silhouette digital cutter: a review

I had first heard about the Silhouette SD Digital Cutter back in November, right before Christmas. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s the scoop: it’s an electronic cutting machine that cuts shapes out of paper, vinyl, fabric, and more. And unlike the Cricut or Sizzix machines, you don’t need any dies. You can download designs off their server for 99 cents or less a pop, you can use your own fonts for free, or you can draw your own shapes.

I was completely sold on the whole “no die” front. I’d always loved the Cricut machines from afar, but the dies are so expensive, and you’d have to buy a new one for every project. And I’m a college kid. Do I have the money for that? Almost the more pressing issue: do I have the storage space for that? No way! But every once in awhile I’d think, “man it would be nice to be able to cut out paper shapes…”

silhouette and rhinestone starter bundle

So when Silhouette asked me if I’d demo a Silhouette and blog my review, my reply was a resounding heck yes!

silhouette digital cutter - rhinestone whale

I’ve made a few things with it now, and I must say – it is a very awesome machine. Almost all my cuts have come out absolutely perfect, and I’m very happy with it. I’ve cut through thin paper, thick paper, cardstock, cardstock with my own adhesive backing, Silhouette adhesive vinyl, and Silhouette rhinestone template paper. The adhesive vinyl has been my favorite so far – it cuts beautifully! But I’ll give you more details on that this weekend.

Right now there’s a huge promotion on Silhouette rhinestones. That’s what I tried out today.

First things first – I’m not a rhinestone person. But the idea of making any shape I wanted using rhinestones was exciting. There’s a great tutorial on the silhouette blog, plus the illustrated instructions in the rhinestone starter kit are very thorough. How could I go wrong?

The free shape of the week (yes, there’s a free shape every week!) is a rhinestone owl, so I just went into the program and copied the rhinestone-sized circle from it multiple times to draw a whale shape. The software is very easy to work with for anyone who’s got just a tiny bit of computer savvy.

Then I cut out my template using the Silhouette, and it did a beautiful job. It’s so fun to hear the blade whirring around in there – it’s not loud at all, and it gets the job done so quickly! And it’s such a small machine… everyone’s got room for one of these.

If you can’t tell, the Silhouette and I are friends. But the rhinestones and I… not so much.

I used the nifty Silhouette pickmeup tool – that I love – to help place my rhinestones. One end has reloadable sticky tack to help pick up rhinestones, or beads or whatever – and the other end has a reversible chisel tip that swaps out with a super pointy end. It’s like magic… it only has 2 ends but it can really do 3 things! I’m sure I’ll be using it for all sorts of things, both with and without the Silhouette!

But to make a long story short, placing the rhinestones was not my cup of tea. I spilled a ton all over the floor. I used the brush and half of them ended up upside down. Then, when I finally got them all right side up and in their places the first time, I bumped the table and they flew everywhere. The second time, I set the brush down without enough gentleness and they moved again. The third time, I peeled away the sticky transfer paper and set it overtop of my design…only to have my rhinestones be sucked up onto it in random formation due to static cling. It was frustrating.

silhouette digital cutter - rhinestone whale

But look! I finally did it! I made a pretty whale! Don’t you like it?

Once I’d managed to get my design, with all the rhinestones right-side-up and in formation, onto the sticky transfer paper, ironing it was simple and I was done. Beautiful. You can download my template file at the bottom of the post!

Since I’m not a huge rhinestone fan, it was difficult for me to not be extremely frustrated with the tiny rhinestones flying all over the place. But I am very tired today, and I probably shouldn’t have started out using the smallest size rhinestones. They were just so cute and pink! And they’re staying on very well – I ironed them to super stretchy fabric, and not only did I stretch it to its limit without losing a single rhinestone, but I also tried as hard as I could to peel one off with no luck. Your rhinestoned-clothing is machine-washable as long as you turn it inside out, so that’s pretty cool.

Silhouette Electronic Cutting Tool Even though I wasn’t a fan of the rhinestone process, I think that it was mainly because that isn’t my crafting area of expertise. I can deal with tiny threads, and tiny beads, but tiny things otherwise tend to drive me crazy very quickly. If you like rhinestones, or have a young daughter who would love some custom rhinestoned shirts, this would definitely be the best way to do rhinestones that I can think of. And rhinestoned bridesmaid t-shirts? Those are pretty popular, and you could customize it to fit your style – make a couple shirts, and the machine’s paid for itself. There are tons more possibilities – let me know what you think of!

And now we’re to the awesome part! From now until April 26, all the rhinestones on the Silhouette website are 30% off! Which is great if you have a Silhouette already, but if you don’t….
A Silhouette runs for $299.
The Rhinestone Starter Kit is $30.
But if you buy the Rhinestone Starter Kit & Silhouette Bundle and use code FLUFFY at checkout, you get a Silhouette, a Rhinestone Starter Kit, and 3 extra packs of rhinestones for $229! That’s $125 in savings!

Here’s what you get in the bundle:
· The Silhouette SD (which includes a sample CD, a $10 download card, software, blade, 2 cutting mats, and the machine itself of course)
· 2 sheets of rhinestone template material
· 2 sheets of rhinestone transfer tape
· 2 rhinestone backing boards
· 1 rhinestone placement brush
· 1 CD of rhinestone images
· 1 pack of clear 10ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of clear 16ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of clear 20ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of pink 10ss rhinestones
· 1 Pick-Me-Up tool

If you like making cards, scrapbooking, or paper crafting, this is a great machine for you. If you like applique, this machine will cut out your shapes for you. If you like the idea of using adhesive vinyl to stick removable shapes to your wall, or use it to make stencils, this machine will make your life easier, too. And if you’re like me, and all of those sound fun, well… you would love a Silhouette.

whale silhouette rhinestone template

click here to download my whale rhinestone template!

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2 Responses

  1. Valerie says:

    Wow! This looks a little labor intensive. Did it take a long time to get the hang of it?

    • Sam says:

      Hi Valerie!
      The Silhouette machine itself is quite simple to work with. Compared to other machines of its type (especially, say, embroidery software) it’s quite nice. It’s a good system because I feel that it is adaptable to the amount of skill you have – if you don’t feel like putting much effort in, you can buy shapes from the online store and cut them out and make pretty awesome stuff with hardly any time or effort involved! Any words or font-related items are also super simple.
      With that being said, if you want to make things more customized, like draw out pictures yourself, that takes some practice with the software. I haven’t even tried that yet, though, and I’ve made quite a few things.

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