Buying a Silhouette Cameo – What Do I Need to Get Started?

January 13, 2017Allison Murray
Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

One of the questions I get asked more than anything is “what all do I need to get started using a Silhouette Cameo”? And sometimes I get busy and forget to reply. It’s truly not that I’m trying to be a jerk, it’s just that sometimes the number of emails and messages I get can be completely daunting. Add in the fact that I have a crap memory, and well, sorry guys. 

So this morning I decided to address this question head on. I mean, I literally just bought a new Silhouette Bundle myself so the time is definitely right. This is what I suggest you buy when you’re purchasing your first Silhouette cutting machine or if you already have a Silhouette and need to know what accessories you should purchase…

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There are lots of places that you can purchase accessories, and the machines themselves. If I have a 40% or 50% off coupon and I need something quickly I always go to Michael’s, snap up what I need and head home. Sometimes you can get the same things online at the same price or cheaper than using a discount coupon at your local brick and mortar craft store. My personal preference is to purchase online, only heading out to Michael’s when it is a craft emergency! 

When purchasing online my go to shops are Amazon or Expressions Vinyl. As an Amazon Prime member I can get most things shipped to me in only 2 business days and that rocks my socks, man. Not a Prime member? Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial and see if it’s for you. I like buying from Expressions Vinyl because I’ve always had good experiences with customer service and the quality of materials I receive, but so far I only buy vinyl as their machine and accessories prices are higher than Amazon. I also like to support small business so I have decided to patronize Expressions as much as possible.

So now you’ve got the skinny on where to buy your Silhouette Cameo or Silhouette Cameo accessories and goodies. Now let’s talk about what you should buy to go with your Silhouette cutting machine. Now I take my craft budget seriously and I’m sure you do, too. Craft supplies will always come after necessities like food, rent, medical bills, etc. I know that a few bucks here and there can make all of the difference. And I know how much it can sting to constantly see a tool you spent good money on and never use because it stinks. 

Buying a Silhouette Cameo

If you don’t yet have the machine I’d seriously consider purchasing a Silhouette bundle from Amazon. Pay attention to look at all of the available listings to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You can purchase a heat transfer vinyl Silhouette bundle if you plan on making lots of wearable things, like tee shirts here. If looking for HTV be sure to read the item details carefully so you don’t get regular vinyl instead. If you plan on making lots of things with regular vinyl, like signs and decorative home items, you can purchase a basic vinyl Silhouette bundle. If you don’t even want to mess with vinyl and are going after a machine for scrapbooking or card making, there are Silhouette bundles that only include basic tools which could be better for you. Though I use vinyl often I went for the basic bundle because I already have a bigger vinyl stash than I really need. Oftentimes you’ll pay a very small amount more (or sometimes the exact same amount) as just purchasing the machine alone so go bundle!

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

Buying Silhouette Cameo Accessories

Cutting mats are a must when cutting paper and regular vinyl. Large pieces of HTV (heat transfer vinyl) can be cut as is because they have a clear layer that essentially acts like a mat, anyway. You can, however choose to cut vinyl using a mat just because you want to (I do) or when cutting a bunch of scrap pieces.

In my experience I need to buy a new mat every 3 months so I use the Subscribe and Save option at Amazon and every 90 days, like clockwork, I get a new mat in the mail. You can set a schedule for a new mat to be delivered every 1, 2, 3, 4,5 or 6 months.

With regular use you’ll also find yourself needing replacement cutting blades fairly often. I also use the Subscribe and Save option every 3 months for my blades. I don’t save a ton but I keep a fresh blade on hand.

Blades will wear out with any kind of use but even more so when cutting thick or tough materials. I’ve found that glitter cardstock, for example, kills my blades pretty quickly. I actually mark each of my blades to tell me what I’m using that blade for. I’ve got one for fabric, one for tough things, one for everyday use items and one for Heat Transfer vinyl. This isn’t strictly necessary but I find it extends the life of my blades considerably. 

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

On a side note, did you know that the Silhouette Fabric Blade has no difference except that it’s a different color? 

When working with vinyl of any kind you’re going to need a weeding tool. Basically a weeding tool is what you use to remove the vinyl you don’t want in your design so that only the design is left behind. If you only want to spend the money on only one weeding tool I’d really suggest purchasing the Silhouette Weeding Hook. It works well with that sharp little point it has and it’s comfortable to hold for a long time for those majorly detailed designs you might sometimes cut out. I think that the Silhouette Weeding Spatula SUCKS. I seriously hate that I spent money on that thing. I find it difficult to use because the blade is so freaking big. I wind up shoving it under something that is supposed to stay. I tried so hard to use it and like it but I don’t. In the past I loved using my clear plastic weeding tool, which is difficult to find outside of Silhouette Weeding Tool Kits. If you just want to try everything out there, you might consider the tool kit to see what works best for you. But, in honesty, I don’t think you’ll wind up using half of what you’d get out of one.

For ages I refused to purchase a scraper tool and instead used old gift cards. But after getting one in a bundle type of situation and then trying it, it’s one of those things that I really wish I had gone ahead and gotten. The scraper is curved and it tapers so that you’ve got sort of a sharp edge. This means it grabs onto things that are stuck on your cutting mat and just flicks those suckers right off, something I could never accomplish with a credit card. It is also far easier to hold with a really nice, curved design. This is definitely a tool I’d recommend even for a beginner. And if you’re wondering, you can also use this to burnish, or rub vinyl onto another surface. This is helpful if, say, you’re transferring vinyl to wood to make signs.

A simple pair of tweezers have proven to be one of the best tools to have on hand when I’m weeding difficult designs with tiny pieces. When I spring my tweezers so that they don’t grab onto my little eyebrow hairs easily anymore they pop into my little Cameo Tool Box. This is the exact pair of Revlon Tweezers I buy.

Alternatively an X-Acto knife with a sharp-ish blade can also snag those tiny pieces. To save big bucks I purchase my blades here. You can get 100 fresh, sharp blades for around $11 using the “off brand” (that work perfectly well I might add) OR you can buy name brand X-acto blades for around $20 here.

To keep your Silhouette running well I’d also highly recommend a Dust Cover. This is one of those things that is so simple and pretty darn inexpensive and I just LOVE mine. Anything I can easily do to extend the life of something I’ve spent a lot of money on is totally happening.

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

What I Suggest as Absolutely Must Have Items as a Beginner with a Silhouette Cameo

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

Other Items You Might Need

If working with vinyl other than HTV you’ll need transfer paper to get the design onto your project easily. I’ve used a lot and I really prefer the Cricut Transfer Paper the best. I’ve heard where people have run out and have used clear Contact Paper with some success, but vinyl ain’t cheap so I would hate to risk it.

If using HTV a lot on wearable items a Teflon Sheet will help you to not overheat your vinyl. When overheated it can kind of pucker up and it’s not as nice looking. I only recently got a Teflon Sheet and I kind of wish I did sooner. It’s the bomb diggity.

If doing a lot of scrap booking it’s pretty darn neat that you can use your Silhouette to draw designs you might not be able to do by hand. I know I’m nowhere near being an artist so I love this feature. You can purchase little pens that will perfectly fit inside of your carriage. These are called Silhouette Sketch Pens and they have gotten to be fairly reasonably priced. If you’ll be drawing a lot with your machine I’d suggest buying a Silhouette Pen Holder that you can insert any writing device that will fit within and not have to worry about expensive little pens going bad.

Have a Silhouette but don't have a clue where to start? Find out what you do and don't need when getting started.

Items I’d Stay Away From and Save My Money

It’s difficult to use so I’d tell you just say no to the  Silhouette Spatula Weeding.

I’d also say no to the Silhouette Weeding Tool Kit. You’ll get more “stuff” but you also pay more and probably won’t use most of it anyway. 

Unless you plan to do a lot of drawing with your machine, I’d hold off on Sketch Pens or a Sketch Pen holder.

Alright, guys. That’s it for now. As things change or if new things come out I’ll update this page to reflect them.

Until then, I hope you totally enjoy having your Silhouette Cameo. Mine is seriously one of my favorite things in the world. I know that straight out of the box this business is daunting. Messing up expensive things is totally scary. But you won’t learn until you try and I bet you’re going to be better at this than you think!

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