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Reverse Weeding Explained: How and When to Do It (Silhouette Tutorial)

Silhouette tutorial, reverse weeding
I'm taking the day off and handing over the class to Becky and Glenna from My Paper Craze again today! - Melissa
We're so excited to be here at Silhouette School and share with another great tutorial!
This little beauty will come in handy next time you decide to do one of those designs with all the small little pieces... you know, the ones that make you say bad words when you stick down your vinyl and don't have all the pieces you need!

Reverse Weeding. Are you familiar with this term? I've heard it used over and over by many different crafters when working with vinyl but until now I had never tried it. So for today's post I decided to experiment with what I call traditional weeding vs reverse weeding and decide for myself which method works best for me and when.

Silhouette tutorial, reverse weeding, shamrock, vinyl

I intentionally chose an intricate design that I would never have attempted otherwise. I found this cute little shamrock in the Silhouette Online Store #7308. It is actually a rhinestone design but it ended up being perfect for this comparison.

I cut both 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.
Silhouette tutorial, reverse weeding, traditional weeding, shamrock
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.

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 my second shamrock it was time to test the "reverse weeding". 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. {Tip: my transfer tape as well as the vinyl are now sticky side up so I found it easier to work with by taping the corners of the design to my work surface.}

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. I was so excited that I felt like a little kid in a candy store! 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.
Silhouette tutorial, reverse weeding, shamrock

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.

This technique would be SUPER handy when you start making your own rhinestone sprays... be sure you don't miss this awesome post from Silhouette School!
Silhouette tutorial, reverse weeding  

As always, a huge shout out and thank you to Melissa for having us today! We hope to bring you more tutorials and projects in the future, so stay tuned!

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. Replies
    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.


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