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Reverse Weeding Explained: How and When to Reverse Weed Vinyl (VIDEO)

Have you ever tried reverse weeding? The technique is amazing for those small adhesive vinyl designs that just want to pull up as you weed.

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In this Silhouette tutorial we're experimenting with what we'll call traditional weeding vs reverse weeding and then you can decide for myself which method works best for you!
I intentionally chose an intricate design that I would never have attempted otherwise. I cut this cute little shamrock on vinyl. It's actually a rhinestone design but it ended up being perfect for this comparison.

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I cut two shamrocks out of the same scrap of vinyl, side by side using the same cut settings. I placed a ring in the picture so you could see how teeny tiny these dots are.

As you scroll down to see my results be prepared to be AMAZED! I know I was.

In this first picture on the left, that I call "traditional weeding",  I simply pulled back the the vinyl that didn't belong in the design ever so slowly. As you can see the result was a disaster, but exactly what I expected. The tiny dots simply don't stick to the vinyl backing enough to stay in place while the excess vinyl is pulled away. Keep in mind this was a nice clean cut with quality vinyl.

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With a different design I might have been able to help it along using tweezers or a craft knife to gently press down on the small pieces as I weeded but it was not an option in this case. Calling that a tedious task would be a huge understatement.
For the second shamrock it was time to test the "reverse weeding" method.  I have to admit that I didn't hold out much hope of this working. I had already decided that my design was just too intricate to weed.

So to reverse weed, I placed my transfer tape over the entire unweeded design, burnished it really well and flipped it over so it was upside down. I then removed the vinyl backing. Here's a video showing exactly how to reverse weeding vinyl.

Now for the MOMENT OF TRUTH: I began pulling my excess vinyl off the transfer tape very slowly and was shocked to see that it was actually working.  Why did I wait so long to try this?!? I did have 6 dots slightly shift while I was reverse weeding this design. You can see one just left of center in the picture but that was an easy fix with my craft knife.

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So my original question was "When and why would you use reverse weeding?". As you can see the pictures speak for themselves. Reverse weeding is the only way to go when working with intricate designs. If you haven't tried it DO IT NOW and save yourself a lot of headaches. You may even decide to use this technique for all your weeding.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine! 

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!
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  1. pictures showing the process step by step???

  2. What is transfer tape? Do I need to get it ?

    1. My comment below about contact paper was supposed to be a reply to you :)

  3. Yes! I discovered this technique back in the fall when I nearly lost my mind trying to weed tiny (20 pt) text making a stencil to etch "You've been poisoned" on the bottom of a drinking glass for a Halloween party. I used it to add lines from hymns to candles for Thanksgiving. It's life-changing (craft wise, anyway), and I'm glad it's discussed here since I love to direct friends here.

  4. I use clear contact paper. You can get a large roll at Walmart for $5. You can reuse it until it is no longer sticky.

  5. is there a way to do this with HT vinyl?

  6. This is very cool and amazing. Now, I will use Reverse weeding next time. It really helped me out. And I am sure I will my time. :-)


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