As a Silhouette beginner, the best thing you can do is start with some simple projects that get you successful right out of the gate. That’s what the Successful Beginner Projects series is all about. In project #2, we’re going to use the butterfly we popped out from our mat in project #1 and add 2 more shapes to create a decoration for a gift bag. In this lesson we’ll learn more about using the Quick Access Toolbar, creating a layered project, and cutting from 2 different papers in 1 project.
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Cardstock in 2 coordinating colors or patterns
Butterfly from project #1
Adhesive — whatever your favorite is
Gift bag (but this design has many other uses as well)
Step 1: Add the images to the page
Add shape #1
Start by adding the shape “Circle Mat” to the page. This is a simple, solid shape.
Notice that this one comes in without a fill color.
This is the way most of your shapes will look, because you can cut them out of whatever material you choose (although some designs work better for certain materials than others). So far we’ve only worked with solid shapes, so it’s not a big deal. But we will progress to using shapes with more pieces and at that point you’ll understand this concept better.
Common Rookie Mistake: Not realizing that images do not look the same when placed on the drawing area as they do in the library or Silhouette Design Store.
Fill your shape with color. You can pick any color you like. I like to use a color similar to the paper I’m going to cut from so that I can better visualize my project and organize the pieces for cutting.
Move that shape over to make the next step easier.
Add shape #2
For our second shape, we are going to use a shape with internal pieces. Add “Flower” to your design area.
Notice that this one also comes in unfilled. Fill it with a different color than the Circle Mat. When it’s filled, you’ll notice that there are holes in it.
Those aren’t separate pieces filled with white – they are actually holes. This object is a compound path. Designers can combine multiple pieces in 2 different ways – groupings and compound paths. We’ll discuss those in more detail later, but the first thing to do is be able to recognize the difference. The holes are the giveaway. Holes mean it’s a compound path. Think of a compound path like a donut – the middle is empty.
If this were a grouping instead of a compound path, you wouldn’t see holes. Instead, you’d see that all the bits filled with the same color but still see the outlines of the pieces.
We’re going to use those 2 pieces plus the butterfly from project #1. If you didn’t do that or already used your butterfly for something, cut one of those first. I highly recommend doing all the projects and doing them in order, as I add on new information in each lesson.
Step 2: Check the sizing
We’re going to put the flower shape on top of the circle mat when we assemble this project. When I pull my flower over onto the mat, I notice that the flower is too big. I want to see all the scallops of the circle mat.
So, I need to resize it. I click and drag one of the corner boxes to make the flower smaller. Remember that when we do it that way it changes the height and width at the same time, keeping the proportions the same.
Step 3: Align the images
Select both pieces and you’ll notice that the Quick Access Toolbar gives you basic alignment options. Look for the icon that looks like a bar graph. That’s the section where you can do quick alignments.
There are 3 icons in that section. We’re going to use the 3rd one, which is called Centralize. That aligns all selected objects both vertically and horizontally at the same time. Just click that and watch the pieces move.
Common Rookie Mistake: Not understanding and using the Quick Access Toolbar.
Once you’ve aligned, double check that sizing again on your flower and adjust if needed.
As long as you didn’t resize the mat, your butterfly will fit at the size we used before. If you are needing to cut that butterfly again, just open that as well and check the sizing. I’m not going to go through cutting that butterfly again here, so check the lesson for project #1 if needed.
Step 4: Cut the project
Open the Send area and select Cardstock, Plain as your material type. Remember to do a test cut first if you haven’t cut this particular paper before or have forgotten your settings. Make adjustments to the settings as needed.
In project #1 we cut from only 1 paper. This time we’re going to cut from 2. So how do we do that? There are many different ways. I’ll show you 3 in this lesson, then more later. I highly recommend trying them all, because it helps you decide which is best for you. I’ll also refer to all 3 methods in later projects.
Anything that is not on your defined mat or paper size will not cut. So one way to cut from different papers is to simply move off the cuttable area those pieces that you do not want to cut. In this picture, the flower won’t cut because it’s not on the 12×12 cutting mat. The circle mat won’t cut because I’ve defined my page size as 6×6” and while the shape is on the Cameo-sized mat, it’s not on the paper (the white area).
I’m using 12×12 paper, so I’ve set it back to that after taking the pic just above. Set yours to the size of paper you are using. To use this method to cut, this would be my process.
- Move the flower off to the side.
- Move the circle mat to any corner of the page to make the best use of your paper.
Common Rookie Mistake: Always cutting in the upper left corner of the mat, which gives uneven wear on the mat.
- Put the paper for your circle mat on your cutting mat.
- Cut the circle mat.
- Move the circle mat off to the side.
- Pull the flower back over.
- Load your second paper, change the cut settings if the paper is of a different weight and cut the flower.
The advantage of this method is that you can easily move pieces off the mat and see what’s cutting.
Another way you can do this is to put 2 smaller pieces of paper on the mat and move the shapes to fit in those areas. I’m still going to tell my software I’m using 12×12” paper, but what I really put on the mat is 2 6×6” pieces.
Here is the way I would put the papers on the mat.
And here is what the file looks like in my software.
This method can save you time, because you are only loading the mat once. However, it can be tricky for a beginner because you have to make really sure you’ve got everything in the right spot. If you choose this method, make sure to turn on your grid or reveal your cutting mat so you have guides to help you, as I have in my pic above. I do that to make sure the shape fits on the paper. Or, you could set your paper size as 12″ in width and 6″ in height.
Another thing to watch out for when using this method is that you have the same weight of paper for each piece. That will affect your cut settings. If you are using different weights, I would suggest using one of the other methods and adjusting the settings before each cut. I’ll teach you later how to cut with 2 different sets of cut settings on a single job, but we want to keep it simple for now.
Many folks don’t ever get beyond methods 1 and 2. That’s perfectly fine, but there are other ways as well. It helps to learn them all because different ones help in different situations.
Common Rookie Mistake: Getting into a rut of always doing things the same way, preventing you from learning new things and potentially saving time and material.
Let’s put the images back on top of one another and open the Send area so I can show you this method.
Looking at the top right, we can see that we are in Action by: Simple. (The Action by: Line and Fill are methods we’ll learn in future projects.) In Simple mode, you’re going to choose No Cut, Cut or Cut Edge for each object on the page. That’s called the Cut Style. I’m going to show you how to use 2 of those today, and the 3rd later.
If you just pulled your images in from the library, they will both be set to Cut. Cut means every line of the shape will cut. We can tell because they both have bold, but not bright, red lines.
We can also tell by selecting one and seeing which option is highlighted (remember that if you don’t have an object selected, No Cut is highlighted). Here my flower shape is selected, so the cut style shows as Cut.
Since are 2 shapes are sitting on top of one another and are both set to Cut, the flower would cut into the mat if we don’t do something. All those little green pieces that are inside the pink flower would be separate pieces, which would be a real pain to work with in cardstock.
We need to select the cut style for each piece individually. What that means is that we are going to tell the software to cut just the circle mat the first time by leaving it as is and changing the flower to No Cut. Then we’ll reverse the process for the second cut. To change this cut style, you select an image and then click on the option you want in the list. This would be the process:
- Select the flower and click No Cut. Notice that the lines get pale to show this and No Cut is now highlighted.
- Put the paper for the circle mat onto your cutting mat.
- Load the mat and cut the circle mat shape.
- Unload the mat and remove the shape and paper.
- Select the circle mat and set to No Cut.
- Select the flower and set it to Cut.
- Double check your cut preview to see that the lines of the circle mat are pale but those of the flower are bold.
- If desired, you can move the flower further up and left to make the best use of your paper.
- Load the paper for the flower, change settings if necessary and cut.
You should now have 2 separate pieces, without having had to move either piece at all (or only a little) on your screen. This is a good method to use when you want to keep everything lined up or close together on your design area. I’ll show you in an intermediate-level project how this can be very helpful for layering up different colors of vinyl.
Any of the methods works, so just figure out which you like best. My preferred method depends on the project. And bonus – save the cut out from the inside of the flower for another project.
Step 5: Assemble the project
All I have left to do is add adhesive and layer the pieces. I used pop dots to give my butterfly some dimension and added some embellishments.
Here’s another take on this project. I made the shapes all larger, added a name, adhered them to a full-size 12×12″ piece of cardstock and framed it. This is a very cute and simple baby shower gift. I’ll show you how to do the cursive name in a future lesson.
In project #3, we’ll still be working with cardstock. I’ll show you how to start using the drawing tools, add and understand block text, make a compound path from pieces, use cut by fill color and more.
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