Printable Heat Transfer With The Silhouette Cameo Using Registration Marks

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Did you ever get a care package in college?  I remember the time my mom sent me the best. cookies. ever.  I'm putting together a care package for my cousin who is a freshman at UNLV. She's still living at home, and I thought she especially needs a care package so she doesn't feel like she's missing out on the dorm experience. She's very health conscious so I packed her favorite dried mango and toasted seaweed from Trader Joes, some makeup, and I made her this shirt.  Not the most academic of care packages.  The design is inspired by the tattoo she wants, an American Traditional heart and banner that reads "Rudig girl" - Rudig being our mothers' maiden name, and the Rudig sisters (our aunts) being three strong, capable chicks.

If you don't know much about heat transfers, you can do it a couple different ways.  You can buy heat transfer vinyl in different colors, and even layer them if you want... or you can use printable heat transfer paper that allows you to print the design with an ordinary inkjet printer.  The printable option is nice for designs with more than one color if you don't want to deal with separating your design by color and cutting/applying multiple layers.  Printable heat transfer is also a good option for designs with shading, like the heart and bird in my design.

I'm still breaking in my Silhouette Cameo, one year later... So this was the first time I really played with the design tools. I did lots of clicking on things that I don't really know anything about, so this definitely isn't a Silhouette design tutorial by any means. But I can tell you that I  used the bird and banner shape that came free with the software, and I bought the puffy heart (#15355) and rose tattoo (#45237) shapes from the online store. I had to figure out how to remove the white background from the shapes (you will see what I mean as you keep reading).  I also had to make the banner, which is transparent, a solid white instead so that you can't see the heart through it. When you have your design ready to print, make sure to turn on the Registration Marks.  And don't forget to Send To Printer instead of sending it for cutting at this point. 

I used Jolee's brand printable heat transfer, a package of 10 sheets - for dark and light fabrics - from JoAnn (use a coupon -- or if you're an Amazon shopper use my affiliate link!).  Follow the package instructions about which side to print on, and whether or not you have to print a mirror image or not. Technically you can bypass the Silhouette and cut free hand but I wanted to learn how to print and cut with my Cameo.  

Here is my printed design and the little black square is one of the registration marks:

Before you cut, make sure the Cameo is set to only cut around the design. Select all the shapes by making a box around them and then select Cut Edge, a red line should appear showing cut lines.  If a shape got left out, just click on it. But like I said, I did so much clicking and fooling around that I'm not 100% of what I'm saying.

pardon the photo of my computer screen...

Now that you have your "cut edge" defined, you have to deal with those pesky Registration Marks. The marks are printed in the corners, and Silhouette uses the marks as a reference so it knows where to cut. I have read and can confirm that it doesn't always work like a charm (it looks for the marks in the wrong spot). I had to make a few adjustments to the margins to get it to work, and changing the top margin to 0.75" is what worked for me. To be clear, I did not make any changes to the Registration Marks settings when printing, only before cutting. 

For the blade settings, I set it to Smooth Heat Transfer and I recommend leaving the blade at 2. I changed it to 1 and had to hand cut some areas. 

Here is my design all loaded into the Cameo for cutting: 

After it's cut, you can peel the design from the backing.  I accidentally forgot to remove the white background from the bird shape during the design stage (using the "trace and detach" tool), so I cut it by hand after printing and peeling off the design:

Then you iron it to the shirt over some parchment that is provided in the heat transfer package. 

And you're done!  So easy.  I hope she likes it, although after I made it my husband reminded me that my cousin is terrified of birds - oops!  LOL


  1. I really like your design. The finished tshirt looks great.

  2. Thank you for making this look so easy!

  3. how did you get the cut lines to trace around all of the different pieces?

    1. Hi Ali! That's one of the features of the Silhouette Cameo - "print and cut" allows you to print your design on your regular printer and then cut it with the cameo. This project was my first so I made some mistakes and I should write a proper tutorial on it.

    2. thanks for the quick reply. i understand the print and cut feature (love it!) but I'd love to know how you got the outline around all the shapes. did you group and use the offset function? i feel like you're doing something that i didnt know was possible.

    3. Oh sorry! So what I do is use "offset" to make an outline of the whole thing, and remove any inner parts that might be there as a result. Then the offset outline is the "cut line" and the rest of the design inside should be "no cut". You can see where I messed up because I didn't know how to remove the white background from the bird and that's why it didn't cut out the bird :)

    4. brilliant. thank you! i love learning new things for my cameo. what a great one.

    5. My easier! Actually for this project I think i "grouped" everything together and then designated "cut edge". Either would probably work.

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