It's has taken me the better part of two days to finish this project, and it was much like a blooper reel, I'm sure, to have seen this unfold. To say that I struggled would be a major understatement but… you guys… this is the first time I have ever used a Silhouette and believe me, it was apparent through each and every step! Eek.
At long last, I finished this cute little addition to our family room and I learned a ton along the way! At least you all won't suffer much when it's your turn to give this a whirl… there is something to be said for that. Believe me…
So let's get into the wwwww…. oh and one of you lucky folks will be going home with your very own Silhouette Portrait! Sqeeeeee… Aren't you so excited? I posted the giveaway here, so click on over to enter, yay!
Please bear with me through this crazy maze of instructions, and know that the images don't coincide directly with some of the ultimate results. This is because many of the details I was able to photograph were midstream or before I decided to scrap the whole thing for the 3rd time and change it entirely. The details remain the same, but the appearance may get wonky throughout.
Also we are going to begin at the very beginning of using a Silhouette machine and this is because I learned much that might have been helpful to know from the start and I couldn't find any exact instructions along these lines. Now there will be something helpful for those of you in my situation!
Let's dive right into the chaos, shall we? So the first thing you will need to do is set up your image or text in the Silhouette Studio. Now as you will see in the next couple of steps, the guides for where your paper should sit, aren't exactly accurate so you will want to be sure your image or text sits down 1/2″ from the top of the 'paper' edge on your screen. Likewise, it should sit up about 1″ from the bottom of what appears to be the 'paper' edge. and at least 1/2″ in from either side. If you keep your image within those boundaries, you will have better luck when you start to cut!
Once your image is set you will need to get it ready to send to Silhouette and you will have to choose a few settings to make this thing function properly.
First you will want to choose chipboard from the dropdown of paper/item type. If you don't have that option (as I didn't) you can choose custom OR you can choose heavy cardstock paper weight and make sure your cutting blade level is at a 6. Now, if you do have the chipboard option, it will set your level to a 7, but if you have never used your machine, mat and blade before…this will cut right through your brand new surface and leave you with a mat that is a bit crazy. So start with a 6 to be safe. You can simply adjust the number using the little arrow buttons.
Also, if you haven't cut anything with your machine before, stick an extra piece of chipboard or cardstock to your mat and peel it off to de-sticky it a tad. Mine was so sticky at first that it ruined my cuts.
Once you have your level set to a 6, you will need to trim down your chipboard so it will feed through the machine properly. I removed about 3″ from the width of the chipboard and stuck it onto my mat, centered and lined up with the guides on the mat.
Once your chipboard is on your mat, you will want to center the mat between the white roller wheels on the bar in your machine. This will make sure your page goes through properly.
The image above shows what happens when you don't add that extra clearance for your image (the 1/2″ extra bit of margin I suggested earlier). Eek.
Now let's chat about your blade. That cute little thing above has markings around the white portion with numbers. When I mentioned you want to set your screen setting to a level 6, this also means you need to adjust the actual blade accordingly. To do this, use the gray cap that comes with your blade, or the hole on the front of the machine to set your blade and then turn to adjust where the red marker aligns. Once it's set for 6, you are good to go according to the blade directions and set up instructions. Unfortunately my blade still wasn't cutting. After chatting with support for an entire day, it turns out that I can make the blade cut by removing the teeny tiny top portion of that white cap (which the instructions say to remove for cleaning and then replace). It seems as though it is supposed to sty on, but my blade doesn't stick out far enough for that to work, so I simply left it off. I am sure I am ruining my machine or something devastating, but I tried 2 blades with the same results and 2 blades in 2 different packages can't both be defective… so my thought is that a new safety measure perhaps, is a bit too safe? Not sure, but this is the story I am sticking too!
This is what it looks like with this little piece removed. You simply unscrew it by turning it counter clockwise.
Voila she cuts… and then if your mat is too sticky, she doesn't come off. Double eek..
At this point I figured perhaps the sticky mat and the chipboard dont mix and I should just send the chipboard through without the mat… wrong… that sucker got crazy and folded over on itself and made a horrid horrid mess. No, you need that mat to keep the small cut sections from lifting, but you need that mat to just be a little less sticky, which it was after my first incident with my cuts not coming off properly. Another problem accidentally solved… after I spent 30 minutes trying to scrape the residual chipboard off, of course!
Finally after I adjusted my margins, used a less sticky mat, adjusted my blade to a 6 so it didn't cut all the way through, removed that cap from the blade and re ran that sucker through… everything worked properly! And then I decided it was too small… womp womp womp.
Back to the drawing board, and I don't have pictures of these steps since by this time it was nearly midnight but I will happily suggest you paint any of your pieces prior to removing them from the mat. This just makes things easier…
Ultimately I was able to fit 2 hello images per sheet and I cut a total of 6 to layer and give it dimension. This isn't necessary if you are making a banner in the traditional sense, but I was of course moving to the beat of a different drum…