silhouette mat. Maybe some of them will be game changers for you as they were for me.

And if you’re looking for the products I used in this post, I’ve got links for you in a Resource List at the end.

1. The mat can prevent cardstock from curling

Removing cardstock from the mat often causes the cardstock to curl, especially if your mat is on the sticky side. Here’s the trick: don’t remove the cardstock from the mat; instead, remove the mat from the cardstock. Flip the mat over so it’s facing up and the cardstock is facing down. Then bend the mat back onto itself and roll it to reveal the cardstock. The mat is really flexible, so keep the curve small. Go slow. As you roll the mat back, the cardstock will release and stay on the work surface. Use your fingers to help release pieces, or a small craft spatula for super small pieces.

And look at all those bunnies being released at the same time…much faster than the one-at-a-time cardstock-from-mat removal when the mat is on the bottom. And see the faces left on the mat? The cardstock has weeded itself as I removed the mat. Time spent weeding this project? Zero.

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat.
This is a particularly good technique when you’re working with smallish pieces of cardstock that you’re transferring from the mat to transfer tape. It’s much easier to control the position of the cardstock when the cardstock faces up; you don’t have to keep peering under the transfer tape to make sure everything’s transferring properly. Here’s how I transferred the cardstock words for the starfish “I love you” nursery art project. Everything stayed exactly where it was supposed to.

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat.
Oh, and if this transfer tape looks weird to you, then here’s bonus that will change your world…or at least how you use cardstock. Most transfer tapes are too sticky and will damage cardstock, but this drywall mesh (yellow) has the perfect amount of stickiness to pick up and release cardstock without ripping it or damaging it. The one I use is only a couple of inches wide, which works well for many applications, but for larger designs like the framed starfish nursery “I Love You… above, I needed three strips slightly overlapped. And to keep the mesh strips in place, I attached a single piece of regular transfer tape to the strips so they wouldn’t come apart during the transfer process. See the Resource List at the end for a link.

2. The mat can hold vinyl in place while you weed

It’s SO much easier to weed adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV) when it’s being held down by a sticky mat—especially for intricate designs such as Miss Zentangle Kitty below—so leave your HTV design on the mat and weed it before removing it.

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat. “But, hey, wait a minute,” you say, “that mat isn’t a Silhouette mat. It’s green.” Okay, yup, you caught me. Miss kitty is on a Cricut mat. A Cricut mat costs MUCH less than a Silhouette mat, so when I cut a vinyl design, I transfer it to a Cricut mat and weed it there. My Silhouette mats last longer and I spend less on mats.

3. The mat fits under the Cameo

It does…for the Cameo 1, 2, and 3. Can you say “found table space”?

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat. One of the biggest challenges in my studio is a lack of horizontal surfaces on which I can put things—tools and materials for the current project, in-progress projects, past projects ready to be put away. I’m always looking for a place to rest something. When I’m not working on a project, I replace the mat cover and store my mat in a drawer, but mid-project when I just need to put it down for a few minutes…under the Cameo it goes, out of the way until I need it again.

4. The mat lasts longer if you keep it clean

…and ~~bonus~~ …things cut better on a debris-free mat. The easiest way to clear off the teensy bits and bobs from the mat is with a Cricut scraper. The Silhouette and 3M scrapers I like to use to apply vinyl have edges that are too rounded, but the Cricut scraper has a sharp edge, perfect for snagging the tiniest specks without removing the “sticky” from the mat.

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat.

I use this scraper to remove the weeded bits (as above), and then a quick once over as needed—sometimes in between cuts, sometimes just before putting my mat away. My mats last 6 months or more…and I cut almost every day.

5. The mat is symmetrical

In other words, the mat lines are centered on the mat width-wise, and are the same distance from the bottom edge of the mat as they are from the top edge. This means you can flip your mat and load the bottom into the Cameo and your mat lines will still match up with the mat lines on the screen. So, if you’re like me and tend to cut things in the same part of the mat (hello, left corner, my old fave, you), you’ll get better use out of your mat. When the top starts to wear and lose the “sticky”, flip the mat and use the bottom instead..

Of course, the lesson here is to vary where you place material. As long as you place material on the mat so the mat grid lines match the screen mat grid lines, you’re golden. Use the whole mat.

Five awesomet things you should know about your Silhouette mat. When the mat wears out, it will well and truly have worn out—it’ll be worn and unsticky all over.

And there you have it. Will you be using your mat in a different way from now on?

Cheffeers!

–Eff

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Resources List

In case you’re looking for something I talked about or showed above, here is a list of links. These are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and buy something, I will be paid a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you…win-win. Read my full affiliate policy here.


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14 thoughts on “5 Awesome Things You Should Know About Your Silhouette Mat

    1. Thanks, Nadine! :^) Punching a hole in the mat—brilliant idea. My new studio has wall space that I haven’t had before, so I was thinking of hanging my mat instead of tucking it in a drawer. I was planning to use a bulldog clip on a hook, but I like your hole punch idea much better…it would be so much easier to put the mat on and take it off the hook and with only one hand.

    1. Thanks, Jan! :^) Being able to re-sticky the mat is definitely another awesome thing. Maybe I should have gone longer than five! LOL. What do you use to re-sticky your mat?

        1. Thanks for answering…it’s always good to know what’s worked for someone. And I’m so glad you love the blog. :^) …glad you’ve found it so helpful.

  1. I never thought of drywall mesh – I have trouble getting vinyl off my transfer tape and onto t-shirts because the tape is too sticky. Must try this.

    1. Yes, drywall mesh was certainly a game changer for cardstock, that’s for sure. :^) No more wondering if I’ve de-stickied my transfer tape enough to not cause damage.

      Susan, I’m a little confused about your using transfer tape to transfer vinyl onto shirts. Are you using adhesive vinyl on fabric? If so, that may be your problem…not your transfer tape (it may work beautifully to transfer vinyl to cups or walls or other non-fabric surfaces)—adhesive vinyl doesn’t get a good “stick” on fabric. Although it’s a good one-event, temporary solution, adhesive vinyl isn’t intended to be applied to fabric. The go-to vinyl for fabric is heat transfer vinyl (HTV) that you apply with a very hot iron or heat press. Regular HTV comes with a built-in carrier sheet to keep the HTV in place while you press. Once properly pressed, it should peel off very easily. If you’d like more information about HTV, check out my “How I Work with HTV” FAQ here:

      http://www.whatchaworkinon.com/working-with-heat-transfer-vinyl

      1. Sorry – I wasn’t clear in my thoughts on using the drywall tape. In this particular instance, I’m using the vinyl (adhesive) on the shirts as a stencil for painting. I want it to stick for that “one-event” – the painting, but then remove it.

        1. Oh, okay… LOL… yeah, that makes more sense. I don’t know if you’ve tried freezer paper as stencil material for fabric, but it’s a much less expensive option and it works really well…maybe even better than adhesive vinyl. And there’s no transfer tape to deal with. :^)

  2. Thanks for the great ideas. Sort of related, I purchased some stencil material on Amazon, and an wondering what you would suggest for cut settings. Thanks, again.

    1. Stencil material varies quite a bit, so it depends on the stencil material. When figuring out settings for a new material that isn’t listed on the materials type list, I choose the material type on the list that is the closest match for thickness. If it’s close to the weight of regular adhesive vinyl, I start with those settings, if it’s as thick as chipboard, I go with the chipboard settings. Then do a test cut, and adjust as necessary, and test cut again.
      —If it’s cutting cleanly, but not cutting through, increase thickness by a couple, test cut, and repeat until it does. If you run out of Thickness numbers, increase the Blade # by one and start Thickness at zero and continue.
      —if it’s cutting cleanly, but too deeply, decrease Thickness and/or Blade. Thickness is a more subtle adjustment than Blade #.
      —if it’s pulling up the vinyl and cutting through, decrease Thickness.
      —if it’s pulling up the vinyl and not cutting through, decrease Thickness and increase Blade #.

  3. I started out with a Cricut, but it was too confining for what I was going to do with it, so I moved on to a Silhouette…which I love. You are right about the mat being cheaper, too. I’ve re- stickied it with the spray, which worked….but a trick I tried works pretty good too ! I roll a “clothes de-linter” thing all over the mat.It picks up anything that shouldn’t be there and keeps it sticky.

  4. Yeah, keeping the mat clean as you go makes the mat last longer and materials cut better. A clothes de-linter? That’s a great idea. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks! :^)

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