4 All Things Sewing and Some Things Not

ScanNCut Collage

I recently indulged myself in a Brother ScanNCut. It seemed like the perfect cutting machine: no computer connection required, will cut through both paper and fabric (and presumably vinyl), and no cartridges to purchase! The design possibilities are endless.

My initial attempts at using the machine were seemingly fraught with problems: mat not loading properly and paper coming off of the mat during the cutting process. I took a short hiatus from the machine and now have come back to try and do some fun stuff at the same time as debug some of the problems I was having before.

The photo at the top shows some of the Christmas paper “ornaments” I made initially. The two more intricate flat designs came from “Simply Paper Cutting: Hand-Cut Paper Projects for Home Decor, Stationery & Gifts” published by Design Originals and written by Anna Bondoc. I really like the projects in this book. They’re very contemporary and not too ornate.

The 3D paper ball was a pattern I found via Pinterest and is described on the How About Orange blog. And the remaining snowflake is a built-in pattern on the ScanNCut.

It was in making these items that I initially ran into some problems that were worrisome and confusing. So I took a hiatus.

In the Meantime…

I made an iPad pouch using a pattern I found on etsy from Schoolhouse Patterns. I chose to use a Calico Cat fabric from Michael Miller that I just love. I thought I was finished when I completed the pouch, but realized later that it was perfect for a little more embellishment. A slightly bigger version of the cat, cut out of a contrasting fabric, would look great on the front pocket.

Scan to Cut Data

First step is to scan in the calico cat fabric using the Scan to Cut Data option.


After the ScanNCut scanned the fabric, it found the cat with the highest contrast (plus some other things). I then chose the Outline Detection mode and reduced the area over which the software would continue its processing.


I then increased the design’s size to 2″ wide and saved it in the ScanNCut’s memory.

ResizingTheCat Collage

Fabric Cutting

Now that I have the cut outline that I want saved in memory, I need to cut my contrast fabric. I prepared the fabric by applying some Pellon Wonder Under that I was unbelievably lucky to find at a thrift store for just a few dollars.


I removed the paper backing and placed the fabric on the standard cutting mat. I prepared the machine for fabric cutting by setting the Cutting Pressure to 4 and the Cutting Depth to 4 (as suggested by the manual).

PreparingForFabric Collage

The manual also suggests that you do a test cut to make sure that the settings are appropriate. I had been skipping this step before, but thought it best to actually do the test cut. You can choose between a square, a triangle, or a V cut. I picked the triangle. The test cut worked out perfectly.

TestCut in Fabric

I then went ahead and set up my design to cut out three cats. As soon as the machine started cutting, the fabric started to remove itself from the mat. I stopped the machine with the Start/Stop button on the panel and ejected the mat.

FabricFail Collage

I cut off the mangled fabric on the left side, leaving enough good fabric for two cats. And this time I really gave the fabric a good rubbing onto the mat before reloading it.

I removed the left-most cat from the design and proceeded to cut the remaining two. They turned out perfectly!

TwoCats Collage

I then adhered one of the cats onto my iPad pouch for this final look:



The ScanNCut manual suggests that there are two ways that fabric can be handled by the machine. Either you apply some kind of support (like interfacing or fusible web) to the fabric or you don’t. If you do provide support, then you can press the fabric directly on to the standard mat. If you do not, then you need to use a Fabric Support sheet that is provided with the machine.

If I am understanding the instructions correctly, this support sheet is applied to a mat and needs to stay on the mat “permanently”. Once you take it off of the mat, you cannot reuse the Fabric Support sheet. So I think that if you are planning on cutting plain ole fabric, you ought to consider dedicating one of the two mats (standard or low-tack) to the Fabric Support sheet.

I am not of that ilk. I prefer using the ScanNCut for fusible applique. The Wonder Under I used for this cat and the Heat N Bond Ultrahold that I have used in the past both stick quite nicely to the standard mat. In fact, it sticks much better than paper if you give it a good rubbing. So for now, I’m almost convinced that I’ll use this machine more for fusible applique than with paper. But we’ll see!

Next time: cutting paper and doing some troubleshooting

Also visit me on denversews.com!


Comments on: "Fun and Games with a Brother ScanNCut (part 1)" (12)

  1. Hi Debbie – I believe I fused some of that double-sided fusible interfacing, like Heat-N-Bond Lite to the fabric before cutting it. Then I put the fabric with the interfacing on the mat with the paper side down and cut it with the ScanNCut. Afterward you can remove the paper backing and fuse the cut fabric to your item. Does that help? – Actually now that I look at the original post, it seems I took the paper backing off before cutting. But I believe I’ve tried both ways. I think I wrote some other posts about using the ScanNCut – try looking at denversews.com and search for ScanNCut. I wrote a post about doing fusible appliques in 2014.

  2. Debbie Foxwell said:

    I really am having a hard time understanding how I cut out say a pig shape and when I take it off the mat and it will fuse to fabric. My question is do I put the material directly on the mat but when its cut how do I fuse it to my project. If I fuse the material first then stick it to my mat ,cut it out how then will the snap fuse to my project. I hope you understand my question. I think I even have myself confused. Thank you so much from an eager beginner

  3. Debbie Foxwell said:

    I really am having a hard time understanding how I cut out say a pig shape and when I take it off the mat and it will fuse to fabric. My question is do I put the material directly on the mat but when its cut how do I fuse it to my project. If I fuse the material first then stick it to my mat ,cut it out how then will the snap fuse to my project. I hope you understand my question. I think I even have myself confused. Thank you so much from an eager beginner

  4. Hi
    thank you for your reply. I found you tube the better option, but your problem was the one that I could not find anywhere till now. your pictures and explaination was excellent as I was having the very same problem. I did not like the facebook forum tbh.
    Thanks again

  5. Hi Kim – I think one of the best resources is Facebook. There are quite a few ScanNCut Facebook pages/groups where people ask questions and dole out advice all the time! Of course, you can post a comment and I will respond to you, too. But I highly recommend Facebook and YouTube. Lynne

  6. Hello
    my name is Kim and I live in the uk. i found this site through a google search. I am happy I did as I was having the exact same problems with some parts of my cutting snagging and not all pattern cut out. I am going too follow your advice and see how I get on.
    with kind regards
    p.s. would you let me post questions on your site or do I have to join ??

  7. […] standard mat (after removing the paper backing). Following some settings I found while working on another project, I proceeded to cut the swirls on the ScanNCut. I actually had some difficulties with this process […]

  8. I did pull the paper off of the wonder under before I stuck it on the mat. Fortunately it did not stick to my mat, but the fabric did become loose from the mat while it was being cut. Next time I try this, I’m thinking of using painter’s tape (i.e. low tack tape) to hold down the fabric much like you would do with paper that isn’t staying stuck to the mat. I’m sorry to hear that your web stuck to the mat. I would try getting it off with a baby wipe and letting the mat dry overnight. As I’ve used this machine, I’ve come to two conclusions. (1) The machine cuts best when the paper or fabric is staying nice and stuck to the scanning mat. So I’m planning on using low-tack tape for my next fabric applique attempt to help hold the fabric down. (2) The fabric cutting works best when it’s given some pretty substantial backing, to make it more like paper and less like fabric. If you want to try cutting fabric without backing, you can use that other fabric backing sheet(?) that came with the machine and perhaps use it with the low-tack scanning mat (since you can’t reuse the fabric backing sheet once you remove it from a scanning mat). Does that help? Let me know how it goes for you as I think we’re all still learning how to use this machine effectively!

  9. Hmmm…I just bought one of these and it came today. I want to appliqué using misty fuse on the back. I fused it to my cotton and stuck it on the mat (standard mat). Well, it cut just fine but I tried to pull it off and all of the web stuck to the mat (I can’t get it off) and the fabric pulled way without any fusible on it.

    Did you pull off the paper from your wonder under before you stuck it on the mat, or did you stick it on the mat with the paper attached?

    I’m wondering if the misty fuse, being fairly lightweight, will not work in this application and maybe I need some wonder under with the paper backing!

    The cuts looked nice, before I pulled it off!

  10. Oh that cat is darling and so worth the effort. I had seen this machine and I am grateful for your low down on it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: