Welcome to the world of a Silhouette. Yes! You may be overwhelmed. Yes! Your machine has the ability to do amazing things. The best way to learn your new machine is to do research, watch videos, and use it. Here is some great information I have gathered from a variety of resources to help you get started and keep going.
I am a beginner...now what?
The first recommendation is begin reading other blogs and watching a variety of videos on where to start on your Silhouette. Here are some of my favorite blogs.
Studio - This is basic version of the software and is free. You can open .studio files in any version of the Studio software. You have to upgrade your version to V3 to open .studio3 files. The Studio allows you to open .gsd and .dxf cut files. Picture files such as .jpeg, .gif, .bmp, etc can be imported for tracing.
Designer Edition - This is the big girl version of the Studio. There is a cost associated with this upgrade. The DE allows you to open .svg files and provides you with additional tools. You can purchase the DE upgrade from Silhouette however it can be found cheaper on Amazon.
Business Edition - This version that has all the features of the studio and the designer edition software as well as even more tools and the ability to operate multiple machines from one program.
Do I get free shapes with the Silhouette? How do I get them?
Yes, you get free shapes when you register your machine and connect it to your computer. These shapes should automatically load into your software. If the shapes do not load then you can load them by following these steps. Go to File, Preferences, and select the advanced in the pop-up window. Select "Restore the Standard Designs." This will load the shapes.
How do I get new designs? How much do they cost?
Designs can be found in a variety of places for a variety of prices from free on up. The Silhouette Design Store has designs available for purchase as well as a free design of the week. You can find free designs online, Facebook groups, clip art sites, etc. Google will become your best resource. One feature you will want to learn is the trace feature. The trace feature will allow you to trace images to make your own designs.
How many times can I download a design from the Silhouette Design Store?
Designs can be downloaded a total of three (3) times. To do this you go to the Silhouette Design Store and go to "my account". Then use the "Recover all downloaded designs" option to download all of your designs at once. If you want to just recover one design then go to "my account", order history, and click on the specific order, then select the option to recover that order.
How do I use a gift card?
Login into your Silhouette Design Store account. Go to "my account" then "add card balance". From there you will have a credit detailed on your account.
Where can I find new fonts?
Fonts can be found for free online. It is important to ensure you have virus software to protect your computer. We have found a few favorite places to find fonts, here is our list of great websites.
Dafont - www.dafont.com
FontSquirrel - www.fontsquirrel.com
How do I add new fonts?
The installation of a font on your computer is easy and requires additional steps to ensure your fonts are available in your Silhouette Studio. When you install a font on your computer, those fonts will not appear in your studio library until after you install the font.
Step 1: Close the Design Studio
Step 2: Download font
Step 3: Find the download on your computer.
Step 4: Double click the zip folder and unzip it.
Step 5: Double click the ttf file.
Step 6: Hit install in pop up box.
Step 7: Open Design Studio - Go to your text icon. You will see the fonts have been added.
If you need additional guidance check out theses references:
WINDOWS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJQajSynXY
MAC - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eoe4mK_Bhsk
What font is this?
One of the biggest challenges in some projects is knowing what font to use. These programs offer a great way to identify fonts.
What tools should I purchase?
The tools you need depend on your project. Everyone has found some tools work better for them than others. Do not feel the need to buy everything. Take your time and learn what works best for you.
Here is a list of the tools I use all the time. The hook tool is used for weeding. The spatula tool is used to lift items off your mat. I use it for vinyl, cardstock, fabric, and more. The scraper tool is used to help adhere the items to your projects. I use a Cricut Light Tack Mat instead of the Silhouette Mat. I have found that the Cricut mat is a heavy weight mat and just works better for me. Others prefer the Silhouette Mats. Here is a list of the tools you need depending on what materials you are working with:
Fabric - Fabric, Stabilizer, Mat, and Blade for Fabric.
Fabric Painting - Freezer Paper or Vinyl, Fabric Paint, Pouncing Brush, Mat and Fabric.
Glass Etching - Vinyl or Stencil Vinyl, Scraper, Mat, and Etching Cream.
Paper - Paper, Weeding Tool or Spatula Tool, and a Mat.
Stamping - Stamping Material, Ink, Stamping Mat, and Mat.
Vinyl - Vinyl, Transfer Paper, Weeding Tool, and Mat (not necessary).
What is weeding? How do I do it?
Weeding refers to the process to remove the unwanted material from the cut. The Silhouette hook tool is my favorite tool for weeding. I keep a good pair of tweezers on hand for weeding small pieces. Some will use an exacto knife to weed while others will use the dental tools from Harbor Freight. It takes time to weed your cuts and you will figure out what works best. The other recommendation for weeding is a light table or box. I recently purchased the Huion LED Light Pad and I love it to help with my weeding of projects.
My mat is no longer sticky, what do I do?
Pick up Krylon Easy Tack Repositionable or Basting Spray. It is important that it is the repositionable. The other types will cause issues. Now, wash and clean your mat. Ensure that you have removed all of the scraps, goo, and leftover pieces. Let your mat dry. Using painters tape, tape off the edges of the mat. Spray a light coat of the Krylon Easy Tack spray. Remove the tape and now your mat should be sticky again.
My mat is way to sticky, what do I do?
Use it. If it is way to sticky then take a clean white cotton shirt and press it onto the mat once or twice to help remove some of the tack. Light tack mats are available. I prefer the lighter tack mats. If you are working with heavy materials or delicate cuts, you may find that having a newer mat to use to ensure that the material stays in place for a quality cut can prevent wasting items. I have two mats on hand at all times.
Can you use other blades in the Silhouette Machine?
Yes, some users have switched to the Graphtec CB09 blades. These blades can be switched for different angle blades. These blades are often purchased on E-bay.
How to get started with vinyl?
To get the answers you need on vinyl check out our Vinyl FAQs.
Tracing can be one of the most beneficial tools in your Silhouette software. It also can be one of the most frustrating things you do in your Silhouette journey. The most recommended tracing tutorial is Tracing without Tears video.
What is PVPP method and how does it work?
PVPP stands for Paint, Vinyl, Paint, and Peel. PVPP is a great way to make signs. The Silhouette School has a great tutorial on the PVPP method, here.
What are the Silhouette Sketch Pens?
The sketch pens allow you to write on certain materials. You can purchase Silhouette Sketch Pens in a variety of colors and even with glitter. The sketch pens fit into the standard blade holder.
Can I use other pens?
Yes. Silhouette makes pen holders. You can also purchase the pen holder from Chomas Creations. Several people have posted about making their own pen holders. As far as pens that you can use, anything seems possible. Sharpie pens, gel pens, markers, etc. Try it and see what works.
My Silhouette Pen does not draw consistently.
Prior to using any pen in your Silhouette make sure to shake up the pen and use it to get the ink flowing. The recommendation is to always do a double cut when using pens. It can happen that you have a bad pen. It does happen.
How do I used more than one pen on the same project?
The most important thing is to do not move your mat. Leave it in place. Do not remove it. You need to set different cut lines for each pen color. Then 'cut' with your pen. Adjust your 'cut' lines, change your pen, and then 'cut'. Again, it is important to not remove your mat.
Can I cut felt?
Yes. The Silhouette School has a blog post aboutcutting felt.
How do I pause a cut?
On the machine to pause a cut, hit the pause button. Usually the machine will finish the cut line it is working on prior to canceling.
Why is my machine cutting the top of my mat?
Most likely you hit "load media" instead of "load cutting mat". If you are in the middle of a cut then pause and cancel the cut. Unload the mat and reload the mat. "Load Media" is for when you are using materials without a mat. "Load cutting mat" is for when you are using materials on a cutting mat.
Often times the most important thing you can do whenever your machine is having issues is turn the machine off, shut down your software and restart your computer. Usually it needs a time out.
Why is the machine cutting the side of my mat?
Your machine needs a time out. Pause and cancel the cut. Unload the media/mat. Turn the machine off. Save your work. Shut down your software. Even restart your computer. Often times everything needs a reload. If after you restart you are having problems, go to the Silhouette Support for more help.
Why are the print and cut marks not registering correctly?
Your machine needs a time out. Pause and cancel the cut. Turn the machine off. Save your work. Shut down your software. Restart your computer. Check your paper. If the registration marks are slanted then it good be a bad print and do a simple re-print. If your room has low lighting then you may want to shine a light on the machine to help it register correctly.
Why did nothing happen when I hit "cut"?
Your machine needs a time out. Turn the machine off. Save your work. Shut down your software. Unplug your machine. Restart your computer. Plug the machine back in. Open the program. Turn the machine back on. Now try your cut again. If this does not work contact the Silhouette Support for more help.
If you have any additional questions, resources or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosures page for more details.