Digital Die Cutting 101: Paper Craft Embellishments and More

Digital die cutting machines have become an irreplaceable tool for many card makers, scrapbookers, and paper crafters because of the unique combination of flexibility and versatility they bring to the creative process. Today, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the world of digital die cutting to discover why these helpful machines have revolutionized the way in which many paper crafters create.

Die Cut Hello Card

So, what exactly is a digital die cutting machine?

Simply put, a digital die cutting machine is an electronic system that allows the user to create custom elements for craft and home decorating projects. The machine employs a small blade to cut elements from card stock or other materials, which are mounted on an adhesive mat that is fed through the machine during the cutting process. An exception to the mat rule is the Craftwell eCraft, which allows you to cut without a mat.

Simple Hearts Die Cut Embellishments

What can I make on a digital die cutting machine?

Cartridge vs. software based systems

The first die cutting machines to gain popularity were cartridge based and only allowed users to cut the shapes included in purchased cartridges. The upside of cartridge-based systems is that they are standalone and do not require special software and a computer to operate. The downside is that you have a limited number of creative choices and the added expense of purchasing cartridges to create die-cut elements.

Software-based systems, like the Silhouette Cameo, Klick-N-Kut Zing, Bosskutt Gazelle, and Pazzles Inspiration, offer endless creative possibilities, allowing the user to import a variety of file types (.svg, .pdf, .gsd, .bmp, .jpg, and .png, to name but a few) or to create her own custom shapes. Many software-based systems come packaged with their own software, and third-party programs, such as Make the Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot, are designed to work with a variety of software-based systems.

Finally, hybrid cartridge/software based systems, like the Sizzix eClips and, more recently, the Cricut Explore, offer the best of both worlds, allowing the user to cut elements from cartridges or to import/create their own.

Die Cut Hexagon Pattern Background

Elements and materials

Digital die cutters can cut an incredible variety of elements, from simple shapes to ornate and delicate details that would be very difficult to cut by hand. Die cutters are also an invaluable tool for crafters who need to efficiently cut the same element repeatedly, such as favor boxes for a birthday party or embellishments for handmade holiday cards.

While die cutting machines vary from brand to brand, most can cut a number of materials. Card stock is, of course, the most popular material to use, but did you know that many die-cutters can also cut craft vinyl, sticker paper, metallic card stock, fabric (backed with interfacing), magnet paper, vellum, and chipboard? Pretty cool, huh?

Die Cut For You Gift Tag

“For You” gift tag created using the Silhouette Cameo and a gold metallic sketch pen

In addition, some die cutting systems, like the Silhouette Cameo and the aforementioned Cricut Explore, can be converted to drawing machines, using pens and markers in place of cutting blades to create colorful patterns, sentiments, and shapes.

 Print and Cut Embellishments

Embellishments created using the Silhouette Cameo’s print and cut function

Print and cut

An increasing number of digital die cutting systems also allow you to pair your machine with your printer to create an infinite array of print and cut designs. The Silhouette Cameo, for instance, employs an optical eye to sense registration marks on a printed page, making a pixel perfect cut around your design.

Print and cut is a fantastic way to make elements like journaling cards, labels, dielines with a pattern fill, and other pre-designed elements that contain details that might not otherwise lend themselves well to digital die cutting.

Die Cut Animal Boxes

Photo via k.becca

It’s no wonder that digital die cutting machines have taken the paper crafts world by storm. Die cutting machines bring unmatched flexibility and versatility to home crafters, providing them with limitless potential to create custom elements for card making, scrapbooking, paper crafting and beyond.

Note: All projects shown above were created using the Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Studio (Designer Edition) software.

Comments
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85 Responses to “Digital Die Cutting 101: Paper Craft Embellishments and More”

  1. carrie3650730

    From the comments below, users have been asking for cricut lessons for over a year. Please add Cricut classes for your customers there are a lot of us.

    Reply
  2. Rosie Ingleton

    I just joined, and because of cricut, only to find these cmmments disspointing, glad it was only 1.49.

    Reply
  3. Barb Shay

    I am very surprised and disappointed that there is no cricut anything. With the popularity of it, I would expect more on here. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee

    Reply
  4. Nohad Hatoum

    Ça serait fabuleux si on pouvait avoir un ours complet pour la silhouette avec tout à savoir du début comment débuter et tous exploiter merci

    Reply
  5. Alona Berkovitz

    I would really appreciate a class on how to make your own digital design/art so we can design our own SVGs to make/cut what we want… kind of like an art class but digital art

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Alona,
      Thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.
      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
    • dohoff61821075857

      I definitely second that – and the sooner the better! I have magnetic eyeglasses (Pair Eyewear) and am envious of all the wearers who post how they’re making their own toppers for their glasses with their Cricut machine!

      Reply
    • Catherine Cheyne Davies

      I agree that would be a really good class for us cricuteers to learn.

      Reply
    • Anne

      This seems like a no brainer to me. I asked my husband to buy me a Joy Circut because I want to be able to create my own art that I can cut from watercolor paper. I just started my first watercolor journal, and I’m not even sure the Joy will cut watercolor paper.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sharon,
      Thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.
      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
  6. Victoria Delano

    By far my favorite Craftsy class is by Cindy Eickoff (sp?) regarding the Silhouette Studio software. I would buy any class by her where she teaches other aspects of that software!!

    Reply
    • Patti

      Cricut classes would be most helpful with tips on problem solving for cutting intricate cards.

      Reply
  7. Katherine Dawson

    Yes, please add some Cricut classes to your class roster. Would be wonderful!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Katherine,

      Thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.

      If you have any other questions, please email, or call Customer Service.

      Sincerely,

      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.
      If you have any other questions, please email, or call Customer Service.
      Sincerely,
      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
    • Anne

      I’m glad to see this because I’m shocked that there aren’t any. I don’t sew, knit or crochet.

      Reply
  8. Linda Galloway

    I have a cricut, used once two years ago. I would love to create projects on it. Do you have any classes?

    Reply
  9. sandra gray

    Waiting to see if you will add some classes about how to proceed with my Silhouette Cameo. You need to update to what is trending.

    Reply
  10. Mary Hull

    Yes, I too would love to see Cricut classes – right from basic how to’s to classes on all the things one can do with cricut.

    Reply
  11. sharon.lascelles@googlemail.com

    I have a Brother Scan N Cut and I’m surprised there are no classes for this machine or for the Cricut?

    Reply
    • Marilyn Dayton

      That would be awesome. I have a Scan N Cut as well and the instructions for use on it are sadly lacking.

      Reply
  12. Nichelle Bradley

    I would love a class on this! I have a cricut and the more information the better.

    Reply
  13. Lois

    Definitely need more Cricut classes. This Digital Die Cutting 101 is so out of date! Doesn’t even mention the Cricut Maker! We need more inspiration in the die cutting for paper and vinyl.

    Reply
  14. Bruce Wykes

    Where are the cricut classes? It’s been over a year since some of these comments!

    Reply
  15. Amy Alcantara

    I have 2 large plot cutters. wish i could find help with using them to make signs and wall art

    Reply
  16. Nikki Ackland

    Another one that definitely won’t be renewing their subscription without Cricut classes. Very disappointed that it’s not already a thing.

    Reply
  17. Elizabeth Call

    Come one……With all of the hundreds and hundreds for craft classes here, where are the Cricut and Silhouette classes??!! There should be dozens!

    Reply
  18. Beth Brackney

    Disappointed! Was hoping for cricut classes. Really want to learn more. Guess I won’t be renewing as well unless some are added.

    Reply
  19. chanie mandelbaum

    Can you please add some cricut classes? Im very dissappointed! I will definitely not renew my account unless you add some! We just got a machine and was sure that there were some classes on craftsy! Please add some in asap!!!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      Thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.

      If you have any other questions, please email, or call Customer Service.

      Sincerely,
      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
      • Carol Felix

        I too would love Cricut instructional classes! If you could get Jennifer Maker to teach them, this platform would really score big with her teaching! She is so knowledgeable of Cricut software and is an excellent teacher! (Note: I have no affiliation with Jennifer. I have watched a few of her YouTube videos, teaching Cricut.)

        Reply
        • LINDA MUDRY

          I agree 110%. She is who got me started after I got my new machine. I was also hoping for Cricut classes.

          Reply
  20. Karen Barnes

    It is very disappointing to learn that there are no Cricut classes available on the Craftsy platform.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Karen,

      Thank you for your feedback. I have forwarded your comment to the proper department. We value your opinion, and it will help with the development of our online streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.

      If you have any other questions, please email, or call Customer Service.

      Sincerely,

      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
  21. Alys

    Wow, I thought you guys used to have a few classes on cricut classes. My daughter in law and her bf went in on one and I thought I might gift them a class. Sad…….

    Reply
  22. Alice Oppenheimer

    Ditto…. The age of the die cutting platforms like Big Shots is going the way of Princess Phones!!! Please update your card making and related courses to reflect the reality of this craft craze!!!

    Reply
  23. Renee Hierspiel

    No cricut classes? This is a very popular subject. You guys need to get some teachers who work with these machines or you will be losing members.

    Reply
  24. DeNeshia Girardeau

    Was searching YouTube and left because I just knew there would be a cricut course on Crafts. Super shocked to find none! I agree we the rest. Please provide some begginer cricut classes!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      If you previously purchased Cricut classes, you will find them on your account. We do not currently have any Cricut classes included in the membership.

      If you have any other questions, please email or call Customer Service.

      Sincerely,

      Sarah
      Craftsy

      Reply
    • Dawn

      Terrific question! C’mon Craftsy, get with the program! You used to have them? Why not now? Clearly you are not meeting the requirements of your membership!

      Reply
  25. Cindy Shelley

    Getting started Cricut class please! You tube videos are not helpful!

    Reply
  26. Jennia Hart

    Another vote for Cricut classes. Also, your cricut info is outdated. Cricut is no longer a hybrid, it takes svg files or a membership through Cricut.

    Reply
  27. blackberr20792600

    I would just like to get access to this class. Was so excited to find it on here only to find out my premium membership won’t grant me access. Bummer.

    Reply
  28. Maryellen Ewing

    I have taken my silhouette out of the box but I can’t get up the nerve to turn it on. I agree with all of the other comments.

    Reply
    • Christie Rhinehart

      Put you big girl panties on and get it out of the box! Watch a few utube videos and jump it. The more you play on it the more friendly it becomes…at least that’s what I found with cricut maker.

      Reply
    • jannkious@sbcglobal.net

      Google Melissas The Silhouette school her website and Facebook lives She has lots of free stuff.

      Reply
  29. bsjhepp@msn.com

    I agree with Peggy. I have had my silhouette cameo for years now and really do not know how to operate it, except to cut vinyl and few other things. I am an older women so I am one that needs to have a class where there is hands on to teach me how to use it. I can not really read and do it. I have to have something that shows me how.

    Reply