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The Silhouette Cameo Mat: All You Need to Know (and more)

The cutting mat is an essential part of your die cutting machine!  There is a surprising amount to know about the cutting mat.  Whether you are new to the Silhouette Cameo or a long time user, you just might learn something new!

The Silhouette Cameo Mat, all you need to know (and more!).  Great resource!

The Silhouette Cameo mat comes in several sizes.  The 12x12 inch Cameo mat (standard grip), 12x12" Light Tack Mat12x24" and 8x12". The mat is clear and comes with a 1 inch grid printed on it.  When your mat is facing the correct direction, the sticky side is up and the Silhouette logo is in the bottom right hand corner.  To expose the adhesive on the mat, remove the blue cover sheet then place your materials on your mat.

Silhouette Studio has a digital representation of your cutting mat in the program.  There are several different options you can select regarding the digital mat that are worth mentioning.  Let's take a look at how the mat appears in studio.

Anatomy of the digital Cameo mat:

Anatomy of the digital Silhouette Cameo mat.  Shows all the parts of the mat- so helpful!

The dark gray grid in the background is Silhouette Studio's representation of the cutting mat.  It comes with a 1 inch grid, just like the real mat.  It even sports the Silhouette logo in the bottom right hand corner!

The white box on top of the gray mat is your material.  You can change the material size in the Design Page Setting's window.  In the above example, my material size is 10x12 inches.

The red border around the outside of the material is the cut border.  The Silhouette Cameo can cut up to 12 inches wide and 16.5 feet long (if you are cutting without a mat).  The largest mat size is 12"x24".  The cut border is generally the size of the material you are working with.  Note: if you have longer than 12x12 inch material, you must adjust the material size and the cutting mat size in the Design Page Setting window or the cut border will remain at the 12 inch mark:

How to turn the Cameo mat on and off in Silhouette Studio.

The light gray border on the material is the printing border.  If you want to print anything from your Silhouette Studio software, turn the "Print border" line on and ensure that everything you want to print is within the gray box.  The print border is 8.5x11 inches (the same size as a standard sheet of printer paper).


Adding or Removing Grid Lines:

I prefer to work without grid lines showing, but if you want to turn them on in Silhouette Studio, you can press G on your keyboard whenever you are not in a text box.  Silhouette Studio will turn the grid on (or off).  You can also go to the Grid Settings Window to turn them off or on.  If you want your digital mat to look like the actual mat, turn the grid on with a 1 inch spacing and 1 divisions:

The digital v. Physical Silhouette Cameo mat.

You can control how many divisions and the size of the spacing in the Grid Settings Window.

How to turn the grid on Silhouette Studio mat.  You can change the colors too- cool!

In this window you can tell Silhouette Studio if you want to see the grid and if you want your items to snap to it (which is helpful if you are trying to align something with the gird lines).  You can also change the color of your grid and turn the ruler and crosshairs on or off.

The higher the spacing, the bigger the main boxes will be.  In this example, my spacing was at 2.  This made each box 2 inches square:

Spacing and the Silhouette grid.

You can also add in the divisions, which will break up your spaces into smaller sections.  For example, I added 4 divisions per space, so each 2 inch square was now broken into .25 inch squares.  You can still predominately see the 2 inch spaces with the divisions being slightly thinner/lighter:

Divisions and the Silhouette mat.

You can mess with these settings to find something that works for you.  Personally, I only turn the grid on if I want to make sure design elements line up, but you can do what works best for you.


Cutting without a cutting mat:

You can cut certain materials without a cutting mat.  The material must have a backing or carrier sheet such as adhesive backed vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV).  While you can cut these materials without a cutting mat, I still recommend it as the mat helps stabilize the material and ensures a proper cut.  You cannot cut paper (for example) without the cutting mat in place.   To cut without a cutting mat, on the Cameo 3, you will want to make sure that you do not have a cutting mat in your design.  To turn the cutting mat off, go to the Design Page Settings window and change the Cutting Mat to "none" from the dropdown menu:

How to cut without a cutting mat with a Silhouette Cameo.

This will remove the dark gray cutting mat from the background.  Note: it is important to pay attention the the black arrow on your screen.  This will show you which direction the machine thinks is the top of your material.  In this example, my material size is 12 inches wide by 9 inches long.  The machine expects me to feed the material in so the 9 inches is at the top, not the 12 inches.  This is important to note as loading your material in the opposite direction will affect your cut job.  The top of your screen is not always the top of your material!

When you load a job that does not have a cutting mat into the Cameo 3 machine, simply press the "load" button on your touch screen.  When you remove the cutting mat from your file in Silhouette Studio, the machine knows that you are cutting without a mat and will advance your material into the machine at the correct distance.  If your material is pulling in too far, it's likely that you did not turn off your cutting mat.  Alternatively, if your machine isn't pulling your material in far enough, it's possible you turned off your mat and intended for a mat to be used. (Note: this is not the same as it is for the Cameo 1 or 2 machines.)

When cutting without a cutting mat, you do not want to cut all the way through your material.  Your machine has a built in cutting strip that runs along the path that your blade follows, but the strip is not a replacement for a cutting mat.  The cutting strip will help protect your machine and your blade from damage should you cut through the material, but it will eventually wear out even with proper use:

The Silhouette Cameo cutting strip- what it does and what to do if it's damaged.

To replace your cutting strip, simply peel up the cutting strip and stick a new one down.  If your machine is missing certain areas when it cuts (even if you always cut with a cutting mat), check your cutting strip to see if it is in need of replacement.   You can pick up a replacement here.


Cutting With a Cutting Mat:

To load a cutting mat into the Silhouette Cameo, remove the protective covering sheet from the mat:

Silhouette Cameo cutting mat 101- remove the liner!  Next, apply your material to the mat.  Use the grid lines on the mat to line the material up with the edges of the sticky portion of your mat.

Next, butt the mat up to the rollers on your machine.  Use the blue line printed on the left hand side of the cutting deck as an alignment mark:

How to align the cutting mat with the Silhouette Cameo.

Press the load button and your machine will advance the cutting mat into the proper location:The Silhouette Cameo cutting mat advances the cutting mat to the proper location to begin cutting.

If the mat did not load straight, unload the try reloading.

Note that the roller bar can be moved up and down on the right hand side by flipping the lever above the bar.  When the lever is flipped forward or down the bar is not locked into place:

What does that lever on the Cameo machine do?  Find out!

To lock the bar in place, flip the lever to the upwards position:

How to keep your mat from sliding around with the Cameo 3 machine.

The bar will not move much, but it will move a little bit.  If your mat is sliding around when cutting, make sure your lever is locked in place.


Adjusting the roller bars:

When cutting, your roller bars should just overlap the edges of your mat or material:

How to properly align your roller bars with the Silhouette Cameo 3.

If your mat or material is smaller than 12" wide, you will need to move the roller bar over to properly hold the mat or material.  The right roller can be adjusted by twisting it until it unlocks (look closely at the roller and it will have a lock and unlock position):

How to lock and unlock the roller bars on the Cameo 3.

Slide it over to the next stop and then lock it into place.  There are stops where the roller bar can be aligned to and look like grooves in the bar:

Adjusting the rollers on the Cameo 3 machine.

There are four stops on the bar.  They are in the 12" mark for the Silhouette Cameo mat, slightly less than 12" mark for cutting 12" material without the mat, 8" mark for cutting with an 8" mat and slightly less than 8" mark for cutting 8" materials without the mat:

The rollers glide into groves on the roller bar.  There are 4 sizes to pick from depending on the material size and if you are using a cutting mat.

Equally space the middle rollers over your material as well, or slide them out of the way for bulkier or delicate materials.


Prolonging the life of your mat:

If you accidentally cut all the way through your mat, you can tape the back side of it using packing tape.  This will not really fix the mat, but will work like a bandaide and allow you to keep using the same mat for a while longer.

Alternating which direction you load the mat will prolong the life of the mat. The cutting mat can be loaded in two ways.  You can load the top of the mat by the black arrow, or turn your mat around and load it from the bottom.  The mat is not square though, so you cannot load it from just any direction, only top or bottom.

Change where you cut on your mat.  If you always cut in the top left corner, this section of your mat will lose it's sticky faster.  Changing where you are cutting on your mat will help space out the damage to the mat, making it last longer.

Clean your mat.  If you have a lot of built up fuzz or have been using high fiber materials such as fabric or handmade paper, gently clean your mat with warm water.  Let it air dry when finished.

Make sure to store your mat flat, with the cover sheet over the adhesive.  If your mat is bent, use books to help flatten it.

Use tape to hold materials in place.  If your mat is beyond it's days, you can try using tape to hold your materials in place.  This helps with very thick materials as well.

Restick your cutting mat with a temporary adhesive or glue.  There are a lot of tutorials out there that recommend different adhesives to replace the adhesive on the mat when it wears down.  You'll have to decide which you prefer.


FAQ's about the mat:

 My mat is too sticky- how can I make it less sticky?

To make a brand new mat just a little less sticky, use a clean t-shirt!  Smooth the fabric over the mat and then remove.  It will leave the mat just a little less sticky so your materials do not stick too much.  For fragile materials, consider using the Light Tack Mat instead.

My mat isn't sticky enough- how can I make it sticky again?

Try washing your mat with some warm water.  Let it air dry.  This usually brings some of the sticky back to the mat.  If it's not sticky at all, you can try to use some adhesive spray to revive the mat, or use tape to hold your materials in place.

My mat is sliding around when cutting, what's going on?

Make sure your roller bars are appropriately spaced.  The rollers should *just* overlap the edges of your cutting  mat.  See above for more information about adjusting the roller bars.

Can I use other brands of mats in my machine?

The official ruling is no on this one.  Using a different brand of mat in your machine can ruin the calibration of your machine and it also voids your manufacturer warranty.  Stick to Silhouette brand mats and you should be covered!

How long does a mat last?

A cutting mats life span will depend a lot on what you cut.  Someone who cuts a lot of paper, for example, will need a new cutting mat before someone who cuts vinyl as you're not cutting through the vinyl backing sheet.  Having a back up mat on hand is always a good idea though, just in case.

Should there be score lines in my mat after cutting?

Yes, some scoring is expected when cutting with a cutting mat.  You are cutting through the material and this will leave marks on your mat.  If you are cutting a lot of the same shape, make sure to move the shape around on your mat or rotate your mat to prolong it's life.

My mat isn't sticky AT ALL- why?

Did you remove the cover sheet?  The mat comes with a blue or teal colored cover sheet that covers the adhesive.  Make sure to remove the cover sheet, attach your materials to the mat and then cut.  Replace the cover sheet when you are done cutting to keep your mat clean between uses.









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19 thoughts on “The Silhouette Cameo Mat: All You Need to Know (and more)”

  • Tabitha Salmeron
    Tabitha Salmeron June 12, 2018 at 12:09 am

    I have been thinking to purchase a cameo. Can you suggest me what should i consider about this when i am going for buy this? Thanks in advance for your answer.

  • Cassie jeter

    I can’t get my Bluetooth to work....’my Computer will recognize it but won’t connect! And finally hooked up
    Through usb and now it’s saying cutting mat is too wide , I’ve clicked on cameo 12x12 mat which is what I’m using and still not working ! Why can’t silhouette have a # u can call and her help?? ???? and would really like to figure out my Bluetooth as well! Really really regretting upgrading from my 2 !

    • Kala

      Hi Cassie,
      Sorry to hear that you're having issues with the Bluetooth. Bluetooth connectivity can depend on the computer you have. It's possible that your computer isn't compatible. You need:
      Operating System: PC ( Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10) or Mac (OS X 10.6.8 and higher)

      If you have a Mac, note that Sierra and High Sierra isn't working yet.

      If you have a computer that is within the specs listed, then it should work... but I know you have to connect it through Silhouette, not just through Bluetooth on the computer. To connect it through Silhouette, go into the Send tab, click on the Bluetooth button at the bottom then select the cutter.

      If your computer is saying the mat is too wide, it isn't recognizing that you have the Cameo plugged in. Do you have a different usb port to try?

      While I don't have true reasoning behind why Silhouette discontinued their phone services, I think it's probably because a lot of the time, it would be easier to know how to fix the problem if you can see what the person is doing, via photos or video. Since Silhouette almost requests one or the other, I think they stopped the phone services because they're going to end up asking you for something you have to chat or email them anyway, so they figured the first point of contact being a phone call was going to lead to an email, so it's easier if you just do email from the start.

      Let me know if you have any other questions or if this doesn't work!

  • Courtney

    Today was my first time cutting without a mat. I changed all the settings in the program and moved the roller in my machine. The vinyl lined up perfectly but for some reason the blade would barely cut it. I adjusted the force (went from 11 to 20) and it didn't do any better... I'm very confused and frustrated

  • Jamie Shaffer

    New cameo user... I purchased a bundle pack of the cameo 3. I upgraded the software to designer edition. I prepare for my first cut and not only will my machine no since up via Bluetooth it keeps giving me an error stating my cutting mat is too large. I'm using the Silhouette brand 12x12 and that's what my settings are on the software. Please help.??

    • Kala

      HI Jamie,
      From the top tool bars, find Panels>Page Settings. This will bring up the Design Page Settings. About half way down there is a cutting mat, make sure you have the correct mat selected from the drop down menu.

      Hope this helps! If not, please let me know and I'll see what else I can figure out!


      • charlene carmeans
        charlene carmeans November 26, 2017 at 10:55 pm

        I have been getting the same error message on my cameo as well. I have adjusted my mat sizes many times and even custom size and nothing works. I have emailed Silhouette America about the problem.
        This in my second cameo and I run them both in Business software, I have never had this problem until now.

        • Kala

          I too have been having this issue just recently when I updated to Business Edition. The solution is to plug in and turn on your Cameo 3. It says "desktop plotter" until you turn the Cameo 3 on, then the error goes away and allows you to work without the error.

  • Mia

    Hi there

    I bought my cameo 3 a week ago and my machine keeps cutting way too far to the left (outside the grid on the mat). I do line my mat up correctly, but it still cuts on the transparent part of the mat... Any idea on how to fix that?

    • Kala

      Hi Mia,
      Are you aligning the cutting mat properly with the blue line? There should be a line on the deck of the machine. If that is correct, I would shut off your machine, gently move the carriage from the left to the right, to the left to the right and back to the left. Then turn the machine back on. This should reset the carriage and, if it was off on it's starting point, that should fix it. If this doesn't work and you're still having issues, please contact me and we'll get it figured out -


    • Mia

      Hi again, yes, I got the correct settings for the cutting mat in the program as well (got a 12x12" mat, and it also say so in the Silhouette Studio program), so that can't be it... Thanks for letting the post be open to the expert comes back :)

  • Ron

    I there a way to adjust the print border? I am trying to print an image larger than 8.5 x 11 but can figure out how to move the gray print border line. I'm using cameo 3

  • Ellen Horne

    I am trying to make my cut border larger in the software Cameo 4.0.1 I am clearly missing a setting can you help me figure it out?

    • Kala

      If you click on the Page Setup window (it's the "new document" looking icon on the right hand tool bar), you can adjust our page size there. This will make your cut border larger (up to 12 inches wide).

  • Leila H.

    You are a lifesaver!!! I'm a 2 week old newbie with my Cameo 3 and I've been cutting vinyl like crazy! I had the settings on for using a mat, even though I wasn't. So, I turned the cutting mat setting to "none" and I was shocked my design cut sideways??!!

    Reading above with your detailed pics and descriptions totally solved my problem and is saving me vinyl!! Thank you SO much! :)

  • Kristen

    That exact same kind of stuff was (& still does sometimes) happen to me. I don't totally understand what you mean by the mat getting cut above the grid, but here are a few things I have tried:
    1) Make sure your blade is inserted correctly and held tightly in place.
    2) Make sure the bar is flipped up and engaged instead of lowered. (See 5th picture of machine above.)
    3) Make sure the mat liner is removed.
    4) When in the cut settings, when you click your material, scroll down and make sure the correct blade is selected and you don't have the speed too fast. I do this EVERYTIME b/c the moment I don't, my cut settings are wrong and I screw up a piece of vinyl.
    5) Make sure the roller is locked into place. (See Picture 8 of machine above.)
    6) There is A LOT of trial and error. I can't tell you how much vinyl and stencil material I have gone through b/c of one screw up or another. It's sometimes been user error and then other times the machine is wonky!
    7) Keep at it! :)

  • Kenya Ceballos
    Kenya Ceballos April 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Hello I recently order the cameo two days ago..i believe from your site..I choose a bundle...I was wondering if i might have gotten a defective mat keeps sliding going sideways...making a weird noise....I have done all these steps above...i align it to the blue marks...the blade is positioned correctly...the rollers too...the cut setting are correct,,,.i have tried everything...the mat got cut from above the grid..i turned it to see if maybe that was affecting it..but no its the same..could i had received a defective machine?..

    • Kala

      While it *could* be defective, it's likely it's a setting you need to adjust. Please give me a call so I can help walk you though some things- 800-236-3877

      Thank you


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