It was very tempting to title this post “The Blog Post That Almost Wasn’t” or “Conquering the Hobby Lobby Faux Leather Ribbon (sort of)”. But I’m a
stubborn persevering gal, and I was determined not to let an 8″ x 24″ piece of polyester defeat me. Let me explain…
Earlier this year, I wrote a tutorial on DIY Faux Leather Earrings using your Silhouette Cameo or Portrait. In that post I compared three different types of faux leather and declared the Hobby Lobby faux leather ribbon difficult to work with. I haven’t changed my mind about that and, in fact, am even more convinced that I prefer faux leather that can be purchased by the yard or Silhouette Leatherette Sheets.
But because the Hobby Lobby faux leather ribbon comes in an array of beautiful colors, I really wanted to see if I could make it work. After lots of trial and error, I did manage to make a couple of pairs of earrings from it and today I’m sharing the tips and tricks I learned along the way.
Pros and Cons of Hobby Lobby Faux Leather Ribbon
First, let’s discuss the pros and cons of using this material in conjunction with your Silhouette projects.
- Comes in a variety colors
- Low cost. Often on sale for 50% off, or can be purchased using one of Hobby Lobby’s weekly coupons.
- Too thick to cut with standard Autoblade, ratchet blade, or premium blade (thus requiring the use of a Cameo 3, Portrait 2, or Curio)
- Fleece backing makes it difficult to achieve a clean cut
- Thickness varies between colors
Trial and (Lots of) Error
Before I started testing various theories of what might work with the faux leather ribbon, I tried to cut it just like the faux leather I usually use to make earrings, using a fabric blade and a mat that I had on hand which had been used a couple of times. Due to it’s stretchy nature, the material buckled and came loose from the mat right away.
It stayed in position better when I used a brand-new mat, but the stretch caused some distortion and the faux leather was still too thick to cut all the way through using a regular blade.
So I switched to the Deep-Cut Blade.
I cut from the front…
…and the back,
but still could not achieve clean cuts with the fine detail I wanted.
The next step was to try to stabilize the fabric and cut down on the “fuzzies” caused by the fleece backing. I tried self-adhesive embroidery stabilizer, freezer paper, and contact paper – none of which worked.
By this time, I had used up my roll of brown faux leather and had switched to a roll of gold. Notice the difference in the backing. The gold was also thicker than the brown.
As a last resort, I ironed on a piece of HeatnBond Ultrahold to the back of the faux leather ribbon. I was afraid that the polyester material would melt under the heat of my iron, but to my surprise it performed very well!
Because of the thickness of the faux leather ribbon, I placed the material to be cut in the very center of my mat to avoid the left and right rollers. I also chose to use less-detailed designs (a simple teardrop and oval) and eliminate the hole for the earwire.
Cut settings used:
Blade Depth: 20 Speed: 2 Force: 33 Passes: 3
Line Segment Overcut: ON
The combination of using the HeatnBond stabilizer along with multiple passes resulted in almost no “fleece fuzzies” left behind. Two passes cut the earring shape, but three passes were even better. Once the Silhouette was finished cutting, I definitely had markings on my mat but, in my opinion, this was a small price to pay for achieving such a clean cut. (Remember: always perform a test cut!)
Finishing the Earrings
The remaining adhesive from the HeatnBond leaves a shiny finish on the back of the earrings. Depending on the color of the faux leather ribbon’s backing, you may choose to leave them as-is. I prefer a more finished look, so I tried two different methods to create a backing. First, I ironed two pieces of the faux leather ribbon together. The earrings looked nice but were rather thick, much like a piece of fun-foam, so I decided to try fabric. I used my Silhouette to cut a mirror image of the earring shape from a cute cotton print and then ironed it on to the back of the faux leather ribbon.
To add the hole for the earwire, I used a tool that came in a scrapbooking toolkit I’ve had for years. It worked perfectly! You can find a similar kit here or use another tool such as an awl or a pair of punch pliers.
A set of double-j earwires from Craft Chameleon provided the finishing touch (and were so much easier to use than jump rings!).
While I still prefer the faux leather that I can buy by the yard, I’m glad to have another option to use when creating earrings. Finding the right combination of cut settings and techniques to use with the Hobby Lobby faux leather ribbon was a bit frustrating and time-consuming, but worth the effort in the end. Here’s a summary of what I learned:
- Choose designs that are large and do not include fine details
- Use a new mat and blade
- Stabilize with Heat ‘n Bond Ultrahold.
- Place material to be cut in the center of the mat.
- Always, always, ALWAYS perform a Test Cut!
- Manually add the hole for the earwire.
Have you tried making your own earrings? If so, what materials have you used? There are SO many possibilities! Leave me a comment below or come join my Facebook group and share your thoughts.
Until next time,
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.