Tips to get the most out of your Silhouette mat

Today, I am stepping away from the “Let’s Explore v4” series about software for another topic I am asked about all the time.
Today I will give you some tips I’ve discovered about getting the most use out of the Silhouette cutting mats.

As a beginning Silhouette user, I do feel you go through mats and blades quicker because you are learning. As you practice, you will find out tricks and techniques that help you get more life out of the blades and mats.

So let’s get right to the tips I’ve found:

Tips to getting the most out of your Silhouette cutting mat

Cover the mat with the blue protective sheet after each use. 

Even if you will be using it again soon, place the shiny side of the blue protective cover back on the mat to keep it free from any debris.

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You never know when you could accidentally knock it on the floor or your wonderful, helpful cat will walk across the work space.
Covering it each time can help keep it clean.

Place the shiny side of the blue protective cover down on the adhesive side of the mat. 

There are 2 sides to the blue protective cover – a shiny side, which is non-stick and a matte side.
The matte side will stick to the adhesive more and can cause it to be less sticky.

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If you have a hard time remembering, take a Sharpie marker and write TOP on the matte side of the protective cover to help remind you.

De-stick a brand new, super sticky mat. 

When you first open a new mat, you will notice that it is super sticky.
After peeling the protective cover off, apply the adhesive side of the mat to a clean cotton t-shirt or a cotton towel. This helps “season” the mat a little bit and makes it easier to get materials to release from the adhesive on the mat.
I generally just stick it on my t-shirt a couple times before placing my materials down on it.

Cut the materials down to the size needed and then place it on the mat.

This can save the life of the adhesive vs sticking a full sheet of material on the mat and then peeling it off the adhesive every time.

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I use the Reveal feature on the Page Setup Panel to reveal the grid spacing on my virtual cutting mat and then line up the materials with where I have placed them on my screen.

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I have found that this saves the adhesive and if I find one section isn’t as sticky any longer, I can move the material to another section.

Flip the mat over after the cut & peel the mat away from the materials.

I roll the Silhouette mat away from the material as I hold the material down on my work surface.

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If you roll the Silhouette mat at a sharp angle, it helps the adhesive release from the material. By rolling the mat away at a sharper angle, you are applying less force to the adhesive, then lifting the material off the mat.
This will help the adhesive stay on the mat versus transferring to the material.

Clean any debris from materials off the mat. 

Debris on the mat of any kind, means that the material cannot adhere to the adhesive in that location. This can cause mis-cuts or movement in the materials when cutting.

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After I’ve taken off the larger pieces of my project, I will roll the mat to release other debris on the mat. Any smaller pieces, I use a Silhouette spatula to carefully help remove debris off the mat.

Clean the mat if needed. 

A good quality lint roller brush can be used to help lift debris off the mat.
Don’t use a cheap one – I tried with an Ikea roller and the paper just stuck to the mat.
If it is really dirty, you can try washing it with a mild soap and water. Then let the mat dry completely.

Buy Silhouette cutting mats from an authorized Silhouette retailer. 

Yes, there are counterfeit mats out there. They look very similar but a few things are off about them. They can have an extra piece of plastic on the backside – Silhouette mats do not. A Silhouette cutting mat will have a blue protective cover on the front and nothing else.
I’ve also seen where the adhesive looks odd and after a few uses is gone.

Flip the mat around.

The mat can go in the machine 2 ways, arrow in or arrow out.

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If one side of the mat is well used, flip the mat around and use it the other direction.
The mat does have a specific dimension and is not uniform on all sides, so it can only be loaded into the machine 2 ways and still have the grid spacing line up correctly.

Be gentle and have patience.

I know this is not what you want to hear, but if you are rushed then you are more likely to tear the project or pull the adhesive off the mat.
A new mat can gripe the material very well, this can mean it is harder to remove.
Yes, it can be frustrating but you will get it.
The more you practice, the more you will find the ways that work well.
But, even as an experienced user, if I rush, I end up with bigger issues.

Keep an extra mat on hand.

When all else fails. Get a new Silhouette cutting mat and try it.

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There are many times that I have felt my mat was still sticky enough but after so much frustration, I tried a new mat and magically, it cut beautifully.
Especially when cutting cardstock, a good sticky mat is needed to hold all the pieces of the cardstock in place when it is cutting, or it may not connect the cut cleanly.

Cut without a mat

Any lined material such as adhesive vinyl or HTV can be cut without a mat because you are not cutting completely through the material.
This can take some practice and does require adjusting a few things to get a good cut.
Check out this post on Cutting without a Mat.

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These cutting without a mat tips will apply to all Silhouette cutting machines except the Curio. The Silhouette Curio is a little different in that it needs a base loaded in the machine & is limited in the cutting space it has because of the platform system.

I hope these tips help you get the most out of your Silhouette cutting mat!

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I would love to see what you create – feel free to post on my Facebook group at
Silhouette Secrets+ with EllyMae.

Enjoy!

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**This post may contain affiliate links. What that means is that I may receive compensation if you purchase through the links I have provided. The price you pay for the product or service is not higher but I may get compensated for sharing.

8 thoughts on “Tips to get the most out of your Silhouette mat

  1. Thank you so much. I have had my machine for a few years and use it occasionally. Your instructions are the best and most clear I have ever viewed. I am back to cutting!

    Like

  2. Thank you for this information. I just discovered your site via a reference in Facebook and I am looking forward to reading through it.

    Like

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