Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Die Cutting Fabric and Felt

I did a quick test drive of my new die cutter yesterday. I have a gently used Sizzix brand "Original Sizzix Machine" made by the Ellison company.

My love affair with the magic of die cutters began back in my old classroom days. Many schools have at least one big die cutting machine made by Ellison and I know those school/commercial models to be true workhorses. The popular die cutter today seems to be the "Cricut". That thing is really expensive and only cuts paper and I don't know, probably vellum and the other supplies papercrafters are really familiar with. Another type is the Cuttlebug. Cuttlebug dies are cheaper, but very thin and I don't know if they can cut felt.

This machine can use many different brands of dies, but I found the type that go with this specific machine. I prefer simple shapes without lots of details, I got these cute tag dies, some flowers, and I have a circle die coming later this week from ebay.
P1010087

Mom gave me some vintage yardage of pink polyester gingham so I used that for my first test cuts. First I did fabric without any backing or interfacing. It cut perfectly! P1010088 See! By perfectly, I mean perfectly! Still, though... I need some sort of stiffener or fuseable webbing to use little gingham fabric tags, so I ironed some interfacing on and tried again:

P1010086\
P1010090

Even better! I used one as an identification tag on my tea towel for my new swap going around.

Okay, my friends, now for the real test... felt.
I've been using some heavier duty punches. These are disaster with acrylic felt:
P1010092P1010094
No amount of muscle makes these things go through acrylic or polyester felt.

They do make it through wool/rayon blend felt, but I have to clean up the fuzzies afterwards:
P1010096

But the die cutter has no trouble with either type of felt:
P1010099
P1010100

These dies cost about $15 US at JoAnns, but they were on sale for about $9 when I got them. I'm a serious cheapskate, so even that is a bit pricey, but evenly shaped flower petals and perfect, consistent circles are really hard to cut with scissors, so this is worth it to me!

70 comments:

BananaCraft said...

I just love it, Susie! Your tags are fabulous!!! :D

Nan and B.A.G.S. the pug said...

hee I LOVE IT!

Crafty Chica said...

love them!!! i don't know why, but i've never gotten the hang of using a die cut machine, i always do something wrong. i'm a dork, i know! but you have inspired me to try again!!! your tags are just plain COOL!!

IamSusie said...

Hold on.. is that THE Crafty Chica commenting on my little blog? Yes It is! You Rock, Kathy Cano-Murillo.. Die cutting is easy for me, but I am befuddled by glitter, so we all have our talents!

Donna said...

Great photos. I might have to re-do some of mine for my Craft Critique article and mention your trials as well.

Elaine said...

Do you think this machine would do thin plastic for stencils?

Rebekah said...

I was able to use one at my hubby's school last year and fell in love and have so wanted one. Now I have an actual reason I would use one. Birthday wish list.

Carina said...

Oh man, I'm totally jealous now! I now realise that I have a serious need for a die cutter! I love your gingham tags. :-)

Laura Bucci said...

Good info. Thanks! I will have to get one.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I LOVE you! I always stop and read anything I see you post at Craftster, and now this! My very underfunded preschool needs some felt shapes and I have been up all night trying to find a solution. Thank you so very much for this idea. Maybe it will be in the budget for us!

Melinda said...

That's amazing! I have the cricut...I didn't know the bug could cut fabric. BTW, the cricut can cut shapes. A couple of months ago I cut out a shape to applique on a baby quilt. It worked like a dream! I don't have a blog, but I'm happy to email it to whoever wants to see. (It was my first attempt at applique)

RedMarionette said...

Wonderful information! I am looking into mass cutting eyes for my characters :)

Cecile said...

Thanks so much for the explanation!

TwoRightHands.etsy.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this info! I really love crafting, but I cannot stand the tedious cutting of small pieces...plus they get sloppier as my hands get wearier!

You said the dies are around $15.00. I found this link...is this what y'all usually pay for this machine?

http://www.sizzix.com/product/627

IamSusie said...

Anonymous-
I got mine secondhand from a crafty friend who was cleaning house. I think that is probably the standard USA price for a new one of these, but see if you can find a used one at ebay or somewhere. Lots of papercrafters are switiching over to the little Cuttlebug or the Cricut.

Stephanie said...

What are the dimensions of the machine? What is the largest size square or rectangle it would cut? I'm interested in it for quilting purposes.

IamSusie said...

Stephanie- I looked it up online. The larger machine is the Sizzix Big Kick or Big Shot which will take any of the Sizzix dies. Target lists the dimensions at 6.75Hx15Wx18.13D". I did not picture that one here.

For the Sizzix Original I have:
Footprint - 13” long x 7 ½” wide x 4 ½” high
Cutting Area - 4 ¾” x 3”

The size of things you will be able to die cut with this machine all depends on the types of dies you purchase. Sizzix Original Dies and Sizzix Bigz Dies are available at craft and scrapping stores and on the internet. I got a few dies at Ebay.

This smaller machine is not able to use the Bigz dies. Expect a collection of the thick dies and the cutting machine to take up a good amount of space in your sewing area or cabinet!

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've always wondered if these die-cutters worked on fabric and felt. Now, I know! Thanks!

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

I use acrylic! I'll have to get one now, damn!

I have been using sizzix paddle punches for cutting felt, they do FAB throgh even 5 layers, but you can't get them anymore except on ebay, and I want LARGER cuts!

Marci said...

muchas gracias!!!! I am going nuts looking around for a die cut for felt, when I ask in the stores they look at me as I came from Mars!
thanks!! GRACIAS!!!

presentsimple said...

I was so happy to find this info, because (like Marci!) I've been the weirdo asking Everywhere about die cutting felt and fabric to no avail...
I finally bought a Sizzix Big Kick because it says right on the box that it works on fabric.
As for dies, I'm only in the market for alphabets, and they only had Sizzlets available. Got it home... IT DOESN'T CUT FABRIC OR FELT!
I freaked, but was able to return it the next day, thankfully.
But now I don't know what dies to buy, I'm lost. I even wrote to the Sizzex company. The answer was that NONE of their dies cut fabric because they don't use blades but chemicals. They told me to buy 'All Stars' letters (I think from the parent company Ellison). I can't seem to find them, though.
Are your 'Originals' dies blades??? (Even though the Sizzix rep said none use blades?)

IamSusie said...

presentsimple- I hope you read this reply because I couldn't figure out your email..

The Sizzix rep you talked to is crazy. Chemicals?! The little Sizzlets dies will not work at all on fabric, but the thicker dies by Sizzix will. Look for Sizzix Originals or Sizzix Bigz dies. There are also commercial dies available to schools. These have a very thick blade and can cut through multiple layers of construction paper, foam, felt, or fabric. These are very expensive, but they have good alphabet sets and a HUGE selection of basic shapes. I think they are manufactured by Provocraft, but you might need to be a school or something to get ahold of those. Various sellers on Ebay sell the Sizzix Original dies or Sizzix Bigz.

Good Luck!

Fotf said...

This was such a good read. I have been debating getting a sizzex for die cutting felt as certain shapes are too fiddly to cut out and one friend said it would work and one said it wouldn't but that's two against one now so i may have to start looking round Ebay again. Stop by and check out my felt creations
:-)

irishorla said...

Hi,
Dont know if im just being dumb, but im completely confused by all of these die cutters. At the moment im only using the handheld ones for cutting pictures for keyrings. I am very keen to get some sort of die cutter for cutting out letters, shapes etc. Can anyone help me out? Also, if you know of the machines etc, do you know if they post to ireland? Thanks in advance :)

IamSusie said...

irishoria- Send me your email address and I can help you more specifically. I can't tell if you need to cut paper or fabric and felt. Practically all dies and punches will work on paper. I checked and I think that in Ireland, you can use the Sizzix UK site if you are interested in the die cutting system I used here on fabric. I recommend a machine that uses larger dies like the Bigz because it has more dies to choose from. http://www.sizzix.co.uk/

-Susie

judith700 said...

I've read thru all the posts and have the drift of how die cutters work. I've also called Ellison the company that makes the Sizzix to get some information from them. My question is, "Will the Big Kick machine cut handmade felt". I'm not trying to do anything very tricky all I want to do is make felt circles about the size of a dime, nickle and half dollar. The woman at Ellison said I should use starch on the felt to be sure it's stiff enough for the machine to cut. Is this really necessary? I'm making something with Merino wool and silk, I would like the felt to remain as soft as possible. It's very thin felt and will be needle felted to the silk.

IamSusie said...

Judith- I dont have the Big Kick, but I assume that it will work as effectively as the Sizzix Original. I don't use any starch or stiffeners on my felt and it cuts just fine. I also found that thin fabric cuts just fine too, although the starching tip is probably a good one for the silk if you encounter problems with it. Good luck!

magnolia said...

I need a machine to cut letters and designs out of a pack cloth ( nylon coated fabric) what would work the best? I have been told the Cricut will do the job? WHat do you think?

IamSusie said...

Magnolia- I've never used a Cricut, but my friends at Craft Critique have reviewed it. I think you need the bigger knife to cut fabric. The Cricut might be a better bet for you since alphabet die cut sets are difficult to find and the cost is prohibitive.

Berrylicious Buttons said...

Hello IamSusie, THANK YOU! i found your blog quite randomly as I was looking online for felt cutters, i have since purchased a Sizzix BigKick and tried to cut felt with it (that is what i exclusively want it for) ... it didnt cut (it looked like your picture with the punches) ... what have i done wrong?? do you have any tips?

IamSusie said...

Berrylicious- I don't know what went wrong. Did you use the right dies? The thin ones don't work. You could have a bad die. Also, I think that natural fiber felt cuts better than synthetic. I usually buy wool blend felt, but all kinds cut perfectly with my Sizzix original.

Syafazaliza said...

hi.. for months i have been looking for this cutter.. i wanted to have it to cut my felt crafts.. i'm really lazy to cut them manually.. hahahha..

Anonymous said...

Hi I have a question you might be able to help me out. I am looking to cut a pattern like a heart using grograin ribbon. would a die cutter work?

IamSusie said...

Anonymous- Grosgrain ribbon? Probably, but read all the above and don't try those little thin dies that are meant for paper or embossing. You need a heavy machine like the one I pictured on my post and the thicker dies.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I want to buy the original sizzix machine, will the die say thicker die on them. I keep reading other things will I need a converter on this machine or will the thick dies just work on them. Sorry for so many questions I am really new to the whole die cutting things.

IamSusie said...

A convertor is for thin dies or dies from other manufacturers. If you are using an Original Sizzix, you will just need the cutting "pad". I assume this comes with the machine, but I don't know since I bought mine used from a crafty friend.

Lana of Honeysuckle Lane said...

I have looked and looked for a machine to cut flower shapes from felted wool (ex: a felted wool sweater or blanket). Cutting them by hand is getting tiring, lol!
I'm hoping this type of cutter will work ~ I'm going to go read more. Thanks for sharing! :)

Pam said...

This is wonderful! Hope to learn how to use!

Aida said...

how n where can i get die cutter and how much...

brooklynechaos said...

I'm considering buying one of these, but I have a tendency to design my own felt shapes [acorns, oak leaves, pumpkins, skulls, flowers... so far ;)]. So, I'm not sure how useful a Sizzix will be. Is it worth the money to simply cut perfect circles, ovals and tag shapes? Is there another option I'm missing? I'd really like to streamline some of my operation. I think I spent an hour cutting tags for the back of my felt brooches tonight. It already takes awhile to sew the pieces together and embroider them. Thanks for this tip. I'm following your blog now! :D

Laura Dovalo said...

I have the exact same problem as you, brooklynechaos. I'd love to find a way to cut my own shapes out of fabric and felt... I asked the Sizzix company if it was possible to design and create my own dies for the big shot machine and they said NO, but I am not giving up...there has to be a way. I've seen people experimenting with their Sizzix and other die cutters on youtube. I might buy Fiskars shape cutter and try to make my own template out of plastic or something.

IamSusie said...

Laura- Please keep me posted on your progress! I hope that one day Sizzix will get serious about dies for felt and fabric. We need dies that cut multiple same size circles and little petally flowers and multiple leaves, not just one at a time.

Laura Dovalo said...

OK I will. So far no luck though... It would be easier to come up with something if I had a die cutter and could examine the dies close up (and even disassemble one). I live in a small town in Spain and there are no craft stores nearby and none of my friends share my love for crafts, so unless I buy myself a machine on the web I wont get to see one. There is a growing arts and crafts community in Spain, but we are still lightyears away from the US in terms of machines and other materials.

The brass templates are only for embossing, right? It would be quite easy to make your own template out of brass I think.

IamSusie said...

Laura- The brass ones are for embossing, yes. Good luck in your quest!

Anonymous said...

will this machine cut through multiple layers of felt or does it all have to be done one at a time? these machines are completely new to me and am looking for one that will cut felt (preferable multiple layers). my biggest piece will probably have a diameter of 4". any suggestions from anyone?

IamSusie said...

Anon- It does depend on how thick your felt is. I usually cut two layers at once.

Laura Dovalo said...

Does anybody know what other brands dies can be used to cut felt in Sizzix' Bigshot? I've been trying to find some sort of material compatibility chart online...

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

I wonder if those who have had trouble with this set up were using wool, or partial wool felt.

Susie were you using poly craft felt or wool felt? I want this for poly wool exclusively.

IamSusie said...

Jen- Poly wool felt cuts like butter and works great. I am even sometimes able to cut the wool/rayon blended felt with paper punches, although there are fuzzies to deal with.

Here is a whole article I wrote for Craft Critique on types of felt:
http://www.craftcritique.com/2008/09/draft-felt-comparison.html

Laura Dovalo said...

Here is a link to a helpful Die Cutter Materials Chart for all you beginner diecutters (me included, I received my Big Shot yesterday!). It's from the year 2007, so there might be some new products missing from it.

http://www.indigojay.com/crafting/diecutter_materials.pdf

RuthOz said...

Hi Susie,
I'm looking for a way to cut out letters onto fabric with an iron-on webbing on the back for my home business making personalised towels and t-shirts (www.teesforme.com) as I currently cut them out by hand, which is very time-consuming. I've come across your site which is fantastic! From what I've read the sizzix original with thick alphabet dies should work? When I've looked on the sizzix site, it seems the machine is $80 and each letter is $20 each to buy. Do you know how often I can re-use these letters? Is there somewhere I can buy a complete alphabet cheaper do you know?

designer fabric said...

Those are nice die cutters. Very precise. For how much did you get it? I like the quality of its finished item.

Heather said...

Thanks for this post! A sizzix is just what I need! :)

Anonymous said...

This is awesome information. Do you think it will cut fleece?
Stoney11771

IamSusie said...

Stoney11771- Yes, this method will cut fleece.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this site! I found an Original Sizzix for $10 and so excited to get some dies and start cutting!!! Stoney11771

Anonymous said...

I bought the Sizzix Originals circles and am very happy to report that it works GREAT! I was sad to find that none of the other dies in the joann stores or Hobby lobby would work in it but hey I have CIRCLES! LOL I will have to buy the dies on ebay I guess. I want to thank you again for your blog!
Stoney11771

Carmen said...

Argh im so confused lol do i buy a cuttlebug, big shot or i have even seen a slice cordless digital design cutter... im confused about what dies to buy.. i love the cuttlekid designs, im wanting to just make designs on kids clothes but want them to look professional.. any help???

Anonymous said...

Great work! I have a question though. I own a flock of sheep and I am going to make homemade felt (first time, I'm so excited!) BUT, I"m looking for a die cutter that can handle thicker felt? I'm making wool for rug hooking and need uniform pieces. Any ideas? Let me know, rmf@itctel.com
Thanks! Suzanne

Mary Ellen said...

Sizzix paddle punches are awesome for the small fiddly details. I was able to obtain some of the discontinued paddles and have posted them on my Etsy supply shop. The shop is: Etsy.destashbelles.com
I have more to post next week.

Joann B said...

I use the little green Cuttlebug machine but have used a Big Shot also. Both will cut fleece, fabric and felt. Felt should be either a wool blend or 100% wool. I buy my felt on Etsy from Giant Dwarf and Benzie Bazaar for wool blend. My 100% merino wool comes from Felt on the Fly on Etsy. The sizzix dies need to be the Originals, Bigz because of the thicker blade. No Sizzlits. I also cut felt with Die 2x2 Flower #1 made by Cuttlebug. I send all these dies through the little green Cuttlebug machine. Machine was cheap but works like a dream.

See my felt flower bouquets on Etsy.com. My shop is Buttonz and Bloomz. All were done with Cuttlebug.

IamSusie said...

Joann B- Your bouquets are amazing! It is really surprising how resistant Sizzix is to expanding their marketing into fabrics and felts. My friends at a product review site have been trying to get them to share their products for review with felt and fabric applications, but they only want to send out dies for paper and matboard. They are crazy, but I still recommend Sizzix even if they don't care about feltcrafters.

Bernice said...

Hi; I am wanting to make numbers for advent calendars out of craft or wool felt. So they have numbers advailable?

IamSusie said...

Bernice- Yes they have numbers dies. Go to the Sizzix website and you'll see them.

Domino said...

HI, I am new to all this and only came across a machine that cuts fabric/felt by accident whilst googling. My question is what machine do I start off with? I want to buy a good one that will last and will cut light to medium weight fabric/felt. Can anyone advise please so that I don't go out and make an expensive mistake!!

Mania said...

I liked your blog very much!! I will follow you!! Best regards from Greece!!

krystle kreations said...

could anyone list any other dies here that you can cut felt with thro die cutters like sizzix and cuttlebug. I have originals and i know bigz with sizzix will but just wondered about other brands?
k :O)

Shakira Ain said...

hye...
may i know...
anyone here selling a die cutting machine and its accessories??
and also can make delivery to malaysia??

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deanna roberts said...

The circuit cuts more then just paper I cut fabrics an felt with it