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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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!