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What Vinyl to Use for Silhouette CAMEO Projects: Beginners Listen Up!

If all the options for vinyl have you confused on what to use when and where and on what - let's just get to the bottom of it today.

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Between the numbers, the finishes, and the adhesive types it can be super confusing and overwhelming to figure out the best type of vinyl for your Silhouette CAMEO projects.

There are two main types of vinyl: adhesive and heat transfer.  Adhesive vinyl or sticky vinyl or "sticker" vinyl goes on hard surfaces. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) has a heat and pressure activated adhesive that goes on textiles. 

Adhesive Vinyl Types: 

Vinyl for Cups, Walls, Signs, Windows, and Car Decals

Up until recently there were two main types of adhesive craft vinyl used by the majority of die cut crafters: permanent and removable.  You may have heard references to Oracal 651 or 631, indoor, outdoor, glossy, matte, permanent or removable vinyl.  Basically all those references refer to just two different types of adhesive vinyl.

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Oracal is the brand. 651 and 631 are two of their vinyl types. They've become the industry standard to the point that 651 and 631 have become pretty much household names in the craft room and synonymous with the type of adhesive vinyl itself.  Keep in mind though, there are other brands so that's where the keywords permanent, glossy, removable, and indoor/outdoor come in. 

651 = permanent = glossy = outdoor 
*use on pretty much everything but walls, black and white are also available in matte 651

631 = removable = matte = indoor 
*use on indoor walls and areas where vinyl needs to be easily removed
 
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More recently, due to demands by crafters, Oracal 641 and 751 have been introduced to the crafting market.

Oracal 641 is a permanent matte vinyl which essentially combines the best of both 651 and 631: it's matte, yet has an adhesive strength closer to permanent vinyl.  It's slated for 3-4 years outdoors.

Scrafte Artise also makes a permanent matte vinyl which is slightly thicker than Oracal 641. It comes exclusively in 12x12 sheets and is shipped flat, rather than rolled making it easy to store and easy to place on the cutting mat.  You can read my full review of Scrafte Artise vinyl and recommended Silhouette CAMEO cut settings here.

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Oracal 751 has long been used by the sign and auto industry, but is now being cut down into sheets and smaller rolls by distributors so it can be sold and used by crafters. Oracal 751 is manufactured differently than the other craft vinyls giving it some advantages. It has a permanent adhesive, but is thinner and conforms to textured surfaces easier making it ideal in harsher conditions where otherwise a corner may get nicked and raised leading to peeling. 

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Vinyl for Textiles

Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) or iron-on vinyl is a little more straight forward. The large majority of HTV comes on a clear carrier sheet with the adhesive side exposed. The adhesive side, or back, is not sticky to the touch.  The adhesive is activated when applied to a textile surface with heat and pressure.

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Siser Easyweed is a smooth, general-purpose heat transfer that comes in lots of solid colors - and some patterns. It's by far the most popular type of heat transfer vinyl used by crafters, but it's certainly not the only type.

As HTV becomes more and more popular with home crafters, the manufactures including Chemica, Siser, and others are constantly bringing new types of heat transfer vinyl products to market.

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A few other popular types of HTV are flock, stretch heat transfer, glitter, Ultralite, metallics and foil.  There are also lots of specialty HTVs that can be used on various types of materials such as nylon.  All of these types of heat transfer vinyl can be cut with the Silhouette cutting machines.

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The rule of thumb for cutting HTV designs is the design needs to be mirrored in Silhouette Studio and then cut with the shiny side (carrier sheet) down on the cutting mat.  Here is a Silhouette CAMEO beginner Heat Transfer Vinyl tutorial if you need a refresher or help getting started.

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The goal is to have the correct blade depth and force so only the heat transfer vinyl is cut through and not the clear carrier sheet.

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Once the excess vinyl is weeded, the heat transfer can be flipped onto the surface where it will be correctly oriented when applied with heat and pressure (both based on the type of HTV being used). The carrier sheet is then peeled away leaving the HTV on the surface.

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When getting started, I suggest beginners start with a bundle of both HTV and adhesive vinyl. This will give you lots to practice with and lots of color choices.

 


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