Friday, 8 February 2013

Cutting flannel (or felt) with a Silhouette Cameo

I've been experimenting with using my (personal) digital die cutter to make flannel (felt) sets for storytimes and thought I'd share some of my experiences, both good and bad.

First of all, although I love using the software (Silhouette Studio Designer Edition) and the machine (Silhouette Cameo) for cutting paper and card I don't see it as the perfect method for making flannels.

The combination has amazing functionality - with the ability to import all sorts of images (jpg, svg, png, for e.g.) and providing the means of turning them into cutting files. It has a print and cut function, which aligns prints made on your existing printer with cut lines on the cutter. You can manipulate, re size, recolour and then cut out all kinds of images, which I think is brilliant.

However, there are some disadvantages for flannel sets:

Iron-on Interfacing slips on flannel boards!

  • Firstly, the cutting results are variable - not all felt or flannel cuts well. I found a felt mix (wool and polyester) cuts best, but if you're like me and source your felt from different suppliers (and then store them for some time), you may no longer be aware of the source or the mix.
  • Intricate shapes don't cut successfully from felt, anything too elaborate will, at best, need to trimmed with scissors.
  • Before felt is cut it requires a backing (iron-on interfacing) to stabilise the felt. This adds to the time and cost. Also, and most importantly to Flannel Friday-ers, the interfacing limits the stick-ability of felt to the board. It's fine if the bottom layer is hand cut, but often you'd only be using one layer anyway.
  • Then there is more waste, unless you're prepared to cut down the scraps by hand to iron on to other projects.
  • The manufacturers don't give instructions for cutting felt as they do for other media including cotton and canvas. Although I haven't tried it, a conventional yet robust (non-electronic) die cutter would appear to give more effective results, without the need for backing material.
  • There are copyright limitations of the free and paid-for images and files available from the manufacturers. I still prefer to either draw from scratch (time consuming), or use clip art with minimal use restrictions (Open Clip Art is a great resource). 
The flannel layers stick together well when ironed
However, when the felt cuts well, the process is both quick and effortless. The layers stick together very smoothly when ironed and the finished result is uniform and pleasing. I used this method for my Five Current Buns set.

In order to combine a hand cut bottom felt layer with the detailed cutting capabilities of the cutter, I experimented with heat transfer vinyl. This worked very well once I worked out which way around everything needed to go. This was the method I used to make the Where is Little Green Bug set.  I'll tell you more about that in another post.

Check out Courtney's blog, Miss Courtney Meets Bobo, for this week's Flannel Friday roundup.

Want to know more? Find out about Flannel Friday on the dedicated website. Features include past roundups, host schedule and how to participate.

Scan images and links to Flannel Friday posts on Pinterest.

Search for flannels and storytime ideas at Mel's Desk.

Discuss storytimes and flannel boards on the Flannel Friday Facebook Page.

Flannel Friday celebrates it's second birthday in March. Look for out for ways in which YOU can participate (even if you don't have a blog).


  1. Thank you for doing this post! I have been thinking of trying felt in my Cricut but haven't gotten to it.

    I did use my Cricut (plus non-Cricut software--would have bought Cricut's but it was not Mac-compatible at the time and as far as I know, still isn't) to make the vinyl signs for my library's different genre sections. That was a fun and easy project!

  2. Thanks Anne. This has been a difficult post to write as I don't like being negative, but I didn't want to give the impression that this machine will do the job perfectly. BTW I have seen a couple of YouTube videos where the Crucut has been used to cut felt (looked like mixed results much like the Silhouette). ALSO I'd be very interested to know what software you use; is it SCAL or MTC?.

  3. Ooh, Anne, thanks for pointing out your posts on using the Cricut for genre signs. I've re read them a few times recently and found them very useful. I've not made any signs yet, but made lots of shapes and templates for crafts - it saves so much time and ensures that the designs are completely unique.

  4. LQ, thanks for sharing. I have been really interested in how this would work.

  5. You're welcome Lisa. Although I haven't found the ideal way of using the cutter with felt I haven't given up yet!

  6. What number did you use on your cutter to cut the felt? I experienced disastrous results yesterday but I don't know if I had the number correct.

  7. Ddandmm, with Fabric Interfacing adhered on the back of the felt, protective film removed with felt and backing placed on cutting mat backing side to the mat, I used Blade depth 6, speed 4, thickness 25 and double cut.I also used 'cut again on the thicker felt sheets.

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for your info. and Inspiration. I'm new at making felt boards (my grandbaby girls are approaching their first birthday and I decided on a tree with owls board). And, I'm very frugal with my money and time. So I had to find a way to cut felt with my Silhouette.

    I have a lot of Clear Contact rolls, which seems to be made for book covers and the like. I press the felt to it, using a tool made for pressing vinyl to surface (forget it's name) - it's like a scraper. Then press the contact side to the mat, and cut. My cutting settings: depth of 10, speed of 1; double cut. THEN I double cut a second time. And nearly all of it was cut completely. What did I cut? a small heart about 2.25 inches by 1.75 inches. Of course, the contact peels completely off the felt. And, no ironing needed.

  9. Thank you so much for this suggestion for Contact paper!!! I haven’t purchased my silhouette yet but am researching because I have a flannel project I wanted to start! I’ve only been reading how difficult it is to cut flannel and felt! But your Contact paper is a perfect suggestion for cutting the felt or flannel without getting stuck and still being able to use either side for a flannel board!

  10. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. cutting tool manufacturers


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