Silhouette Basics: Loading the Mat

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see someone post in one of the Silhouette Facebook groups asking “Why is my design not cutting correctly?” or “Why is my mat sliding all over the place?” You can practically hear the panic in their voice! Quickly they assume that there is something dreadfully wrong with their machine and they are ready to box it up and send it back. Oftentimes however there is a really simple fix such as learning to correctly load the mat.

Because there is no printed user manual included with the Silhouette, it’s easy to miss small (but crucial!) details when loading the mat. The most common problems are:

  1. Not aligning the mat in the proper position.
  2. Choosing the wrong load option (“Load Mat” vs. “Load Media”).
  3. Failure to lock the roller bar.

Aligning the Mat

When loading the mat into your Cameo, the left edge of the mat should be aligned with the alignment marking on the far left of the machine. On the original Cameo, the marking is the same color as the base of the machine (grey), but it is blue on the Cameo 2 and Cameo 3.


If you are using a Portrait, center the mat under the rollers. The machine has a set of three alignment marks on the left. When the mat is loaded properly, the left edge of the mat should be flush with the alignment mark on the left of this set.


Choosing the Correct Load Option

There are two loading options available for the original Cameo, Cameo 2, and Portrait – “Load Mat” and “Load Media”. Just as the name implies, choose “Load Mat” when cutting anything that you have placed onto a cutting mat. Materials that have a backing you don’t intend to cut through (such as vinyl or sticker paper) can be cut without a mat, using the “Load Media” option.

Tip: Please note the words “a backing you don’t intend to cut through.” We’ve all had it happen that our blade is set incorrectly and the cut goes too deep and right through the backing. For this reason, I prefer to cut using the mat unless the design is larger than 12″x24″. (In order to prevent damage to your cutting strip, a mat should always be used when cutting materials without a backing.) I would rather take the time to load my mat than have to replace the cutting strip on my machine.

Load options for the original Cameo, Cameo 2, and Portrait are selected using the buttons on the machine itself.



The Cameo 3 load options are determined by which mat is specified in the Design Page settings of the Silhouette Studio software. If you are cutting media without using a cutting mat, select “None” in the Cutting Mat options. There is no “Load Media” button on the machine, only  “Load”  and “Unload” buttons.


Locking the Roller Bar

The rollers on the Silhouette Cameo can be adjusted to accommodate different sizes of media. In order to move the rollers, the release lever on the right-hand side of the machine must be turned clockwise (or DOWN). Once the rollers have been adjusted, be sure to lock the roller bar back into place by turning it counter-clockwise (or UP).


Pay attention to these details and you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and frustration. Soon, loading your mat properly will become second nature and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying lots of creative time with your Silhouette!

(The Cameo 3 User’s Manual can be accessed through the Help menu in Silhouette Studio. It is also available in PDF form here.









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