Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crafting | Die-cutting Felt: The Great Experiment

I love my Silhouette Digital Cutter very much, but it does not cut felt or thicker materials like chipboard.  So recently I got myself a Sizzix Big Shot on sale, so that I can die-cut some extra thick cardstock, felt, cork, chipboard, etc. 

Since my Silhouette can cut any shape I design, any font on my computer, and I have thousands of shapes, I only want to purchase dies for the Big Shot if the shapes are very versatile or classic, and if I want to cut other thicker materials with them.  So the first set of dies that I bought are the 1.75 inch “Limitless Layers Collection” from Papertrey Ink. 
Now comes the big die-cutting experiment where I try to cut economical felt from Michaels versus the 100% wool felt from Papertrey Ink.  :) I purchased the economical felt from Michaels months ago.  They are the “Creatology” brand and are 9” x 12” each.  They are made from 100% Eco-fi, a high quality polyester fiber made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. 

I had heard that 100% wool felt is much easier to die-cut cleanly than acrylic or polyester felt, so I purchased some 100% wool felt from Papertrey Ink.
The 100% wool felt is much thicker and more dense than the acrylic felt from Michaels.

First I set out to die-cut the Michaels acrylic felt to see how that would go.  The “sandwich” for the Sizzix Big Shot was as follows (from bottom to top):

1) Multi-purpose platform, all tabs down
2) Glass mat #1
3) Papertrey Ink dies, cut side up
4) Felt
5) Glass mat #2

I rolled that through the machine twice (back and then forth). 
The red felt from Michaels cut ok, I was able to fully remove the shape.  The green felt from Michaels didn’t cut all the way through in some areas and I had to use scissors to cut them loose.  It made my green felt shape less precise and the shape did not have a good sharp-cut edge.

Next I cut a piece of brown Michaels acrylic felt with the same “sandwich” configuration as above, and that one had a ton of places where the felt was still connected and I could not remove the shape from the rest of the felt.

Next I used the 100% wool felt from Papertrey Ink and I used the exact same “sandwich” configuration as above.  I rolled it through the machine twice (back and forth).  20111111-IMG_8891_600
As soon as I removed the felt from the machine, they were already cut cleanly and I could remove the shapes without using my scissors!

See the difference?  The left felt is Michaels acrylic felt and the right felt is 100% wool Papertrey Ink felt.

After this result, I got to thinking… why didn’t the acrylic felt cut all the way through every time?  From touch and sight, I could tell the acrylic felt is thinner and less dense than the 100% wool felt.  What if I engineered a die-cut sandwich configuration that was just slightly thicker/tighter so that when I roll it through the Big Shot, the felt would be squeezed against the die even more, so that the cut is cleaner?  So I experimented with a NEW sandwich configuration.

1) Multi-purpose platform, all tabs down
2) Glass mat #1
3) Felt
4) Papertrey Ink dies, cut side down
5) Piece of scrap cardstock
6) Glass mat #2

So the difference between this sandwich configuration and the first one is that I put the felt down first, then the dies with the cut side down, onto the felt.  Also, I added a piece of cardstock on top of that to make the sandwich tighter.

So what happened when I rolled the Michaels acrylic felt through the machine?  It cut the acrylic felt cleanly too!
I was able to remove the shapes fully without having to scissor cut anything!

I am super-happy with the results of The Great Felt Die-Cutting Experiment!  I love the 100% wool felt for its thickness and density, how it feels in my hand, and how it cuts so cleanly in the Sizzix Big Shot.  But the 100% wool felt is a lot more expensive than the polyester acrylic felt that you can buy by the sheet at Michaels.  I’m so happy that with some experiment and ingenuity, I was able to get my Big Shot to cut the acrylic felt cleanly too!  Yaaaaaay!  :D

Supplies used:


  1. You are so creative! Cool fix. :)

  2. I love that papertrey felt, but tend not to use it because it's so expensive. I just hoard it instead. :) this is a great trick and I am certainly going to add a cardstock shim next time. I have a cuttlebug but got the same results with acrylic felt.

  3. That is amazing!!! YAY you for making it work so you can work with more affordable felt :) I love love love these crafting posts of yours and dude, you are incredibly patient to make all those experiments! :D

  4. One of the easiest and reliable ways to cut both pliable acrylic and polyester needlefelts is to place the felt onto paper before passing through your cutting machine.
    The smooth fibers and fine denier profile of acrylics and polyesters tend to slide under cutting blades and this is where the stringing effect takes place.
    Just cut onto heavy paper or card stock next time and you will achieve clean cuts all the way...
    Nick from British Felt Co.

  5. Thank you so much for this tutorial, I'm all ready to cut. I found you through a pinterest search of felt/big shot. So happy!!! ~ Abby

  6. Thank you! I want to try out felt and your post helped me out!

  7. Hello

    Do you know if it works on 4mm thick felt? The one you used seems a bit thinner. Or have you tried to pile 2 sheets of felt to see if it cuts trough?

    This information would be helpful
    Thank you


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