Blog Post Updated February 2021
This is the number one question that I get asked. The other most asked questions are, “How do I add bridges to letters and where do they need to be added? and “What material and cut settings do I use to cut my stencils?” I share this and more helpful information in The Colorful Cookie Club.
Learn all that you need to know to design and cut culinary stencils using a Cricut or a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and design cookie cutters in several design programs in The Colorful Cookie Club. There are over 400 video tutorials and more videos get added all of the time. We even learn to draw cookie stencil and cookie cutter designs on our iPads. Game Changer! There is a weekly LIVE Q & A along with interactive tutorials in our member’s only Facebook Group too. Did I mention that I share a lot of stencils to cut, cookie cutters to print and images to use for your stencil designs?? We also have a Shared Google Drive where all club members share stencil files. It is so much fun to design and cut your own custom cookie stencils and cookie cutters! Click HERE and HERE to see what I use to design and cut cookie stencils.
Cricut Design Space no longer requires the internet. It is now available as a desktop app. Read more about it and download it HERE. Don’t worry! All of your projects are still there. The Internet is not required to design, but when you are connected to the internet, you are working online within the app. If you go to the landing page online, it will now redirect you to the app on your computer. You can save your projects on your computer and also to the cloud. You can download fonts and images and work on them when you are offline and don’t have access to the internet. The Cricut Design Space App for iPad (there is also a beta version for Android users) comes in handy when making bridges in a traditional stencil. You can use an Apple Pencil or a stylus. It is super fast! Much faster than using the desktop app. You can also thicken a design when you upload an image. This comes in handy for PYO's and some images with letters that are thin.
The Cricut Explore Air machines are easy to use, have labeled cut settings on the machine, and you can also create a custom setting. The Cricut Maker is a superb machine! I invested in one and I LOVE it! It cuts with 4000 g of force! All of the cut settings are programmed in the software now and there is no Smart Set Dial on the Maker. I am very happy with my Cricut Explore Air. I also have a Cricut Explore Air 2 that I love. It cuts with 400 g of force. The Explore machines have a Smart Set Dial on top of the machine for turning to pre-defined cut settings. They are all great cutting machines. They all cut stencils so nicely, even out of the thicker stencil material. I prefer 075 thickness. Cricut Design Space software is fairly easy to learn, although there is still a learning curve. All of my Cricut machines cut so well through thicker material. I can cut cookie stencils with no issues. It is a sturdy machine. There is no knife tool or manipulation of edit points available in the current version of the software. The software does not allow you to design super fine detailed images because it likes to do a lot of work for you. I’ll say it again, the Cricut machines cut very well, especially when you have a new or newer blade. I prefer the premium fine point German carbide blade. The regular blade cuts well, however, it wears out faster. Bluetooth works perfectly every time. The Cricut mats are durable. A Cricut Access subscription is available for purchase. It gives you access to images and fonts, as well as “Make it Now” Projects. I use Cricut Access images all of the time. It is worth it. You can also share the weblink to your files with other Cricut users if you use the Cricut Access images. You cannot share the weblink to your files if you use images of your own or images downloaded from the web because of copyright. If you already own cartridges, you can upload them to your online account. Read about the types of files you can upload and use here.
I do not recommend the Cricut Joy for designing and cutting traditional stencils. It will cut vinyl if you make silk screen stencils, but it will only cut up to 4.5 inches wide and requires smart materials. You can learn more about the Cricut Joy HERE. See the materials you can cut with the Joy HERE.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 has been out for a few months now. I have had time to use mine and am ready to report :0) My high hopes for cutting the thicker stencils materials were dashed. The 5 kg of cut force is only available in Tool Carriage 2. Tool Carriage 1 on the Cameo 4 cuts with the same force as the Cameo 3, which is 210 g and that carriage only holds the Kraft blades and rotary blade. Those blades cannot cut detailed stencils. They are too wide and cannot turn sharp to cut intricate areas in a stencil. So the 5 kg of force(1 kg more force than the Cricut Maker) in the Cameo 4, doesn’t help cookie stencil designers. It does cut faster though. The Cameo 4 requires a new blade type that has a magnet on the back. It is called a Smart Tool System and detects which tool is in the carriage. It does allow you to use the blades for the Cameo 3 with these special adapters. A Cameo 4 spec sheet can be found HERE and the Cameo 3 spec sheet can be found HERE if you want to know specific details for each machine. The Cameo 3 and 4 both use Silhouette Studio software, so the design process is the same.
The Cameo machines are easy to use, do not have labeled cut settings on the machine. The cut settings are set within the software. The software is more sophisticated and has more tools/features than Cricut Design Space, so it is a little more complicated to learn. It cuts detailed designs and bridges fonts very well because of the variety of tools(knife tool and edit points)available in the software. It allows you to design images with finer details. Bridges are easier to create in small areas of an image or letters. I use the knife and edit points tools for those fine details. I use the ratchet blade, autoblade and the premium blade(stays sharp longer). My Cameo 3 and 4 have more difficulty cutting through the .007 and .0075 thicker stencil material. If they will come out with a fine point blade that will fit in Tool Carriage 2, that would be great! Bluetooth is working very well. I did have issues with it, but they seemed to have fixed that in one of the software updates. The Silhouette mats are thin and clear. I now use the 005 Grafix Food Safe stencil material. It is translucent, so it shows up on the Silhouette mat nicely. I also cut down Cricut mats to use in my Cameo. You do not need the internet to use Silhouette Studio. However, you do need internet access if you will be saving any designs to the cloud. Silhouette Studio is a software that you download to your computer. There is also a Silhouette Design Store subscription available for purchase. Read more about that here and read about the types of files you can use here. You can use your own images or images you find online to create your designs.
I design almost all of my stencils in Silhouette Studio and I cut them on both machines. I cut the heaver stencils(.007 and .0075) on my Cricut and the thinner(.005) stencils on my Cameo. I cut vinyl and cardstock on both machines. I suggest to everyone that they buy the Silhouette Studio Business Edition, found HERE. I do this because I can design any stencil that I want in Silhouette Studio and have total control over every part of it. I can design a stencil with the tiniest of details if needed. I can manipulate any edit point to get the exact stencil image that I want. If someone says that you can’t use a Silhouette file in Design Space, that is true. However, you can (export) save a file in Silhouette Studio Business Edition as an SVG file. Then you can import(upload) it into Cricut Design Space and cut the stencil.
I teach all of this and so much more along with all of my methods, tips, and tricks in The Colorful Cookie Club. We have so much fun! Join us and you will be designing and cutting stencils in no time!
In summary, I like all of my machines for different reasons. I’d buy any of them again. They are all great machines! They all cut vinyl and paper very well! For cutting thicker stencils (.0075), the Cricut is my preference. For designing and cutting thinner stencils(.005), Silhouette Studio software and Cameo is my preference.
If you are tech-savvy, Silhouette Studio won’t be too hard for you to learn. If you like to keep things simple, then Cricut Design Space is a little easier to learn.
If you are new to a cutting machine or want to learn to design stencils, join The Colorful Cookie Club. You will learn to design and cut your own stencils and you will love it! There are tutorials for Cricut and Silhouette cutting machines and lots of other fun things going on in The Colorful Cookie Club! Please join us today!
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*This post is my opinion on the cutting machines and software that I use to design and cut culinary stencils. I do not get paid for my reviews. I am just giving you my quick 2 cents.
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