We’ve made it to the end of our series (to start with Lesson 1, go here). Your cuts should be all healed now! But today’s visit is a follow up appointment where we go over things like post-operative complications. Specifically, we’re going to talk about problems with weeding and getting your material off the mat. At the end, I’ll give you a chart you can download and print to use as a reference tool — a reminder of all the concepts we’ve discussed.
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Symptom: Weeding Vinyl or HTV is difficult
Diagnosis #1: Settings issue
Ugh! This is another frequent ailment I hear about every day. When you’re working with vinyl or HTV, cutting is only part of the job. Weeding comes next, and it can be extremely difficult if your settings aren’t right. The background might not pull up at all or may pull the design with it. The tricky thing is, the cut settings might be too low OR too high.
If you notice that the weeding is only a problem in some areas of the design, check back to our last lesson. It could be that it’s a problem with your cutting strip or mat or something else we’ve already discussed.
Force and blade number
Often, they are too low, particularly on HTV. Instead of separating easily, the material stretches and then it’s ruined. It usually means you just need to tweak the force setting.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to get vinyl that is cut through without ripping or pulling, but then you find the weeding is difficult. When the force (and perhaps blade number) is too high, the cut edges are pushed down into the backing. So, when you try to lift away the background it doesn’t come up easily and pulls the design with it. That also makes it harder to lift the vinyl off the backing with your transfer media.
Line segment overcut
Don’t forget to use Line Segment Overcut. Corners are a spot where vinyl or HTV might not cut through completely. Having the blade go just that little bit past the corner helps immensely.
Prescription: Increase the force 2-3 at a time. If this doesn’t solve the issue, increase the blade number (but you may need to decrease force again). If increasing the force or blade number doesn’t help, particularly if the material begins ripping or pulling as you do, try actually lowering them (force first). It may be that the edges of the cuts are getting pushed into the backing. Always use Line Segment Overcut on vinyl or HTV. The only exception is on SUPER tiny pieces that could get sliced across. (We discussed that in our lesson on LSO).
Diagnosis #2: Material quality
If material is old or is of lower quality, the adhesive isn’t as good. Because of that, it doesn’t hold the vinyl onto the backing. That not only makes it hard to cut, it also makes weeding difficult. The cut design pieces might slide around on the page when you try removing the background. The smaller or thinner your design, the bigger the problem with weeding.
Prescription: Test with a better brand or a newer piece. Use reverse weeding on vinyl.
Diagnosis #3: Size of design
Sometimes the design is just too small to cut and weed easily. If you combine that with problems in your cut settings or material quality, the problem is magnified.
Prescription: Increase the size of the design or use offsets when possible. Use reverse weeding on vinyl. Be patient.
Extra HTV weeding tip
Sometimes HTV is cut perfectly but doesn’t want to release easily from its carrier. One trick is to weed on a warmed surface. If you have a heat press, close it for just a second or 2 to warm the bottom platen. Lay your HTV on the lower platen and weed there (but don’t burn your fingers on the top platen). The warm surface will soften the adhesive just a tiny bit and make it easier to remove the background.
No heat press? You can iron a towel or similar item and weed on that. If the surface cools off, just heat it again. A heating pad set on low is also great.
Symptom: Completed project won’t release from mat
Diagnosis #1: Stickiness of mat
New users often have this problem, particularly with any type of paper. That includes the backing paper of vinyl.
Diagnosis #2: Quality of material
We’ve discussed in other lessons how the better the quality of your paper, the better it holds up to the stress of cutting it. This is particularly true with intricate designs or those with tiny parts. Sometimes the layers of a paper will pull apart very easily when you try to remove the cut pieces from the mat. That usually indicates the fibers aren’t well-bonded to begin with.
Prescription: Test with a different material.
Symptom: Material curls when removed from mat
Diagnosis: Thin material in use
Thin materials, particularly papers, are pretty pliable. That’s by design. But when you’re using a thin material, it easily curls when you take it off the mat.
Here’s a trick to deal with that. Place the blue mat cover on your table with the shiny side up. This is so that in case your paper doesn’t cover the entire mat, the adhesive on the mat won’t pick up all the gunk that’s on your craft table. (I didn’t do this in my pic below, but I’ve learned!) Flip the mat over and pull the mat up from the material instead. This way the mat is curling, not the paper.
Prescription: Flip the mat over and pull the mat off material instead of the material off the mat.
Now, I don’t want you to forget everything we’ve talked about at our appointments. So here’s a chart you can print off and use as a reference guide. This is for personal use only, and I ask that you not share it with others as it is my intellectual property.
Silhouette Cut Doctor_Diseases and Cures (PDF document)
You, dear patient, are in MUCH better cut health than when you first came to see me. Keep following my prescription and advice and you’ll do fine. You can always contact me if you experience anything we haven’t discussed or have any questions (make a comment below).