How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl with Silhouette Cameo

Heat transfer vinyl is the material used by most people who choose to use alongside the Silhouette cameo because of its ease of use and supports a wide range of colors. Vinyl also sticks to cotton, polyester or a blend of two. Use of vinyl gives you the designer the freedom to decorate any material that you have in mind.

Whether you are new to Silhouette cameo or a beginner to heat transfer vinyl, these tips and simple tricks should lead you to the right path.

For this activity to take place here are what you will need:

  • The heat transfer material
  • A silhouette cutter
  • A decorative item which can be the garment or fabric you intend to use
  • An iron

Cut the design to cut from the heat transfer vinyl; you can use any design that the Silhouette Cameo can cut. If this is the first time you are doing this for the first time, start with a simple design.

How to Use Heat Transfer Vinyl with Silhouette Cameo

Setting up The Silhouette Cameo

  • Download the software, user guide, and content subscription for the cameo cutter. A serial number of the software is at the back with a barcode meaning that your machine has to be registered. The software (Silhouette) is free and easy to install.
  • Make sure that the firmware is up to date. You can download the latest version of firmware from the internet.
  • Once the software is ready, you will notice the following components of the machine. On the left side of the cameo, there is a power button with ports supporting USB drives, a USB cord, and a power cable. The software is also Bluetooth compatible.
  • On the right-hand side of the cameo, an LCD touchscreen that is easy to read and use
  • There are four convenient compartments available for storing blades and other tools.
  • The blade and penholders should always be in the red carriage, which is on the left side of the machine. Place it on the opening aligning all grooves at the back with those of the blade holder. Make sure that they are all pressed downwards. The locking piece should move forward all the way until it clicks into place.
  • The Rachet Blade also is known as the manual blade should be at either the red or the blue carriage. The carriages are on the right side. Make sure the fin faces downwards to align with the slit on the blade holder. Just like the auto blade make sure that you press it down completely then push the locking piece in a forward direction until you hear a click.
  • The shiny silver rod found on the Roller Bar is attached to the rollers where your vinyl will be running under.
  • On the right side of the Roller Bar is Roller Lever that controls the movement of the Roller Bar.
  • There is no cameo cutter without a cutting mat, whose purpose is to hold the vinyl in place when cutting. (Keep reading for the cutting instructions in the next section)
  • The fold out mats helps in the cutting process by supporting the cutting mat.

Also read: How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts – The Best Way and How Does Heat Press Machine Work?

The Cutting Process

  • After creating the design using the cameo studio software, the next thing is to ready your Cameo and to cut the mat out. You can use the fold out mat support if necessary. On the mat, you will see a colored protective; peel the cover off to expose the sticky side of the mat.
  • Look at the arrow on the mat, lay it facing upwards, and place the heat transfer vinyl with the shiny surface facing down. Use the blue line on the left side of the cameo to align the cutting mat. Move the mat in such a way that the left edge lines up with the blue line and the top edge touching the silver roller bar.
  • During the adjustment of cutting mat into the machine, ensure that the roller lever is facing you. When the mat is at the right place, lift the roller lever to the lock position to secure the mat in place below the roller bars.
  • Once the cutting mat is secure, the heat transfer vinyl should be on top. The touchscreen will give an option of either loading or unloading. Proceed to loading if the mat’s settings are acceptable, then you will see the roller bars grabbing the edge of the mat and bring the vinyl under the blade holders.
  • Take the completed design and make sure its dimensions are correct and can fit in your vinyl.
  • On the Software interface, click on SEND command on the upper right-hand corner to bring a drop down menu found the red carriage with the label “Tool 1” and the blue carriage would have a drop-down menu with a label “Tool 2.” The best recommendation is to use the Auto Blade that fits in the Red carriage “Tool1.”
  • On the “Applications” tab, you will find the cutting instructions for the Cameo. You can pick any instruction that fits your needs. In this case, you may want to use the Smooth Heat Transfer Material Setting, set the blade at 3, speed at 8 and a force of 6. Then click on “cut” to show where the design will be cut.
  • Before cutting, try it out by doing a test cut before cutting the actual design. For a test cut, click on the “Test” command on the lower right-hand corner. A test cut will cut out a small square with a triangle in the on the upper right-hand corner of the vinyl. After the test, weed the square surrounding the triangle before you start the actual cutting. The test confirms that your cut settings are correct.
  • Make adjustments to the cut settings until the test result until the vinyl weeds out, as it should. Afterward, reload the vinyl and press send. By pressing, “SEND” will ask if you want to mirror the image. When cutting the heat transfer vinyl, you always want to cut the mirrored image. However, image mirror means the cameo will align the artwork starting with the upper left-hand corner. This explains why in this example we aligned our Heat Press Vinyl on the left-hand side of the cutting mat. If you have a heat transfer vinyl that is as big as your cutting mat, then you should not worry.
  • You can manually mirror the image by clicking on right mouse button on the active image and use “Flip Horizontally.” The manual setting also controls where the cutting alignment should begin on the vinyl.
  • When the cutting is complete on the heat transfer vinyl, click on “UNLOAD” on the touchscreen to release the roller lever and take the vinyl and cutting mat out below the roller bar.

How to Apply Heat Transfer Vinyl

  • Take out the artwork out of the Cameo and cut the vinyl around the design by trimming the material and the plastic behind it. You can use a good silhouette hook to weed off the small pieces from the artwork. Once the process is over, place the fabric on the project with the plastic backing facing up.
  • Turn on the iron, increase the temperature to acceptable levels, and make sure steam is off. Take a clean piece of cloth, place it on the design, and press the iron for at least one minute without moving it. Make sure the pressure applied is uniform and consistent. The clean cloth may burn; it is a good idea to use one that you no longer use.
  • Take the iron off and peel off the plastic from the backing leaving the vinyl still attached to the project. If you are unable to peel off when it is still hot, allow for a few seconds and press one more time for at least forty seconds (time depends on the fabric you are using). When peeling is successful, it is all done.

Please Note: as you place your order on silhouette brand vinyl, double-check if your order is larger than 12 inches wide (it can be longer than that). Failing to do this will force you to cut down the vinyl before loading it into the machine, which is not fun at all.

Related Post: How to Remove Screen Printing From a Shirt


Once the design is transferred, let it cool for 30-40 seconds and peel off the clear plastic until it is completely removed. The cooling bit helps a lot because vinyl can be too hot and removing it at that point may cause wrinkles on the final product.

The instructions are detailed and even inclusive of the details of how a cameo cutter looks like or works. Getting to know the components of your cutter beforehand is one thing that gives an advantage if you already know how to handle the design and the artwork part of it.

You may be having some questions that you still need answers to if you did not find answers online, and then I hope your curiosity was satisfied when researching on how to use the heat transfer vinyl with silhouette. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

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