Product Review & How-To: The Silhouette Cameo



In A Nutshell…….
(read further down for a full Review)

Good Points:
 The Silhouette Cameo is a digital cutting tool designed for the home user. It is affordable, easy to use, allows for a variety of applications, and is compact for easy storage. It works in conjunction with your computer but does not require great computer knowledge for its use. It’s doesn’t require the purchase of a cartridge, instead thousands of cuttable designs are available for individual purchase, or you can use your own fonts and outside designs.  It is a great machine, which will meet most of your crafting needs, and is backed up by a highly effective customer service which is quick to offer support.

Bad Points:
While the cutting is precise, there are some limitations to the materials you can cut with it.  It works well with paper, cardstock, vinyl, lightweight fabrics – essentially anything up to about a 0.8 mm thickness. Felts, heavier Chipboard and Grungeboard are off limits.  Finally, if you plan on crafting with ninja like stealth in the dead of night, this machine will definitely give you away with its distinctive noises.

Video Tutorial

Watch the video below to see how the Cameo compares with it’s predecessor the Silhouette SD.  You’ll also learn exactly how to set it up from taking it out of the box, to getting ready to cut with it. 

Additional videos on the Silhouette can be found here.

Our Full Review:  

The Silhouette Cameo is a digital cutting tool, marketed to the home user.   It connects to your computer through a USB port.  While it is capable of reading cut files through an SD card (thus eliminating the need for a corded connection), you will always need your computer to purchase and manipulate your images. 

So what is so great about this machine?  Well for starters, it is affordable.  You have a one time fee for your machine (which is less than many of the bigger digital cutters out there), and then you can cut away.  The parts are inexpensive when you consider that the mats and blades will last for a hundred cuts or more.  It is compact, which can be a real bonus if you are limited in space.  I have other machines, but I find it easier most of the time to just to pull out my Cameo which hooks up in seconds, and is small enough to stay on my desk for periods of time. 

Next, the basic software for manipulating your images is free, and with it, you can access the ever growing online store which contains thousands of images which can be bought individually. That means there are no $50.00 cartridges where you may get images you do not want.  The software is so easy to use, that you can begin cutting and manipulating images within a matter of minutes.  If you don’t find what you are looking for in the store, then you also have the freedom to import graphic images into your Silhouette Software, and print them, layer them, and cut them.

Oh, didn’t I mention that?  Well the Cameo is fitted with an optic eye, which reads registration marks which you print onto your paper, and cuts the images in relation to these marks.  I have personally found these cuts to be extremely accurate, and from what I have found of other reviewers, it has been found by others to be one of the most accurate on the market (reviews can be seen on Amazon and throughout the web).  If all this was not enough, Silhouette has created a whole line of products which are designed to work with your machine, and expand your crafting repetoire.  From home decorator and fashionista, all the way down to the humble crafter and rushed school project maker, this will be the machine which can take you to a one way trip of creativity and fun.

Silhouette Online Store:
The Silhouette online store is the place to go when you want to buy single designs which will automatically download onto your Silhouette Studio Library.  Thousands of images are available for the low cost of .99 cents on average (this does not include liscensed designs).  A variety of subscription options are available which will reduce this cost to a fraction of the amount.  The library is constantly being updated on a daily basis (Monday to Friday) with a variety of seasonal and all purpose images.  Silhouette works hard to come up and team up with some great designers.  You will find images by: Hero Arts, S-E-I, Scrap n’ Fonts, Donna Downy, Echo Park, as well as various independent designers.  On top of this you will find licensed images of Peter Rabbit, Olivia, MR and MRS. and much more.  Purchases are for individual images or mini collections.  Files are all high quality, and easy to use.

Silhouette Studio Software (Free) & Designer Edition Software ($49.99)
For every owner of the Silhouette, there is the availability of free software for working your images.  This software gives you access to the store, creates a library of your purchased images, and gives you the freedom to manipulate your images in a variety of ways.  For instance, you can use and cut every font on your computer so you will never need to buy another font (unless there is an amazing one that you can’t live without).  With the free software, you can also import a variety of file types onto your mat from outside sources.  That means importing DFX files (which Silhouette saves in), JPEG and many others.  So feel free to let your creativity soar as you import a variety of patterns and images for the print and cut, purchasing DFX cut files, or creating your own images to import from Adobe Photoshop. You can watch a free 2-part video HERE on how to use the Silhouette Studio Software.

Now if you want to do even more, there is a paid upgrade to your software, called Silhouette Studio Designer Edition Software.  This is the regular software on steroids.  With this upgrade, you can now import SVG files directly into your software for easy manipulation and cutting (this means no lengthy conversions for files you may already own).  Also you have some fantastic new creative knife tools which will allow you to clip designs using a variety of cut patterns.  There is a wonderful new sketch tool which allows you to turn cut images into sketches with a variety of lines and fills, a rhinestone tool to turn your patterns into rhinestone designs for your clothing, a built in ruler and guide lines to make your personal creations easier to manipulate, and finally an enhanced eraser set to modify designs with more precision!  If you like freedom to create without borders, then this upgrade will definitely fulfill your needs.

Products to expand the use of your Silhouette:
Silhouette has designed a varied product line which allows you to utilize your machine to its full potential, and take your crafting to a whole new level!  All of the following pictures came from the Silhouette Blog, and the artists which post there. 

Sewable Fabric interfacing and Clean Cut Fabric Interfacing:

The Sewable Interfacing has a thinner adhesive which allows you to temporarily iron your fabric on, and then cut it in your machine.  Once cut the fused fabric/interfacing can then be temporarily ironed on to your project for ease of sewing.  This product sells for $7.99 and offers 17″ x 36″ of interfacing.

Clean cut is designed for cutting intricate patterns out of your fabric for use in projects where you will be ironing the cut down (as in for cards or scrapbook pages) or for designs which you will be hand stitching (if you need to wash the item as in for canvas bags).  It is not a product designed for use in a sewing machine.  The suggested retail price for this product is $7.99 USD and it offers 17″ x 36″ of interfacing.

Heat Transfer Material:

This product is used for creating smooth or flocked images on fabric.  It comes in a variety of colors , two textures, and is easy to use.  You will find that each roll lasts for a long time. The Smooth is available in 20 colors.  The size for each roll is 9″ x 36″ and retails for $14.99 USD each.  The Fuzzy is available in 12 colors, is 9″ x 36″, and retails for $14.99 USD each.

 Printable Heat Transfer:

Printable heat transfer is available in two options, one for light fabrics, and one for dark fabrics.  The light fabric material retails for $9.99 USD and comes with five 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces.  The dark retails for $14.99 and comes with the same quantity as the light.  With these products, you are able to print your favorite digital image from your Silhouette Studio Software, cut it to size on your machine, and then iron the image onto fabric to create some unique fashion pieces.

Adhesive Vinyl:

Adhesive vinyl comes in two weights, Premium and Standard.  There is a 9″ x 10 ft and 12″ x 6 ft, the color selection differs slightly between the 9″ and 12″ widths, and between the Premium and Standard. The Frosted Glass Vinyl is available only in the Premium 9″ width, and is 4 ft long.

The Premium Vinyl is an extra durable vinyl designed for projects which may go through a more rugged use.  Outdoors on cars or windows, along with pieces which may be handled a lot are the primary uses for this vinyl. It retails for the price of $14.99 USD per color.

The Standard Vinyl is designed for everyday projects with little chance of wear, such as wall art, mirror art and so on.  It retails for $7.99 USD

Fabric Ink:

One of the new products released in the Summer 2011 is their fabulous Fabric Ink.  These inks are desinged to be used with the stencil vinyl.  The idea is that you cut out the design on the stencil material, and then spead the ink inside the stencil lines (one color at a time) to produce your own custome designs.  The colors are available in 10 colors, with the option of mixing your own colors using the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, or with the addition of the black and white.  While you could always use alternative fabric paints on the market, I enjoy the fact that you can find all the products in one place and can be assured of the quality.  Each ink tube retails for $8.99 USD and the transfer vinyl which gives you 3 ft of clear vinyl material, and 3 ft of transfer tape for the price of $14.99USD


Silhouettes Rhinestones are made with a heat transfer backing, making them perfect for all your craft projects.  Cards, scrapbooking, home decor or apparel, you will be able to find many uses for these great jewels.  They come in 10 colors and three sizes for each color all with enough gems for each project. Each package retails for $6.99 USD.  Along with the rhinestones you will find transfer tape and template kits for easy application.  There are a great variety of rhinestone templates in the Online store, and with the purchase of the Silhouette Studio Designer Software, you will be able to create your own!

Sketch Pens:

How great is it to have a machine that can cut a whole variety of fun materials, into a whole variety of fun shapes.  But wouldn’t it also be great to have a machine which could sketch out a whole variety of shapes?  Well with the addition of these sketch pens, you can!  Three sets are available, one glitter set of 4 pens, one metallic set of  4 pens, and one starter set of 8 different colors of pens.  Each of these sets retails for $9.99 USD, and each of these sets will turn out a beautiful image.  The online store contains a variety of images which are in sketch format, or with the purchase of the Silhouette Studio Designer Software, you can turn any cut file into a personalized sketch image of your own.

Magnet Paper:

Printable magnet paper allows you to turn a host of images into a one of a kind personalized magnet!  Each pack contains 4 sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ media.  Retail price is $9.99 USD

Tattoo Paper:

How many times have your kids begged you for one of those nifty fake tattoo’s?  I know my kids love them, and beg me not to wash it off (even days later lol) .  Well, now you can have them when you want, the way you want.  Mustaches, trucks, hearts or skulls, whatever you want, you can have, in fun tattoo format.  Each sheet contain two 8 1/2″ x 11″  printable tattoo sheets, and retails for $9.99 USD.

Etch All:

Glass etching?  Not a problem with your Silhouette, and their Etch All creme or Dip and Etch.  Simply cut out the stencil of words or images in your Silhouette, and use the cream or dip liquid to create the etching.  A Elegant look for any class or mirror gift.  Available in a variety of sizes, and prices.

Final Thoughts:

When all is said and done, the Silhouette is probably one of the most versatile and cost effective machines out there, and in the end it , IS, that darn good!!  It works the way it should, has few hick-ups, and is probably one of my favorite machines out there.   

If you have used the Cameo and have any feedback on how you liked it, please leave your review below.




33 replies on “Product Review & How-To: The Silhouette Cameo”

  1. I was patiently waiting for this review…..I just received mine last week and i can’t wait to get started. Thank you for an awsome review!! I hope you post more projects using the silhouette. Thank you!

  2. I have a cameo and I have to disagree with what you said it can and can’t cut. It’s a little harder to tweak the cameo settings than the original silhouette with just 3 different blade tips. I’ve had no issue cutting chipboard and thicker cardstocks. I haven’t tried felt but foam also cuts. It’s a matter of tweaking what the blade is set to. Some times I also use the double cut feature to make sure it cuts it clean.

    1. Hi Aubri,

      Thank you for your comments. It was actually mis-typed on our part – thicker cardstocks, and lightweight chipboard are okay, but in talking to Silhouette about it, it’s apparently not designed to cut felt, heavier chipboard and grungeboard.

  3. I really love mine! It is that simple to use! The only issue I had was loading my mat using the Load Media choice instead of the choice for loading the mat. That setting cut the heck out of my mat borders and I had to buy a new mat. Silhouette help was there within minutes to help me figure out what I was doing wrong! Their tech help service is awesome!

  4. Hi, I am ready to buy a die cutting machine and have heard really great things about the Silhouette Cameo. However, there were a couple of reviews recently that stated that the mat was too sticky and it ruined their paper and that it didn’t cut well. Other reviews said they had trouble with the software; that it would work then stop then work, etc. There were a couple of really angry people!! Has anyone had this type of issue? I’m really afraid now to purchase. Thanks

  5. I called cameo silohuette to ask questions about the machine before I bought it, and the person on the phone was an absolute retard that knew nothing about the machine and was unable to answer my questions about magnet sheet cutting. I did not buy the machine yet.

  6. I’ve had my Cameo for 3 months now and had NO issues with it. I love my Cricut Imagine but the Cameo is much better at cutting intricate patterns! If your mat is too sticky try conditioning it by laying your palms up and down on the top of it and do this several times all over the mat. That’s what I do when I “resticky” my mats using tack it glue and water mixture. I use Cricut mats in mine since they are available at my local craft store. I’ve made hundreds of cut on mine so far and not disappointed. You can get tons of free files online! It’s easy to convert free svg’s too. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to purchase it again and recommended it to my friends.

  7. Hey! Love your blog!!! Is there anyway that you can save your silhouette images as a jpeg? Im using a mac

  8. Wow! I have not had much time to play with my machine or learn the steps yet. Always take me time to understand when using the computer. I also probably should have a bit more software to work with as that may be limiting me. I have cut out lots of words and letters with great success!
    This software might be just what I need to get the ball rolling and to start using my machine more often with better results. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and for the info on the sale. I am off to see what there is and to stock up my library! There is hope for me yet!

  9. Hi,
    I just received my Cameo and was trying to figure it out today. I bought a design from the Silhouette store and can”t figure out how to use it how I need to. It was the scalloped circle. When I open it, it brings 4 different sizes to the cutting area. I only want to use one size but can’t figure out how remove the ones I don’t want. Please let me know if you can help me out!!

    1. If you want to delete one of the pic that you don’t want.
      Just click right on your mouse and choose “ungroup”
      It usually can do the trick.
      Hope it helps

  10. Hello,

    I wanted to ask you about the durabiity of the blades. I run a home based bysiness of creating custom made invitations and I am interested in buying a Sihlouette to enhance my designs. If I need for instance to cut 150 hearts this week, 100 bytterflies the next and 200 flowers after that, will I have to purchase new blades each week?

    Thank you.

  11. I’ve just got my Cameo and on the first cut it was making weird musical noises.

    I’ve since seen a blog comment saying the Cameo does this when cutting circles. Does anyone know if you can turn it off? I was cutting at a low speed of 1 and the sound was excruciating, like an untuned violin – not pleasant at all!

    Thank you.

  12. How can I save my images fromthe web to my Mac and then open with silhouette studio? I’ve been trying but I can only save as web archive 🙁
    I need help!

  13. You can’t turn off the musical noises when cutting. Those noises are from the stepper motors that are driving the machine. It is a noise that is common to many CNC machines including laser cutters. I just think of it as the tune of money being made while I am doing other things.

  14. Can the Cameo cut several pages at the same time? I have to cut hundreds of the same letters each month. That takes forever by hand, but will I still have to put one page in at a time with the Cameo or are there other dye cuts that would be more efficient? I only intend to cut out letters from card stock.

    1. Hi Leslie,

      You can only cut one sheet of cardstock at a time because the cardstock has to stick to the cutting mat.

    1. Hi Bobby,

      I think if I remember correctly, if you have it on a delicate cycle and lay flat to dry that it would hold up okay.

  15. I`m thinking of getting a silhouette cameo for my wife this XMAS. Can a design be imported from printer
    to silhouette cameo for cutting?


  16. I love my new Silhouette Cameo! However, the pay user’s manual is horrible. I even went to the trouble of identifying errors in the first 14 pages and suggested phasing corrections. In response,I got 2 email thanking me for my programming suggestions!!! Obviously no one even looked at what I sent them or read the email. When thy revise the product, they should correct the manual.

  17. I am needing a new cutter and am considering the Cameo but I have questions – does this have to be connected to the computer at all times to work or can I cut an SVG which is already downloaded in my computer if I have the design studio even if I don’t have internet access at the time I want to play with my cuts?

    1. Hi Lenoria,

      The Cameo does not need to be connected to the computer at all time, but you do need an SD card – so you would copy your designs onto the card and then insert the card into the SD slot on the Cameo – I have never done it that way myself simply because I always keep it connected to my computer.

      On another note – you mentioned SVG files – you can only use SVG files with the Silhouette if you have the Silhouette Designer version of the software (the paid version, not the free version) – SVG files do NOT work with the free version of the software.

  18. Hi, I’m having a heck of a time using the knife tool on my cameo. I see you tubes using the older one but nothing on the new one. I followed basic directions and cut my design in quarters. But the knife icon does not change and I can’t pull out the cut pieces. What am I doing wrong? thanks!

    1. Hi Mary,

      I wish I could help you – I have not used it recently. My suggestion would be to call customer service at Silhouette – they have always been fantastic at answering my questions whenever I have run into issues.

  19. Hi,
    I am really leaning on switching my Cricut and get the Cameo because I have no ability to import SGV files, does anyone know what programs you can get for the Cameo to import those type of files?

    Thank You!!
    Have a great day!

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