THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. BUT THESE ARE ALL PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND AND USE MYSELF.
CAMEO: Silhouette brand vinyl is not a brand I suggest. Some people have luck with it, but in my experience, it hasn't held up through washes and it is not very flexible. If you haven’t purchased your machine yet, I would recommend getting a bundle that has tools rather than the vinyl bundle. I suggest this one.
Designer Edition (DE) is worth the upgrade! I have all of the software upgrades available for instant download on my website and I include free SVG's with each upgrade! CLICK HERE to view the options. It can also sometimes be found for $26 - $30 on Amazon as well but they do mail you a card. Designer Edition allows you to use SVG designs and do different rhinestone settings. HOWEVER, it is NOT required to be able to use my designs. If you do not have DE, you will just use the DXF format instead of SVG. Here is the link to DE on Amazon.
Designer PLUS is available on my site as well. The main thing that PLUS helps with is if you use your cutter for fabric appliques in your embroidery designs. You are able to upload embroidery formats and then it will cut the applique fabric for you. A common misunderstanding is that it will turn embroidery files into SVGs. It does NOT do this. BUT, if you are feeling experimental, you could use a pen/marker and have some fun coloring an embroidery design on paper!
Business Edition enables you to use two machines at once, as well as the ability to use EPS formats. It has advanced nesting and rhinestone features as well.
Now, each upgrade is inclusive of the previous software. Meaning, if you have Designer Edition, you do not have to purchase the FULL Business Edition. You would just choose the UPGRADE from Designer to Business at a fraction of the cost. There are also steps for each level for upgrade options.
The Editions are:
Basic (Comes with the purchase of you machine in a CD. But can be downloaded for free from Silhouette America's site as well)
And the Upgrades are:
JPEG - A picture. Can not be cut. It can be traced but uses pixels that can cause images to be blurry or bumpy when enlarged.
PNG - A picture. Same as Jpeg only higher resolution and usually has a transparent background.
SVG - Scalable Vector Graphic. Scalable meaning it can be sized as big or small as you would without being distorted. Vector basically means it's made of wires rather than pixels so it will always have crisp lines regardless of size adjustment.
DXF - Drawing eXchange Format. This format can be read by Silhouette Basic Edition. Here is a tutorial on how to use them with Silhouette Basic software. Please note that if you use a PC, Windows 10 has been changing the file type from "DXF" to "3d Object." So if you see that pop up, that IS the DXF format. Also, DXF naturally has many more nodes than SVG files. Nodes tell the blade where to go. So with more nodes... the more time the blade has to stop and think about what it's doing. Therefore, it will be a slower cut than with SVG and will sometimes sound like your machine is dying depending on the amount of nodes in the design. It won't harm your machine, it's just the nature of the format. But the upgrade to Designer Edition is well worth even just for sanity reasons.
EPS -Encapsulated PostScript. Another vector graphic. This is just a more advanced format and can be used with Silhouette Business Edition, or other plotters.
VINYL HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) is what you need for clothing. It has it’s own carrier sheet so no need to purchase transfer tape. I recommend using Siser brand. Siser Easyweed is what I use for most of my items. However, for adults I use Sister Stretch. (I go nuts with Sister Glitter and Metallic too!)
Oracal 631 is Indoor Vinyl. Think “semi permanent.” It is used for items such as wall or indoor window decals. This does require a transfer tape unlike HTV.
Oracal 651 is Outdoor Vinyl. This is permanent vinyl. It is used for items such as car decals or coffee mugs. This also requires transfer tape.
I personally purchase my HTV from heattransfervinyl4u.com. They have fast shipping and I’ve never received an incorrect shipment. They also have free shipping over $35. They have a “mix it up” option on 5 yards or more and you can get any color combination you want! However, they do not sell Oracal brand permanent vinyl. I’m not sure of the quality of the brand they have, so I can’t recommend it one way or the other.
Thevinylspectrum.com does sell HTV, and Oracal brand permanent vinyl. They do not have free shipping, however, it is very affordable. But if you're interested in buying both types of vinyl, this may be your place.
***I will never tell you where not to shop from. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your research before purchasing from Craft Vinyl and CheapHTV and make your own fully educated decision.***
Your machine DOES come with a blade. But it will wear out quickly if you plan on using it a lot.
I have two blades that I recommend.The Graphtec CB09 blade and the Silhouette Premium Ratchet Blade.
The CB09 blades have different angles. The 30° blade is good for thin materials like fabric. The 45° blade is good for vinyl. The 60° blade is better for thicker materials. Here’s a bundle of 5 of each angle and the holder.
I have also been using the premium blade that Silhouette just released not too long ago and I'm impressed! If the CB09 blade is intimidating to you, the Silhouette Premium Ratchet Blade is perfect! And here's a 3-pack as well!
HEAT PRESS: A heat press is worth the investment! It’s not NEEDED, you can use an iron, but a heat press will make your life easier. And if you intend to sell your work, a heat press is highly suggested. It's the only way to be certain that the vinyl has fully adhered to the shirt.
A heat press is not needed for 631 or 651 as they are "sticky" and do not need to be heated.
Now, a heat press does not have to cost a fortune. I trust both of these companies so if you look at their clamshell options, you could find one that’s more wallet friendly.
The main things I noticed when doing my research that there was not much brand loyalty with heat presses. The main 3 things were: Make sure it has at LEAST a 1 year warranty, get at least a 15x15 size, and get a swingaway if it’s in your budget and if you have the space. Swingaway's help limit burned knuckles.
OTHER ACCESSORIES: You will need a Teflon sheet if you buy a heat press. Here’s the one I have.
I use these magnets to stick the Teflon sheet on to my machine so I don’t have to worry about forgetting it and the vinyl melting onto my heat press.
Transfer tape for the 631 and 651.
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Wishing you all the best with your machines!